03 Aug 21
The High Business Risk Of Going With What’s Convenient
There are currently around 4.66 billion active internet users worldwide. Your website is one of the most important ways to connect with these users, and the platform on which your company’s values, quality and experience be judged. If you want a ship to do well at sea, it starts with the integrity and ability of its builder.
In our industry, there’s many agencies that claim to be specialists but are actually generalists in disguise. With so many out there, choosing the right agency can be hard work, with the industry growing at an average of 2% a year since 2016. As a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, more businesses are strengthening their online presence to meet the increased expectations of consumers.
When you reach the end of the yellow brick road, you might have found an agency that promises to do your photography, marketing, branding, website, SEO and your social media too. But sometimes, when something seems too good to be true, it often is.
With 12 years of experience under our belt, in the field of web, we’ve worked with and seen many kinds of web agencies in our time. Through our own shift from generalist to specialist, we understand the benefits and cons which affect our clients directly. We used to offer web design, SEO, branding, print and packaging services. But as our web-arm grew muscle and that was our strongest offering. Ever since then, we’ve focused on one specialty, hiring a skilled web team instead of diluting our efforts.
We’ll explain the risks to consider when going with a one-stop shop generalist agency. We will also unpack the value of true specialists, and the difference they can make to your web project and business, in the long term.
Don’t Put All Your Eggs In One Basket
Trusting a generalist with many different parts of your business is risky. It’s like putting all your eggs in one basket. If there are a few mishaps and they drop the ball, multiple aspects of your website and marketing will be instantly affected. Worst case scenario, if the company goes under, you might have to start from scratch again. With one company in charge of the reins, if something goes wrong, all parts of your project will lose momentum, rather than just independent components which can be worked out, without affecting others.
As successful business magnate Warren Buffet says, it’s always safest to diversify. Whether it’s stocks or business decisions, the principles are the same.
You Don’t Want A Team That Is Stretched Thin
Google Adwords. Social media marketing. SEO. Web design. Web development. Each of these fields have extensive ground to cover, with its own ecosystem of training and real-world experience necessary for proficiency. Each field requires its own frameworks, processes and its own kind of development tools. Each process requires time and experience to fine tune and finesse.
It’s the same reason you wouldn’t usually go to your hairdresser for a make-up appointment. Or a lash technician to get your nails done. In these scenarios, you might find the hairdresser will have a limited number of make-up looks she is confident with. If she had a $2k budget for equipment, she might have bought average hairdresser equipment and average make-up products, to give her the all-rounder set up. Imagine the increased quality and extended range of her tools if she’d focused the 2k into just one specialty.
When a small team is overseeing many different fields and specialties, it is inevitably harder for them to be on top of their processes and systems in a profitable or organised way. With larger ground to cover, their time will be spent skimming the surface, rather than diving deep and ensuring all the little details are covered. Important steps like development QA, browser testing, SEO ramification checks or the latest Google updates might be missed. Let’s be honest, graphic designers aren’t necessarily great web designers, and branding experts aren’t typically adept developers with coding experience.
It might not show up on the surface on launch day, but the issues will come out of the woodwork, surely enough down the track. There may be development bugs that haven’t been fixed or that the structural sitemap hasn’t been outlined with SEO in mind. It will cost money to fix and require more ongoing maintenance, costs that will add up slowly on top of this initial ‘cheap solution’. It’s not a question of if, but when.
When you work with a team who are dedicated to one craft, there is less risk that they are skimming the surface or doing the bare minimum. When they do the same kind of projects day in, day out, they can streamline their processes and iron out any issues a lot quicker.
A specialist web designer is more likely to spend between the average 20-40 hours on a great website design. On the other hand, a graphic designer who is more used to doing print, might require 60+ hours, leaving less time for post-design QA processes or polish. Will they know much about UI/UX or will they just be learning how to do it off Google?
It’s hard for a Jack-of-all-trades to deep-dive and give you the same experience a specialist could. They might get the job done but it can end up lacklustre, or cookie-cutter. If your business needs to stand out from your competition or has unique needs, you don’t want a copy-paste job that resembles their last client. It’s important to not start off with a team limited in their resources or knowledge.
Limited Ability To Customise
So let’s go with a leap of faith that you’ve found a generalist agency that is actually well-versed in their service offerings. But they have a very small team. They only have one in-house photographer and only one in-house copywriter. You will be limited by their range or lack of. This means your assets or the voice of your brand will be limited to their personal style or direction. This can make things a little awkward and frustrating, if one component isn’t aligned with your brand.
When your website team is separate from your asset creation team, you can pick the best for you and customise the skills to suit you best. If you’re an architect or a developer, you wouldn’t choose a wedding photographer to shoot your work. If you want to differentiate your brand in a niche field, a copywriter who is used to writing for corporate might not be the best one to nut out your unique voice. Instead, a specialist copywriting agency who is adept at combining creative copy with marketing power, might be better adapted for the task.
As a specialist agency, we recommend other specialists to fill the gaps required, and over the years we’ve formed a really great circle of allies which we have up our sleeve, when our clients need additional help in those areas. Because we’ve worked with them before, we’ve ironed out how our processes and ensure our timelines align, streamlining the team work to deliver results that are one step above in every aspect.
Cheap Now, Can Become Very Expensive Later On
Having everything done by a one-stop-shop can definitely look more appealing at the start. It’s cheaper and quicker right? However there is also a risk that the company will make up those costs, by cutting corners because their resources are stretched thin, or because they do not have the time to streamline their processes, innovate their ideas or keep up with industry standards.
We see it time and time again; one of our clients had amended his website 5 times through different agencies in rough patch-up style jobs. He went with the cheapest options thinking it would tick the boxes but in the end wasted more money on fixing the problems than on building his website.
The Takeaway Is..
There’s little point in making a decision based on convenience if it comes at a later expense later down the track. Cheap can become expensive very quickly and a headache later down the line.
It is harder to deliver high-end results when you only have one person on the job for each specialty. Not saying all generalists are dangerous; there are admirable generalists, which are often large corporate agencies with different departments for each area, and often a team of hundreds. They are in essence more similar to a group of specialists, but just with a bigger price tag.
Good business decisions aren’t always the ‘perfect choice’ or ‘best one’. Sometimes there’s unforeseen circumstances or things that happen that no one could have predicted. Successful businesses often reach their destination through making the decisions with the least business risk and avoiding poor operational decisions on the way.
It’s safest to diversify your trust and marketing dollars into specialist agencies that are equipped to deliver. With their team and systems centered on one focus, they have more time and capacity to ensure their solutions are robust, detailed and compliant with the latest digital benchmarks.
One-stop-shops often shape the project to mould to their limited abilities, in order for them to remain profitable or to meet your deadlines. It limits the solution you can receive. On the other hand, when working with a specialist, you can tailor the project with more freedom to match your needs, with each specialist often having a greater range of custom solutions they can offer.
How Can We Help?
If you’d like to understand the different specialties in digital a little more, feel free to have a chat with our team. Simply call us on 03 9912 6403. If you need help with your website, or even another branch of the web, we can offer you our expertise or recommend one of our specialist partners. We only work with the best in our industry, so we’ve got you covered.