Disco vs Disco – a lesson in losing business online

8:00 am Website Strategy

For New Year’s Eve 2011 we (fairly late, admittedly) decided to set up a New Years Eve party.  We managed to book a hall and then it was time to find a disco.  6 weeks before the day.

Panic set in and my other half contacted someone she found online.  I was busy with work so didn’t get involved.   The response came back from the DJ that they were available – at quite a cost.  At this point I got involved.

Digging around further we found another available DJ and the original one suddenly seemed not such a good option.  It wasn’t just the Gallery that worried me (see http://www.disco-daze.com/page6.htm) with its amusing (well, I found them funny) pictures, nor the fact that there were big copyright messages across each picture (WHO would want to steal them?!).   Nor was it the relatively sparse information available on the website.

What focused my attention was the entrance of a much better option which made the original option seem poor in comparison.  This new option had a great FAQs page (http://www.jmfdisco.co.uk/faq/faq.html) which provided many assurances.   It was also up-to-date (for example, having the current Top 10 singles), which shows that it’s being maintained.  It even had a load of music ideas to inspire choices for the event (http://www.jmfdisco.co.uk/music/music.html).

Overall, the website sent out the right message about the type of disco that would be provided.   The interaction with the company thereafter was also first class – very very professional, leading right up to the night of the disco.

I’m not saying the website was perfect – there were many elements missing and some elements that grated (e.g. the twinkling lights that could have sent someone into a seizure).  However, it had a core ‘feel’ to it that was right.  Perhaps I was also swayed a bit by the major attempts at SEO going on within the website – you could tell this was someone that took their business seriously and was doing what they could to make it work.

So the second disco got the business and we had to turn down the original one (who by now had dropped their prices a lot to try and seal the deal, not realising that ‘getting it right’ is more important than the price).

If I was the ‘losing disco’ I would have made contact after the New Year just to find out which disco was chosen and see if I could find out why.  I’d then go to their website and would try to replicate then exceed the elements that were strong.  But no, that didn’t happen.

Strangely, the disco we did choose also dropped the ball afterwards.  The night went fine and everyone had a good time.  But there was no follow up afterwards.  No teasing out of testimonials.  No requests beforehand to take photos of the event for use on the website.  Nothing at all.   So, top marks for getting the business in the first place but zero points for taking the opportunity to get some useful content to add to a section of the website that doesn’t exist but should do (Testimonials).

So what’s the lesson here?  There are probably two lessons …

  1. If your website gets visitors but a proportionally small number of them make contact with you then it’s time to look around at what other websites are visible to people when they’re searching.  And then make some changes.
  2. If your website gets someone who makes contact but you don’t end up getting the business, don’t be afraid to go back to the lost business and ask some questions.  Tell them that it would be useful to know how someone else got the business.  And then make some changes.

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