Why are we so expensive?

In this post we explain what goes into our work so you can understand why we charge more than many other small agencies.

Written by Martin Litt

Partner, Sales & Customer Services, Loves a Chat, Always Laughing (too much laughing...)

May 16, 2021

We know we are expensive. 

Not in a ‘ooo, that’s a bit pricey – it’ll be a lovely treat’ kind of a way.

We’re expensive in a ‘blimey – that’s a serious investment’ kind of a way.

There are a few reasons for this.

We want your commitment.

The first reason, and the one most important to us, is that we only want to work with clients and businesses who are serious about undergoing a digital transformation. 

We put a huge amount  of our time and ourselves into our work, and for successful outcomes, we need clients who are as engaged and enthusiastic as we are about the process, the outcome, and the partnership.

We hate to say it but, in our experience, clients who are only happy to pay lower fees are less committed to the final outcome. That means that projects get pushed down the priority list, the things we need the client to do in order to complete our side of the project get ignored and sometimes projects don’t get completed at all.

Your financial commitment is not only to cover our time and costs, it’s also an indication that you’re taking this thing as seriously as we are. 

We are small.

Not in a ‘part-time hustle’ kind of a way.

We’re small in a ‘focussed, dedicated specialists’ kind of a way.

Whereas a lot of our bigger competition will agree to work with as many clients as possible , employing new Account Managers and developers from overseas to keep up with demand, we only take on a limited number of clients. In our (and likely, your) experience larger agencies will gladly take your money, set you up with an Account Manager and you’ll have problems from day one. 

Communication will be stilted, questions left unanswered, Account Managers will come and go. In  some instances, if staffing issues arise, or they just decide you’re not worth the effort anymore,you may even be told they’re ‘too busy’ to carry out your work..

When you work with us, your business becomes our fascination. We become as dedicated to it as you are. A bit of your expertise might even rub off on us! 

Since becoming the digital partners to Shirley Aquatics I can now identify Koi carp and fancy goldfish breeds by sight, explain how a drum filter works, calculate the square footage of pond liner you’ll need for any given project, and be able to give solid advice on selecting & keeping marginal pond plants and oxygenators. 

We created the single page sites for Bullet For My Valentine’s mead range, Waking the Demon and Venom. I can now tell you the history of mead, how to make it, how to use it, and the flavour profiles of the different varieties.

We genuinely become (here comes that word…) passionate about your business. We consider ourselves your ‘digital department’.. We care about your success, your plans, and your story because it becomes part of our success, our plans, and our story.

But all this takes time, and we only work with as many clients as we can dedicate sufficient time to. By limiting how many clients we work with, we also limit our income; that means that, so we can continue to run our business, the fees for each client have to be higher than if we were to take on more.

We are experienced.

We’re a two person team; Kate & Martin.

Kate Molloy

Kate started working for herself when her son was born in 2008. Being a single parent at the time meant no support from a partner and so, with her typical indomitable spirit, she set out to provide. 

An extremely talented artist in both digital and traditional mediums. It was natural for Kate to incorporate this talent into her work. With little income to start up a business, she used her own digital art skills to design her branding assets and turned to the vast array of craft supplies she had inherited from her beloved ‘Little Nan’, who had also been an entrepreneurial single parent in the 1940s.

By using these inherited vintage fabrics and supplies, Kate built a small but successful craft brand. While selling her wares at vintage fairs and events, her design talents were noticed and she began to be approached by other small businesses with requests to provide graphic design work for them. This led her to become established within the vintage scene, setting up The National Vintage Awards in 2012, building the brand, complex online voting system, website and organising the entire event as a team of one. After 3 successful years, she sold the business on.

Designing brand identities and websites for her own businesses led Kate to realise that, for her, this was the most enjoyable part of building a business. After years of providing graphic design services, then moving into increasingly complex website design, build, & maintenance, it’s been in this field that she has continued to sharpen her skills, invest in her learning, and provide for clients ever since. 

By constantly putting herself through courses, accreditation, diplomas and being an involved communicator with the WordPress community globally, she ensures she stays abreast of everything and anything that could impact our clients, positively or negatively.

Kate is the ideal combination of a creative empath and a logical technician. Her ability to view each project through multiple lenses; as a designer, business owner, and user, means she offers unique advice and strategy to our clients. We never give advice based purely on our own gain. We firmly believe that our client’s success will lead to our own so Kate will always give the advice she thinks would benefit our clients or their users the most.

Martin Litt. That’s me. 

I was made redundant in July 2020 from my wine buyer role due to Covid destroying the hospitality trade in the UK. From that day I have been focussed on learning all that I can about SEO, CRO, and the ‘wraparound’ services that QUAFF offers. 

