Risingline Marketing strategy / design / development / management
(208) 475.3192

Contact Form

design & marketing blog

Marketing, design, and technical resources for making your digital and print communications more effective.

Evaluating Low Web Development Bids

March 23rd, 2007

How much does a web site cost? We get this often and it’s a fair question. Regardless of all the sales and marketing propaganda about needs, emotional purchase triggers, etc., the cold hard fact remains that most purchase decisions are constrained, and often decided, by immediate budget parameters.

Our standard practice is to never throw out a price….it’s kind of like asking “how much is a vehicle?” Well the prices range from $250 for a used moped or $50 million for Caterpillar 797B 380 ton earth mover—it all depends on your
goals and the budget with which you have to work.

So what about low bids? They conjure up a conflict of emotion in most people—joy, greed, elation, then caution, suspicion, resentment. Well from an insider’s perspective as low bids relate to marketing and web development here’s my honest advice:

First, always be leery of companies that just throw out a low price without much encouragement. Be conscious that with web and identity design your purchasing a lens through which the image of your organization will be projected to the world. I doubt if many of us walk into Wal-Mart and buy the cheapest pants and shirt available to prepare for a big meeting. The same forethought should be given to any bids that directly reflect the image of your organization.

Assume the worst and prove your assumption false by researching the question, “Why is this bid the lowest?” There is a reason. Did they not take into account all your needs? Are they implementing a loss leader sales tactic? Is their quality sub-par?

A low bid is always relative, you must consider the qualifications of the other bidders. For example I could send out a web design RFQ here in the Treasure Valley and get responses ranging from $500 from a high school kid to $50,000 from a marketing firm with a big national portfolio. All bids would meet the same technical requirements but obviously there is a lot more to consider than that. To avoid the impossible task of evaluating too broad of options, take some time to qualify your pool of bidders before submitting your RFQ.

In a pool of comparable quality bidders, low bid is not always bad. The good reason that someone is a low bidder is because they’ve developed highly efficient repeatable processes and are that much ahead of their competitors. I don’t want to be so bold as to say that we’ve completely reached this idealistic state, but our entire business strategy is built around the concept of creating a new market; a market in which we have no competitors who offer our level of quality our price ranges. We can’t claim any credit for this strategy—it came out Harvard Business School and has been shared with us commoners in one of the best business books of all time, Blue Ocean Strategy.

So the important points are this—try to narrow the spectrum of your bid pool and spend serious time evaluating the proposals from the bidders you do choose. Base your decision on objective considerations instead of the more emotional price factor. Keep in mind, the lifetime cost-benefit of your choice and the image your contractor will reflect on your clients and prospects. Low bids are not always bad, they just have more to prove.

Top

↑ Top