In this episode, Stacy sits down with Drew Barton, the president of Southern Web and the author of “The Buyer’s Guide to Websites.” The two discuss what you and your business should be looking for in a digital agency partner, as well as why it is important to always tend to your website and keep it up-to-date.
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- EP193: Using Digital Marketing to Drive Your Business with Ryan Cote | Ballantine Digital
- EP191: Creating Audience Rapport in Content Marketing with Don Simkovich | So Cal Content Marketing & Media
- EP187: Build Your Business By Building Your Values with Tullio Siragusa | DojoLIVE!
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- 5 Ways to Use Your Instagram Stories to Promote Your Brand
- How Blogging Helps B2B Brands Get Sales And Customers
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Transcript For This Episode:
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones, the founder of influencer marketing and branded content agency, Hollywood Branded. This podcast provides brand marketers a learning platform for topics for us to share their insights and knowledge on topics which make a direct impact on your business today.
While it is impossible to be well versed on every topic and strategy that can improve bottom line results, my goal is to help you avoid making costly mistakes of time, energy or money, whether you are doing a DIY approach or hiring an expert to help. Let’s begin today’s discussion.Speaker 2 (00:31):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). Here’s your host, Stacy Jones.Stacy Jones (00:36):
Welcome to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I’m Stacy Jones, and I’m so happy to be here with you all today. I’m going to give a very warm welcome to Drew Barton. Drew’s the president of Southern Web, an award-winning digital agency specializing in web development and digital marketing solutions which he founded 16 years ago.
And he’s also the author of The Buyer’s Guide to Websites, the comprehensive toolkit for building and managing an incredible website from agency vetting and contract creation to development oversight, design input, and digital marketing.
Today, we’re going to talk about all things digital, from what you need to know in building to the optimizing and what you should be looking for in a digital agency partner to help you along the way. We’ll learn what’s worked from Drew’s perspective, what should be avoided, and how some businesses often miss the mark. Drew, welcome. So happy to have you here today.Drew Barton (01:24):
Thank you, Stacy. It’s a pleasure to be here.Stacy Jones (01:26):
Well, what I love chatting about is, what got you to today? What made you decide, Drew, 16 years ago that you were going to start a digital agency and dive into the world of websites?Drew Barton (01:40):
Well, in 2001, I was the webmaster at CNN.com for about three years, and by virtue of doing that, people said, “Oh, you do CNN’s website, would you do mine?” I’m not a really good person at saying no, so I said yes and I said yes and I said yes. Over time, I developed 20 or 30 clients, and my little freelance business on the side became a full venture into Southern Web that we have today.
Stacy Jones (02:13):
Drew Barton (02:14):
Yeah. It’s been a journey from saying yes to, “Maybe we should say no to some things,” and that’s been the fun evolution of this business is to just watch it grow and be part of it. Being an entrepreneur and also helping other entrepreneurs build their websites and their businesses so that I can watch their businesses also grow.
Stacy Jones (02:42):
What have been the biggest changes over the last couple of decades with websites? Obviously, it’s a whole new world.
Drew Barton (02:48):
Oh yeah. When we originally were building websites when I started the company, you didn’t have the ability to make any edits yourself. So, all of your edits would have to go through a web developer. And then, we put in content management systems behind the sites, so that our clients, the website owners, could then update the websites.
And then, the mobile revolution happened, so all the websites we had developed previously were no longer any good on phones. You had to [inaudible 00:03:20] and pan, and all our good work was down the drain. So, that was fun.
Now, we’re watching even more evolution happen with folks wanting to have an app version of their website, or they wanted just the small evolutions in terms of speed, in terms of search engine optimization, in terms of the practices of search from before in order to use your site to rank well will actually hurt you by today’s measures. So the things that you-
Stacy Jones (03:58):
Are you talking Cat marketing tactics and things like that? With [crosstalk 00:04:03].
Drew Barton (04:03):
Yeah. If you were gathering links, at one time, you just had to pay someone overseas to start doing link building for you. Now if you did that, it would punish you terribly. And there’s a lot of people that pay a lot of money now to clean up the errors from the past where they were actually paying someone, $5 in Asia to build links for them.
