How Do You Gain & Deliver PPC Value to Your Clients?

An interesting question was asked on #PPCChat the other day that started a lively conversation. The question was this:

Q4: Should clients expect their agencies/PPC providers to attend conferences, follow blogs, write articles, etc? Why or why not?

There were lots of “Yes” responses and a couple “No” responses, but for the most part it was a polarizing question that people felt strongly one way or the other. I pondered about it afterward and had a few thoughts that didn’t fit into 140 characters.

Attending Conferences

Having been a one-man band for quite some time, attending conferences was always tough. I was the one paying the bill and I knew that I had to keep accounts humming while I was there. The “cost” of the trip was very apparent to me and frugality was important. The networking was always fun, but really was more of a benefit to me personally than to my clients. The content always varies and you have very little indication of what you’ll get from conference agendas and marketing. That’s tough because the actionable learnings you bring back to the account are how you justify conferences to clients right?

Some of the best takeaways I’ve had at conferences came from answers given during Q&A time or from a side conversation I had with another attendee about a problem. So one thought would be that I should ask more questions and have more conversations with fellow PPC-ers and I could avoid the high price of a conference pass. The other thought is that when you don’t know where the value is coming you need to be present, participate actively and keep your eyes peeled for those gold nuggets. So the tangible value you can deliver comes from these new ideas that you are able to implement immediately.

The Value of Connections

Several responses from PPCChat strongly believed that conference attendance wasn’t a must-have, that clients only want marketers who are up-to-date and that can be achieved other ways. I see that point. A client might not want to feel like their fee is funding conference attendance so people can network and enjoy free booze. But what is the value of those connections?

This is where I feel that many agencies and PPC providers sell themselves a little short. For example, say that you have a client with a fairly large budget and a complex account. You’re running into some problems with ad testing across such a large account. How valuable would it be for your agency to have someone that is well connected in the industry and could contact Brad Geddes, or Frederick Vallaeys, or Elizabeth Marsten and get their thoughts on the problem? That’s pretty damn valuable, but it’s hard to quantify and “sell” in the sales process.

How Do We Deliver Value

So I’ll put it to you readers, how can we as a PPC industry do a better job of presenting the value of the industry? I feel we’re very open and sharing with one another, but I meet lots of people at conferences who run/manage large accounts but aren’t tapping into that. They’re smart and doing amazing things, but aren’t involved in the community.

Thoughts? I’m looking for your comments.