Who doesn’t love tasty (gummy bear) tips?!? Seriously though… I’ve been working at Clix for a little over 3 years now. Before that, I worked at an in-house position and absolutely loved it. But the time came for a change of pace, so I made the jump from in-house to agency. Although there was a bit of a learning curve for PPC channels I had not used before, the biggest challenge was learning how to interact with clients. Coming from a very informal in-house environment into the world of being the face of the agency was a big leap for me. Below are four key things I’ve come to believe are the most important in that transition.
Proper Communication is Key
Pretty standard, right? But the point I want to make here goes far beyond, “Make sure you talk to your client on a regular basis”. It’s a given you’re going to communicate with your client. That’s part of the job. But making sure you’re communicating using the proper medium can be almost as important as the communication itself.Understand what conversations require a phone call vs those that can be conducted over email. What can wait and what can’t. Realized that based on some of your client’s day to day job responsibilities might make over communication from you just as detrimental to their workflow as under communication to others.
Lastly, realize how you sound on the phone. I’m mostly looking at you Millennials. (Yes, I too am a Millennial and these are things I work on everyday.) Larry Kim wrote a great article on credibility killing phrases I encourage everyone to read. Millennials, maybe sleep with your tablet open to this post under your pillow. Basically, he’s encouraging us to stop saying things that make us sound dumb and/or irresponsible. My biggest pet peeve is the use of “like”, “uh”, or “um” in speech. I understand that these are extremely common uses for pauses nowadays, but I’ve even seen “like” be used in written communication. You have all the time in the world to write that email! No one is reading an uncomfortable pause into your email. Why are you saying, “like” when there is no simile being made?! Blows my mind.
The Client Isn’t Always Right…
You have your list of clients for a reason. Either they can’t or don’t want to do PPC (or any other discipline for that matter) on their own. What this comes down to: you’re the expert. When a client proposes a new strategy that you believe will be unapologetically detrimental to their goals, it’s your job to say something and provide your reasons why. If your client wants to change all their search keywords to broad match only, you should probably put together some sort of analysis of the current match type performance breakdown and supporting info to dissuade them from such a change. If possible, try to put together a new strategy that still accomplishes some of their goals, but holds up under best practices scrutiny a bit more.
…But Give Them What They Want
Unfortunately, not all clients are going to be willing to change to your new hybrid strategy. At the end of the day, if you’ve presented your case for why their proposed strategy is dangerous and they still won’t budge, you’re probably going to need to make the changes they’re looking for. It’s a painful thing to do, but if you want to keep them around as a client, it may be worth it. If you hold firm and refuse to adjust to their desired strategy, you’ll most likely lose them as a client 9 times out of 10.
Everyone is Different
This is a pretty basic principle of human nature, but for managing client relationships, it’s important to keep inmind. When I first made the jump to an agency, I looked to the existing book of clients and their call and reporting frequency to understand what the norms were. Pretty much everyone at that point had weekly and monthly reporting with bi-weekly calls in between. Easy enough, right? Since then, we’ve added numerous clients to the list of all shapes and sizes. I currently have two clients on the docket that couldn’t be more polar opposite. One has a weekly hour long call with extensive call notes sent over the day before for review. The other I have 30 minute scheduled by weekly call that usually lasts about 10 minutes along with a monthly report.
Each of these are completely different clients, but our pattern works for them. Reaching back to communication, it’s important to understand that for the first client I mentioned, there are so many pieces constantly moving that this level of communication is key for our campaigns to be profitable. It’s equally important to realize that for the second client, who runs his brick and mortar shop with a small team, that if we talked any more on the phone, it would actually cause him to be less productive for the day and could potentially make him less profitable. Moral of the story: there is no one-size-fits-all answer to client relationships.
Just because you work at a PPC agency, doesn’t mean that all the skills you’ll need can be found on PPC blogs. Hopefully these four pieces help you adapt to your client book a little better.
What non-PPC skills do you find incredibly important to your client relationships? Share with us in the comments!