Winning New PPC Clients

This week Luke Alley (@LukeAlley) guest host for the jury duty bound Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro). We discussed a good question set titled “Winning New PPC Clients.” The following is the transcribed Streamcap from the live chat:

Q1: What is the one thing that sets you apart most from the competition?

  • I’m a direct marketer/copywriter. Most PPC people are little more than interface jockeys. – Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
  • I think we all can agree that we wear *many* hats. – Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
  • We’ve made our focus lead-gen. Specifically tracking the quality of leads back to keywords and streamlining the optimization. – Luke Alley
  • Creating each client’s account as it was my own. I don’t push anything, just to do it, only where it makes sense. – Christina Hall (@Chrissie_Hall85)
  • We’re a small agency, which means each client is unique to us–no getting lost in a crowd. – Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
  • My innate sense of frugality…applied to their budget. – Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
  • We’re not just a “PPC agency,” we prefer to work with clients where PPC is part of a larger integrated marketing campaign. – Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
  • Investing the time, understanding & relationships to see long term results. And we don’t use AdWords Express. – Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)
  • We look at the integrated approach with all channels, even with PPC and all the available paid media options. – Michael Knight (@MichaelAKnight)
  • We’re not just PPC/search marketing, but integrated digital – how each channel (ppc esp.) works together. – Pascal Inderabudhi (@pasc)
  • We are vertical experts and touted as top industry performers by our AdWords partnership. – Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
  • I work in house; my personal selling point? I’m the full package – I’m a Data Analytics Guru, the automation coder, & AM. – Leo Sussan (@lsussan)

Q2: In your opinion, how much weight do Adwords & Bing certifications carry to new clients?

  • Depends. Some clients, really important; others dont’ know or don’t care about certification. – Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
  • To new clients, a good amount of weight. – James Svoboda
  • I’d imagine a fair amount. Your competition will have it; why don’t you? It’ll very likely come up in the research process. – Leo Sussan
  • I’m always surprised how many clients feel AdWords and bing certifications are important. – Michael Knight
  • AdWords can be significant. Bing, not so much. It’s not on the radar for “outsiders.” – Theresa Zook
  • Seems to rely on level of knowledge prospect has. Some understand the cert doesn’t = quality. Some see it as cert with authority. – Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
  • Depends. Some don’t know, don’t care. Of more value: having a dedicated Google agency rep. – Pascal Inderabudhi
  • I think they mean a lot to smaller businesses. If you cant be bothered to get the certification, what does that say about you? – Josh Devlin (@JayPeeDevlin)
  • It’s seems to be more of a “checkbox” item. They just need to know we got it. – Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
  • No idea, I don’t have them. I’ve certainly never been asked about them by a prospect. – Steve Gibson
  • Certifications give you the halo effect. You can borrow the bigger brand’s equity. Why not? – Robert Brady
  • Only slight weight… Just ’cause someone has a drivers license doesn’t mean they’re ready for the Indy 500. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Some don’t know ppc certifications exist but most ask about them. – Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
  • I find these hold less and less value every year. – Joseph Drury (@drurytheelder)
  • Certs are certainly good to have, but I feel they are outdated & should be updated more often. Plus just having a cert doesn’t. – Christina Hall
  • How you pitch it to the client can make a difference. Some clients may not care, others may. – Garrett McGregor (@mcgregor212)
  • For an educated client, could hammering home certification as a selling point actually be counterproductive? – Josh Devlin
  • Clients give more weight to Google Reps agreeing with my recommendations than certifications. – Jonathan Ng
  • I think more of my professional “reputation” for prospects comes from professional online engagement. (too many chars!) – Theresa Zook
  • Q2.1: Does your certification come up with clients often or ever?
    • Has never come up between me and a client. Might be something sales team talks about more. – Sam Owen (@SamOwenPPC)
    • In talks w/prospects there have been times that is the first Q they ask me: “Are you certified?” Usually doesn’t come up tho. – Melissa Mackey
    • In 6-7 years of working in the field, I think the topic came up once with a prospect. – Theresa Zook
    • Beyond the initial mention when onboarding new clients, no. – Pascal Inderabudhi
    • Never. They don’t really pay attention to certifications from my experience. – Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
    • It never came up with any of my clients at an agency in 4 years. However, it came up in job interviews for a PPC position. – Christina Hall
    • It’s just assumed (and displayed on our website) that as professionals we maintain all the proper credentials. – Nicole Mintiens

Q3: What is a common PPC selling point that you feel carries little weight?

