It started several month ago. I’ve got emails, not the usual spam, but personalized messages from web design and SEO agencies, mostly from India and Bangladesh, telling me they would be happy to provide all kind of development services. Subcontracting as a kind of sweatshop, they would do the heavy lifting and reduce the developments costs for me.
Then, they started to call me on my landline, and recently, on my cell phone – which makes me wonder as I haven’t published my mobile number anywhere on my website.
Usually it’s a female call center voice on the line, telling me happily which services they can provide. I’ve never had the patience to let her read the whole script to the end. After a few minutes I always lose my concentration, the foreign pronunciation makes it hard to follow anyway.
I’m trying to interrupt, but she don’t mind and goes on. Maybe she’s a phone bot? Or she get’s paid by how long she could bother me? Sometimes it helps to ask questions who she is and why she don’t send an email as the other SEO companies had done today (to be filed away as junk). Sometimes I have to be rude to stop her. Afterwards I feel guilty, maybe she was a girl on the first day on her job, aghast about the rudeness of the German web designer. Sorry for this. But I have to work and can’t waste my time on the phone with business proposals I’m not interested in.
I briefly considered to redirect all incoming emails and calls to a call center somewhere in Asia, so they could talk to each other as long as they wish. A win-win situation.
I frankly admit: There are brilliant developers and web designers in India and Bangladesh. I’m sure they can write a service worker from scratch while brewing a fresh cup of coffee (I can’t) or know how to manage states with Redux without React (I don’t).
But why do they (or their agencies) really believe, I would gladly hand over my clients or my projects to them? I’m not sure about this one.
From my two decade long experience, technical know-how or project costs are not decisive factors to win new customers. So you might be on the wrong path.
It’s important to be available, to drink a cup of coffee and talk face-to-face. Twenty years ago, I started with a lot of international clients, but there are lot of difficulties involved: time shifts, cultural discrepancies, language barriers. I had a few clients in UAE for example (I still have), but honestly my clients would be better off with agencies from the region. Meanwhile there are excellent agencies in the Middle East, in Cairo, Beirut or Dubai for example. I’m not quite sure why they still bother with an aging web designer from Germany.
Every company and organisation has a polished public face, you can find it on their website. But looking behind the curtain, you see what’s not working, power games and often a lack of efficiency. That’s normality – we are all human after all. Trust is important. With some of my clients I’m working for fifteen years, ongoing. If they are growing, so do I, as I’m entrusted with their new projects. True success is not a one-time project, it’s a long-term business relationship with your clients, learning about their strengths and weaknesses. More often I’m working as a management consultant than a web designer.
Despite the fact that I’m doing some SEO stuff for my clients to improve their online visibility, it never worked for myself, so I’m getting sloppy in optimizing my own website. Truth is, I’m getting almost all of my clients by recommendation by other clients. So this advice is for free: Work hard, work harder. But don’t waste my time by calling me for nothing. The only one who gains is the one who harvested and sold my contact data to you.