Now they’re spending more money to undo that effort because it was working. So watching these things change over time has been, oh, wow. It’s been such an evolution. It really has been fun to watch because the things that you did in the past, like if you wrote these listicle articles five years ago. Like, five things you need to know about washing your dog, will now actually not rank in the same way.
So you’ve got to redo it and do 5,000 words on washing your dog or cat instead of just this 300 word article that we were just doing five years ago. So we’re watching this evolution happen and it’s really cool.
It keeps moving and as long as it stays cool, that’s the good things when you aren’t keeping up with it and then you’re just shaking your fist at the sky as to why I’m losing my ranking and why I’m not staying ahead. It’s part of this understanding of, it’s never finished.
This marketing piece is never finished, as long as you launch the website and you’re done. It’s going to constantly be tended to in the way you would a garden or your dog for that matter.
Stacy Jones (05:40):
Absolutely. So, as someone who has a website, we designed something, I thought it was beautiful, it was gorgeous, it was awesome. Yeah, and then we decided it was outdated probably two years later. What is the life cycle of websites today? How often do you need to go in and tweak and reformat and reinvent potentially?
Drew Barton (06:05):
Oh wow. All right. So there’s a couple ways to answer that question. The first way is to answer it from the aspect of the Internal Revenue Service. So, the Internal Revenue Service allows you to depreciate the website every three years, every 36 months you’re needed to depreciate your website in it’s entirety. Which is cool, right? Now you actually have a financial reason as to why you need to revamp your website every three years. That’s one reason.
The other piece is, thinking about it from the other standpoint of are you still doing the things that are on the website? More often than not, your business… in the same way as I just described, as we talked before, the things that we were doing in terms of product lines, in terms of service lines, we don’t do those anymore.
We’re not doing listicles anymore. And so the content that’s on the website that was good in 2013, 2014 needs to be tended to, revamped, expanded upon because someone else is going to do it and do it better than you. And so I think that is one of the big evolutions that I’ve seen especially in the last couple of years with what we do, what we don’t do in the past. Yeah.
Stacy Jones (07:28):
And Google actually gives more credit to websites that are updating themselves and adding additional content, to my understanding, right?
Drew Barton (07:37):
Yeah. So [inaudible 00:07:39] from Google’s standpoint, they’re looking for who’s the subject-matter expert on dog washing, let’s say, since we’ve gone down this street of dog washing. If you’re Google, in their shoes, having to look at who’s providing the best content and is it someone that’s actually provided essentially a copied version of Wikipedia, which would be probably the lowest version, they’ve actually plagiarized someone else’s work.
Do you give it to someone that wrote five things you need to know about dog washing? Or do you give someone who’s actually published the Encyclopedia Britannica of dog washing? It’s going to be the latter, if you’re Google you’re going to say, who’s going to give me the best information? Tell me something I didn’t know before.
And that person’s going to get rewarded. It’s really time consuming for businesses. That is the big struggle of businesses today where they’re going, “Oh my gosh, how do we do this? How do we…”
Because, before we did it, we did it with pictures and we put really pretty pictures. What would happen, anecdotally, is they just wouldn’t put enough content on the page to make it rank well. And what we’re finding is it’s just so much content is required today. [crosstalk 00:09:09] formats.
Stacy Jones (09:10):
Yeah, and that’s where the magic of blogging and podcasting, if you’re doing transcripts, comes in. Because you could just have your general website and then you can fill it with all this awesome new content. On so many different topics that have keywords that are going to be about you and your business that are being [inaudible 00:09:28] on a regular basis.
Drew Barton (09:30):
Right, and it’s content that was never out there before. Something that has moved the needle, each time you’re publishing content, you’re asking yourself, how does this move the needle in a way that’s, telling me something I haven’t heard before. Because if it’s just regurgitating the same information, Google has to act, the search engines have to act like, King Solomon from the Bible essentially.
How do you judge which one wins? If you’re just giving the same information over and over again, which one do you put in first position? Which one do you put in second position? It’s really an interesting battle that goes on. And the way you do this, is providing yourself as a better subject-matter expert than the guy next to you. And hopefully [inaudible 00:10:15].