  • “We use {Kenshoo:Marin:Acquisio:} so you should choose us.” Platforms are good but do not make a good PPC mgr. – Melissa Mackey
  • Size of spend under management. No idea how well it’s being handled. – Robert Brady
  • Anything that doesn’t result in the client making more money. – Steve Gibson
  • We have a special relationship with {Google:Bing:Facebook:Etc.}.” Usually not true. – Melissa Mackey
  • Clients hire you because you’re the best solution for their business, not because you’re the cheapest. – Jonathan Ng
  • Claiming to be able to get a client a high CTR – it’s more important how the clicks are behaving once they get to a site. – ScriptiLabs (@scriptilabs)
  • I hate generic selling propositions. Ex: “We utilise our experience and expertise, combined with strategic-led creativity." – Leo Sussan
  • “We get you a lot of traffic (impressions).” Looks like results but isn’t. – Theresa Zook
  • “We’ll keep CPC under $$ amount” or some similar promise with focus on wrong metrics. – Timothy Jensen
  • Selling specific tactics (access to betas. etc.) over strategy & value. – Pascal Inderabudhi
  • Anytime hard/absolute metrics are touted as benchmarks i.e. “our clients are always avg position #1 with x% ctr & < $x cpc” – Nicole Mintiens
  • A list of all of “the things” included like management of match types, negatives, new ads, new keywords. – Elizabeth Marsten
  • We’ll hit your CPA goal & you don’t have to do anything (when they usually have terrible landing pages.) Unrealistic promises. – Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
  • I also love “We’re passionate about what we do.” Word? But I really wanted a non-passionate agency! – Leo Sussan

Q4: Have you ever turned down clients? Why or why not?

  • Hell yes! I can often tell in the opening minutes that it is not a good fit. Or they have no $$ to pay us. – Melissa Mackey
  • Yes, often. Bad website, unwilling to change. No real budget for clicks. Unrealistic expectations. Etc. – Theresa Zook
  • No $$ and they are high maintenance. Those can hurt business a lot. – Luke Alley
  • As often as not. Main reasons are: (1) likely gains not sufficient to justify my fee, (2) prospect stupid as a box of rocks. – Steve Gibson
  • In my agency exp. yes – uncooperative, more demanding than our scope but don’t want to pay, high maintenance ones. – Pascal Inderabudhi
  • Yes, Conflicts on interest, spammy products, bad credit/payment or A-holes. – Lisa Sanner
  • Yes… Often. When expectations (budgets, time, results, etc) do not align. – Nicole Mintiens
  • Yes – sometimes red flags come up in the intro process that make it not a good fit for you. – Michael Knight
  • Among other things, anyone not willing to pay initial deposit WILL be a billing problem – no thanks. – Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
  • yes, they want campaign setup, but then want to manage it themselves. Basically setting up a campaign for failure. No thanks. – John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
    • Pet peeve! If that’s what you want, say it up front so we can charge and plan accordingly. – Melissa Mackey
  • There was a time in both agencies I’ve grown when we COULD NOT turn down clients. Can be hard if you’re trying to grow. – Luke Alley
    • I’d argue that point a bit though. A bad client(s) suck the life out of you & seriously impede your growth efforts. – Julie Bacchini
    • Agreed, although down the track you should take the opportunity to fire bad clients. – Josh Devlin
  • Reason #3: client’s bottleneck is not a PPC bottleneck (e.g. crap website/wrong business model) and he’s not willing to fix it. – Steve Gibson
  • Turn down any client that the cpc requirement doesn’t match their advertising as percentage of sale. – Carlos del Rio (@inflatemouse)

Q5: Are you a % of spend or flat rate believer? What’s your argument for either?

  • Flat rate up to X spend, then % of spend above. The fee has to justify the time needed. – Theresa Zook
  • Both have their place – dependent on client spend and overall needs – so I’m going to stay in the middle. – Michael Knight
  • We charge a flat rate based on projected spend. I actually like the hybrid flat fee + % of spend model, though. % of spend can be problematic for clients who feel penalized when they increase their budget. – Melissa Mackey
  • Depends on size of client & spend level. Fee should match the work. – Pascal Inderabudhi
  • Does anyone thing the % of spend model make your interests and client’s at least partially unaligned? – Julie Bacchini
    • Yes, see my last tweet. Any pricing method can be problematic, really. – Melissa Mackey
    • If your benchmarks for increasing spend are performance based there is no conflict. – Luke Alley
    • Client is in control of when to increase ad spend so it still depends upon their satisfaction. – Kirl Williams
    • Trouble is, performance often depends on factors outside my control. (website, client’s phone response, etc.). – Theresa Zook
    • Great if client’s have a sizeable campaign that can include CRO, or do that well themselves. Awesome clients do. – James Svoboda
  • They’re both flawed models. £££ accounts justify more hours because of ROI. But % of spend creates conflict of interest. – Steve Gibson
  • Combo scenario. % of ad spend does not take into account everything by itself. Also % is just MGMT Fee / Hourly Rate anyway. – James Svoboda
  • I make sure the spend “categories” are large enough to not seem punitive. Occasionally waive a fee incr in the short-term until spend incr is justified by results. – Theresa Zook
  • “Experience has taught me that advertisers get the best results when they pay their agency a flat fee. It is unrealistic to your agency to be impartial when its vested interest lies wholly in the direction of increasing yr commissionable advertising.” (David Ogilvy)- Steve Gibson
  • Flat fee, less hassle. It also gives me a more wiggle room on making customer-centric changes. – Carlos del Rio
  • Difficult to grow a flat fee into something bigger regardless of increased performance. Easier with %age spend. – Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
  • I think a better model might be a more flat fee set up w/ performance bonuses. Then not tied to spend only. – Julie Bacchini
  • Flat rate! I’m a client, and %-of-spend agencies pose a conflict of interest. Set the rate, then renegotiate if need be. – Matt Lukens (@mmlukens)
  • If client is in control of spend and performance dictates budget, then % of ad spend is a win all-around as mgt would grow too. – Michael Knight
  • Thinking through this question reveals I am not yet a businessman. Need to force myself to price on value! Flat fee is simpler & maps more easily onto consultancy costs (i.e. hours worked). But with flat fee more likely to be undervalued I think. Although undervalued on %age spend not uncommon either! – Richard Fergie
  • I think they key is helping client reach their goals. When that is happening, fees are gen not an issue. – Julie Bacchini
  • The problem with bonuses is, how do you measure contribution? Especially as so many businesses are seasonal. – Steve Gibson
  • Q5.1 Has anyone had a client request a certain fee model? i.e. a client asked for flat rate, but you do % of spend.
    • Nope. – Theresa Zook
    • Yes. Performance based usually. Turned down the last one because of short contract length, small budget and bad CRO in place. – James Svoboda
    • When clients ask for performance based I tell them I get paid based on performing hours of work. – Carlos del Rio

