Waste of $40K or Building Your Brand

Putting Paint to Canvas

If there is no art and if there is no feeling then all we have is a graphic.

Some years back I went into a town office and spoke to the person responsible for their web development. We chatted away and I made mention of their logo, which I felt was rather strong, and asked why it was not part of their website? The answer I quite huffily received floored me “… it is not necessary for a logo to be part of a website.” I left shortly thereafter as I have found through experience it is of little benefit to try to work with or educate a person who evidently knows far more than you do about a subject.

I sat down some time later with another person who had asked me to look at their non-profit website, which I did and we put a plan together for them. Knowing beforehand they had little money we put a proposal together that we were knowingly going to lose money on … actually a lot of money; but my thought was if we develop this we could market to other organisations of the same type. Similar to the meeting above I ran into someone that had been to a couple of seminars and knew far more than I did about web development … and to top it off our price in their opinion was ridiculously high. I withdrew our proposal for the same reasons as above.

On the other side, there was a particular town that put out an RFP to re-brand. On the face of it this is a good idea, particularly if you are looking at defining and positioning the town and understand you need a consistent message, look and feel across all the touch points of your town. This town received a number of proposals, (I was not one of them for the record) ranging from a low of about $35K to over $100K and after deliberation and presentations they chose a contractor that came in around $40K.

Surveys were taken, discussions held and a brand book was developed. The brand book was  done in the usual formats and laid everything out as to how the new look was to be delivered complete with a definition of the town’s message. Then came the unveiling of the new logo … everyone was excited and the town proud of the design chosen. My personal opinion when I saw it some time later was “Oh My” as it looked to me like they were graphically saying, don’t come to our town as we have nothing to offer.

The description was the usual, this colour depicts this, and this other colour portrays this thought, and the graphic so clearly shows this and this and this. I read it and what came to mind was the fable of the Emperor’s New Clothes. We spent $40K so it must be good and we will roll it out across every touch-point in our town. At least they recognise that the logo needs to be a part of their website which put them way ahead of the other town group.

On the surface it seems this town did everything correct. They sent out an RFP, they narrowed down to a choice of 2 or 3 and then had the selected groups make presentations to the selection committee and then chose and awarded the contract. Using that method, you often can luck out and the design team can come up with a winner … and other times it can be a $40K disaster.

Have you ever sat on a committee? Everyone has an opinion and in their own field they are probably very good and, their opinion in their field probably has some merit. Remember the first paragraph of this article? If the person “… it is not necessary for a logo to be part of a website” was on the committee and had a strong voice or if someone who had been to a seminar and now was an authority was part of the group … well I pity the contractor.

So what could the town have done to protect themselves? In my opinion they should have hired a consultant to create the RFP and assist in selecting the short-list. Then the consultant could have guided the committee through to the final choice and been the contact point for the contractor. Professional to professional and the town ends up the winner.

Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions Inc., a Web Development company serving clients across North America. It takes a team to create a website that works.


SEO – SEM – Social Media and your Blog


The ultimate purpose of your corporate website is to deliver your brand message, facilitate your site visitor’s contact with your business, and to be easily found by the search engines thereby creating site visits. The fact is that search engines focus on content. Now before you say, “what about? …”, I do recognise that site structure and key-phrases form the foundation of your website and links back to your site from authoritative websites are also critical; but how can you legitimately accomplish significant site visits and develop back-links to your website? The best method I know of is excellence in content or you might have heard the more market savvy phrases “liquid content or content marketing.”

What are the steps required to create an effective web presence on the Internet? The first would be to build a professional looking website that integrates the designs to attract site visitors and to populate that site with sufficient content to deliver your message. I read about a start-up recently that specialises in creating single page websites for small business, and a single page is definitely better than your business having no web presence at all, but a single page is not going to accomplish your goals on the Internet today. There are many good web development companies including our own OTR Web Solutions and so if you need help with your website do a web search, check references and view their portfolio … then contract a website with the web developer of your choice.

After your website is up and running and presuming your web developer has looked after your web content with market ready content, SEO built into the site and keyword/key phrase research and implementation (and all of the foregoing is critical to your success) then it is time to look at your Social Media.