Stacy Jones (10:17):
And continuing to update it because if the guy updates his, then now you’re pushed down.
Drew Barton (10:22):
Exactly, yeah. It’s always interesting when I get clients that ask this question, like, “How much is enough of an update?” And you know immediately they’re looking for- [crosstalk 00:10:37].
Stacy Jones (10:37):
The bare minimum.
Drew Barton (10:38):
… “Do a change of period at the end of the paragraph, is that enough?” At that point you really have to stop the marketing train on them and say, “Okay, we’re on two different wavelengths of content development. It’s not a matter of just moving a period or adding a comma. It’s a matter of creating 3,000, 5,000 words on a subject today to really show that you are a subject-matter expert on this.”
Stacy Jones (11:04):
Drew Barton (11:04):
Not moving a period.
Stacy Jones (11:08):
Or adding a picture. Do you think that websites today can be fully optimized and successful if they don’t have this dearth of additional content being added to them on a regular basis?
Drew Barton (11:22):
If they’re in any way in competitive space, no. But if they are the only dog washer in a small town of 40 people, they’ll probably be okay. But if you’re in any way competitive with anyone else in the space, then yes, you can’t get by with, five words and a picture.
That’s the thing, if you’re altering niche, you’re going to be okay. But if you’re in any way not, which is the vast 99% of us.
Stacy Jones (11:22):
Drew Barton (12:02):
Yeah. You’re not going to get by with the dearth of information anymore. You’ve got to put it all out there in ways that you haven’t before. If you’re not an expert at it, to hire someone who is, whether that be in terms of video or content or social, whatever those pieces are, that you’re not good at.
I’m not good at cleaning my house, I’ll go ahead and say that. You don’t want me to clean my house, I’ll put it that way. So I [inaudible 00:12:28] hire someone that does that, and in the same case we’d like for our clients to hand over that expertise to us and say, “Okay, you can do this better than we can.”
Stacy Jones (12:38):
Yeah. Well, it comes down to, entrepreneurs and business leaders or executives on different themes. You have to choose what you like to do and what you don’t like to do. If you don’t like to do it, you’re probably not going to kick ass at it and you might want to outsource it to someone else.
Drew Barton (12:55):
Absolutely. Absolutely. So yeah, like we were talking about earlier, if TikTok is not your thing, find someone who is good at TikTok to do it for you. If you don’t feel like sitting in front of a word processor for the afternoon and writing 3000 words on a subject matter that’s important to the success of your business, to find someone that can do it. The key of success, it’s actually delegation. It’s proper delegation.
Stacy Jones (13:26):
… We hear a lot of times from people, they’re like, “Oh, well, we weren’t able to have someone else write the content about our business,” but the fact is there are awesome writers out there who it doesn’t matter what the [inaudible 00:13:36] is. They can take something, look at it, do a little bit of research and it sounds like they have been doing it all their lives.
Drew Barton (13:42):
The same person that says that is also someone who will also agree to redline someone else’s content. So they will be like, “If someone else will write it, I will have no problem with correcting it. Because I know what it should say,” but if they sit at a blank word processor screen and have to write it themselves. Yeah. Oh my gosh, this is one of my favorite things. There was a Stephen King book in the 90s called the Misery. Do you know [crosstalk 00:14:13]?
Stacy Jones (14:13):
I know it well. Oh yeah. I love that book. I’m a [inaudible 00:14:16].
Drew Barton (14:18):
Every business owner has this dream of them going to the mountains or to some beach house where they’re going to write the website copy. Give me a weekend away, I’ll put all this content together, the website will be ready.
Stacy Jones (14:38):
I’m going to [inaudible 00:14:38] you’re up right now COVID-19 half the time right now. And it’s not happening. It’s not happening for anyone.
Drew Barton (14:47):
Exactly. Exactly. We’re in lockdown right now. What happens is they pack the dogs, the kids, they head up to the mountains and everything happens but this website copy [inaudible 00:15:00].
But this blog post that needs to happen or this business plan that needs to happen or this content structure that needs to happen for the website, it’s really amazing and it’s quite delusional at the same time. But it’s fun. It’s fun. Yeah.