Q6: How involved are you in the sales process? How does your company handle PPC sales?

  • Pretty involved–I do most of it. – Theresa Zook
  • I am sales. – Robert Brady
  • As the PPC strategist, involved if specific strategy Qs, etc, but leave it to our sales experts to bring in the awesome clients. – Michael Knight
  • I do all the prospecting & sales. – Kirk Williams
  • To say I have a “process” is a bit grand. – Richard Fergie
  • We usually do about an hour of research on the prospect’s account and then have a meeting to share findings – so quite involved. – ScriptiLabs
  • I don’t advertise PPC. I’ll consider it if the client asks for it. Usually I pass PPC on to other people. – Carlos del Rio
  • Comes through me in the end. I do all technical audits and usually the meetings with prospective clients. – Luke Alley
  • Not as involved as I would prefer to be in sales process as PPC is just one of many services we offer w/ websites. – Nicole Mintiens

Q7: Do you have contracts? Why or why not?

  • No. We and client always have the freedom to move on. Things change. We do ask for short-term commitment to prove concept. Helps educate client that results are not magic. – Theresa Zook
  • Contracts that outline our agreement yes, fixed terms no. You should only remain our customer while we show you value. – Josh Devlin
  • No. Client should have the freedom to walk if I’m not doing my job. – Steve Gibson
  • Contracts are a crucial part of our process for reference of initial services & budgets across depts. – Nicole Mintiens
  • A contract can be for any term. Having an agreement about responsibilities, payment & even termination matters. – Julie Bacchini
  • We try to, because it’s great from a business perspective. It’s a new thing though, most existing clients are month to month. – Luke Alley
  • Contract, yes. Long-term, no. – Robert Brady
  • I sign contracts for new builds. Can usually take time to gather data, optimize, & demonstrate account profitability. – Kirk Williams

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More PPCChats

Don’t forget to stay tuned for the next #PPCchat on Tuesday at 12 noon Eastern, 9 am Pacific and 5pm in the UK. Same Chat time, same Chat channel.


Check out the PPCChat Twitter list to see and connect with all current and prior participants.

• Matt Umbro (@Matt_Umbro)
• James Svoboda (@Realicity)
• Paul Kragthorpe (@PaulKragthorpe)
• Carlos del Rio (@inflatemouse)
• Elizabeth Marsten (@ebkendo)
• Garrett McGregor (@mcgregor212)
• John Budzynski (@Budzynski)
• Jonathan Ng (@ThankYouJon)
• Joseph Drury (@drurytheelder)
• Josh Devlin (@JayPeeDevlin)
• Julie Bacchini (@NeptuneMoon)
• Kirk Williams (@PPCKirk)
• Leo Sussan (@lsussan)
• Lisa Sanner (@LisaSanner)
• Matt Lukens (@mmlukens)
• Melissa Mackey (@Mel66)
• Michael Knight (@MichaelAKnight)
• Michelle Morgan (@michellemsem)
• Nicole Mintiens (@Tregesy)
• Pascal Inderabudhi (@pasc)
• Richard Fergie (@RichardFergie)
• Robert Brady (@robert_brady)
• Sam Owen (@SamOwenPPC)
• ScriptiLabs (@scriptilabs)
• Stephanie Cockerl (@StephCockerl)
• Steve Gibson (@stevegibsonppc)
• Theresa Zook (@I_Marketer)
• Timothy Jensen (@timothyjjensen)
• Tyler Purcell (@tylerpurcell)

Winning at Streamcaps

This is a guest post by Paul Kragthorpe; WebRanking SEM Manager in Minneapolis, Minnesota, #PPCChat Streamcap Grabber, SEO Blog Author. Connect with me @PaulKragthorpe, and Google Plus.

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