Image of teacher in front of blackboard to represent the task of getting small business owners to understand digital marketingAt what point does your client graduate from their online marketing training? As data analysts, marketing geniuses, SEO monsters, PPC rockstars… how do we finally convince our client to put the trust token in our hands? I’m not talking about the marketing director who understands how to stay in their lane nor the senior marketing manager, who “gets it”.

Instead, I’m referring to the entrepreneur or business owner who invested everything and lived out of their car to make their “dream” come true. This person has always done things a certain way. Even though they had no smartphone 5 years ago and no website 7 years ago, you’re faced with trying to convince them that to get different results, they need to do things differently.

Other Worlds

Online marketers assume small business clients understand new technology and marketing channels. We try to insert some buzzwords they may recognize hoping to get them on the same page with us.

So they ask, “How come when I do a search for ‘sunglasses’ I’m not on page 1?”

You’re so invested in the client, and you actually DO care about their success. At times you swear you know their business better than they do. Newsflash… sorry, you don’t.

How many of us have attempted to explain SEO as marathon and PPC as a sprint?… at least 23 times! And they still don’t get it. There is a fear of loss when you suggest doing an A/B split on an email subject line. It’s the same fear of missing out that we use in our ad copy for customers. But your client has always controlled that fear with their tried and true methods that have worked. They know their business, and they know how they made money.

It’s Their Baby

Recently, I was attempting to explain my frustration to one of my college student sons. He shocked me by asking, “You mean the client that’s the millionaire?” I hesitated before I answered and said, “Yes, that’s the one.” I began to churn through things I would like to say to this client. You’re so invested in the client, and you actually DO care about their success. At times you swear you know their business better than they do. Newsflash… sorry, you don’t.

Your hard-headed, oftentimes obnoxious, difficult, annoying client got to be a millionaire by believing in their dream, products, services, and themselves. They were determined not to take ‘no’ for an answer. They pushed, they fought, they struggled through those moments when rubbing two nickels together was a luxury. They doubted, they thought about quitting, and they had sleepless nights.

Who’s In Charge?

Now you appear wanting to take their thing to the next level. In some cases, if they don’t follow your online expertise, they may be out of business soon. So you find yourself in a stalemate. You’re actually tempted to bypass getting their approval because you KNOW WHAT YOU KNOW. If you take a certain action, it will produce a certain result. You think, “Let me just do this, and then I’ll give them the good news.” It’s like when you tell your kid a white lie.

So anything you introduce as an online marketer – analytics, data trending, factual proven methods, strategies, and techniques – is going to have to be presented in a language they understand. Over and over and over again.

Your client has gotten to the point where they are because they were the smartest person at the time. Now you’ve been hired because they think you’re smart and can make a difference. Still, they haven’t forfeited their brilliance. Remember this person (a human being) has been working this overnight success business for the last 20 years and far longer than you. They know this thing. When it comes to their baby, they get it. They’ve relied on their gut feeling for a long time. So anything you introduce as an online marketer – analytics, data trending, factual proven methods, strategies, and techniques – is going to have to be presented in a language they understand. Over and over and over again.

Digital Marketers Take Care

I recently learned it was really bad to talk in terms of percentages to a client. Instead, dollars make more sense. Seeing a large negative percentage means something is terribly wrong. Going from $400 to $200 didn’t seem so painful. Why? Because $200 represents 1 or 2 sales. Dropping 50% to them somehow means “Houston, we have a serious problem.”

So what do we do with the tough client? Punt? Yell? Quit? Yes, you could quit and sometimes that’s the best thing for the relationship. In some cases, the service fees you earn are just not worth the emotional investment.

However, if you value your client, the online marketing training will not cease. If you value your client:

  1. Deal with training them repeatedly.
  2. Know your audience better.
  3. Learn your client’s language. People who have made a lot of money probably understand dollars.

How about you? How do you handle your more challenging client relationships?

Need a better digital marketing strategy? Contact us today.