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Web Designers versus Digital Marketers

“Web designers really have their work cut out for them. They’re approached by businesses and charged with the responsibility of generating leads, designing customer experiences, developing brand reach, and increasing market share. But why do we inflict this pressure to perform on a designer?”

Will a website project bring in the bacon? Are you building a website for the right reasons? Are you approaching the right people to help you build a better, and more profitable business?

Our digital strategy guy, Ben Dexter, explores a common scenario that he experiences daily in his dealings with businesses - large and small.

More business. Simple right?

You have a problem: you need more business. It's a seemingly simple problem, but there are innate challenges, this is clear. The obvious solution simplified: you need to expand your business' market share by better marketing your business.

You go out to market looking for a service provider - specifically a web designer - that can assist you with your problem. The belief is that by improving your online visibility and therefore increasing website traffic, you will naturally increase sales enquiries.

A tale of two service providers

Two people respond to your calls for help with the promise of solving your issue.

In your first meeting with Alan, the web designer, he believes he has the solution for you. Right from the initial engagement he offers a number of services that should theoretically work because it has worked with a couple of other customers in the past. You discuss website features, search engine optimisation and aesthetic details.

Alan's proposal prescribes a solution that reflects his firm's past experiences and because there is a relative proof-of-concept and an existing model, the price comes in quite low.

His competitor, Sarah, takes a different approach. During your initial meeting with Sarah, already primed by Alan's efficient approach to presenting a solution and a proposal to match, you are somewhat taken aback when she asks these basic questions:

Why do you need more business?
Do you need more customers or more revenue (or both)?
In your industry, how important is market share?
What are your sales targets for this financial year?
Have you surveyed your customer base to get a sense of brand sentiment?

Following these flooring questions, she takes the next 15 minutes to discuss the type of marketing you've performed in the past and where you'd like to take the business in the next 3 - 5 years.

In the second half of your meeting, her analysis takes a turn towards your product and service offering. You expertly run her through how your business's personalised service values customers. By exploring the value proposition of each service, she quickly identifies that there are deficiencies between your existing marketing collateral and the eloquence in which you describe the product. A discussion around pricing also uncovers a potential branding issue: constant discounting and packaged services have taught existing customers that you're ready to make deals, therefore, cheapening the brand... More importantly, reducing your bottom line.

It is agreed that a digital marketing project is a good fit for your business, as it will cost-effectively allow you to reach new markets, better engage customers, and generate sales enquiries.

The proposal

But through your discussions, it's obvious there's more to building a website than meets the eye. Even more clear, is that there are larger problems at play that need to be resolved as a part of your marketing initiatives.

In Sarah's timely response, she highlights these issues:

  • Unclear customer brand perception and sentiment.
  • Customer price awareness has affected revenue.
  • Poorly communicated value propositions for services.
  • Lack of analytical performance reporting.
  • Poor online presence.
  • Poor product and service information on website causing confusion with customers and prospects.

In her proposal, she suggests a brand strategy workshop to kick-off proceedings, a market research component (including a customer survey) and a digital marketing strategy and planning document.

In comparison to Alan, whose proposal has taken a detailed and technical approach showing past work and testimonials, Sarah's proposal describes the core marketing issues that face your business and directly affect your bottom line. She then proceeds to list the services required to solve these issues.

Sarah's proposal is more expensive that Alan's proposal.

Which proposal would you choose and why?
What approach will achieve a better outcome?
Which approach presents the most risk?

An inconvenient truth

The above is a real life scenario, a truth that we witness on almost a daily basis. In our world, +95% of our customers have had the following experience:

  • Built a website with the basic rationale of "it will generate business".
  • The website was built without a digital strategy.
  • The web designer used a template and wrote all the copy and copied most of the information from old brochures and marketing collateral.
  • The website launched with the sound of a single clapping hand.
  • Two years down the track, the website has generate zero to little business and confuses existing customers and new prospects with poor information.
  • Most business still occurs through word of mouth referrals.
  • Zero return on investment.
  • #projectfail.

It could be almost said that much of our business comes from failed digital projects. Crazy thought - even for me!

But it does offer you an unequivocal truth that most online projects are failures. Here's why...

When did web designers become marketers?

Web designers really have their work cut out for them. They're approached by businesses and charged with the responsibility of generating leads, designing customer experiences, publishing snappy and compelling product/service information, highlighting key value propositions, developing brand reach, and increasing market share.

Great and talented web designers are excellent and design solutions to marketing problems. They'll design the best way for users to interact with your products and services online. They'll creatively convey the message of your brand through the marriage of images and typography. Great design, can even increase brand value and improve customer service. The value of great design cannot be underestimated in your business' strategy mix.

But why as businesses owners and managers do we inflict this pressure to perform on a designer?

Cutting to the core

I digress, but it is an incorrect perception of the market that should be corrected. In my previous article, Foundation of Marketing Strategy in the Digital Age, I highlight the approach that every business should take before undertaking a digital marketing project (or building a website).

In my mock scenario, Sarah cut to the core of the issue immediately and then set out to present a plan of attack that would take a much more measured approach to improving your bottom line. The overall execution of her strategy would require the skills of a web designer, yes, but also a digital marketing strategist, a producer, a UI designer, a copywriter, a developer, and a digital analyst.

A clear distinction in roles

I hope by this stage of my article, I've not only highlighted the difference between Web Designers and Digital Marketers, but also convinced you of how making this clear distinction affects your business. It is also a question of business strategy - if you have an existing marketing strategy and the internal resources to effectively communicate brand value, then a web designers is a good choice. But distinctions between the two roles should be clear.

Effective planning = good business

So my final summary is this: The value of planning in any business strategy is a given. As any great business strategist would tell you, effective planning and strategy is the key to creating a successful business. The value of a digital marketing strategist and, indeed, a digital marketing agency, is that their very existence is built on developing strategies that reap rewards and, ultimately, success.

My final word of advice: Choose a digital marketing agency to build a better and more profitable business. Simple.

Indietech blog article author - Digital Marketing and Web Design insights
Noted by Ben Dexter

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