Stacy Jones (15:13):
Yeah. We make sure to prioritize things that are not the priority many times in life and, or that’s how we find out what priorities actually are.
Drew Barton (15:24):
Yeah, it’s true. That is very true.
Stacy Jones (15:28):
Looking at a website today, so here’s your website. What are the parts and components that actually need to be included in it? What is it in a website, today that you need to have? We’re talking about you need to [inaudible 00:15:40] content, right? And updated content, but what are the core parts of a website that you need to have that if you don’t have, you’re really missing out?
Drew Barton (15:49):
The biggest important thing to have is an understanding of who this website is for and understanding the persona that the website is directed to. All too often what happens is, the owner of the website confuses themselves for the persona that they’re selling to. And that’s a really dangerous thing.
So, what I’ll always recommend doing is spending a little bit of time, write some columns on a sheet of paper. Go old school, get a pen and paper and then write on that paper who each one of the audiences are for your website. If it’s, stay at home moms, great. If it’s elderly women in Brooklyn, fantastic. That’s what we’re writing, okay?
And then, how they shop, do they call? Do they order online? What their particular habits are? Getting very clear on that before anything else happens. So how you’re going to attract each one of those audiences together. And then putting together the plan so that there is a page of content that speaks directly to that persona. So if you are selling to elderly women in Brooklyn, you should have a page of content that speaks to her. That talks about her struggle and how your business, your solution can fix her woes.
And without that understanding of who that persona is, what happens more often than not is they copy the content from the old site, slap it in the new site and then try to fix it on the fly, if they even can. Instead of saying that which was there in 2014, 2016, 2018 is there and rest it’s wary head.
Because now we’re going to give it time to come forward in this new way because my audience today is a little bit different, more targeted and hopefully more niche than it was two, three years ago. Or at least I have a better understanding of who he or she is.
Redeveloping the content really speaks to it, so that when you do search for that item in Google, you now have the content that makes you subject-matter expert to that persona. That’s what’s really important.
And getting very clear on who that persona is, that’s the big, big mistake I see with websites is, it’s either a copy and paste old to new with a new design and they’ve just essentially moved over all of your content debt, your technical debt from the old site to the new one. Or just not getting really clear on how your business has changed and who your audience has changed, just a little bit.
And then I guess the third one would be the saying, I sell to everybody, which isn’t true. Then thinking I’ve got to develop this website that’s going to appeal to the masses. That’s just not necessarily the case. That’s not necessarily the case. Getting really clear on who those personas are.
I guess the fourth thing that I’ve noticed is all too often people really, really, really want to get into designing a new website. That design piece is so attractive that people will skip the homework step of developing the persona and rewriting the copy.
For some reason making it colorful, pretty and sparkly tends to push the dreaded homework piece. Otherwise, except more often than not people jump to the dessert before they eat their vegetables.
Stacy Jones (19:35):
Drew Barton (19:35):
Stacy Jones (19:42):
What’s your dog’s name?
Drew Barton (19:42):
That one is [Angus 00:19:42], I’ve got several.
Stacy Jones (19:42):
Okay. [inaudible 00:19:43] I have Luna and Leah. So, luckily they don’t have [inaudible 00:19:50] because otherwise they would be joining Angus right now and celebrating.
Drew Barton (19:55):
Stacy Jones (19:55):
So what happened with me earlier on the podcast today, I had everything set up. It was all fantastic, it was great. Tested everything out, I’m like, “Okay, I’m going to go get some water.”
I came back and my puppy who’s eight and a half months old had somehow moved this computer and table just a little bit, enough to pull the entire internet out of the wall, which takes another, 10, 15 minutes to reboot up. So that was the success, we all have. It’s awesome now, COVID-19. Yay.
Drew Barton (20:25):
What’s interesting is I’ve installed this new software that’s supposed to mute out the noises in the background, but apparently it’s not getting out my Angus in the background. Yes.
Stacy Jones (20:34):
Dogs are impossible to mute out, so that’s okay. They’re there not to be muted. They are very colorful and part of our lives. So, there’s… options now, website design has gotten a lot easier and they’re self-served platforms.
