We each have our own set of specializations and talents. Someone in your family is probably better at cooking than all the others, while someone else is a better writer, carpenter, or a musician. The world would be a very boring place if we all had the same level of skill and proficiency in everything.
The Entrepreneurial Journey
At some point, you probably got the idea that you could make your favorite baubles or provide a service better than others you'd seen, and so you launched a business of your own. Most entrepreneurs have a passion for something around which they believe they can build a business. Sadly, I've seen many entrepreneurs with great ideas that can't run the rest of their business.
Small business owners often find themselves in the position of sales person, bookkeeper, manager, and marketing director. That's a lot of other job titles that entrepreneurs willingly accept just so they have the freedom to sell their own products and services. Many small business startups will struggle through several years where the entrepreneur becomes accustomed to wearing all those job hats, perhaps even turning into a control freak that believes their business is better off if they stay in control.
Traditional Media Marketing
Pre-1994, the realm of marketing only existed in the real world. The concept of virtual reality and cyberspace existed by then, but not as a medium for ads. Now those real world methods of marketing are referred to as Traditional Media and everything on the internet is called New Media.
With Traditional Media, if I wanted to put up a billboard, I would ask a billboard company where to place my ad to reach a certain number of people of a particular demographic. If I wanted to put an ad in a magazine, I would ask an agency to help me figure out the best one to pay for. If I wanted to put an ad on TV, I would talk to another agency to help figure out what channel and what time of day to air my 30 second spot.
This process is nothing more than targeting. It's unsophisticated and has a high degree of error, but it's still targeting your ads to be seen by specific people.
New Media Marketing
I find it perplexing that small business owners will time and time again pay for help from an agency for "Traditional Media" advertising, yet they feel they can spend the time to learn how to use the internet on their own. The internet is not one single advertising medium; it's a virtual world of unlimited methods of advertising throughout billions of different websites.
It's difficult to imagine how big the internet is, and most people can probably only name a handful of websites they visit along with a bunch from this list of the most popular websites. Of the 127 websites on that list as of this writing, I can identify at least 40 different advertising platforms. While most businesses will exclusively focus on the top 3 sites (Google, YouTube, and Facebook) it's very short sighted to exclude all the rest.
Each of those 40 potential methods of online advertising comes with their own rules, directions, and user expectations. It's virtually impossible for any one person to understand each advertising platform and how to use it best. Each platform has its own internal nuances around which experts have built careers, businesses, and even training courses. For example, there are countless numbers of classes available to teach you how to use Google AdWords, which is how you can target the 30 different Google properties that are listed within those top 127. AdWords is not easy to learn. Not at all.
Facebook is a social network and an advertising platform. Mastery of it requires constant monitoring and study of how the network connects people together and what types of posts people are reacting to. Facebook frequently changes its methodology to stay ahead of savvy marketing professionals that are learning how to use, or should I say game, the system.
Speaking of frequent changes, Google search probably has the record for the most frequent changes. Their spokespeople usually claim that they make more than 600 small tweaks to their algorithm every year. Those of us who study search results are always trying to catch up with the latest methods.
The umbrella term "marketing" now includes whatever advertising you put on the internet. This includes the 127 popular sites, your local sites, and whatever smartphone app you choose to use.
How could any business owner even dream of making sense of all of that? How could any business owner believe that they could manage their own online advertising, or their identity on their own, without help, while also running the rest of their business?
I don't believe they can, yet I see attempt after attempt every day by owners running their store, managing their website, dabbling in AdWords, while also trying to manage their time and ads on Facebook. Without fail, the entrepreneur doesn't recognize the struggles they have to stay on top of it all and one or more of those methods don't yield the desired results. I've met so many entrepreneurs that are in over their head but unwilling to let go.
That's exactly what I thought when I started searching for my review candidate for today's review.
The Disappointing Quest
I started my quest with a search for "jewelers Las Cruces, NM" and was given these results:
There were 4 different independent jewelers listed in the first half of the SERP. Austin's Fine Jewelry (marked with A on the above SERP) looked like it hadn't been updated since 2014 and hadn't been redesigned in 10 years. I decided to be kind and just skip them as a review candidate. Here's a sneak peek at their home page:
(click to enlarge)
Baquera Jewelers (marked with B on the above SERP) has a WordPress site with some innovative design elements. I could have dug into their product catalog and embarrassed them too, but it does look like they are trying to do something with their site, so I'll give it time to mature. Here's a glimpse at their home page:
(click to enlarge)
The website for Mendez Jewelers (marked with D in the above SERP) seemed to be offline when I wrote this review. It looks like the site has been offline for only a few days. I was able to dig up this screen shot from the web archive:
(click to enlarge)
I was able to determine that the Mendez was using a WordPress site, and the theme looked pretty simple. I also looked like the website had not been updated in more than 2 years. My guess is that the owner set up the site on their own and then either ran out of time or thought a one-time slap-up of a site was good enough. The fact that the website has been down since about December 20th tells me that they are not paying attention to it at all.
