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PPC Client Foreshadowing

Published: October 15, 2013

Author: Todd Mintz

CarsonThe most profound thing that anyone shared with me about the paid search agency process wasn’t told to me by any of the wise 3Q Digital executives. Instead, it occurred at a networking party at a search conference whilst I was buzzing off an unknown quantity of “Rum and Coke.” I had just met a prominent person in our industry for the first time and during our chat, the following was mentioned to me (I’m paraphrasing since I can’t remember the exact words due to my buzz):
“It took me 3 years before I learned how to understand and react appropriately to every possible scenario in an agency environment.”
I suppose the incongruity of the quote is why I remember it since it wasn’t really the sort of thing you expect to hear at a loud cocktail hour from someone you just met. However, as I reflect upon it and upon many of the things I’ve seen in my accounts during my time at 3Q Digital, especially recently, these words ring especially true.
I’ve now worked on 20 accounts during my time at 3Q Digital and I’ve interacted with a wide variety of different clients with different personality types. However, they all share a commonality of role that is some variant of “Online Marketing Manager.” Because their roles as my client requires a reasonably standard set of conversations and expectations, the range of interactions with me is reasonably narrow…which means I see many of the same situations over and over and over again and have learned the ideal way to respond to each of them.
Every Online Marketing Manager I’ve worked with is tasked with maximizing the ROI from the paid search channel (among their other responsibilities). The success from our partnership greatly impacts not only the client organization but how my contact is viewed and graded by the organization in which they work. Each challenge faced by my clients gets my highest level of attention and my best efforts in working through a solution.
Within this seriousness comes an awful lot of rote scenarios however. Because I’ve seen similar happenings plenty of times, I’ve learned to pick up certain cues (verbal, written, and “other”) that predict future client behavior. I can’t always react in a way that allows me to impact what I foresee, but I’m almost never surprised when it happens.
The best and most productive relationships I’ve had with clients involve very little foreshadowing. They’re straight up with me (both good news and bad) and because we’re sharing everything on our minds, we can together craft a course of action that’s mutually beneficial.
Unfortunately, I’ve had clients who are “constructive obstructionists”. I’ve seen it enough to know the subtext of their actions…yet my role requires me to “play along” with the charade. I’ve also seen clients make horrible judgment calls that I know are going to bite them in the butt. I tend to be pretty direct with the folks I’ve known and worked with for a while, but I’m not close enough with some to hold any sway over their actions – which is a shame because I’ve seen the end result of others taking the same path.
To the Online Marketing Managers reading this…let me share the following. If you’re working with an experienced PPC Account Manager, they’re likely both a “seer” and a “seeker”. They’re seeking solutions to the problems you’re sharing with them while also understanding and reacting to the signals that you might not think you’re broadcasting (but actually are). Furthermore, an account manager can tell a heck of a lot about your business performance from how the paid search account is performing versus established account metrics.  There isn’t too much value in keeping any pretense in the relationship…your account manager probably knows you well enough to be able to complete your sentences that you start…but know that he/she will be doing this with your best interests at heart :.)

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