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Search marketing clients hold keys to their own success

I have to admit that search marketing as an industry suffers from an image problem. In fact, some good old fashioned online reputation monitoring is needed to see how much we are “loved,” but there’s more to the story. In fact, today I will contend that if any search marketer gets hooked up with a client that “doesn’t get it” or is just plain out of the loop regarding search then much of the problems that the industry wrestles with can be placed squarely on the client. What you say?! Isn’t the customer always right? Well, if I wanted to be PC I would say “Yes sir!” but I prefer to be honest and just say “Not always.”

If you are looking to work with a search marketing agency / consultant / provider there are a few things you need to know. My take this week is on what is needed to be a good search marketing client. That’s right. Success in search marketing is as much dependent on the actions or inaction of the client as anything else.
Since I work primarily with the SMB (small / medium business) market I have worked with everyone from the actual business owner to the person who had search marketing thrust upon them as another duty in an already jam packed schedule. Below are some qualities and actions needed to be deemed a good client. If you follow these guidelines I guarantee that your experience with your search marketing provider will be the best it possibly can be. Does it mean you will have guaranteed success? No. If you expect that then you should stop here and go buy a yellow page ad instead.

  1. Patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither is search marketing success. Make sure you understand completely what the difference in search engine optimization timetables and paid search timetables are. Paid search provides more potential for short term gratification and should work hand in hand with SEO practices designed to get “free” traffic over the longer haul. If you believe that SEO success should happen in a month then don’t get involved at all.
  2. Time. Your time. Search marketing, when done correctly, is not something that is a “set it and forget it” deal. You will need to be involved directly with your provider and not just for a summary phone conference. If you have limited knowledge of search marketing you will need to invest in yourself to benefit by taking the time to learn these disciplines. Because the competitive landscape is constantly changing you need to be constantly learning and tweaking. By the way, if your provider acts like they are protecting national security secrets and won’t educate you regarding search marketing then make the right call: fire them.
  3. Implementation. Most search marketers don’t want to have the ability to go into the code for your site and make the changes that they recommend. I know we don’t. There are too many opportunities for mistakes that are simply not worth the potential liability. Because of this it is imperative that you have all the key players on your side needed to implement the changes ready to go. If you are getting great information but it is never implemented (which happens far more than I ever imagined) then you are wasting your time and mine as well.
  4. Flexibility. Search marketing and all the ancillary activities around it including many social media options require out of the box thinking and a degree of risk taking. I can’t tell you how many times the use of the word “blog” has made a client break out in a cold sweat and stick their head in the sand. If you are not going to color outside the lines there are plenty of places to waste your marketing dollars that are safe and predictable. Do them instead and save us the grief.
  5. Accountability. If you like to pass the buck and point fingers then please don’t get involved in search marketing. I find it absolutely essential to have wide open and honest communication with my clients. If we are screwing up then we HAVE to own it. If you are doing the same then “man up” to face the problem and do what is needed for success. We have found that once clients face their issues head on they are thrilled with the speed of progress that begins to take place.

Admittedly I may sound a bit harsh here. However, I have been doing this long enough to know search marketing is a collaborative partnering endeavor when it works the best. I strive for win / win situations and that can only occur when both sides of the ledger are taking full responsibility for their activities. I know that’s hard in the real world because stuff happens. Stuff happening is no excuse for sabotaging success. Search marketing requires going the extra mile and you have to be in shape to handle it. Now stop reading and go do something!

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