A few years ago, I caught Dubai fever and was looking for a job in the Middle East. My guru, Sumit Roy, told me about an exciting new company and suggested I look it up and apply. Unfortunately, when I went to the site, all I saw was a ‘coming soon’ landing page. I told Roy that any company that did not invest in their website was not worth wasting time over.
It may seem harsh but many local companies fail to realise how important a good website is for their corporate image and business. In this issue, you are reading about property and real estate and crucially, your website is your property and a key piece of real estate. In fact, unlike other digital assets, such as Facebook or Twitter, a website is your own. Facebook is ‘rented’ space and given our government’s haphazard attitude towards social media and digital, one day you may wake up to find out that, for one reason or another, Facebook has once again been banned.
This scenario is a nightmare for anyone working in digital marketing but it is also a concern for a company. Currently, brands and companies invest heavily in Facebook, while spending little or nothing on their own website. Even if the threat of a Facebook ban did not exist, companies are living dangerously by not investing in their website.
Although local companies are now acknowledging the need to have a website of their own, this (like beauty) is basically a subjective concept; for them, a ‘good’ website is based on their own idea and understanding – and even if a company is looking for what they believe is a state-of-the-art website, they also believe that they can obtain this ideal site on a shoestring budget. Companies just do not understand that designing a good website costs money and time – as web developers can affirm – and companies ask for the moon, but are unwilling to spend what it takes. In fact, as digital marketers often bemoan, local companies are content to hand over their Facebook marketing to freelancers who charge less and achieve, what in their opinion is, a cost-effective return.
Companies just do not understand that designing a good website costs money and time – as web developers can affirm – and while companies ask for the moon, they are unwilling to spend what it takes.
In the same way, but to a greater extent, local companies miss the concept that their website is practically their office. If you visit the offices of a large company, more often than not, they will have taken pains and spent money to make it welcoming. Yet, visit the same company’s website, and the chances are it will not be as impressive. This glaring lack of appreciation of the importance of a good website is a phenomenon that will not be disappearing any time soon; it
took years for companies to understand the need to spend on software in the same way they spent on hardware. The reason for this is an illogical desire to focus on cost-cutting rather than cost-effectiveness; especially when it comes to digital assets.
Yet for any company, their image and brand equity is their property and real estate. By opting for low-cost options, there can logically be monetary savings, but the subsequent impact on image and brand equity are not easily quantifiable and, nine times out of 10, when it comes to digital, companies choose cost over equity and this is a big mistake. There is a trade-off between a monetary sum and a relatively intangible entity. What is left out of the equation is the long-term effect of opting for a low-cost web presence.
Sadly ad agencies, and even digital agencies, exhibit the same mindset when it comes to their own digital assets. I recall at the Dig-it 2012 Conference, during a discussion on mobile, a panelist asked the room how many people had a mobile ready site. Only a handful of people raised their hands. This was at a digital conference where mobile was one of the key topics covered. In another example, when I was working at a digital agency, efforts to update the company’s website were resisted because the CEO could not spare anyone from the creative team as they were busy working on projects that were earning money for the company. I am sure that if you speak to ad agencies about the challenges faced with clients regarding digital and website projects, they will rant about how clients don’t get digital, how they fail to realise the importance of a proper website, and that quality costs, and yet, remain blissfully unaware that they too exhibit the same short sightedness.
Pakistani companies need to understand that their website is their real estate. Don’t reduce its value and damage your brand equity. In other words don’t be short ‘sited’.
Tyrone Tellis is a marketing professional working in Pakistan.