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

    The key is to just keep on having “that” conversation again and again. Every time a client comes to be with a specific number and a specific deadline we have “that conversation” again. I have even walked away from a client that would not back down. They demanded a certain increase in traffic within 3 months and I said I would not and could not guarantee their results.

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

    The key is to just keep on having “that” conversation again and again. Every time a client comes to be with a specific number and a specific deadline we have “that conversation” again. I have even walked away from a client that would not back down. They demanded a certain increase in traffic within 3 months and I said I would not and could not guarantee their results.

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

    The key is to just keep on having “that” conversation again and again. Every time a client comes to be with a specific number and a specific deadline we have “that conversation” again. I have even walked away from a client that would not back down. They demanded a certain increase in traffic within 3 months and I said I would not and could not guarantee their results.

  • http://localreachlabs.com/ Russell Hayes

    Setting expectations is a fundamental part of the sales process which is also where you determine the ground rules for the relationship. I often find that using something from my prospects space as an example of unreasonable expectations they might experience with clients gets the point across. Hope that makes sense. Vote for Jar Jar!

  • http://localreachlabs.com/ Russell Hayes

    Setting expectations is a fundamental part of the sales process which is also where you determine the ground rules for the relationship. I often find that using something from my prospects space as an example of unreasonable expectations they might experience with clients gets the point across. Hope that makes sense. Vote for Jar Jar!

  • Pat Grady

    We focus on SMBs, they are often run by dreamers and those who aim to do the impossible. “Overcome” isn’t what we look for, it’s more like “accepting”. We’ve done the impossible many times, only to hear them say “great, here’s what’s next” – you can’t overcome that, you just focus on climbing, continual climbing. Swallow, breathe, and keep climbing.

  • Pat Grady

    We focus on SMBs, they are often run by dreamers and those who aim to do the impossible. “Overcome” isn’t what we look for, it’s more like “accepting”. We’ve done the impossible many times, only to hear them say “great, here’s what’s next” – you can’t overcome that, you just focus on climbing, continual climbing. Swallow, breathe, and keep climbing.

  • Jayne Reddyhoff

    Lots of really good advice here for dealing with clients and their expectations, which applies to more than just SEO.

    We specialise in AdWords and conversion optimisation for online retailers and, in theory, it is much easier to demonstrate how successful we have been for them than in the SEO game – after all, success just equals more sales doesn’t it?
    But we have experienced the same issues that you describe.

    After the initial expectation setting (“that” conversation), the most important thing in our experience is regular, valuable communication in addition to standard reporting. For our key clients, we have a policy of providing:
    - One boast – look at how well we are doing for you
    - One question – something we need to know from you to do our job even better
    - One observation or recommendation in response to asking ourselves the question “if money were no object, how could we help you to grow your business (or meet any other key objective) faster?”

    This helps keep us focused on what we are trying to achieve for our customer and increases their trust and confidence in us. Which in turn makes things much easier to deal with if there is a problem or some of that tough love is required!

  • Jayne Reddyhoff

    Lots of really good advice here for dealing with clients and their expectations, which applies to more than just SEO.

    We specialise in AdWords and conversion optimisation for online retailers and, in theory, it is much easier to demonstrate how successful we have been for them than in the SEO game – after all, success just equals more sales doesn’t it?
    But we have experienced the same issues that you describe.

    After the initial expectation setting (“that” conversation), the most important thing in our experience is regular, valuable communication in addition to standard reporting. For our key clients, we have a policy of providing:
    - One boast – look at how well we are doing for you
    - One question – something we need to know from you to do our job even better
    - One observation or recommendation in response to asking ourselves the question “if money were no object, how could we help you to grow your business (or meet any other key objective) faster?”

    This helps keep us focused on what we are trying to achieve for our customer and increases their trust and confidence in us. Which in turn makes things much easier to deal with if there is a problem or some of that tough love is required!

  • http://www.astralwebinc.com/ Ori Tzvielli

    nice article. for us the most difficult part is client involvement. at least for small businesses that we have worked with, they expect to pay and get results with no more involvement that a monthly check. after much learning, now we add to our contracts minimum of time, projects and expected tasks that the clients need to provide. we have even for one of our clients, specified a penalty fee if there one specific monthly task was not provided. This fee went not to our company but to more content creation.

  • http://www.astralwebinc.com/ Ori Tzvielli

    nice article. for us the most difficult part is client involvement. at least for small businesses that we have worked with, they expect to pay and get results with no more involvement that a monthly check. after much learning, now we add to our contracts minimum of time, projects and expected tasks that the clients need to provide. we have even for one of our clients, specified a penalty fee if there one specific monthly task was not provided. This fee went not to our company but to more content creation.

  • http://dannypryor.com/ Daniel Thomas Pryor

    Thank you! I am a developer who also handles the SEO/SEM portion of things for many clients, and the most difficult things I encounter are the disappearing client and the ones that throw me all the SEO email spam they receive, thinking I should do something with it. As an old colleague has put it to me, there’s a huge difference in targeting people versus search rankings, and that’s the fallacy of SEO for some. The expectations that clients have probably comes from all those promises to get people “listed on the first page of Google”, which nobody, in my not-so-humble opinion, can every credibly promise. The question becomes, how do we translate this stuff in a nice way without finally biting off the heads of the clients who don’t ever get it? ;-)

  • http://dannypryor.com/ Daniel Thomas Pryor

    Thank you! I am a developer who also handles the SEO/SEM portion of things for many clients, and the most difficult things I encounter are the disappearing client and the ones that throw me all the SEO email spam they receive, thinking I should do something with it. As an old colleague has put it to me, there’s a huge difference in targeting people versus search rankings, and that’s the fallacy of SEO for some. The expectations that clients have probably comes from all those promises to get people “listed on the first page of Google”, which nobody, in my not-so-humble opinion, can every credibly promise. The question becomes, how do we translate this stuff in a nice way without finally biting off the heads of the clients who don’t ever get it? ;-)

  • Andrea Bosoni

    The average client knows nothing about SEO. The only thing that matters to him is to become no.1 in less than one month for some ultra generic keyword that thinks will make him rich overnight. I always spend some hours at the beginning trying to educate him but sometimes it’s so difficult that is discouraging.

