The purpose of the post is two-fold:
1. I'd like to recommend the business of some friends of mine.
2. I'd like to get us thinking about innovation, commodity and size.
Keyword First is a business run by 2 of my friends who invested early on in learning the intricacies of search engine optimization and marketing. They understand how organic and paid search works—and how this can put you at the top of search engines. This is increasingly becoming an important part of our business as our clients need to be "found". Keyword First will help you get found—and the two gentlemen behind this service are both as smart (and nice) as they come. If you're looking to be found—you should check them out.
Next item on the agenda. Take a look at their Website (pictured above). It's not half bad. I kicked the tires a bit and it was fairly user friendly, the code seemed pretty solid and though I don't think it's the most spectacular site I've ever seen—it does come across as professional. In fact, my guess is that if you put this site in front of a potential customer—they would think that the business was much bigger.
Full disclosure—I designed the logo for my friends. Actually, I proactively offered them up the service at no cost and they took the logo and had the site designed around it. Now here's where it gets interesting. As a small business, my friends found an overseas partner to design and develop this site from the ground up. They used Elance to find the overseas partner (who ended up being based in India).
Can you guess how much the site cost them from soup to nuts? 5k? 3k? 2k? Try $400.00 U.S. dollars. Seth Godin recently wrote a "memo to the very small" where he provides step by step directions on how small business can use blogging platforms such as Typepad to promote themselves online. This is yet another option.
So what's the take away? Small businesses have more options than ever to act like big business. In addition, what you are seeing here is a classic example of innovation + commodity at work. My friends have come up with an innovative idea—provide quality search marketing services at reasonable prices. I have a feeling their business will grow. As for the commodity part—in this case, custom Web design has become the commodity. Remember, the site was designed from scratch—not pre-existing templates. It started with the identity. And compared to many corporate sites out there which suffer from basic design or usability issues—it's not half bad.
Morale of the story? Certain types of Web services can become a commodity. Ideas are another story. Small business can appear to be "big". But will big business be able to act small?