More threads by Linda Buquet

Linda Buquet

Local Search Expert
Jun 28, 2012
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I think we are all guilty of talking over our clients heads. It's natural to want to show off how much you know and use industry lingo to make yourself seem important, when you are new to the game. Maybe you've tuned into it or have outgrown it - but you used to do it. Admit it! :p

Here is a very transparent post by Tony Dimmock sharing problems and feelings he's had client re communications, and how we can alienate clients if we aren't cognizant of some of these issues.

Thought it would be a great topic of discussion to add to Consultant's Corner.

<a href="">What the hell are you talking about? said the SEO client</a>

So for the SEO's, web marketers and consultants out there, be brutally honest (I have) with yourselves and answer this: How often do we speak "geek" or waffle use jargon when discussing anything with our clients?

More to the point, how often do we confuse or alienate a client (or a potential one) and close down communication channels due to our lack of empathy, because "we know the internetz" right?

How many times have we not been patient enough or not had the mental flexibility to really see the clients perspective and appreciate where they were coming from?

I'd say more than I think and probably a ton more than I'd want to admit...

Above is just a snippet, so head over to read the rest. Thanks Tony!

If you need help simplifying your initial presentation to simplify things and get down on the potential new client's level, I share some pointers in the post below:

<a href="">The Local Search Puzzle - Illustrated</a>


That gives you an idea about some of the ways I would try to simplify and explain things to Dentists, back when I still worked with clients. I had an extremely high sign up rate with no closing. Just took more of an educational and consulting approach and it worked really well for me.


What do you think???

Have you ever been guilty of talking over client's heads?

Do you have any client communication tips to share?

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"Web marketers need to remember that what's "basic" knowledge to us can seem "science fiction" to others. Assume = making an ass of you & me"

This was pointed out to me as I was doing internal training recently. I had to check myself. I had to remind myself to listen more and speak less...Should be a good read. Thanks
I was guilty with talking over people's understanding of the basics of internet and SEO for the first number of clients when I ran my agency. Eventually I was able to start "dumbing" concepts down so at least a 8 year old will understand. If done right from an educational standpoint and not condescending one with patience, clients will love you for it. That's when the real referrals start coming in and they love talking to you about what's going on.

The first step I realize was when using acronyms in written communication like SEO or ORM (Online Reputation Management), I always have one instance of it spelled out so they understand what it means even if I've written it a thousand times. This one time might be the time they forward the email to a friend, colleague or someone that doesn't understand the acronym SEO (search engine optimization).

Also thing I started doing with clients is giving them workflow charts, and explaining why each little piece of the puzzle matters in simple explanations and with offline metaphors. If I can explain that people simply typing in "Shoes" in the search engines are like passing by window shoppers versus someone typing in something more specific is equivalent to a customer coming up to your cashier and asking "Do you have Christian Louboutin Red Bottoms in stock?" They now have a visual understanding of who is more likely to buy cause they've had that similar interaction happen in their store. Anyone employee knows that a person walking with a very specific request is ready to buy and isn't concerned with price all that much cause they've done the research versus someone just browsing around who might need another incentive (coupon or bonus).

That explanation will then help me illustrate why the landing page of the Red Bottoms need to be a direct sales lander with a checkout versus someone browsing for "Shoes" that wants to see the whole catalog - most likely going to your homepage or your Shoe selection overall. I can now verbally illustrate why all customers shouldn't be sent directly to the clients homepage no matter what - yes we all get this crazy requests, and convey why XYZ option is better. When you start educating clients on WHY we do XYZ and ABC, and they truly understand you'll have a customer for life - if you can deliver sales and showcase that traffic growth. If not, no matter how much they like you eventually you'll be out when a slick sales guy comes in and talks about nothing but generating revenue.

The absolute worst meeting you can be in is a meeting with another SEO/ORM team trying to pounce your client since they said something that intrigued your client enough to consider switching. That's why educating them is the key. I remember pitching potential SEO clients that had great SEO teams, but the teams NEVER explained anything and never communicated with their client effectively, therefore I was able to take their client and literally keep doing the same thing the other SEO team was doing and getting the same increasing results. Client communication is paramount above all else. When there is a problem let the client know, when things are good let the client know. I made it a rule to speak to a client at least once a week if not twice on the phone so they know we were on top of their sales.

Even if it's "Hey, we just sent the traffic numbers over for this week, things are looking good for XYZ keyword and overall increases." That small extra work from you gives them a relief that things are moving in the right direction - never keep them in the dark. And if you don't believe me and you only communicate with clients once the check is suppose to be written they'll soon notice that and might even call you out on it, then when some up and coming newbie agency comes along with someone like me on their team you'll find yourself on the other side of a meeting table getting dismantled even though i clearly know you are doing a great job but simply aren't conveying it to your client correctly.
Great points all Carter! I especially like the shoe analogy. So well put!

