Owing to the exposure we enjoy across projects, we come into contact with various groups and consultancies. What we have noticed is that SMB’s are separated from the best of breed Internet / Web services by budget differentials of one, sometimes two orders of magnitude (factors of 10.)

How does this affect Small Business in the Digital Marketplace? Is there a vacuum of services that smart suppliers might fill?

SMB’s typically spend 100 times less per year than their Medium or Large business competition.

Minimum annual fees for a top Agency to operate a basic website were quoted recently by a top west coast Agency in the following manner:

As for a minimum account value, there are two basic engagement types.

First a single project focused around a scope of work (site rebuild, etc.) or

Second, an ongoing support agreement.

Projects typically begin in the $75-125k range and up including our strategic planning, original design, world-class engineering, and related services.

Ongoing support agreements, which are exactly the kind of strategic relationship that we prefer to engage in, start at 40hrs/month for a 6-month commitment. In this baseline engagement, the monthly cost comes to $7k at our standard rate of $175/hr.

That being said, we have discounted plans that range up to 80, 160, or even 300+ hours or more per month — dependent on the needs of our clients. (E.g. $14k to 50k / month.)

Operating solo as a business with a web presence is becoming more risky. The likelihood of hacking? Almost 100%
Operating solo as a business with a web presence is becoming more risky. The likelihood of hacking? Almost 100%

What are larger businesses receiving for their money that SMB’s don’t have access to?

Security for one. Agencies typically have invested commensurately in the technical ability to remain ahead of hackers. Well, at least for the most part!

Speed and site monitoring are built in.

Often the Agency supplies streamlined workflows for clients to pipe information into their sites with the added benefit of professional editing. This assures a consistent look, feel and voice. It also assures that images and other cross-channel content is properly configured for being shared to social media. Sometimes all this needs to be culturally adjusted and re-written in various languages.

Agencies are known for expertise in Search optimization. As well as advertising online. Their understanding of site optimization for visitors via analytics is a powerful advantage.

And finally — State of the Art features. Widgets and apps that nobody else has.

SMB Budgets we encounter commonly run less than $2-3k / year.  Most of which is spent on break-fix responses to ‘issues’ or just plain amending ‘static’ information in the site. And actual budgets, astonishingly enough, are relatively rare. SMB’s typically spend only if circumstances ‘require’ it.

For SMB’s – Strategic thinking and an attitude of investment in the Web are literally not on the radar.

We are aware of small businesses that have operated for several years at a time spending only on domain registration and website hosting fees.

Two things.

SMB’s should be budgeting, investing more – especially where Mobile Responsive design is concerned.  This is critical.

But also, some of the finer details of Security and fine-tuning for search should become more affordable in the future. Packages of services purchased online make sense.

We’re watching for someone to launch a “Dashboard” style service that will integrate all of these concerns for an SMB with a reasonable monthly rate.  If it’s more than $50? They won’t buy.

What’s in an SEO Dashboard? I’ll post on that next week.


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