Piggybank with money

Dealing with Hard To Please Clients

Search marketing, just like any other business, has its peaks and valleys that make it both rewarding and frustrating to be to be an SEO at time. I find it rewarding and motivating to help my clients who have little or no business being generated online gain new business they never imagined they could capture. Conversely, it is equally frustrating when I have to face clients that are hardly appreciative, expect me to be the jack of all trades for their marketing, and aren’t ready to pay for any work that is out of the scope of the contract.

The 3 Types of Clients

The ZOMG Thank You Client – This type of client is my obvious favourite because they truly appreciate how online marketing helps grow their business in a way they never could imagine before their SEO comes along. About 60% of my clients fall into this area

The I’m Not Getting What I Paid For Client – No matter what you do, this type of client will never admit that they are getting their value for money regardless of whether you deliver superior results. Generally speaking, they also want you to manage everything related to their online campaign (website, seo, sem, social media, yada yada) because they don’t have time for this ‘online stuff’, but aren’t willing to pay a penny more for the additional services. There are several ways of dealing with this type of client that I’ll discuss later in this post.

The ‘I’m Secretly Happy But Can’t Tell You I Am’ Client – This type of client loves having internal meetings where they secretely adore what you’re doing for them, but generally are devoid of any facial expressions in your monthly phone calls, lest you understand you’ve ‘hooked them in’ and charge them more. It’s in the same line a showing a salesman disinterest in a product or service, in order to squeeze more of a bargain. I don’t mind this type of client at all, but honestly it’s rather silly to try and hide enthusiasm, because it’s easy to figure this out if you have a knack for reading people.

When The Client Screams… Just Woosaa

When you’re in business, it’s important not to take things personally. Myself and countless others have suffered professionally by taking business misgivings personally. Here’s a couple of things to consider before throwing in the towel on that impossible client situation.

  1. Customer Life Time Value – Do you envision retaining the client over a period of 2 years or more? If so, there may be ways to tweak the account management such that reports are automated, there are interim status updates, or you have another member of your team handle the account if you absolutely cannot. That said, if you can bare to live with the client, suck it up.
  2. Intangible Value – The client may well be difficult to deal with, but can you obtain valuable referral business if you do a good job of pleasing them? An ideal example of this would be working with a hard to please franchise owner, if they have the influence of getting other similar franchises signed on.
  3. Business Sense and Reputation Management – SEO’s may think of reputation management in its online extension, but word of mouth is far more powerful in smaller SMB circles. An unhappy client can spread a world of negativity about their experience with you or your team, so being cognizant about the ramifications of ‘dropping’ or ‘firing’ a client is imperative.
  4. Don’t Take on Clients You Don’t Want – Agency-Client fit is very important to have a long term profitable relationship. By following your own business intuition and principles, you won’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to a client if the fit is just not there.

Photo credit: Marcio Eugenio

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Tagged with: Client, Search Marketing, SEM, seo, Social Media, ZOMG

About Dev Basu

Canadian SEO & Inbound Marketer. Founder at @PoweredbySearch. Professor @SenecaSoME. I love startups, fast cars, & smart people. Helping brands with #DemandGen.