4 Reasons A PPC Agency Should Turn Away a Prospective Client

PPC Agencies are like wolves. Or maybe sharks. Or wolf-sharks.

src: http://25.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m30gk3GrKi1r37lu2o1_500.jpg

Twisted fun: If you are a prospective client, walk into a pay-per-click (PPC) conference and announce “I’m looking for someone to do my PPC. Who is the most qualified?” and then walk out, snickering to yourself as the sound of growing chaos explodes behind me.

I mean, digital marketers are no different than other industry’s sales people, right? Our livelihoods depend on getting clients.


It is my opinion as an agency owner who also runs the sales department (as well as the billing, scheduling, and coffee-making departments. We’re small, OK?) that there are times to dissuade a prospect from getting into PPC.

There are undoubtedly agencies out there who never say “no” to a potential client waving money at them. Too small? No problem. We’ll just match our work on your account to your undersized pocketbook.

Crappy website? No big deal. Sign here.

To do this, we will look at two questions. Why should you persuade someone to wait to begin PPC, and when should you consider dissuading them?

PART 1: Why you should dissuade a prospect from PPC

Let me be clear: The answer is rarely “no” when telling unprepared prospects they’re not ready to dive into PPC. The answer is typically “not yet.” There is a crucial difference between those two. The first sends the prospect into the arms of your competition; the second causes them to have an increased interest in your more honest, detailed analysis. A curious prospect is a listening prospect.

Here are four reasons why there are times to tell a prospect “not yet” when they ask if they can hire your PPC services:

Reason #1: It helps improve the reputation of PPC

When someone dives into PPC, throwing money into poorly managed, disorganized campaigns, we end up with a businesses who later says “Nope, I tried it and it didn’t work” to PPC providers.

There are times when PPC is truly not for everyone (see Part 2 below). If we can distinguish between those businesses/verticals where PPC isn’t ideal and those where PPC was simply mismanaged, we can help improve PPC’s reputation among SMBs.

Reason #2: It creates a positive brand experience

This goes hand in hand with the previous point. Leaving an endless field of corpses in your wake clues people in that you have the potential to harm their business. Unlike The Walking Dead, these “corpses” you’ve wronged can talk on social media and review sites about your brand.

We all get an estimate wrong here and there, but a continual supply of SMBs who feel you’ve mishandled their money, when the real problem was that they weren’t yet ready for PPC, can only serve to hurt your brand.

Reason #3: It builds loyalty

It sounds counter-intuitive, but “real talk” tends toincrease your credibility in your prospect’s eyes.

Let me put it in a way that an agency can understand. Pretend that you’re in discussion with two automation software companies.

You (agency): “Here’s my monthly spend. It is spread among X clients. What can your software do for me?”

AUTOSOFT1 (sales-focused): “Oh MAN, let me show you how all of these other agencies have saved thousands every day. We’ll save you 2,300 hours per week. You will be sipping out of a coconut on a beach next week. Sign this contract for six months, and let’s see what happens.”

AUTOSOFT2 (client-focused): “If I can be straightforward with you here, we’ve seen agencies at your size struggle to make automation profitable. I don’t want to dissuade you, but it wouldn’t serve either of us if you tried it and then walked away frustrated in six months. If you’re not ready to dive in, I would completely understand. Here is a goal to shoot for in account growth. We’ve seen an ideal initial client spend of X at X number of clients. I’ll keep checking in on a monthly basis if it’s okay. Once you get to where you want to be, we can go from there.”

In this first example, the client tries it out after having been promised the moon by the agency, but then receives only an asteroid. They walk away frustrated with everyone involved. This is exactly why I hate case studies for selling PPC (and lay out my reasons for that here: Why the Case Study Needs to Die When Selling PPC).

In contrast, the prospect who sees the agency (second example) genuinely show concern for them may not come around immediately; but when they are ready to give PPC a try, you can bet they will remember the agency who was honest with them.

Reason #4: It’s the right thing to do

A final reason for dissuading a prospect is, well, it’s the right thing to do if they’re not ready. If you know it is not the right time for them to do PPC, then you should probably tell them. Or warn them, then walk them through the process with eyes wide open.

I just had a similar experience taking on a new SMB client. Here’s what I told them:

“You are in a new market, which intrigues me. There’s not a lot of competition, so there’s a ton of potential, but it’s untested. This might not work out with the profit margin you have. Here are my recommendations.”

I broke a dozen sales “rules” right there, but I did land the client.

….PART 2: Four times you should dissuade a prospect from PPC… stay tuned.

Hopefully, I’ve convinced you that there are times to dissuade a prospect from jumping whole hog into PPC.

Practically, I’ll include another post in the near future that discusses specific times I think it makes sense to dissuade a prospect from PPC.

Until then, have a good one!

Edit 10/9/17: You can find Part 2 here: https://medium.com/@ppckirk/4-instances-a-ppc-client-will-probably-fail-in-ppc-ddecfd9ba0e2

Originally published at moz.com.