You can go in, you could create one yourself. It’s not going to be as good as if you were working with someone who actually knows what they’re doing. The other option is to do that, to hire a digital agency, such as yourself or another to go in and truly craft this.
But there’s the third option as well where instead of you’re doing it and instead of someone else is doing it, you get the landscape, you have it developed by someone and then you have to go in and you’re able to maintain it and you’re able to keep that content up-to-date and you’re able to still grow it on your end, which I think is [inaudible 00:21:23] the perfect storm of even what you as a… do, because I can’t imagine you want to go necessarily be responsible for updating every single solitary [inaudible 00:21:33] whenever someone wants to do a new offer on their website or update a new photo on their website or update a new blog.
Drew Barton (21:41):
Stacy Jones (21:43):
How should someone be approaching digital agencies? How should they find someone that’s [inaudible 00:21:47] the right partner because it’s easy to get the wrong person involved in your website where you think that it’s going to be one thing and then 10 times the costs later you’re still going down the road. It’s not actually in-scope and what you wanted because you weren’t really aligned from the beginning.
Drew Barton (22:08):
Yeah. So in my book, in The Buyer’s Guide, I have an entire chapter on breaking up, which is a great question to ask from the beginning. Which is really disturbing because we want relationships to work out every single one of them from the get go. We want to be together.
But the true fact is, as your business grows and their business grows or their business shrinks and yours grows, there’s possibility of a breakup in there. So one of the questions that I tell my clients to ask in the very first meeting is, how do I cancel? If this doesn’t work out, and I’m not saying it is, but it probably, it’s not if, it’s when…
Stacy Jones (23:01):
Drew Barton (23:03):
We’re going to break up, how does that happen and who gets what? What’s the division of assets when we divorce? And it’s a really good tell when you’re working with someone who is not a professional at that point.
Because the unprofessional, will give you a sign at that point of what is to come, because that’s an unexpected question, you’ve done a pattern interrupt. To quote Tony Robbins on, you’re doing a pattern interrupt at that point.
So you pattern interrupt and you say, “How do I cancel?” Because they were thinking, “Okay, he or she is going to sign.” Instead you say, “Well, what happens when this doesn’t work? How do I cancel?”
And knowing how that happens in a smooth and professional way is the tell for you that you know that you’re working with a professional. If they’re humming and hawing through the answer and it’s not clear on who gets access to the Twitter account and who owns the website and how you transfer it to the new web developer or how you get access to the web hosting.
If all of that seems, “Ooh,” because this is what you’re going to be going through when you do break up. And so asking how we’re going to breakup and having a tried and true process for breaking up is a great question to ask from the very beginning. It’s a little awkward.
It’s intentionally a little awkward, because you’re not supposed to say, how are we going to break up? But, it’s going to give you a really good tell because you’ll know either they’ve been through it before and any agency is going to break it up. It’s people dealing with people, it’s going to happen.
I’d actually be worried, if the agency had all their clients from day one, either they’re not charging enough or, they are charging too… But yeah, [inaudible 00:25:04] break up is a really good tell to ask. And I love asking that question. And it’s a good tell for you.
If it sets off that little hair on the back of the neck, with the answer, [inaudible 00:25:18] need more hair on the back of your neck when you actually do get to do the cancellation process with them.
Stacy Jones (25:24):
Yeah. So I bet you are someone who would be completely supporting of prenup agreements. You don’t have to answer that.
Drew Barton (25:35):
If you know the process-
Stacy Jones (25:35):
No, I’m kidding.
Drew Barton (25:38):
… yeah, if you know the process when you get into it, you’d be like, “Yeah, I understand how this is going to shake out.”
Stacy Jones (25:44):
It makes it a lot easier in any relationship. I think that whole thing that you just said can be applied to anything besides personal relationships, employee and employer relationships. The same thing. Because what I’ve noticed that’s really interesting, totally [inaudible 00:26:01] our topic is that, team members, and even myself from my past, when you’re at a job, it’s scary to be like, “I might want to leave here one day.”
You shouldn’t ever talk about the fact that you want to leave the company you’re with, but eventually you have to leave in order to grow [inaudible 00:26:17] things, if you stop having that ability. Something can happen, whatever. It’s not necessarily that, “Oh, this golden opportunity, I’m moving across the country.” [inaudible 00:26:26] at fault, I mean, you’re going to have to break up.
