Managing Client Expectations Through Honesty and Cold, Hard Facts

The Importance of Being Earnest…and Frank

The Importance of Being Earnest… and Frank.  (wink, wink)

I went to see “Pacific Rim” this summer, not expecting much out of a Robot v. Sea Monster action flick. I was pleasantly surprised when the plot was palatable, the action was excellent, and Charlie Day was Charlie!

I also rented “Cloud Atlas,” which was billed as “encapsulating the filmmakers’ kaleidoscopic statement about human existence in a mystifying manner.” It didn’t quite live up to that billing for me.

Does this mean that “Pacific Rim” is a better movie than “Cloud Atlas?” No. What it means is that my expectations going into each movie colored my perception of each performance.

Clients are in the same seat as you at the movies. If they’ve been promised the moon, then even the greatest results will leave them unimpressed. Even worse, your team will be upset at why their outstanding work is not being appreciated by the client. By setting realistic goals, you lay the groundwork for a long and healthy relationship.

Here are 5 simple ways to set and maintain client expectations.

  1. Don’t promise the moon. This starts with you first evaluating the client’s strengths and weaknesses. If they are asking for a 5x return and you know it is unlikely for their vertical, don’t promise it. Encourage them to direct their efforts on the strengths and be open about potential challenges.
  2. Take their PPC temperature. Help them understand their current account’s health by pulling their historical data. This can be tricky if they have not been properly tracking performance. However, it is vital that they first have a clear picture of their current and previous performance to set realistic and measurable goals.
  3. Educate them. Relay your experience and provide case studies of the account performance of similar previous clients. Google also provides resources, including competitor analysis, for clients who are new to GAW.
  4. Get metrics and tracking in place. Agree on metrics for measuring goals and make sure that proper tracking is in place. Then report frequently – transparency and communication go a long way in managing expectations.
  5. Give them ownership. There are many factors on the client’s side that affect conversions. Help them understand their responsibilities in the process of setting and meeting goals.

By setting realistic goals, you allow your team to exceed expectations and please your client. And if your team falls short, you can accurately assess what went wrong and fix it.

If a client insists on demanding unrealistic expectations, they are a Succubus Client, and one to avoid.

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One Response to “Managing Client Expectations Through Honesty and Cold, Hard Facts”

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