10 Mistakes: My Dilemma

This is one of a series of 12 posts that will show you how to take full advantage of the business-building power of the Internet and not get left behind as your prospects shift from using the Yellow Pages to the Internet to find a martial art school. Click here to view the first post and to access links to the others. 

My dilemma – do I do what my client asks or what I think is right?

Now that you know the ten reasons why 99% of local-business websites are a total waste of time and money, let me tell you a brief story abut a dilemma I faced in late 2007.

One of my clients was organizing a national conference for local business owners. The focus of the conference was on business growth, so he had decided to include a two-hour session on how to develop and maintain an Internet website.

He and I had worked together for several years and I had helped him expand his business pretty dramatically. Part of this work included developing and maintaining his website, so he was aware that I knew a thing or two about the Internet.

As a result, I was his first choice to give the Internet presentation at his conference.

After we had done so much work together, you can imagine his surprise when I told him I wouldn’t do it.

See, I had been in this situation before. I had given plenty of presentations about developing and maintaining a website and the results had always been the same.

Do you know what these results were? Let me give you a bit more detail about my experiences with these presentations and I bet you’ll be able to make a pretty good guess.

Here is an outline of the normal course of events:

  • I worked my tail off to put together a presentation that explained EXACTLY how to develop and maintain a website that would get lots of traffic and convert that traffic to lots of interested leads.
  • I flew to the meeting destination and spent two miserable nights at some fancy hotel (business travel lost its luster years ago after spending three years as the global marketing director for a large medical device company).
  • I gave the presentation with all of the energy and clarity I could muster – with the audience of business owners taking copious notes. Again, my presentations explained EXACTLY what was required to have a successful Internet presence.
  • The meeting ended and everyone went back home to run their businesses (and dig themselves out from the pile of work that accumulated when they were gone).

What do you think happened from there? Here’s what you would hope these business owners would do:

  • Interview a bunch of web developers and professional copywriters to find a team who seemed to know what they were doing
  • Review with the team they selected what they had learned from me
  • Put together a project plan to get the website done in a timely manner and at a reasonable cost
  • Manage the project to completion, referring regularly to their notes from the presentation to ensure that mistakes weren’t being made
  • Put in place an ongoing effort to do on-site SEO, off-site search marketing and site maintenance

So, what do you think? Did all of the business owners go home and take these steps?

Do you think any of them did?

If you are a local business owner or franchisor, you know the answer. No small business owner on the planet has the time, interest or energy do any of this stuff.

Therefore, what were the results of all the hassle and hard work?


Sure, there might have been a few who realized they absolutely MUST have a website (given the explosion of Internet search). And these few might have found some web developer and try to communicate to this person what they had learned from me.

However, I’m sure their experience went something like this:

  • The person hired would share their biases (“You really need to use this cool technology;” “You need to spend a bunch of money on a fancy graphics”)
  • The conversation would deteriorate into the use of a bunch of incomprehensible technical jargon
  • The business owner would get hopelessly confused
  • The priorities would shift away from Traffic and Conversions to whatever the web developers biases were
  • The business owner would be tasked with writing all of the content
  • Traffic generation tasks would be put off for sometime in the future
  • The entire project would cost much more than it should

The end result – another website that is a total waste of time and money.

So, given these previous experiences, I had a BIG dilemma. Did I just do what my client asked or did I reject his request?

Well, at the end of the day, I just couldn’t get myself to accept my client’s invitation to present at his conference. I knew it would be a big waste of my time and the conference attendee’s time. In addition, I was worried that my presentation might just create a lot of frustration – where the local business owners knew they HAD to so something but didn’t have the time, interest, or energy to do it.

Given that he was such a good client, I felt an obligation to search for another option.

Here is what I found — a technology that could be used to create a world-class online system for my client and then duplicated for other businesses in my client’s niche in other geographic locations.

So, my client and my company used this technology to do just that. It required thousands of dollars of investment and well as hiring some very specialized talent, but the results were worth it.

I could now go to the conference and offer something with real value rather than just a bunch of empty words. And, the conference attendees saw that value — 19 of 20 purchased the online system we had developed.

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