When we first talk to agents about working together on a website project, here’s what we tell them: Yes, we build websites, but above all else, we heavily focus on strategy. So, what does that mean?
It means we take a deep, holistic look at your business, your goals, and how we define the success of working together. We need to know as much as we can about three main things to be successful, and that is:
- Your business
- Your target audience
Everything we plan to do, and everything we execute as part of a digital strategy is based on the knowledge of those three key points.
When we put together a digital strategy, it isn’t because we want you to just get a website; it’s because we want you to get a strategic, digital solution that’s in line with your business goals, appeals to your target audience, and will last you for many years to come.
It sounds straightforward that in order to do something, you need to understand as much as you can about the problem you’re trying to solve. As an agent, you wouldn’t just show up to a listing presentation without knowing anything at all about the person, the property, or why they want to sell.
That’s because you know that no two deals are really exactly the same.
By their very nature, templated website solutions are void of strategy because the design is already done and ready to go before the company supplying it knows anything about you.
A lot of people think that all real estate agents are basically the same, but we don’t. Not at all.
Every agent has something unique about them and the way they approach their business, and it’s our team’s job to highlight those differences and separate them from their competition.
This is one of the main reasons we believe in custom, unique digital strategies. No two agents are exactly the same, and putting them in a one-size-fits-all website solution doesn’t do them any justice.
But as an agent, when does it make sense to choose a templated solution and when should you choose a custom solution?
★ You may also want to check out our post: 10 questions to ask a website development company before you hire them.
The Cons of Using a Templated Website
Most companies that focus on templated solutions use proprietary software that they license to you. Basically, you pay a monthly fee to access their work, while remaining in their ecosystem. It’s essentially the equivalent of renting, rather than owning.
That means that, if one day you want to leave an go elsewhere, they can make it incredibly difficult to do that. In some cases, it’s near-impossible to move.
A lot of these sites do not have an easy way to export content. In a lot of cases, moving can also damage your SEO strategy (unless a lot of care and planning takes place).
Even with an export function, building a proper digital strategy is never as easy as clicking “export/import.”
Is A “Custom” Template Really That Custom?
A lot of template companies do offer a “custom” website solution, but is it really custom?
Most of those custom solutions are really just them modifying one of their existing templates a bit. While it might make the process feel a bit more customized, it certainly isn’t a custom digital strategy.
They still don’t ask about you, your business, and your audience. Even if they did, what’s the point if they’re just going to choose which box to put you in.
Before you even pick up the phone to call a template company, they already know what your new website will look like. That’s because it’s built, it’s ready to go, and it’s one of only a handful of options.
When you call us, we have no idea what your website will look like. Sure, we know a whole lot about how users interact in the industry, the best practices to implement, but we need to apply those rules to your unique business.
From a business perspective, having templated solutions is great. Agents give you money, you slap together their website, and you collect a monthly fee from them for, well, forever.
Templated websites exist for two distinct reasons:
- They’re cheaper to make and that lower cost can be passed on to the consumer
- They’re easier to produce and sell
Overall, though, a templated solution does less, is tailored to the industry and not a specific market, and it simply looks the same as everyone (save for the odd alteration here or there).
To a certain extent, it’s right there in the name. You know what you’re getting, a templated solution that does some of the work in half of the time.
When Does a Template Make Sense?
We’re not going to tell you that a template never makes sense, though.
They are the best solution for two types of agents:
- Newer agents who simply don’t have the budget for a custom website
- Agents that don’t want to invest or don’t see value in digital
These are two very different camps, but templated solutions are a great way for new agents to simply put their name out there, or for agents who could care less about the digital space and are happy with what they’re currently doing.
That’s because templated websites are great for having somewhere to direct someone, but not much else. They don’t serve a purpose, and they’re more like an online resume.
Agents who respect the digital space, the growing trend of users searching online, and who want their website to do the work for them, they go with a custom solution.
And, ideally, newer agents work their way up into a custom solution. That’s because your website grows with your business, and when your business is successful you’ll likely want to go with the successful option.
The True Value of Custom Websites
We get it. All of this might sound incredibly biased coming from a company that builds custom real estate websites.
Our focus is on building custom solutions, not templated ones, but we wouldn’t consider that a bias.
If we talk to agents, and it feels like a templated solution is right for them, we tell them that. But, for agents who want to see value in their digital presence and want to invest in it, a custom digital strategy is a much better option.
That’s because you get a team of experts who get to know you, your goals, and your business, and build something from the ground up that speaks to those key pillars. For our clients, it’s far more preferable than trying to figure out which solution we can stick you with.
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