November 23, 2010

What’s the “opportunity cost” of a mediocre website?

“Oh, we never get clients from our website,” he explained.

Just keep believing it, we thought to ourselves, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Survey your customers and see that they all, indeed, came from referrals, or trade shows, or print ads – certainly not from your website. Q.E.D. Case closed. No need to adapt or evolve: let’s keep on like it’s 1999.

An amazing array of firms think this way, from professional service firms clinging to the country-club-card-passing network model, to firms unaware of recent and permanent changes in buyer behavior. Decisions are much different now that we’ve experienced The Four-Word Revolution. Today, even a referral from a trusted source will be verified by the “I’ll check them out” test.

That’s where “opportunity cost” must be factored in. Exactly how many clients did you not get when prospects checked you out? How many strong candidates you might have hired didn’t talk to you when they saw your circa-2004 website? How many selection sets did you not get into when that major player was shopping for new resources? And how exactly did your (unworthy, inferior) competitor land that big account, anyway?

Hard to measure, you say, and we agree completely. So you have two choices: do something and measure the improvement, or do nothing and hope it doesn’t matter. How much opportunity cost can you afford to squander?