An email from Jonathan Stark came through my inbox today and brought up a good analogy. One worth sharing with all of you on this lovely Friday.
The gist of it is as follows:
When you buy a sandwich, the person making the sandwich doesn't say, "this might cost $5, we won't know until we're done making it."
What's the difference between that and saying a logo and a website might cost $20,000, but we won't know until we're done?
Geez, that sounds like a pain in the ass and disconcerting for the client on the other side of the transaction. This is the trap that hourly billing gets people in, both clients and service providers, a journey through the fog of unknowns that is costly and annoying.
The alternative? Diagnose for a set price (roughly 10% of the anticipated budget) and come up with three, tiered options at set prices. This might not be the best solution, but it's better than keeping a running clock and an hourly rate that never seems to stay under budget. At least a set price is predictable for both the client and the designer.
Why don't I bill hourly? Because I don't like leaving clients in a state of uncertainty.
It's astonishing the amount of business owners and sales people who want to be better. They want more customers, they want higher value customers, more of anything that will help them get to the next level. Where this gets interesting is how few of them are willing to do something different to make an impact.
They repeat the same message they have for years, fear to break the mold, but expect that things will change. They pour countless amounts of dollars into marketing, expecting that somehow the same old message will get through.
It's like running on a treadmill. No matter how fast you go, you stay in the same place. If you want to go somewhere you have to run in unconfined territory. You have to break free of what's already there.
Applying this to your brand: say something different, look different, act different, be different. Change.
The obsession people have with SEO is mind boggling. It's as if SEO is a silver bullet to make up for having an undefined audience and not knowing what they want. I've seen a lot of marketers and the work that they produce. Most of the time, I'm disappointed because it's obvious what game they are playing. They write keyword stuffed blogs with no soul and refuse to write copy that engages people on an emotional level in the hopes of pointing Google searchers to a page.
It's not that I believe all content should be that way, but in order to actually connect with someone so they convert on your page, you can't write for a search engine. Search engines operate entirely on rationale, humans invest emotionally.
As such, both creative messaging and effective SEO need to be in harmony. You can write for search engines until you're blue in the face, but a search engine is not going to have the emotional nuance as the human who will be making a buying decision. You have to trigger them beyond having all the right keywords on your site.
If I had to put my finger on specific things that focusing solely on writing for search engines fails to consider, it'd be these two things:
In short, make awesome content for humans. If possible, make it search engine friendly.