I particularly enjoy creating annual digital marketing plans for businesses. This might sound simple, but a client knowing exactly what they’re saying, on which digital platform, every day for the following 12 months, and how it will benefit their business each time, is transformational. 

I also enjoy creating written content for clients. I’ve always enjoyed writing, one recent blog post even landed me an offer of a marketing position in Germany from a partner producer to one of our clients (as I said above, I love to learn as much as I can about our client’s businesses and use that to their benefit – I turned the job down by the way!).

It might not sound like much but 10 months of online courses, articles, blog posts, case studies, video tutorials, learning my way around 4 or 5 software platforms and then putting this all into practise has made me able to implement best practices for our clients and achieve real results. See our case studies for more information.

Our combined experience is based on real life, real businesses and it covers what we believe are the three most important areas of digital marketing; technical prowess, empathetic understanding of real people and effective communication.

We invest in our training and software.

We ask each of our clients to view their business with us as an investment into themselves. But we will not ask any client to do something we are not willing to do ourselves. For the last 4 years we have spent an average of £20,000 per year on new training and software.

Not every digital agency will spend money on premium software, preferring to either use free software or passing all of these costs onto their clients directly. While there will be instances where we’ll need to pass software costs onto you, we always try to use software that we’re already paying for. This means that, as long as we’re working together, you’ll avoid paying these costs altogether. 

We also spend a lot of time researching the best software to use for our clients, before, during and after projects. That means spending time talking to software developers, the wider WordPress community and often investing in new software that is best for the job.

Having the best software for the job means our clients have as few website disasters  as possible. Websites will always need maintenance and looking after, but by ensuring all the pieces work together in the best way possible from the outset, you ensure longevity for your investment.

We also put a lot of time into our further learning, investing into paid-for training, business groups and more, to ensure we’re up to date on the latest digital marketing and marketing knowledge.

Investing in our knowledge and our software means we can pass the benefits onto you; you’ll get added value often without even realising it.

We dedicate our time.

There are two ‘times’ our clients say matter to them the most. ‘Reaction time’ and ‘time spent’. That is to say, ‘how quickly will you fix my problems?’ and ‘how much time do you spend on my interests?’.

Reaction time

As  a small business that works with limited clients our reaction time is pretty incredible. 

To give a recent example, a client of ours messaged me at 8.20am on a Sunday morning to tell me that their website was down. Within 15 minutes the website was back up, all issues fixed and they could get back on with their  day. 

Generally speaking our reaction time is less than an hour to get back to our clients, either to let them know we’re looking into the issue, or to let them know when we will be able to. 

Time spent

As we limit the number of clients we work with, your investment with us will truly pay off. We allocate specific hours every week for each client so you’ll know we’ll always have time for your work. During these hours, your business is our priority.

We also consider how the timing of when we carry out our work will impact your business. We launched a new website for a client recently and insisted  that the migration of the new site over the old one should take place at the time that would impact their business the least. This meant we started work at around 9pm and finished at around 3am. 

Not only did starting the work at this time not negatively impact our client’s business with unnecessary downtime, it also gave us plenty of breathing space to ensure we had failsafes in place and lots of time to run thorough testing on the new site before it went live. Whilst larger agencies would reap the benefit of this practise, not one of them (as far as I know) offers this level of service.

The time we put into your business and our reaction time when you contact us is absolutely vital to your project’s success and we know that the service we provide is superior to many other agencies.

We treat every client the same.

It may sound trite, but we put the same amount of effort into every client. 

No matter how much they’re paying us, our response time is the same, our effort is the same, we use the same expertise, the same level of software, and take the same amount of responsibility – the only thing that varies is the  services we provide and the amount of time we allocate to each client. 

I believe it is this ethos that has resulted in us having excellent relationships with long-term clients, some that have been working with Kate in some capacity  for almost a decade. In fact, we only lost one client during the Covid pandemic and, unfortunately, that was not to a competitor but rather to the consequences of the pandemic itself. 

I’ll admit that in the past I’ve struggled to understand why we can’t accept projects with a lower budget, and just ‘cut-back’ on the level of service we give. But Kate has always insisted that it’s impossible for her to treat any client differently, just because they’ve paid less. And she’s right; the budget should never determine our level of service, and we won’t let it.

Because of the way we treat our clients, even our smaller clients regard us as a vital asset to their business. Our success is dependent on your success and we respect, value and appreciate all our clients in the same way.

We do excellent work.

While we can’t break down every service we provide in this blog post, we can look at one. Let’s take content writing as an example of the work that goes into what we do. 

Whilst it is important for our clients to provide the content for their website themselves, we include content creation as part of our SEO service . It may sound like the simplest thing in the world to write a quick blog post and pop it on a website; it isn’t.