What I try to teach our team members is that it’s okay to have those conversations and it’s okay to make a plan and speak up. Because [inaudible 00:26:37] everyone’s fault, and it’s a business relationship and it’s healthy to talk about the fact that you’re there to help and support each other right now. But one day you might have to part ways. And so what you’re saying is really the same thing.
Drew Barton (26:50):
Yeah, absolutely. And then also as this [inaudible 00:26:53] it feels good to help them roll into the next step. I’m really clear with our team members is, when all switches are not in the go position, let me help you get to the point where it is go.
If that means going onto another agency or starting your own agency or going into an entirely different line of work, that’s your calling, you’ve got to keep moving. Like Newton’s second law, you got to stay in motion.
Stacy Jones (27:29):
Drew Barton (27:30):
Stacy Jones (27:32):
Okay. So what are other things [inaudible 00:27:34] for if they’re working with a digital agency partner? You talked about how to break up. How else should you be evaluating this and looking for the right person to work with you to build your website?
Drew Barton (27:50):
In the book, there’s a series of questions to ask that if you’re not technically inclined, that are the answer key. So if you’re feeling low on the totem pole of website understanding to use this as your cheat sheet to know that they’re dealing with a fellow, Jedi, to give you the questions like, “Oh, every average client doesn’t normally ask these questions.” Like, “Are you doing the work in-house or are you outsourcing it?”
Stacy Jones (28:28):
[inaudible 00:28:28] see.
Drew Barton (28:28):
Typically wouldn’t answer that.
Stacy Jones (28:30):
You would automatically think that you’re hiring someone and of course they’re doing the work. I’ve hired someone and I learned that they were doing all the work in-house. And here’s this individual that now I’m charging this up charge, I’m being paid. She’s being paid in an upcharge to have someone else do it, which would be fine if I knew that [inaudible 00:28:50] what I went in planning for.
Drew Barton (28:52):
Correct. So simply asking, are you doing it yourself? Are you having someone else do it? That’s a great one. What happens when the website’s finished?
Stacy Jones (29:05):
Drew Barton (29:05):
Which is you’re assuming they’re going to be there to help you. But anytime you make an assumption, I’ll just leave the rest of that sentence blank. When do I owe you money? Knowing the parts of the process, what I’m going to pay. Is it on my satisfaction or is it on a timetable of milestones, on this month you’re paying me, on this month and this month.
Also, what level of search engine optimization are you going to do on the website? I think that’s a really interesting thing to us because we all assume that websites are going to be search engine optimized as if that’s some good housekeeping seal of approval that happens. But anyone that’s in the business will tell you that that’s an endless pursuit of search engine optimization.
So getting a better understanding of what level of SEO, search engine optimization, you’re getting with the website is really crucial. Because otherwise you spend all this money on the website, you launch it, you’re expecting it to do well because of this unstated expectation.
And then your website can tank in the rankings because, I thought you were optimizing it for the website or it says in your proposal, search engine optimized and it’s just a bullet point in the proposal. When really when you use the word search engine optimize, it’s a much, much deeper engagement.
Is there a pause clause? So a pause clause, this is a really important thing. Life happens and there are times when you need to stop work on something to work on something else. People get pregnant, people get fired, people leave their jobs. COVID-19 happens and you can no longer focus on building the website, that kind of thing.
Having a pause clause and then, okay, I can pause it for 30 days, 90 days without paying you, I can reenter into the process. What happens? Having the pause clause is a really important question to ask. And what is a change order for you guys?
It’s a really big one, especially if you’re new to this, if you’re an amateur or not feeling totally solid in search, is really a helpful, helpful thing to know and it’s like, what predicates a change order?
Is, I might not have asked all the questions and our business use case might have changed 30, 60, 90 days into the process and I now need to add new pages for this new product line. Is that a change order or not? If I then showed it to my boss and he hates it, is that a change order or what are the cases that create change order? Yeah.
Stacy Jones (31:59):
That’s all really, really good point of advice.