Now I'd like to dig to Boudreau Jewelers & Gallery, marked with B on the above SERP. Their website is http://boudreaujewelersandgallery.com/.
This is what the Boudreau Jewelers website looked like when I visited:
The first thing I noticed was the headline "SPRING TIME," and I was hoping this referred to the Spring of 2016, but according to the internet archive, this is what their website looked like since Spring 2015. They attempted a redesign of their website in early 2015 and never completed the process.
Could this business owner be in over their head? Are they attempting to create a website on their own without any help from a professional? I believe so, and I'll itemize the mistakes that might seem small, but they make a difference between a professional looking online identity that's helpful, and one that customers will dislike.
Build Your Own Disaster
Looking behind the scenes, I discovered that they are using the service websitebuilder.com. This service promotes themselves as a way to "build your own free professional website" by choosing from thousands of templates.
In my experience, most people choose a template because the sample photos and content in that template look amazing. I like to think of the template design of a website as the colors, fonts, and structure of how things are arranged. Behind the scenes, it's all structured in some sort of overlapping boxes. The colors, fonts, copy, and photos you stick into those boxes will either make your website look snazzy, or like garbage.
Very seldom is it that a website will turn out to look like the original template design, and when it does, it's because there was a good creative team sourcing the visual content.
The logo of a website is often one of the hints that tells me when a website was created by the business owner, or inexperienced staff, rather than a professional. Professional website designers will usually convert or recreate a business logo to match the color of a website, are make it blend in. The logo on the Boudreau website is small, and inside a white box instead of a transparent background. They probably cropped it from another digital file without considering how sloppy it looked.
I give them credit for trying to come up with their own photo for the home page instead of using one that's professionally sourced or purchased stock art. It's always better to have interesting looking product photos on your home page rather than simple photos with empty white backgrounds.
However, this is probably a case where the end result didn't live up to the expectations of the chosen template. The photo is too blurry. There are 3 ring heads visible in the photo, but two are partially cropped at the top and bottom, and the third is out of focus. Thus there's no distinctive focal point of interest. In fact, the only area in focus is the shank of the ring on the left, which happens to be covered by fingerprints.
Like I said, I give them credit for trying, but now then need to go back to their photo lab and try again.
The home page is very minimalistic with just the top menu, the photo, the Spring Time heading, and the two short sentences. I assume that's what they were going for, and perhaps the picture was supposed to say 1000 words, but it simply says "sloppy disaster" to me.
A Jeweler Without Jewelry
Unfinished websites are also another clear indicator that the owner is trying to do it on their own, and failing miserably.
You should never have a blank page on your website. Simply hide them until you have something to put on them. In this case, it seems like Boudreau Jewelers doesn't sell jewelry, at least that's what their blank jewelry page tells us:
I Don't Want Your Business; Let Me Lead You Somewhere Else
An entrepreneur trying to build their business would certainly not tell in-store customers to leave and go somewhere else, but amateurish mistakes on a website say exactly that.
Take a look at the engagement ring page:
The Shop Now button, the ring photo on the right, and the ring photo on the left all jump to the home page of the Gabriel & Co. website. From the home page I can browse the entire Gabriel line, and I can search for other jewelers who carry the line. Perhaps that will lead me to another jeweler that puts more effort into their online identity, and is therefore more enticing to shop with.
This method of off-site linking to a jewelry designer's website always creates the possibility that the customer will use a store locater feature to fins another jeweler. If you insist on using off-site links, then they should at least open in another browser tab; but that's not what Boudreau did. They linked directly to the home page of the Gabriel website, which sends the customer away, never to be seen again.
Additionally, Gabriel & Co. usually provides all their retailers with specific websites to link to. These websites can be used within an IFRAME on the website without the customer ever needing to leave the site. The Boudreau website is the first jeweler I've seen in years that made the mistake of linking to the home page the Gabriel's general public site. This certainly screams of yet another sloppy, inexperienced mistake.
There are too many free website providers out there, and there's a sucker born every minute. Those free services feed into the multi-hat control-freak mentality that many entrepreneurs suffer from.
How much money is being saved by trying to do it all yourself? How much money is being lost because the DIY method makes you look sloppy and unprofessional?
When looking forward into 2017, you should think about what you need to let go of and outsource to those better trained, or with a better aptitude. I certainly would never attempt to design a ring. I'm sure I'd end up with a molten pile of metal if I tried to solder a head on a ring too.
Each one of us needs to admit when we're trying to take on too much work that's outside our area of expertise, and ask for help.
That's it for this year; I'll see you next year...
FTC Notice: I randomly choose this website and won't be telling the retailer jeweler that I'm giving them these flop fix ideas. Unless someone else tells them, they will only find out about this Nugget if they use Google Alerts or examine their Google Analytics and Google Search Console. I'm not doing this to solicit business from them, but rather as an educational exercise for everyone. This #FridayFlopFix is completely impartial and all my comments are based on previous experience in my website design and marketing agency, and from my personal research data.