Creating content for content’s sake is a mistake we see all the time. Content, particularly blog content, needs to cover several bases. Firstly, it needs to be genuinely informative or solve a common problem. Secondly, you may want it to show personality (this is harder than you think). Thirdly, it needs to be a mechanic for driving traffic to your website. 

As such, it is important to thoroughly research every  blog post. I need to understand the topic of the post itself, what problem or question it is answering, familiarising myself with any products that are mentioned, and who it is aimed at. 

Once I have that base information I need to study the client’s tone of voice and how they usually engage with their audience so I can mimic that to make their output congruent. If, for example, they would never use the word ‘congruent’ then I won’t either.

Once I have all that in place I will carry out keyword research. This means I’ll look at the monthly search volumes for relevant words and search terms, I’ll look at what our clients’ competitors may have done on the same subject, and what the client’s historic content has already covered in terms of search terms and focus keyphrases or words. If a post from three years ago is optimised for a particular keyword or phrase I will need to either alter that if it isn’t performing as well as it could be, or change my approach for this post.

Finally, after all of that has been done and is in place, I can begin to write a targeted, optimised, engaging, informative, and USEFUL blog post.

This is one example of our services, but is representative of everything we do. Hours of effort goes into every service we offer because we want every service to, when all’s said and done, make our clients more money.

Check out our Case Studies here.

So how much do you cost?

Every project is different and every client needs a slightly different combination of services from us.

But, if you’re after a ballpark figure here goes;

Our ‘brochure’ websites start at £4,000. 

Our eCommerce websites start at £8,000

We use WordPress because it is possible to do pretty much whatever you want with it. There is always a way to create exactly what you have in mind. As long as you’re willing to invest in it.

How do you justify your pricing?

You get what you pay for and, with us, that’s conscientious service and dedicated effort.. We have no interest in churning out identikit websites for all and sundry and then waving them goodbye. We want long-term relationships with clients who share our values.

Our process will always start with a discovery period. This is where we get to know your business inside out. 

This includes our Point of Difference Workshop where we refine your messaging, establish your tone of voice, set SMART goals, and, if appropriate, give your existing website a Website Once Over to ensure it’s performing at its best.

If we need to, we’ll create Ideal Customer Personas. Using customer, market, and competitor research we establish exactly who your ideal customers are.

We then design Customer Journeys. Using the personas we’ve created, we establish the touchpoints for each persona, their emotional responses, and the way they interact with your brand on all platforms.

Once that’s done we’ll consider whether elements of your existing branding need to be consolidated or, if no branding is already in place, we’ll create it for you. From logo design through to social media templates and web design assets.

Only then will we begin to consider how your new website will take shape.

Does this take a long time?

Generally speaking, after the Discovery phase and once we have all the content our website builds take between 6-8 weeks.. 

For particularly large, or particularly complex projects this may differ but it will always be discussed with the client prior to the project starting.

Our premium service takes the form of the QUAFF Digital Partnership  that we enter into with a client for a minimum of 12 months.

The QUAFF® Digital Partnership.

The QUAFF Digital Partnership is a 12 month programme in which  we become the ‘digital department of your business.

This is our favourite way to work with clients who want a new website, a cohesive and detailed Digital Marketing Plan covering the  next 12 months, and clear, data-driven direction. What could be better?!

We love doing this for a few reasons – we get to really dig deep into your business, how it works, and how you want it to work in the future. We get to learn about another industry and see how your market leaders and competitors are leveraging (or missing!) opportunities. We get to design and build the perfect website for you that serves a commercial purpose rather than just being a pretty space, and we get to work with you post-launch to ensure continued success. 

A huge amount of time and effort goes into these partnerships, so we limit the amount of clients we work with on this basis. Currently our optimum number of clients working with us in the QUAFF® Digital Partnership is three, and you’ll need to get in touch to see if we have availability, or to be added to our waiting list. 

The QUAFF Digital Partnership starts at £1,500 per month. That’s £18,000 per year and includes the Discovery Phase documents, a 12 month Digital Marketing Plan, your brand new website, monthly SEO (Search Engine Optimisation), CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation), our monthly premium Website Care Plan, weekly ‘tinker time’, your monthly report and all our ongoing research and competitor analysis for the entire time we work together. 

We only offer the QUAFF® Digital Partnership  to businesses that we believe in and that we know we can develop a great relationship with. As such we also guarantee not to take on a Digital Partnership client if they are in the same industry as a current  Digital Partnership client (this doesn’t mean we won’t have clients in your industry who are on one of our Website Care Plans)

Learn all about the QUAFF Digital Partnership here.

That sounds like a lot of money…

Does it? Maybe it isn’t for you then – and that’s absolutely fine!

Although you should consider the return on investment that you’d get from a member of staff that cost your business that much a year….

Get in touch!

If you’ve got this far then A.) congratulations, your commitment is noted, and B.) It’s time to book a call!

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