Drew Barton (32:03):
Stacy Jones (32:04):
Yeah, and they’re all in your book [inaudible 00:32:06].
Drew Barton (32:08):
Stacy Jones (32:10):
So, because I plugged it before and I’m giving you the chance now to plug it, you are actually giving all of our listeners a really, really cool gift today and you had made an offer.
Drew Barton (32:21):
Yeah, absolutely. If you’d like a copy of the book, just send me an email and I will be happy to send you a digital copy of it. Just send me an email to [email protected] and I’ll send you a copy, happy to.
Stacy Jones (32:34):
I just figured now would be a good time to plug the book because, you were just talking about all these awesome things from the book.
Drew Barton (32:41):
Yeah. The whole back of the book is those questions that I just went through and about 70 more. Maybe don’t give all the questions to the web developer, but pick and choose the ones that are important for you. But there’s all cluster of questions to ask to your web developer.
Stacy Jones (33:03):
I will tell you, we ended up redesigning our website a couple of years ago and working with an individual and she was great but I wish I’d read your book beforehand. Because, it went way out of scope, we were on different pages and we thought we were both probably on the same page and the communication just wasn’t there in some way.
And it caused things to take longer for her and for me because, we weren’t just on the same page. And so having the conversations that you just outlined, asking those questions it’s going to enable you to know if you need to come up with all the content, for the final copy. Right?
That’s very different than say, having them do the design and you provide a copy or are you entering this thinking that someone else is going to create a copy for you? That’s a very different ask and a different cost structure.
Drew Barton (33:54):
Absolutely. Yeah. So asking all these questions upfront. But here’s the thing is, we’re not born knowing the answers to these questions upfront. We’re not born knowing that we’re supposed to ask these, especially if you run a dog washing service. How are you supposed to know these questions?
It wasn’t here 20 years ago. We didn’t know to ask these questions. Well, maybe 25 years ago, but it wasn’t there. And we didn’t know to ask all these questions like, is it going to be optimized for Android? The latest version of Android. No one would asked that, or think to ask it, if that’s not your key line of business.
In some ways I consider this book a helpful guide for folks to know what questions to ask. So that way that later there’s not that frustration that you feel because now your expectation doesn’t align with what they were selling you in the first place. Yeah.
Stacy Jones (34:55):
Technology is changing, you’ve touched on it, whatever that platform might be that you want to do an [inaudible 00:35:01] now you want to actually create an app out of your website. All of these things play into the actual structure of what your design is and the type of layout you’re doing, the type of content you’re doing.
So that’s something that needs to be a conversation. If all of a sudden you’re like, “Oh, well I want to one day have, my website but I want to have it merged with a database and have a back end,” you have this whole different world or we haven’t sold anything online but I want to create a [inaudible 00:35:28] marketplace. That’s a different conversation you’re going to be needing to have as well. So, taking some time and figuring it out upfront is going to help, this will save you a lot of money on the backend.
Drew Barton (35:40):
A lot of money, a lot of tears, a lot of frustration, a lot of anger and yeah, it’s almost, you don’t know what to ask. You don’t know what the [inaudible 00:35:56] questions to ask and these things are complicated and they get more and more complicated every single day.
Before you throw up front page and you build a site in an afternoon and stuff. That just doesn’t cut it anymore, and it’s gotten more and more specialized and more and more complicated. So there’s no way that you’re going to know all the questions to ask up front.
But knowing that when you’re asking those questions that you feel like you’re dealing with someone that you can trust through the process, I really want that to be the takeaway from it. Did you feel like this person was answering your questions and did you feel that they were an honest broker?
Because if they were an honest broker for the process, you’d feel so much better with the whole process. By picking away at it a little bit, it helps you get comfortable with that other person, that other agency, because they’re your partner in this process and hopefully for years to come.
Stacy Jones (36:55):
So do you have any other additional advice that you want to leave our audience with?
Drew Barton (37:00):
Oh, it’s never finished. It’s never ever finished. It’s always interesting when some of those, “Oh, I built my website,” and then they give a date to it. At that moment when it launched, it died. And then that was the end of it. And then they may pick it up again in three, five, six, seven, eight years.