Online Corporate Blog

Let’s start with the importance of your business web blog, which cannot be underestimated. It is here that you can develop fresh, relevant content on a regular basis. Always integrate your blog with your website, it should be a seamless transition to your blog pages from your, or within your website. It is important to understand that your blog is predominantly about relevant information that pertains to your readers and is not “hitting them over the head” with “buy my product or service.” Your blog must also be published on a regular basis and not hit or miss as you remember to write an article. If you can only write once a month then write every month … but make it good and make it consistent. Generally speaking an effective business blog has new content at least once per week.

Continuing with your business blog, it is important to make certain you have performed the SEO (search engine optimization) functions necessary for each blog entry. Keyword and keyphrase implementation within your blog is part of what draws the search engines attention to your blog and as your blog is part of your website, to your website. Each entry to your blog is another page to your website and relevant content is still king. Your blog should invite interaction by having a clear place for your readers to respond and should have clear links to your Social Media pages. Take notice of the floating Social Media links on the left of this blog as well as static links at the bottom of the blog. this allows for you as the reader to simply pass along content that you find relevant.

Lastly your corporate blog is not very useful if all it does is have good information but there is no call to action to your readers. Give your readers the opportunity to contact you at least once as a bare minimum at the close of your blog. A closing paragraph like, “Ian Conklin is the President of OTR Web Solutions Inc and you can follow him on Twitter @otrweb or from theOTR Web Facebook pages. If after reading this blog article you recognise that your company could use some web development assistance and/or Social Media Management then please make contact with OTR and we will follow up with your request.” These two sentences clearly state who we are and allows for multiple contact opportunities without being in the readers face.

Social Media

There are a multitude of Social Media options for you to choose from and what you make use of is mostly dependant upon your business. For the most part many businesses want to create a Facebook, Twitter, Google+ andLinkedIn business pages as well of course as the corporate blog. Many aspects of a Social Media Campaign were covered in an earlier OTR Web blogSocial Media Campaigns which you can read here. You will want to make use of a Social Media Managment tool to manage your SM campaigns … otherwise the task can become overwhelming. You can see the tools we use here at OTR Web to manage our clients Social Media Campaigns on these pages. Lastly your website again must be fully integrated with your Social Media campaigns. Make it simple for your readers to pass on your information to their followers by having your Social Media links on your website pages.

When your website contains the elements that the search engine bots deem necessary, combined with creative designs and images, and excellence in your copy content then, you have a website that your readers will refer their circle of friends to via Facebook “Likes”, Google +’s, and “Tweets”.

SEO or Search Engine Optimization

Aside from web design from overseas “companies” there is no greater spam attack on your mailbox then SEO companies or individuals. The number of companies that claim they will move your website to number 1 on Google are limitless … if you will just sign here and contract with us for 12 months to get the job done. OTR Web has written a previous article on SEO here in more detail. The truth is SEO begins with the overall strategic plan and architecture of your website, research into copy and keyword phrases and interviews with key people to determine your brand message … finally implementing that information into your website. Social Media and your online blog are key components of your SEO action plan.

Some unscrupulous SEO firms do all kinds of nefarious tricks to try to fool the search engines, but in the end such SEO tactics will fail. Why? Because the search engines, more often than not will penalise websites for such questionable tactics. When considering enlisting the aid of SEO firms promising the moon, consider whether or not a short term gain is sufficient to balance the effect of a long-term penalty?


Web DevelopmentSEO and Social Media are a combined package and if done right will help to propel your business into the forefront ahead of your competition. If you understand that your business requires a web presence that will work and deliver your brand then you are on the right track. Not every business has the skills required to deliver a successful web presence … and that is understandable. If you asked me to build your house you could have a problem on your hands as I am not a carpenter, or electrician or plumber or architect or roofer or contractor … well you get the idea. It takes a team to build a house and it takes a team to build a web presence that works. If you need a team to work through the processes then we at OTR Web are here to help you. You can contact us on our Facebook pages, Twitter pages, join us in our Google+ circles or just contact us direct.

Take a moment to connect to our Social Media links on the left and below and if you Like us on Facebook we would be very pleased. As well your comments (below) are always appreciated.