A few days after I sent our marketing department the first outline for this blog entry, unexpectedly our CEO, Gary Garth sent the
management team a very interesting article written by Jessica Stillman called “Why underpromise and Overdeliver is terrible advice”.
In this article Stillman makes reference to a new study from UC San Diego behavioral scientist Ayelet Gneezy and University of Chicago business professor Nicholas Epley in which they tested the impact of over-delivering on your promises. Gneezy and Epley determined that “Going above and beyond a promise didn’t seem to be valued at all”
Yeah I know you’re probably as shocked as I was when I read it. Who would have thought that an actual study on the effects of over-delivering would have determined that “over-delivering” wields very little positive effect on a client’s perception of the service you provide. Outlandish, if you ask me.
I decided to take a look at the testimonials page in our website and “investigate” if there were any hints from our clients in which through their words of recommendation recognized either directly or indirectly our efforts of “over-delivery”. I found some good examples:
“Getting weekly updates and calling whenever I have questions and knowing that true professionals are managing my AdWords campaign gives me a sense of appreciation.” – Dallas Boyce (Owner at Boyce Equipment & Parts)
“White Shark Media has gone beyond my expectations. I’ve been working with Alexandra and her team for 8 months now and I have to say that they have kept me busy.” – Barbara J. May (Owner at Law Office at Barbara J. May)
“Every time I have called her, if she is not available at the time, she returns my calls promptly, sometimes right after I have just hung up from leaving her a message. You can’t get better service than that!” – Claudia Black (Owner at Name That Computer)
This is just a small portion of the testimonials I read on that occasion (let alone all the testimonials we’ve acquired through the years) and I could go on and on, but the point is they clearly stated the case on the importance of over-delivery. Or at least they do in my mind.
In honor to over-deliver far and wide, I’ve decided to share White Shark Media’s “secret sauce’s” recipe to over-delivering in PPC. After every ingredient I’ll mention the reason why we think all PPC agencies and marketers should apply it to their own repertoire and hopefully at the end you’ll be fully convinced that YOU MUST LEARN TO OVER-DELIVER! Let’s get cookin’!
Ingredient #1: Provide a SERVICE, don’t just offer SEM…
Yawn! That’s probably what your clients are thinking (or doing) when you ramble on and on about how awesome you are at doing SEM. You can tell them countless benefits as to what you can do for their business and why you have the advantage over the sea of competitors out there. Believe me, they’ve heard it a million times before, including the “oh and we have an awesome app that will also help you”.
At the end of the day, you can be a PPC-demi-god sent from the heavens to bring justice to every click. But if you’re not service-focused and give your clients a personal touch of genuine interest and absolute willingness to serve them above all, you’re like a Reese’s peanut butter cup with a wonderful chocolate covering exterior but peanut-butter-less on the inside. And we all know that the peanut butter is what gives it the flavor…
Ingredient #2: Act as a Stakeholder in your clients’ companies…
I know what you’re probably thinking, here he goes with the “your success is our success”mumbo jumbo but it goes beyond that cliché. If you’re not absolutely worried about your client’s financials and the outcome your actions have on their bottom line, you really won’t get too far and are very likely to have extremely high churn.
After all, you are in-charge of spearheading perhaps the single most important Sales strategy in the war against their competitors. In the books of many that would earn you a very special seat in the board-room.
Ingredient #3: Respond to Clients, FAST!
This is related to ingredient #1 because it has very much to do with the quality of service you provide but deserves to be an ingredient in itself. We all know this is an extremely fast-paced world with absolutely NO intention of slowing down. Technology is at the forefront of this rapid change. The more connected we become by Social Media, Email and Clouds, the faster business moves all over the globe and therein lies the importance of not being left behind in the race.
PPC is definitely not an exception. Every time a search is performed, an auction starts and like any other auction, the one with the right bid at the right time takes home the prize. Your rate of responsiveness also leads to client loyalty because it instills like nothing else, a sense of reliability.
Ingredient #4: Be Brutally Honest and Embrace Honest Feedback
A common mistake among companies that provide a service is that they think saying “yes” to clients about everything is considered “great customer service”. Nothing could be further from the truth! You do greater good to your clients by learning to make hard stops when their expectations are unrealistic.
Honesty is definitely not the prettiest but it is by far the most effective in generating client loyalty and transparency. It’s a mid to long-term fix for churn not a reactive fire-extinguisher strategy to put out fires.
