Ken & Barbie: A Tale of Love & Marketing

July 8th, 2010  |  2 Comments

Both Ken and Barbie are very similar in nature. Each possesses a natural propensity to succeed, have a strong work ethic and want to grow their businesses. In the past, both have worked with and had less than desirable experiences with web designers and developers, so as they look to enter the online environment with their new projects, they are trying to be more efficient.

In any case, they both need:

  1. A solid Internet marketing strategy
  2. A website that is built around their online strategy
  3. to Drive traffic
  4. to generate online sales

There is one major difference between Ken & Barbie’s mindsets. Ken thinks that he needs to exercise greater control over his next project because of his experience with less than stellar web designers and developers in the past. With this control, he’ll ensure that the website is built, designed and laid out exactly as he wants it. He understands that conversions and sales will translate to online success – especially if he is intimately involved with each phase.

Ken knows that he can build his new vision on the cheap and is reaching out to ‘find a coder’ type websites and understands that he can easily get in touch with an offshore team via Craigslist to keep his costs way down. After all, his niece is 14 years old and had designed her own website so why not keep costs to the bare minimum?

Barbie on the other hand, believes that she can become successful online but only if she has all the right people in place. She knows that she’ll need a designer and developer to build her website, but that she also needs a team that really understands the online space to make her idea work.

Here’s why Barbie stands a much higher chance of succeeding than Ken though they both possess the same skills sets.

  • Barbie is more likely start her questions with, ‘What is the most effective way to…” versus “Here’s what we’re going to do…”
  • Barbie doesn’t care if she doesn’t understand terminology or all the latest trends, but she’s determined to learn as much as she can whilst forming a relationship with a good Internet marketing team. (Ken won’t ask questions about what he doesn’t understand. Ken’s the man with the plan, so why would he need outside consulting?)
  • Barbie wants to bring in someone who has a thorough understanding of the online space, is willing to take the time to understand her business vision in order to reach deeper into the US market.
  • Barbie believes that in order for her online business to succeed she needs an effective blend of creative design, web development, online marketing and analytics. Most importantly, she understands that all must be given equal weight.

1 Year Later

Ken has actually been faster to launch his program. He hired a team in India for $12/hr and got his new site up fairly quickly. He’s already started some pay-per-click efforts and driving some traffic to his new site.

Barbie launches her site a few months later and feels comfortable with the Internet agency she hired. Her site has little traffic but she’s already generating consistent online sales and is about to start her traffic driving campaign once her team shores up various bug fixes and improvements.

18 Months

Ken has double the traffic than Barbie’s site but is getting nervous because he has few online sales. India can’t keep up with Ken’s requests so he fires them and switches back to a local web designer and developer in the U.S. Ken is now re-thinking the entire site and isn’t very happy that he may have to re-do his entire website, content management system and online strategy.

Barbie at 18 months is starting to see significant results. Her team had challenges of their own but were able to come up with solutions on the fly given the increasing number of online sales. Not only is she happy with her web team, she’s turned over much of the consulting and management of the website to them, given their familiarity with her business goals. She’s adding more players to the mix and ramping up additional online marketing spend.

Paying close attention to analytics and cost of conversion, she is able to make accurate spending decisions. Additionally she’s making enough money and realizes that she won’t need a second round of investment. Her customers are starting to spread the word about her products via Social Media and her online business is taking off.

Two Years Later

Ken ends up firing his web team in the U.S. (again) – much to their relief. He spends the next six months trying to assemble another team to manage his current site but no one is willing to do it for the price he wants to pay. Ken is a trooper though and despite difficult lessons learned he realizes that he needs to do more homework and really immerse himself in the online industry.

Ken pushes on but it is becoming evident to him that he’s spent triple the amount he thought he would and that he could have hired a seasoned US team from the start, and for less than he’s already spent.

On a whim, Ken attends and Internet Marketing Conference – where Barbie Roberts is the featured guest speaker. Ken has heard of her online boutique figures it wouldn’t hurt to hear a little more about Barbie’s success story. (not to mention he thinks she is hot after seeing a picture of her in a popular magazine recently)

Meanwhile, Barbie has a full ‘online staff’ and is still using the original team that built her site and constructed their online marketing plan. The business has gained enough traction and is confident with her team so that she’s able to have more time to herself. She dreams of meeting the right guy and settling down one day…

We all know what happens next. Ken and Barbie meet at her web conference and fall madly in love. Barbie gives Ken the contact information for the agency that helped that get her company off the ground. The rest is history. Ken gets the girl, Barbie is no longer lonely and the agency gets a new client.

The moral of the story you ask?

“Just do the damn thing right from the start.”

You’ll save time, resources, money and have a better product.

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  • It’s really tempting to cut corners when you’re a small start up business. I speak from experience – on the latter rather than the former (I hope).

    There are probably 100 Kens out there for every 20 Barbies, and perhaps the rate of business failures is directly correlated to this fact. From an agency point of view (that happens to be my business – so I get to see things from both sides) we need to be careful to target the Barbies of this world, as they are much better clients in so many different ways. But how?

    The answer is to qualify the lead upfront as best we can. One of the ways of doing this is to advertise your prices on your website. Many agencies are worried this gives too much away – to their competitors and to the clients – as they believe clients need to be convinced it’s worth paying for this kind of quality work. Well not necessarily. The world has changed. Service industry has become more transparent and that means it’s easier to compare and contrast.

    So my advice to other agencies is: “Don’t be afraid to to advertise the costs of a finished website – your more likely to attract Barbie rather than Ken.”

    • admin

      Good stuff Justin. Interesting points about pricing on the website.