So I’ve looking into getting back into martial arts. And I found a great Groupon for a Tae Kwon Do school that was right down the street from me.
While I was at it, I started researching some other schools that offered Krav Maga, a type of street self-defense, as well. Then I ran into a website that looked just like the one where I bought the Groupon from. I was excited.
“Ooo,” I thought, “I can try out Krav Maga with my Groupon deal!”
Not so fast. It turns out, this site belonged to a completely different company than the one I got the Groupon for. But they looked EXACTLY the same. And I mean, literally. Word for word, image for image, it was, for all intents and purposes, the exact same website.
I couldn’t believe it. Who would do such a stupid thing?
Sure enough, I scrolled to the bottom of each site and found out that these two martial arts companies had hired on the same marketing company to do their websites. And it wasn’t just any marketing company. It was a website and marketing company specifically niched for martial arts schools. I have to hand it to them for being so targeted.
But somewhere, somehow something went horribly wrong. Either they weren’t being careful or didn’t care, but they managed to copy the site for one client and use it for another client. In the same industry. In the same geographical location. Big mistake.
The whole purpose of a #website is to distinguish yourself from your competitors. Click To Tweet
One of the major points of having a website (and a logo, and branding…) is to distinguish yourself from your competitors. This marketing firm failed epically to do that. Take a look yourself.
Can you tell these two businesses apart? Neither could I. Which only leads to confusion for their visitors. Now, while still a bad practice, having an exact match for a website wouldn’t be so bad if say, one was located in Phoenix and another in Boston. For local small businesses, distance can mean a lot.
Using templates isn’t all bad
For example, even I use premium WordPress themes for most of the websites I do. And usually, hundreds or even thousands of others have purchased them as well.
But the thing is, I spend time researching my client’s competitors, and making sure their own website will be unique. Additionally, each theme is customized to match the branding of the client. Further customization can be done to the site’s basic layout and functionality depending on the client’s need.
This all boils down to a huge difference between using a template as the backbone of a site, and ripping off code for code one for another.
So this marketing firm is selling themselves as being “affordable,” “easy,” and “quick.” Well, yeah, of course you can charge $599 for a website when all you’re doing is duplicating it for another client!
This is the epitome of a website mill; have a few standard templates, and just recycle them for each client. Select “all,” hit “copy,” hit “paste.” Poof. Instant website knockoff.
Essentially, it’s a numbers game. The reason they can offer such cheap prices is because everyone’s getting the same cookie-cutter result. And it’s bad for business.
Think about it. Imagine if your direct competitor in town had the same exact website as you. Or the same logo as you. Or the same business card. How will your customers tell you two apart? How will new customers know who is better, or what differentiates yourself from them? Nothing really.
And that’s the problem.
I honestly couldn’t tell these two martial arts schools apart; in my mind, they’re now the same thing. I couldn’t find anything on either website that was unique or useful. So I guess I’ll just stick with trying out the Groupon one.
Too bad for the other guy.
What do you think?
Are website mills really all that bad? Have you ever run into any problems with your website or logo looking like someone else’s?