When done right with anticipation, it could very well become the defining factor that separates you from the rest. Perhaps the best example of this in the world of PPC advertising is budget. Yeah… we’ve all gone through it. Your client wants to make PPC history by generating 100 conversions in the first month on a budget of $15 per day. Are those crickets I hear? It’s not going to happen!
You better be brutally honest from day 1 and save yourself the trouble of hearing from a very disillusioned client that wants to cancel after 1 month of working with you because you didn’t deliver the moon and stars you promised him or her.
On this note, this also means being persuasive and knowing how and WHEN to convince them they need to increase their daily Ad Spend given the CPC of the keywords in their industry. If you have plans on being successful you MUST learn to do it (period!).
Ingredient #5: Embrace Change and Promote Innovation
Change and Innovation… This era’s favorite two words! Again, in today’s ever-changing face of technology, embracing change and promoting innovation should be as controlled by the reptilian side of your brain as your breathing and your heartbeat.
You absolutely need to stay on top of what’s new and the next best trend in order to adapt the direction and strategy of your PPC campaigns and stay competitive! If you’re not doing it, your competition is and your clients should know about it because you’re proposing it to them. Just to name a few big changes that Google made in 2013 we have: Enhanced Campaigns, Google Shopping, Interface Changes, etc.
Our Chief of Search Engine Marketing, Derek Hooker published an entry in our blog in which he explains the new ay to count conversions in AdWords. This modification made by Google changed the way we look at conversions completely, going from “Conversions 1 Per click” and “Conversions Many Per Click” to “Converted Clicks” and “Conversions” labeled respectively.
Now there is another option on how we count our conversions. That is, 4 contact forms submitted from 1 click could count all conversions or unique conversions. In the case of count all conversions, the formula above would be 4 conversions compared to count unique conversions in which we would count 1 conversion.
The point being, PPC platforms can be complex and are constantly being tested, updated and improved as well as online marketing trends in general! You have to stay at the top of your game if you want to make a real impact.
Ok, the first 5 ingredients to our secret sauce for over-delivering are in the mixing bowl… What should you do next? Start mixing the batter, of course! Once the sauce is nice and consistent (hint, hint), you need to add the final 2 ingredients.
Ingredient #6: Work your “buns” off because you know it pays off…
I had to do it! I had to create a culinary reference with the word “buns”. Seriously though, this is a VERY important ingredient. In fact, I would go as far as saying as that this is the ingredient that puts the flavor of the sauce at stake.
You can be the most service-oriented, fast-responding, and brutally honest, innovative PPC expert in the world, but if you don’t do everything possible to create a culture of discipline you won’t see the returns.
This is actually an economic law and it’s called the “Law of Increasing Returns”. To sum it up, I’ll quote Napoleon Hill:
“When you do only that for which you are paid,there is nothing out of the ordinary to attractfavorable comment about the transaction; but, whenyou willingly do more than that for which you arepaid, your action attracts the favorable attention of allwho are affected by the transaction, and goes anotherstep toward establishing a reputation that willeventually set the Law of Increasing Returns to workin your behalf, for this reputation will create ademand for your services, far and wide.”
Ingredient #7: Be Pleased, but NEVER satisfied
It’s time to include the last ingredient into the sauce, that final spice that adds the zest to the recipe. No, I’m not speaking about paprika, I’m speaking about that touch of obsession which all great men and women have: The obsession to always see room for improvement. Be mindful, if this ingredient is disregarded a reverse effect can be put into action. Pat Riley, said it best:
“When a milestone is conquered,the subtle erosion called entitlement begins its consuming grind.The team regards its greatness as a trait and a right.Half hearted effort becomes habit and saps a champion.”
Excellence should always be accompanied with the humility to acknowledge that there is always something more you can do. In our world of PPC that means, never settle for the “perfect campaign”, there will always be a further optimization to be performed, a more effective keyword combination to be used, a more creative and appealing Ad Copy to be written. What I’m trying to say is: “Be pleased but never satisfied”…
There you have it my advertising comrades; White Shark Media’s (not-so-secret-anymore) sauce to over-delivering. Day-in-and-day-out we season the work we do with this sauce to assure our clients remain engaged and well advised.
Finally, I would like to mention the other side of the token. Very easily you could think that clients are the only beneficiaries of over-delivery but that’s only half the story. When you make a decision to do more than is expected or paid to do, you too are a beneficiary. Of what? You might ask. Of an internal change that leads to the creation of a culture of discipline and a spirit of passion, love and pride in your work.
Once that change has been consolidated within you, your taste buds will accept no other substitute of the satisfaction that over-delivering gives you, guilt-free calories. Bon appétit!