Revisiting websites and branding: Success prerequisites


The_Door_to_HellA local renovation contractor has a wonderful, modern, responsive, and well-designed website. It includes all the trust-building features you could want to see: Credible association references, client testimonials, staff photos, a wonderful story outlining?the company’s business philosophy and a truly unique selling proposition (USP).

However, there is one problem: The business has failed to deliver on its promises. There have been significant and unresolved client complains alleging delayed or incomplete work, and advertising misrepresentations.

The local Better Business Bureau has revoked the company’s membership and set a flag on its website — a good first step in warning people away. But the business continues to operate. Another association referenced by the business has a rather slow and cumbersome process to discipline/remove members. This process is under-way, but for now the company cannot be told to remove the association logo.

(I won’t link you to the site or explain the USP here because these actions would identify the company, and my policy is not to negatively identify any specific businesses or organizations in this blog.)


I think you can see where I’m taking this story. Wonderful branding and marketing cannot overcome (for any length of time) bad business practices.

Yet . . .

Let’s reverse the situation. The business is ethical, honorable, delivers excellent value and high-quality work. The owner wins much business through word-of-mouth. In fact, he gets all of his business that way. That’s good.

But I know a few of these businesses. Usually they are very small, perhaps one or two individuals. And usually, alas, they under-price their services severely. ?Not surprisingly, word-of-mouth works wonderfully in these circumstances, at least until they reach their capacity. Often, they are on a treadmill, just making enough money to survive, but not having enough money to grow.

There is a better place to be.

First, if you are not in a good enough place that current clients will purchase more from you ongoing, and ideally be ready to refer friends and colleagues, you need to step back and fix things before you go any further. If you focus your primary efforts on marketing rather than solving the underlying problems, you’ll be running a scam because, in effect, you are using tricks and techniques to convince people to buy something from you that really isn’t right.

You don’t need to give your services away for nothing, and you don’t need to be perfect, but before you start marketing, you need to be satisfied you are delivering genuine value to your clients.

Once you have these problems under control, then the next stage begins.

The cost of building a website that is effective — even state-of-the-art — has dropped to the point that you cannot excuse yourself from doing this work, with priority. If you have a bit of money, specialized agencies/services focusing on the AEC marketplace can do it for you — probably for a few thousand dollars. If you have some understanding of basic Internet functions, and tools such as to host the site on your own server, you can have the work done for almost nothing. (I have had major website rebuilds completed by offshore contractors for $100 or less.)

If you wish referrals to some of these service providers, you can email me at

However, before you start, think about the prerequisites. Otherwise, you will head down a slippery slope to places no one should want to be.

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