When Free Doesn’t Mean Free

Today I wanted to relay a story to you of a recent interaction I had with the owner of a young and growing business. He asked me to come in and do a discovery session with him, to find out how he could better utilize social media for his business, and to look at his site to see how it could be optimized better for the search engines.

Now as you all probably know, these are 2 separate pieces to doing business, and usually fall at the opposite ends of the discussion board. I was up for the challenge though, since it showed that he had isolated these areas as “needs” for his business. Yes, I referred to it as a challenge, since it can be difficult at times to keep these specific topics separated, and blocked into their own discussion. I have found from years of experience, that most business owners have been told by other companies that SEO and Social Media are almost the same.

The truth of the matter is that they work hand in hand, yet only to a point. Your social media outlets are the extension of your reach to your intended audience (customers) that would find your products and services beneficial to their needs. SEO is the optimization of your web site to “qualify” and “validate” it with the search engines, and there are necessary steps that need to be taken with regards to this. I will be posting on both of these topics in-depth in the very near future.

So, back to our business owner. I sat down with him and one of the ladies from his staff, and told him I had a few questions to ask up front to get a better understanding of his business, the day to day processes, his audience, and where he saw his business evolving and going. I will tell you right now, that if you are a business without a business plan, some of these questions are probably some of the hardest ones to answer.

About 30 minutes into our discussion one thing became very evident and clear. This business was struggling with a time management problem, and was spending an enormous amount of time on their web site. So, I stopped the discussion, and said I wanted to switch gears for a few minutes. He was very agreeable, so I asked him to walk me through their web site updating process. What ensued was a mesmerizing experience as I watched him click on all of these favorite tabs at the top of his browser, and log into site after site. After about 5 minutes he was logged into 7 different sites and sitting on the control panel pages of these site.

So I asked the obvious question: What are all of these?

The response was: This is a free tool that does this for our site. This one is a free tool that manages this part of our site. This is a free platform that we got for our web site. This went on for all 7 sites: “This is a free…”.

So I asked the next question that came to mind: Do you log into these every day to manage all of your site processes, and how long do you spend?

His response made it hard for me not to let loose a low whistle. He said “Yes, we log into these every day and spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how much we need to do. Probably about 6 to 7 hours a week.”

As you can probably guess the next question that came was: Why not purchase a bundled solution that does all of this for you from 1 interface?

He told me: “Why pay for something that I can get free?”

What I told him next is a lesson that I learned through trial and error over the years, and something all business owners need to consider when it comes to doing business. The lesson is the valuation of your time. If you are spending hours of your time each week managing an aspect of your business that could be done fairly quickly and easily with the right tools and solutions, then these are hours that you are not dedicating to your customers, building your brand, or dedicating to helping your business grow. Your time as a business owner has a price tag attached to it, and it is not free.

We here at Delaware 302 understand this, and are here to help our clients not only with our technology and social media solutions, but also with helping them better understand and use the tools available to them, thus saving them time that can be used to build their business.

How much is your time worth?


About delaware302
Delaware 302 is more than an online clothing store. It's about giving Delawareans a way to express their pride about being from, or even just living in, the First State. Whether you're wearing it or displaying it on your vehicle - let the world see you are Delaware proud. But you don't have to be born here to "represent" the 302.

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