That might’ve been the way 10, 15 years ago, but your website is a living, breathing organism that your customers and your clients are going to, and your potential employees are also going to and seeing what your business is about. Seeing that it’s living and breathing and growing and getting bigger and it’s a success story. That is a big takeaway, it’s not done and you’ve got to continually water and feed it and nurture it and grow it until it is.
You’re a 24/7-365 employee of the year where it is just going and growing and making your company and yourself more successful. Because if you do it right, that’s what happens. But if you don’t, it dies on the day you launch it.
Stacy Jones (38:26):
Well and even extending on the dying on it [inaudible 00:38:30] Well, WordPress, right? A lot of websites are built on WordPress or other different platforms and there’s updates to these platforms that are outside your control. You’ve signed up for it, you do not decide if there’s an update or not.
They decide if there’s going to be an update, there’s security updates and there’s tweaks that happen and sometimes it can screw with your content really badly and it can break links or take away photos or change texts and you’re like, “How did that happened? How did Goblin get in my website and screw down with the whole thing?” So you have to keep your eyes on it and make sure that things are still [inaudible 00:39:06] and working and to the best tech level as possible.
Drew Barton (39:12):
Absolutely. Yeah, we have. We actually have one company at Southern Web that is just as [inaudible 00:39:21] WordPress sites and helping them with these updates that come out sometimes weekly, sometimes daily, sometimes monthly.
What’s going on with these security updates or improvements, that back end software is continually updating and growing and getting better and making sure that the changes in the front end pieces that you have still work, it’s so important. And so many were afraid of pushing the update button and blowing up their website and yeah.
Stacy Jones (40:02):
It’s happened. I’ve stumbled across our own pages on our website and I knew that it looked great. Like, the last time it looked a long time ago, because I don’t [inaudible 00:40:10] over our website all the time and check all the pages.
I have other people that hopefully are doing it, but we [inaudible 00:40:15] as much as we should and I’ll go do it. I’m like, “Wait, what happened? Half the page is missing,” and that happens in updates. So, you have to actually keep your eyes on it.
Drew Barton (40:25):
Oh yeah. It is real, what you’re talking about, content disappearing, the site just white screening. These are real concerns and it’s not just with WordPress, all the different website builders that have there, whether it’s Drupal or Wix or Squarespace, they’re always running updates.
They’re always patching because there’s always hackers and bad people and folks that want to take advantage of your website. So, just keeping an eye on it. And then also while you’re at it, read the content aloud. I bet it doesn’t say what you think it does.
Stacy Jones (41:07):
I’m sure, it doesn’t. There’s lots of things, you can always find spelling errors. No matter how many times you look at something, there’s always going to be a grammar, a spelling, a weird sentence, something that’s a miss.
Drew Barton (41:16):
Oh, it’s like that, Febreze commercial where they put them in a van and then it’s filled with junk and they spray the Febreze so they don’t know that [crosstalk 00:41:26] you grow nose blind to the content that’s on your website. You’ve seen it, so clearly that’s what it says. And then one day you hold it up and you read it and go, “Oh my God, why would anyone hire us?” We’re not even speaking English here. You know?
Stacy Jones (41:47):
Honest to God, I know. I have read things where I’ve been like, I think of a team member. I’m like, “It shouldn’t say that.” Like, “We copied it from a website and you wrote it, Stacy.” I’m like, “Oh.” I have some brave employees. Yes.
So, a lot of people are allowed to speak their mind, but we all make mistakes and that happens and all [inaudible 00:42:12]. So continuous, as you said, keeping your eye on it, tweaking. Keeping it alive, dead in the grave would be, optimal.
Drew Barton (42:21):
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. It’s continuous, it doesn’t stop.
Stacy Jones (42:28):
Well Drew, thank you so much for joining today. I really enjoyed chatting with you. It was quite fun and learning and talking about websites, which people might not always think could be fun, but you made it fun, so thank you.
Drew Barton (42:38):
Thank you. It was a pleasure to be with you.
Stacy Jones (42:38):
Of course. And to all of our listeners, thank you so much for tuning in to Marketing Mistakes (And How To Avoid Them). I look forward to chatting with you on the next podcast. Until then, please be safe.
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