Jolina Pettice

Tips for Overcoming Client-Created Roadblocks

4059499_thumbnail-1.jpgWhile sitting in sessions at any Search Marketing Conference, you will hear agency-side search marketers asking the panel for advice on how to keep clients from standing in their own way.

Questions like:

What if my client ignores our optimization recommendations?

What if a client doesn’t see any value in social media?

Some search marketers might think working with clients who won’t implement recommendations is a waste of time. I think it’s well worth a little extra work needed to understand why they are not following recommendations and finding a work around. In fact, if you’re working for an enterprise SEO client, the ability to find work arounds is a bare minimum requirement.

As an account manger for TopRank, I’ve been fortunate to work with a variety of companies, managing SEO and public relations campaigns that range from small businesses to the Fortune 20. That experience has provided many opportunities to find work arounds to client created roadblocks. A few solutions I’ve discovered include these tips:

Tips to Overcoming Client-Created Roadblocks:

Commit to the RE’s:  Resend, Revamp, Re-evaluate
Realize that clients are busy. Numerous items could have come into play to explain why a client isn’t taking a recommendation and running with it and/or providing the approval you need to do the same.

Try the 3 RE’s:

  1. Resend. It’s possible that the email got skipped, deleted or didn’t even make it to them.
  2. Revamp. If after discussing with the client they are still not executing, revamp the recommendation. Perhaps they need a better example, they prefer to be communicated to in a different way (one on one, web meeting etc) or they need a bigger, better reason to execute.
  3. Reevaluate. Make a point to review email strings and conversations with clients and learn from them. Each client is unique and will respond to information that’s best formatted for their preferences. i.e. Emails with lengthy paragraphs and no call to action tend to sit in my inbox, whereas I’ll respond immediately to bulleted lists or clearly stated actions

Learn from when/what your client responds to and repeat the patterns that get results.

Provide additional resources
Often times clients want to understand the industry and what is behind the recommendation. Be sure to offer them additional resources from which to garner information.

Share relevant articles, blog posts or data with them. I’ve found that often times it’s not the main client contact that’s the obstacle but rather other’s in their organization. Information, statistics etc can be very effective in helping them advocate SEO internally.

Bring in the heavy hitter
Sometimes you have to bring in someone else to motivate the client to action.

This can be especially true for clients that receive day-to-day communication. The folks on the agency side really become part of the client’s internal team. While this is great for managing a program, you often need someone ‘new’ to sell an idea.

As Lee and I have been discussing lately, it’s like the “prophet isn’t respected in his own hometown” idea. When you edify and build respect for an ‘out of towner’, their message will more likely be perceived by the client to be credible, even if the information from the agency contact is the same.

At the end of the day, it’s about best servicing the client and helping them achieve objectives. Find out what works for your clients and then adapt accordingly. 🙂

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  1. As an internal SEO and marketer, there are several things to think about as it relates to agency related recommendations, especially when the site has several key stakeholders who own different portions of the web site. Sometimes it may take several meetings, positive reinforcement and varying degrees of persuasion just to make changes to the meta tags of a specific web page (yes, it can be that bad at times). Part of this problem is that many marketers are still ignorant to the basics of SEO.

    Another thing to consider is the infrastructure that the web site is built. Some back end systems are home grown; and it can take some serious engineering resources to make changes as well.

    Be patient with us. Those of us who are on the front lines are working hard to evangelize the importance of SEO and Social Media to senior management.

  2. Smart post Jolina…It can be so easy to say ‘Well we gave them the recommendations but they didn’t do it’. The bottom line is that doesn’t help anyone. We recently had to go back to recommendations from four months prior, break them down so they made more sense to the client and devise a strategy of how we could help them implement them. Basically your three RE’s 🙂 Nice post on a topic many people do not discuss but have an issue with.

  3. I love the 3 R’s, and I guess I have been applying them more or less unconsciously. Thank you for laying it out like that.

  4. My advice for dealing with reluctant or inapt clients: Buy a bunching bag and give it a good pounding whenever you feel like it. Makes you calm and easy going!


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