  • Andrea Bosoni

    The average client knows nothing about SEO. The only thing that matters to him is to become no.1 in less than one month for some ultra generic keyword that thinks will make him rich overnight. I always spend some hours at the beginning trying to educate him but sometimes it’s so difficult that is discouraging.

  • http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/ Stoney deGeyter

    You’re right, but you certainly have to make sure to have that conversation before the contract begins so it doesn’t come as a shock when you keep having it later! But, yes, it’s a continuous conversation!

  • http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/ Stoney deGeyter

    You’re right, but you certainly have to make sure to have that conversation before the contract begins so it doesn’t come as a shock when you keep having it later! But, yes, it’s a continuous conversation!

  • http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/ Stoney deGeyter

    Good strategy Russell. It’s definitely needed in the sales process. The problem is, most sales people want to over-promise. But I always prefer the Scotty Principle. Under promise, over deliver.

  • http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/ Stoney deGeyter

    Good strategy Russell. It’s definitely needed in the sales process. The problem is, most sales people want to over-promise. But I always prefer the Scotty Principle. Under promise, over deliver.

  • http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/ Stoney deGeyter

    We’ve run across this too. You go the extra mile just to get the clients what they want and soon they come to expect it. Next thing you know you’ve provided double the amount of work from what they purchased and they’re still not completely happy!

  • http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/ Stoney deGeyter

    We’ve run across this too. You go the extra mile just to get the clients what they want and soon they come to expect it. Next thing you know you’ve provided double the amount of work from what they purchased and they’re still not completely happy!

  • http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/ Stoney deGeyter

    That’s certainly a unique approach. We are trying to figure out how best to manage the difference between deliverables (ours and theirs) and the hours we put in doing their deliverables!

  • http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/ Stoney deGeyter

    Some never will. We are battling that now with a client. In emails they “understand” that rankings don’t come by SEO only, but in reality, they have given us ONLY the “SEO” portion and have badly mishandled the content and social strategy and refuse to do conversion testing. But they complain to use when rankings start to fall. The SEO is good, but they think rankings are all our responsibility. Sigh.

  • http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/ Stoney deGeyter

    My sales guy, who comes from a fundraising background is often surprised by the amount of education that goes into each sale. You can’t just throw out a proposal, you have to ensure the client understands the value of each service they are getting. All they want is rankings, but it takes the whole pie to get them that. It’s a long, arduous process.

  • http://localreachlabs.com/ Russell Hayes

    I’m given you all she’s got Captain! Over promising is a symptom of poor sales ability and it’s a cover up for not understanding how to communicate the value of the service your selling, or not caring enough to communicate that value.

  • http://www.polepositionmarketing.com/ Stoney deGeyter

    I definitely agree! It takes a good salesman to be able to keep the client’s expectations grounded to reality!

  • http://www.lapeerwebsitedesign.com/ Michigan SEO Company

    Stoney, great article on setting and keeping expectations with your clients. I agree that this NEEDS to be set right up front with your client. Even better, while the client is still a prospect.

    One way I do that, is by targeting those SMB’s that I would like to work with and then having them fill out a document of their goals for their marketing – sorta lik a marketing audit. The big two I look for are the:

    1. Decision maker, and
    2. What their allotted marketing budget is

    Once I know those, I can then determine if their budget “expectations” are on target with their marketing goal “expactations”. If those look good, I proceed by putting together a proposal for that particular project.

    In that proposal I will re-iterate their goals they outlined in the marketing audit and will clearly layout a timeline to accomplish those goals. I also include in the proposal a section named “SEO Expectations”, which explains to them that this is a strategy to build your online presence and that it is not something that is a one and done type of thing, but that it takes time to build that up.

    I found that this process can save a bundle of time and money before even getting to the proposal, and if you do create a proposal, your are hitting the expectation right up front so that atleast they know going in you are not “over promising” SERP domination in 30 days.

    Hope that helps those who are struggling with client expectations.

  • http://www.lapeerwebsitedesign.com/ Michigan SEO Company

    Stoney, great article on setting and keeping expectations with your clients. I agree that this NEEDS to be set right up front with your client. Even better, while the client is still a prospect.

    One way I do that, is by targeting those SMB’s that I would like to work with and then having them fill out a document of their goals for their marketing – sorta lik a marketing audit. The big two I look for are the:

    1. Decision maker, and
    2. What their allotted marketing budget is

    Once I know those, I can then determine if their budget “expectations” are on target with their marketing goal “expactations”. If those look good, I proceed by putting together a proposal for that particular project.

    In that proposal I will re-iterate their goals they outlined in the marketing audit and will clearly layout a timeline to accomplish those goals. I also include in the proposal a section named “SEO Expectations”, which explains to them that this is a strategy to build your online presence and that it is not something that is a one and done type of thing, but that it takes time to build that up.

    I found that this process can save a bundle of time and money before even getting to the proposal, and if you do create a proposal, your are hitting the expectation right up front so that atleast they know going in you are not “over promising” SERP domination in 30 days.

    Hope that helps those who are struggling with client expectations.