Comparing Website apples to Website oranges

Steve Harney is a big man. He needs to be to house his big heart. And his big brain.

Steve is also filled with extraordinary common sense, which I benefited from today as we conversed about everything from stick ball to bagels to real estate.

The conversation swung around to broker Websites. The topic came up in a discussion about a company Steve is working with that cited our brokerage website report as their guide to creating a new website.

As this company deliberated over the realities of a new website and vendor, Steve noticed the broker was comparing the cost of a new site to the cost of their old one.

That way of thinking puzzled Steve. In his mind, the broker should be measuring the cost of the new website against the overall cost of their print advertising – the very thing this Website would replace.

Steve will be the first one to tell you that he is not an expert on Websites or digital marketing. But when those words rolled off his tongue, the first thought that came to my mind was, “why didn’t I think of that?”

Brokers, I understand the dilemma you face regarding your Websites. Despite the pressures you feel internally to stick with what you have, you know it does not represent who you are, what your real value proposition is or what you want your brand to be.

In the pit of your stomach is that daily churn over why so much of your traffic never converts. It’s not the morning coffee talking. It’s because whatever it is you have appears to be an anomaly to anyone who has ever used the Internet to search for anything.

You are slowed to a crawl in a sickening struggle to delineate who among the many vendors that promise the world will actually deliver something more than a shanty.

But at the end of the day the biggest contributor to the Website dilemma is what Steve observed, the comparison of your current rotten apple Website to the cost of a brand new orange.

That makes no sense to Steve, a man who once ran a large and successful brokerage, which he sold when times were great. And I concur. It makes no sense to me either.

This past summer at ConnectSF a man in the audience asked panel speaker and broker Jonathan Kaufman how smart it was for him to have spent $35,000 to build his small brokerage site when he could have sold him a template Website for $99.00. Jonathan said it was perfectly smart, because he doesn’t run a template brokerage. He’s doing really well.

A few weeks ago, D.C. brokerage Avery Hess launched their new Website – a far cry from a $99 template [Disclosure: Avery Hess is a 1000WATT client]. With a modicum of free press, a thoughtful communications plan, and a few reviews by some well-respected folks, the site is exploding with leads and – get this – inquiries from local agents who want to now become Avery Hess agents.

Yup. This isn’t science fiction folks.

It’s taking the web as seriously as you once took print.

Thanks for today Steve.

– Davison Twitter: @1000wattmarc