24 Oct

Why Companies Regret Falling for the “Local is Better” Myth

Nobody likes wasting money. But, month after month, strong, professionally managed companies end up wasting huge amounts of their marketing budgets by falling for a myth.

All of their stories start out the same way. They all needed a new website. They all went with the local company over the award-winning web developer from another state.

But, after weeks and months of frustration they end up either stuck with a website they hate or they have to fire the developer and start over again with a more professional organization.

Why does this keep happening?

The Power of the Myth

You have standard operating procedures when it comes to getting bids from service providers. Most of the time your process works great. You do your due diligence. You request bids and you narrow down the possibilities to two or three companies.

But, when it comes to hiring a web developer the process breaks down.

Often, one of the finalists for the website project is a local company. The local company has a few good reviews. Every time you are looking to eliminate a bid, the local company goes to the next round, not because of superior work or reputation, but because you figure it will be easier to communicate with a local company.

Usually, the local company has a much smaller body of work. However, their samples are decent and their proposal was competitive.

The other finalist is usually an industry leader. The company may be slightly more expensive than the local company, but they have an outstanding portfolio. They have years of experience. They may even have won various industry awards. But, this other company is located in another state, maybe even in another time zone.

Your company wants to be seen as supporting local businesses. After all, you are a local business. You also believe that it will be easier to communicate with someone in town. They can just come down for a quick meeting or two.

You choose the local company to save a little money, to make yourself feel good about using local service providers, and because you believe it will be easier to communicate.

That is the moment your website project starts to go bad.

Where Things Go Wrong

Do you see how the myth of “local is better” led you astray? Instead of making a decision based on which firm will do the best job delivering what we need in a timely way, you let other factors sway your decision.

You chose the local company based on cost, perceived convenience, and to make yourself feel better.

When you are making business decisions based on non-business reasons, it almost never turns out well.

The truth is many of your reasons for choosing a local company are unfounded:

  • You already know cheaper is not better. Are you the cheapest provider in your industry?
  • Being local has nothing to do with communication. Do you know how the businesses you are considering usually communicate?
  • Does your business benefit from getting the best quality or from using the closest provider? The right business decision is to choose quality.


What Does Face-to-Face Communication Look Like?

The most common reason businesses give for choosing a local provider over a more experienced out-of-state competitor is ease of communication. The belief is that a local business will be better at face-to-face communication.

However, communication is a skill. In the world of the internet, location has almost no impact on the ability to communicate. How often do you really need to talk face-to-face with your web developer? Is the local web developer really willing to come in to your office for meetings?

More often than not, most face-to-face communication will happen over digital platforms like Skype, Facetime, Zoom, or some other video conferencing service. Even local providers are more likely to want to talk over the web than in person.

If your local provider has poor communication skills, being located a few minutes away won’t help your business get the high-quality website you need.

However, a seasoned pro understands that to create a beautiful website that works perfectly and converts browsers into buyers, they must communicate regularly with the client.

There is no logic behind the idea that a local web developer is easier to communicate with. Many companies have wasted thousands of dollars finding that out the hard way. The find that the less experienced, marginally cheaper local business doesn’t reply to emails for days. They never answer the phone, and they refuse to come in for meetings. Businesses are left worrying if their project will ever be done because they never get any status reports.

Why would you want to do business like that?

Ignoring the Power of Technology

Why do you want a website? You know that a website is a powerful communication tool. It helps you attract qualified leads. It is your digital headquarters. Your website helps you better serve your customers.

The point of the internet is that if you have a high quality offering and a high quality website, you can find the right customers or clients anywhere in the world.

When you take the trouble to research web developers, compile a list, ask for bids, perform due diligence and then choose an inferior local business over the right fit for your company you are ignoring the power of technology.

The internet lets you find the best of the best for your project. When you reject the best fit for a local company you are wasting all of your research efforts. You might as well use the telephone book.

The Warning Signs

The warning signs that you have chosen the wrong web developer are there from the start. The communication is spotty. You have one brief phone call or a few email exchanges and then the web developer disappears. There is no follow-up.

How is a web developer supposed to build you the website you need if they don’t know anything about your business or about your industry? How many questions did your new developer ask?

But, even with all of these warning signs, many companies press forward. They fall for the gambler’s fallacy. They don’t pull the plug because they have already paid out money to the local business and they have spent a lot of time on the bid process. They need to get the website up. So they throw good money after bad.

It doesn’t end well.

Instead they either get a horrible website that looks like it as thrown together in five minutes or they end up having to hire the experienced developer from another state to do the website right. The company loses time and money.

How a Seasoned Professional Web Developer Works

Once a company hires a true professional the differences are obvious. A seasoned pro needs a lot of data and is in regular communication. They send over surveys, insist on calls to discuss the scope of the project. The out of state web developer with the awards and the stunning portfolio asks a lot of questions and works hard to understand your company and your industry before ever writing a single line of code.

You get regular status updates. There are mock-ups and requests for comments. When you have questions you get answers within a business day.

You never worry about how the project will turn out because you get to see how things are progressing. You know exactly what is going on.

The funny thing about hiring the right fit instead of the local option is that you get better communication and a better website.

If you choose a local web developer solely based on location, you are not getting the best web developer for your company. You are just getting the closest web developer.

Don’t make that mistake. You will always regret hiring cheaper and closer instead of hiring the best fit for the job.

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