You may have been there before. That call where the client asks, “are we under contract with you and when does that contract end?” You immediately know exactly what that means. They are on the hunt for a new agency or employee to take over the work you were doing. You shake your head and stare out the window in frustration.
You start thinking about what you could have done to keep the client. Their CTR was better than ever. Their CPC is steady. Their QS is doing great. All of the major KPIs look excellent, except 1. Their CPA has been going up and up. In fact, their CPA has gone up for the last 6 months. Competitors have entered the space by the dozens. The niche products aren’t so niche any more. The pricing, promotions, packaging, and site design/user experience on the competition’s sites are better than your clients. You have come to them time and time again pointing out the new challenges via email, or worse, an attachment in an email, and the client never changes. Their site, their promotion, their product, its all the same. It is broken, but they don’t change.
After thinking about it for a long time, you put together a master plan to turn things around. You send it over to the client via email and give them a call to review. It is bold. Your turnaround plan lays it all out there. Everything the customer will have to do start making money again with online advertising.
The customer thanks you for the master plan but informs you that they plan to cancel their account. Your work for them is through. In frustration you think about how hard you worked, how good you performed on so many levels, and how it is all the fault of the customer and their business model that you didn’t succeed.
Six months ago as the online advertising account manager you noticed things were changing and that new competitors were coming on to the scene. You saw the CPA start to rise, and you went to work making adjustments to the client’s online ad campaigns. You kept sending the reports, and even pointing out the issues via email. Wasn’t that enough? Shouldn’t the client have realized they should make a change and followed through on the messages in your reports?
If you really think that means it is all the client’s fault, you are WRONG! Sure, the client should have been more assertive and more aware that they were in an adapt-or-die environment, but let’s look in the mirror for a minute.
Remember those reports? Remember that the client wasn’t getting back to you when you sent them? Remember that awesome master plan for turnaround you put together?
What if you made a special phone call, and then when they didn’t call you back, you called back again and again until you got through to them? Wouldn’t that show them how urgent the issue was?
What if you got them on the phone, and after pointing out the issue, you asked them who was going to be assigned to come up with ways to make the change? Wouldn’t that show them you mean business and realize that if action isn’t taken, their online advertising success may be in imminent danger?
What if before the first call you had already taken the time to put together that master turnaround plan of amazingness? Would they have been wowed? Would they have been more motivated to make an adjustment? Would they still be calling asking when the contract is up?
I would argue that the number one reason all agencies lose business is lack of strong and effective communication. At Get Found First we are working hard to have a relationship with each of our clients where we can reach out to them to discuss not just their online advertising needs, but how their overall web presence and success is being effected over time. We point out the things they should be watching out for, but more important than just the observations, we make actionable recommendations of things they can change. We have lost business where they never went back to online advertising as a medium ever again. It wouldn’t have mattered what recommendations we made. We have lost business where a client decided to close their doors. Usually in those cases there wasn’t much more that we could do, but there are cases where we lost business and we could have helped them turn things round if we had just done a better job of communicating.
It would be easy to blame any clientele we have lost on their business model being broken and their lack of ability to innovate, but we are bigger and better than that. We know we haven’t been perfect in our ability to communicate. After 5 years of doing PPC management as an agency for hundreds of clients in what seems like a myriad of industries, we have a renewed resolve and desire to communicate with our clients at an unprecedented level and look forward to making sure that all of our clients online ad campaigns are successful for the long haul, even if that means communicating to the client that their website needs to be re-done, that their offers need to be revamped, and that their ad budget needs to increase or decrease.
We will communicate.