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False Promises

Posted on July 4, 2015

I just saw a commercial for GoDaddy that is the latest in a series of spots advertising the magical properties of websites. The premise seems to be “start a business, build a website and become a huge success.” Boy, how many times have I wished THAT were true! Unfortunately, it is not.

The problem I have with these companies is that the promise they make is false.

Full disclosure – I work with a company – Crux Creative that designs and builds websites. But any website, no matter who builds it – even if it’s professionally designed and built for tens of thousands of dollars – is not a guarantee of business. When all is said and done a website isn’t any more pro-active than a roadside billboard or a full-page ad in the local telephone directory. Like those more traditional forms of media, it only gives people information about your business if they go to it.

And yet I believe that EVERYONE should have a website.

This includes businesses, entrepreneurs, professionals, job seekers and those who may one day become job seekers (and let’s face it, these days that’s just about everyone). I have my own website. My son has one and my husband, a jazz musician and music teacher, has two! They are great tools for presenting information about your talents, skills, and experience to people who are interested in learning more than your LinkedIn profile reveals. However, you still have to give people your URL so they can find your site.

For a business, this means communicating your web address through snail mail – postcards, letters, brochures, etc. or digitally, by sending an email blast or posting on social media. Since unsolicited and unexpected email is likely to end up in someone’s never-to-be-opened-Spam folder and social media is generally a long-term marketing strategy – instant fame and fortune will probably still prove elusive. Realization of this fact is very disillusioning to people who have no experience or knowledge of marketing. As a result, they can lose faith in the whole concept of marketing communications.

That’s why I think these ads do a disservice to the marketing industry.

Anyone who builds sites knows that many small business owners already have unrealistic expectations about digital marketing. Building a website does not automatically assure anyone anything. Once built, if the site isn’t constantly tended to, updated, checked to make sure key words are added, changed, etc., it may rarely come up in a google search. And even if people go on the site, if the copy content is badly written, has typos, is hard to read or/and boring, it probably won’t generate business anyway.

I’m not saying digital marketing doesn’t work. But it requires a certain level of expertise.

It also demands that entrepreneurs educate themselves about what marketing does and how it does it. If they feel doing it all themselves will be too time consuming (and if it’s done right, it probably will be) then they should realize that they have to hire professional help. As a small business owner myself I understand that this is a hard pill to swallow. But that’s the reality of any business. You need to market yourself to grow and you need to spend money to market yourself. Despite the assurances and claims of GoDaddy’s “tool” people and the lady yelling “stick it” to all of her relatives, the old adage “you get what you pay for” still applies – even in this digital age.



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