There is simply no way around it: One cannot hire IT / web services without needing a marketing and design guru in the mix. Over time, my small consulting firm has seen this emerge as a strong trend. The trend has moved us to offer marketing, advertising, copy, and design alongside our IT services. Surprisingly, adding these services has increased our referral business by about 100%.
My favourite example is my most recent one: A lady with a small t-shirt business wanted a shopping cart on her existing website. She puts people’s images on the t-shirts and then surrounds them with text. You’ve seen them: “Grandma’s Angels” written on the t-shirt under the picture of the children. The picture, of course, is amateurish, taken with the digital camera mom got for christmas. Apparently, people love this stuff. The owner hopes they love it enough to buy it directly from her website.
We installed Zen Cart for her. She was happy. So were we — until we saw what the Zen Cart was developing into. Suffice it to say, it was ugly. The owner, not knowing a marketing concept from a hole in the ground, was entering items into her cart with incorrect prices, using all caps, peppered with misspelled words. Her images were grainy and hard to decipher. (Is that a tote bag, or a dog collar?) We were a bit horrified.
So, we sat the owner down and explained to her that the cart was going to need a facelift before it went live. We found a total of 16 items that needed to be addressed before the launch (#1: spelling). We also found some competitors’ URLs so she could compare her methods with others’. Shocked but grateful, the owner agreed to let us help her spruce up the site. With some grouping and organizing, better pictures, and careful data entry, the site looked fantastic.
Helping the lady wasn’t about charging her more for the additional services; it was about helping her make money. As it stood, that site was not going to incite anyone to buy anything from her. I would have been surprised if she had made one sale off the site. Now, she can be proud of it, and we can too.
The moral of the story, small business IT consultants, is that offering a complete package that includes technical, design, and copy services will expand your business and delight your customers. Helping other people do their marketing, especially using technology, is a great way to ease your own marketing budget.