Why is it that some websites can be built for only a few dollars by a freelancer and agencies charge hundreds and thousands of dollars and sometimes you can’t really tell the difference between them?

Sure you know the agency might do a better job, but do you need all of those bells and whistles, when truthfully, you’re not exactly sure what all of the stuff even means.

It’s like, “Sure we all would love to be driving BMW’s and Audi’s, but a Nissan or Toyota is still going to get us where we need to go, right?”

Well, the answer is both a yes and a no. Just like with everything, a website, web design, and marketing overall is more complicated than that.

If you spend any time on social media you will almost definitely see someone trying to sell you some kind of marketing service. Some will offer to rebuild your website in 24 hrs, others will manage your Facebook ads, and still, some others might say they are “full service.” What does that even mean, and more importantly do you need a full-service agency?

It’s hard for a business owner to put their business in the hands of someone else, it’s not just their business, it’s their dream. It’s their livelihood and the lives of their employees. What’s worse is that often times business owners are confused about how to even tell if marketing is working.

Sure you can identify if your business is better or worse, but there are a lot of factors that determine that.

This is the point where you probably expect me to tell you that you need to evaluate the company you’re working with, and evaluate why they do what they do, why they’re helping you, and if they actually are. While that’s all true, and would make for a good blog post, there’s another truth when it comes to marketing these days.

Anyone can do it. Well not to say that everyone can do it well, or do it correctly, but everyone can do it. There are free online coaching and weekend classes that tell people how to make Facebook ads or use Google AdWords. There are supposed hacks and tricks to beat the system. There are so many “Golden Bullets” out there that it almost makes someone feel stupid for not having a successful business.

So how do you know who to trust and who not to? Even if they seem gimmicky, can they still produce? How do you know if you are getting the right value out of an agency or service provider?

The simple truth is, often business owners don’t know everything they need to know about the market they’re working in. This is especially true with small businesses whose owner(s) is still working within the business. Their focus is running the business, not studying the mind of the consumer.

Think of it as levels. A company like Amazon or Microsoft might be a level 50, and the high school kid down the street who has a lawn mowing business might be a level 1.

It’s important to understand where your business is, and focus on getting to the next level. Every big company grows a little bit at a time, sure you may be able to skip a couple steps with a good process, or a high ticket client or investor, but the fact is that, like a staircase, you are going to have to walk up most of those steps.

So when you are shopping for a marketing agency, consider not how good this agency is over that agency, but consider how they’re willing to help you get to the next level, and then the next, and then the next, and so on. A freelancer may be the answer for a period of time, and may be able to help you scale the next level, or several. You may have to eventually make a transition when you can afford agency level services. The truth is, the higher you get in levels, the more the marketing costs. The other side of the truth is, the higher the marketing costs, the more your business can grow. That Lawnmower kid is not going to be able to afford the services of the agency that may work with Amazon, and that’s okay.

Agencies charge what they believe they are worth, and they should. It is not the place of the business owner to judge the agency for being too expensive, nor is it the place of the agency to judge the business owner for not being able to afford their services.

The hope of every business owner is that its customers will see the value that they bring to the table, instead of the negative emotions that come from failed proposals or lost business due to cost.

We need to accept that as a business owner, you may not be a perfect fit for everyone. You can’t be everything to everyone. From a customer standpoint (and yes we are customers too) we need to not be insulted that a proposal was higher than expected or than we can afford.

We would never want to work for less than we are worth, and we should not expect others to do so either. If you’re going to run you business at a higher level, don’t shortcut yourself by charging less than you’re worth, but stay humble, don’t kid yourself by thinking you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread.

As a business owner, and as a consumer, know your level, and seek to move tot he next level. Work with businesses and individuals that you can grow together with. If you have had some success, and some consumers can’t afford to work with you, don’t disgrace them, but point them to resources that will help them take the next step, get to that next level. When you do that, they may be able to come back to you when they can afford to work with you, and your business is the right fit to take them to the next level.

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