You needed help with your website or app. Probably because your current website or app wasn’t getting you the results you needed. Maybe it was too old or expensive to maintain.
Whatever the case, you started The Search. You read articles about what platforms, services, and CMSs were popular. You looked into what your peers and competitors were doing. You compiled a list of problems you needed to be solved, and you brainstormed new functionality. You held a lot of meetings and talked to a lot of people.
Then you started The Search II: Looking for Help. You did your research. You asked for referrals. You prequalified vendors whose work you liked or reputation you trusted. Maybe you had to write an RFP (but hopefully not). You emailed or called these vendors, and you explained your vision for the project. You did this repeatedly, at least once for each vendor.
The Search, so far, took hours and hours of time you didn’t really have to begin with.
Then began The Search III: Choosing a Vendor. Proposals rolled in. You read hundreds of pages that described their visions, processes, case studies, and qualifications.
You started to notice some things.
Many of the proposals fit your scope, budget, and timeline. Those vendors said: “Yes, we can do everything you asked for. It will cost you exactly what you have, and we will deliver it exactly when you need it.” At first, this seemed like a great sign. But doubt crept in…
Were they just telling you want you wanted to hear?
Why didn’t they offer any new ideas or alternative approaches? Weren’t they the experts?
You took a closer look. In many of the proposals, vendors spent a lot of time talking about themselves—their qualifications, their team, their previous work—and not much time at all talking about your organization or your needs.
Did they listen to you during all those calls?
Did they understand what your organization was trying to accomplish beyond a definition of scope?
Was this proposal written by someone who would actually do the work?
You looked even closer. Some of the proposals contained errors. Some of the errors were forgivable typos, but in some places, they called you by the wrong name. They had pasted in text from another proposal and forgot to change it.
Then you realized: They thought you were a copy-and-paste project. There was nothing special about you, your work, or your organization—not in the eyes of these vendors.
There’s nothing wrong with being a copy-and-paste project—so long as your problems can be solved by merely copying.
According to InternetLiveStats.com, there are more than 1.5 BILLION websites in the world. It’s impossible for each of these to be entirely different from each other. Millions of them are personal blogs that uniquely represent their owners but are functionally pretty much the same. Millions of them are e-commerce sites that sell different products in exactly the same ways. Millions of them are brochureware and marketing and landing pages and microsites. These are copy-and-paste sites—and they should be!
But if you need something custom—something uniquely designed and built to your specific needs—you need to find a vendor who writes a proposal just for you.
You need a vendor who challenges your assumptions and brings new ideas to the table.
You need a vendor who talks less about themselves and more about you. What makes your organization unique? How can your team be more successful? What do you want to get out of this project, personally and professionally?
Above all, you need a vendor who develops a relationship with you—an understanding far deeper than words on a page.
You deserve a vendor who invests in you at least as much time as you invest in The Search.
Source for number of websites in the world: InternetLiveStats.com, accessed June 2018
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