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Templates vs. Custom Sites

     
9:53 pm on Nov 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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In my business I have always avoided buying and using templates to create sites for my clients. My feeling was that people were hiring me to create a solution that is unique to them and their business and brand and not a template that may be used by another business.

However I have seen some of my competitors go and buy a handful of templates for a particular industry and then go out and market really hard to land every business possible in this industry on a local level. Because they are using templates in many cases they can afford to under bid me on a job and produce sites faster because it is a template.

In an economy like this one I am wondering if I should perhaps switch my thinking and start doing what my competitors are doing by using templates to clean up on specific industries and keep shekels flowing into the coffers as opposed to always selling the customized solution. I mean do others see the template hustlers out there doing better than the customized solutions?

I would like others opinions on this, should I do this as a pragmatic decision or stick to my principles and provide what I feel is a better product even if it means I will lose business to people who under cut me and dominate an entire industries locally?

10:20 pm on Nov 20, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Why not both? I know customers rarely ever know what they need or is best suited to their needs...but who doesn't appreciate a choice?
You then give your customers the ability to pick a customized solution or a canned solution.

Also, I am thinking it would be really, really easy for someone used to custom sites to create templated sites, but not necessarily the other way around.

You may also wish to offer a middle-of-the-road solution, i.e. customized templating. If a template site costs $10 and a custom sitee costs $100, I would make the "custom-template" site $90. Makes the upsell easier and helps them see the real value in customization. Common marketing technique for luxury items to force people to make bigger purchases!

[edited by: HugeNerd at 10:26 pm (utc) on Nov. 20, 2008]

10:04 am on Nov 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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Couldn't agree more. Give choice.

Depending on the client, you can pitch with either of the following choices (which are in reality the same)

1) Economy Template Site Vs Customised Site
2) Standard Template Vs Premium Custom Site

Just make sure they know your canned competitors are offering the economy type.

6:07 pm on Nov 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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give your customers the ability to pick a customized solution or a canned solution.

I thought about this, but I am a big branding type person and I felt doing both diluted my customized message I put out in the marketplace. When I am sitting in front of a client explaining the benefits of a 100% customized site with SEO built in you can almost see them salivating on the table, even when they were "sold" on the template idea before I walked in the door by another web developer. I am afraid if I throw out both choices that I somehow dilute the value of the customized solution.

Right now in my market I have a reputation of doing very high quality fully customized work and providing top shelf marketing consulting along with it. This reputation has allowed me to price higher than my competitors by a pretty wide margin for a few years now. I am concerned that suddenly offering the discount solution would diminish the value of the reputation as the high end solution.

However, in an economy like this do people still buy a BMW or do they start buy a KIA instead?

[edited by: Fortune_Hunter at 6:10 pm (utc) on Nov. 21, 2008]

7:41 pm on Nov 21, 2008 (gmt 0)

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However, in an economy like this do people still buy a BMW or do they start buy a KIA instead?

To answer that question directly, both. They all want the BMW, but only those with the means will acquire one; some take the KIA as a stopgap -- it meets their needs until they can justify the BMW.

Let's carry your car analogy a bit further, as I think it has a lot to say on this topic:
The car makers go after different market segments, much like you and your customized solutions versus templated sites. So, they rebrand! Toyota = Template, Lexus = Custom. Honda = Template, Acura = Custom. GM/Chevy = Template, Cadillac = Custom.

Start a new LLC, get a new url and a second phone line. Then you can work in both markets without confusing or diluting your premium brand.