I'll probably steal and re-use that one. (Giving you credit of course!) :)
Good points Carter! I try to educate them from the beginning as well as keep them updated on the latest Buzz. I like to give them a quick sheet in addition to referencing in emails as you suggested. By the way, Your support over at SERPwoo is badass!

That's why educating them is the key.
Re: If you Baffle Clients with Bull Hockey &amp;amp;amp; Geek Speak - You should Read This

Hi Dustybones,

It's something we all (marketers) have to remember, yet it's so easy to talk about things we enjoy doing.

When your work is your passion or hobby, it shows and in the local search industry, clients want to work with someone who's passionate enough to guide them and get results.

So from this perspective, if our passion stays inside and never ventures out, we're doing ourselves (and the client) a great disservice. If we can balance this with "enthusiastic listening" (which is what I'm constantly working on) I think we're 3/4 there.

Appreciate you commenting and really hope you find my post helpful. These type of open discussions is exactly what I'd hoped it would result in :)

---------- Post Merged at 10:44 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 10:33 PM ----------

Hey CCarter,

Thanks for explaining in such detail your process and the success you had with it. Wonderful to hear :)

Your last point about "doing a great job but simply aren't conveying it to your client correctly." is huge.

As web marketers & SEO's we get fixated on getting results that we sometimes forget to show our success when it really counts. I think that's due to the fact that we become, to a degree, dumbed-out to "winning" online because, for us, the mountain to climb for a client is pretty much our bread and butter, so we're used to the work we must do to help them within their "marketplace battle".

In our office, every-time a level of success is achieved (whether with a new or existing clients) we document it, celebrate it and the office has a real buzz. Therefore, we create an atmosphere of achievement that each of us want to repeat again and again.

The celebration doesn't have to be grandiose or OTT, just a few minutes taken out to realise that we've made a difference :)

Really appreciate you posting your experiences here & keep charging!

---------- Post Merged at 10:49 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 10:44 PM ----------

Hey Dustybones,

We use a "success blueprint", very similar to you and CCarter. It shows the building blocks of online success, in reference to their starting point (a) and goals (b) plus what is required from them in order to help us help them achieve their online objectives. Often, when the client knows our expectations of them, they know they're accountable to us as indeed we're accountable to them for overall results.

This approach / mindset enables both parties to respect each other with integrity and trust - both key components for successful client / consultant relationships.

Keep charging :)

---------- Post Merged at 10:56 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 10:49 PM ----------

Hey Linda,

Thank you for opening up the conversation here and appreciate your comments on your G+ post about the subject.

It's an area that needs more dialogue between marketers - what I call "soft skills".

Being such a data-driven industry, reminding ourselves to step into others shoes and seeing things from others perspectives can only be a good thing. So thanks again for reminding your forum members of the same :)
Thank you for opening the conversation Tony!

I always want more content for our Consultants Corner because as passionate as we all are about local search, we all still have businesses to run. We all need help with sales skills, prospecting, time management and all these other issues. So it's great we have a place to talk about them. But I just don't have as much time as I'd like to focus on the business issues.

So I love it when I find a great post like yours, that I can share, that will help the whole community.

Thanks for helping us to jump start a great discussion!

And thanks everyone for weighing in.
Great points by everyone. I think the main thing here is to listen to the client and get a good feel where they're currently at as far as SEO/PPC/Social understanding. You don't want to dumb things down too much if someone has a pretty good concept grasp; that could come off as condescending. On the flip side, you don't want to speak too technical to someone who has no clue what SEO even means. There's always a middle ground to this stuff. Listen and make the determination, tailor the pitch, and make sure you're prepared for both extremes.
Re: If you Baffle Clients with Bull Hockey &amp; Geek Speak - You should Read This

You're more than welcome Linda and, again, thanks for your kind words :)

I'll be sharing more information about those topics over on my blog and will try to become more active on this superb forum, especially the "Consultants Corner".

Indeed, thanks to everyone for sharing their experiences!

EDIT: I've also added a link to this excellent discussion on the post itself ;)

---------- Post Merged at 08:18 AM ---------- Previous Post was at 08:11 AM ----------

Hey Eric, well said and thanks for commenting.

Questioning prospects and clients and (more importantly) listening to what they say and gauging their current level of expertise (or lack of) is where we must start.

Improving the "middle ground" is a life-long soft-skill that helps us become better consultants and helps our clients become "comfortable" sooner. The more comfortable they become, the better :)

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