5 Ways To Make Your Client Kickoff Meeting A Success

When we moved to agile marketing for our internal process, it changed the way we think. Instead of finding any resources that were available, we had dedicated teams that worked on a smaller number of clients. Instead of working against a 12-month marketing plan, we worked in 30-day Sprints to reach smaller, more attainable goals faster.

But most importantly, it changed the way we kicked off.

A client kickoff meeting is one of the most important aspects of your online marketing campaign. You set the tone and standards, learn about the client, and start formulating your strategy. Then, you have to keep momentum going.

We changed the way we kick off meetings, which has allowed us to learn more about our clients and prep us better for any project. We adopted a lot of this from our agile Web development teams and their 3-day Sprint Zeros that happened before we started building anything.

Here are some things to take into your kickoff meetings to make sure your project is set up for success.

The Basics

We push for one to two days — depending upon the complexity of the project — at the client’s location. This gives us more time to dive in, and we get to see firsthand where they work. The basic things we cover include:

  • Team and client introductions, what we’ll accomplish, our process (30 minutes)
  • How we’ll work together: email vs. phone, who’s approving client side, regularly scheduled meetings, how responsive can we expect them to be (15 minutes)
  • How we are going to determine if this project is a success, boiling it down to quantifiable metrics, not links acquired or rankings (10 minutes)

Stakeholder Interviews

This is our time to talk to the key stakeholders of the company who we wouldn’t necessarily have access to on a daily basis. We want to get their thoughts about how they envision the company being marketed; but most importantly, we want to establish consensus among them so we have clear direction. We ask questions like:

  • What is the tone of your company?
  • How would you personify the company’s brand?
  • What are your personal top 3 goals of this project?
  • Describe to me your best client.
  • What is the biggest problem of your clients that your company solves?

Sailboat Exercise

This helps you identify risks and opportunities. You’ll see how to prioritize your marketing and what you should be looking out for that could hinder you.

  1. Draw a sailboat on a whiteboard.
  2. With the client, identify the things that you have going for you. These are the wind in your sails. They push you forward and can be used as competitive advantages like better pricing, customer service, or new product features.
  3. Next, identify the things that will be holding you back. These are your anchors. They hold you back, like being a new brand name, having more established competitors or being a non-necessity product.
  4. Finally, identify the things that could completely derail your project. These are your icebergs. They will make the project fail, like new legislation or a competitor beating you to the market.

You’ll have something that looks like this:

Fact: I am not a designer.

Fact: I am not a designer.

Headline Exercise

This helps you identify your client’s end users and their goals. If there are more than 10 people in the kickoff, break up into pairs. Get them out of their comfort zone to work with people they don’t typically interact with.

  1. Envision the project or the client has just been released, and it’s on the front page of the news in an industry publication.
  2. What would the headline of this news article say?
  3. You’ll want to include words that describe how the client has made a difference and how their users were impacted.
  4. Give everyone about 5-10 minutes to write something down, and then have everyone read them aloud. If the conversation is going well, people can write more than one.

After this exercise, you’ll have an idea of keywords, objectives and goals to work toward and a vision of how the client plans to impact their end user.

Quick Wins & Next Steps

Before we go into the kickoff meeting, we have a good idea of things we can do immediately that will get some quick wins, whether it’s results or blaringly obvious improvements. This helps build the relationship and establishing your credibility because it usually takes a long time to see the fruits of your labor in SEO and link building.

These quick wins could include:

  • Adjust titles and meta description to be more action oriented
  • Updating poorly worded or typo-heavy content
  • Implementing heat maps to see where users are congregating on the site

What other things do you include in your kickoff meetings to establish your relationship with your clients? Let us know in the comments.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Link Week Column


About The Author: is the director of digital marketing at 352, a digital agency creating websites, software and marketing campaigns. Follow her on Twitter @erinever.

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  • http://www.outsource-seo-philippines.com/ OutsourceSEOPhils

    I love the Sailboat Exercise! I think its a fun way to do during a kickoff meeting with a client. Will definitely be using it with our clients. :D

  • http://www.brickmarketing.com/ Nick Stamoulis

    Those quick wins are so important because it helps assuage any lingering fears the client might have about hiring you. Investing in a new SEO partner comes with a certain level of risk (hopefully very little if you picked a good firm!), and clients want to know they made the right decision and that you are going to do everything in your power to help them succeed. Proactive advice and insights never hurts!

  • Sameer Agarwal

    Erin, this is brilliantly explained to a newbie like me ! Thanks …. :)


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