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Client Horror Stories

Transcription of Divya Patel’s episode (That time when your client was super happy to get a negative headline on UK’s biggest tabloid because to them, it’s still brand exposure)

Transcription of Divya Patel’s episode (That time when your client was super happy to get a negative headline on UK’s biggest tabloid because to them, it’s still brand exposure)

This transcription belongs to Episode #34: PPC Specialist, Divya Patel, meets Our Beloved Host, Morgan Friedman, for a new episode of Client Horror Stories. Please watch the complete episode here!


 Morgan Friedman (Host): Hey everyone. Welcome to the latest episode of Client Horror Stories. I’m honored to have to be interviewing today one of my favorite PPCs, Divya Patel. Did I pronounce your name correctly?

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yes, yes. That’s right. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): I get a gold star. I can give myself a gold star. I can wear it here. So let’s jump right into the story. What’s your client har story today, Divya? 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): So it was actually quite a while back. I was very early on in my career, and I joined in, sort of, halfway through the process where it was already a stable client.

We were already providing a range of services, and I was quite new to the company as well. The client – I’ll just make up what they sell just for the sake of it. So, they sold men’s luxury watches, so they were trying to enter into the premium market, but the two owners were quite young. They were pretty much in their mid-twenties.

So the vet themselves, were very new to owning a business, running a business, and they were very, very ambitious, like as soon as they came on board, they knew what they wanted. So in terms of expectations, they had high expectations. They also expected like quick turnarounds on many tasks just cuz they’re quite new to it all.

Very little digital knowledge I say, which I think, looking back, it probably should have been onboarded a little bit better. What I’ve learned over the years as we’ve, sort of, developed processes across different agencies, the best way is to onboarding, like the key bit, when you’re bringing on a client because that’s where you set the expectations. 

We get an idea of how much digital knowledge they have and make sure they understand what you do and what they should expect as a minimum from PPC or paid social. And I feel like if that was done, then it would’ve probably caused less friction further down the line… 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Let’s sign a twist for a minute cause here’s an interesting question. You brought two different issues – their age and the onboarding. Age is actually a really interesting issue cuz I think when people are young and starting out, your expectations will always be unrealistic cause you don’t know how things go.

Really, so it’s interesting to think about client age as a risk factor. And one of the interesting things is it ties into your point about their digital knowledge often in a converse way, whether that it’s people who are younger will have worse expectations just due to lack of experience, but they’ll  usually have more digital knowledge as compared with old fogies, while old people, on the other hand, the reverse set of positive and negatives where usually older people, their expectations will be much more realistic. 

On the other hand, they’re much less likely to really understand the digital world as well. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. I completely agree. There’s goods and bads. I think the positive is that the excitement. You know, they’re just as excited as taking this brand cuz they were quite, I wouldn’t say they’re a startup, but they were at a level where they wanted to earn, in terms of annual revenue, they want to get into the  six figures. 

But they were quite early on and they were very ambitious. But I think the expectations we just had to sort of like reign them in a little bit and, you know, say that it does take time fee to get what you need, especially when it comes to PPC where there’s a cost attached to it.

There’s the cost of the agency and then also the cost to Google and to… 

Morgan Friedman (Host): So, before you get to the heart of the story, on the other point on the onboarding, what is it do you think the most important expectation that you didn’t set with them that now you realize you should have set at this point? 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): I think it was looking at the website, just looking at the external factors of where they sit as a brand in the market.

Because they’re quite new, no one knows them. And I think the difficult thing is brand recognition, and there’s better ways to build a brand rather than going straight in with paid advertising. And I think that really helps, especially with a product like that, what they’ve got, they need to build trust with the audience and build a basic customer base.

Morgan Friedman (Host): I see. So, they wanna hire you to do  Google Ads. But what you realize now, in retrospect, what you should have done in the very beginning is mainly, “Oh, instead of Google Ads, focus more on brand recognition.” 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, so they had issues with the website, which we found out whilst we were doing the PPC service, which conversion rate is obviously a key factor.

So, in terms of UX, like how people shop on the website from landing to checkout, that’s so important. And we could have analyzed that better. And instead of just starting to focus on “let’s try and find clients that are good for PPC,” I feel like “take a client and analyze everything from start of the purchase journey to when some actually purchases something and then have a look at what opportunities there are” cuz sometimes, PPC isn’t the answer to everything.

And if we go with things like CRO conversion rate optimization, UX, UI, that’s best to go first and then bring in the page. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): That is the good learning, which is often you’re so excited you jump right into the thing you’re a specialist at.

So it’s good to realize at the beginning, to start at the bigger picture. And I like your tie in to doing this as an onboarding because usually with onboarding, it’s all about learning from the client what they need, but it actually goes in both directions. 

Okay. The stage is set. New client. Now, they hire you. What happens? 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): So, we had different teams in the agency. We had PPC, paid social, and then we also had the PR side of things as well, which was really helpful. And we started off somewhere in the process to launch a YouTube campaign, and it was purely for brand awareness. 

We all know that YouTube doesn’t generally drive bottom-of-the-funnel conversions and we thought we suggested we’ll create the assets for you because we’ve been with them from the start in terms of creating a brand and finding their place in the market. 

So in terms of  messaging, tone of voice, you know, asking them questions, cuz they’re quite young, they also need help on where they want to be, and we actually offered that part of the services we do, and we kind of figured out like a strategy, went to brainstorming, figuring out how are we gonna create these assets, create creatives, in what order do we push it out, especially when you’ve got like new product launches. 

We went away, they said, “No, no, we’ll sort the assets out. We’ll sort the video. All you need to do is build the YouTube campaign.”

This was initial and start, and we gave them a brief on what we would like in the video campaign. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Question. Wait, did you offer to create the YouTube and ad assets but they said “No, we’ll do it ourselves. You should just do the campaign?” 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, because we had an in-house videographer who takes like shoots and stuff. Yeah. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Got it. Okay. Interesting. So that already feels like a yellow flag happening because when you’re working with someone and you say, “Hey, I do all these things and there’s this very similar fee as part of what we also do,” and they say, “No, no, no, no, for this other part, we wanna see someone else.”

It’s like, “Wait, who are the specialists? Why aren’t you hiring us?” So that would  raise a little ding in my head. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Especially when they’re asking questions of what they should include in the shoot. I think they already have their own photographer in terms of shooting the e-commerce photography, you know, the images of the product on the website.

So whilst they’re doing a shoot, might as well add time in for the actual video. And we brief them in and obviously in any new product launch, you would expect the video to be focusing on the detailing of the product. And it is really all about the watch, shall we say. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Yes. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): And I remember I came in, and they posted the video on YouTube, so it’s public, and they hadn’t told us about it. So it’s not something that they sent through. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): They posted it without telling you. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. So they didn’t send it to us, which we would’ve liked to give a little bit of feedback cause we’re working together. They post it up, and I came into work one morning, and my manager is a type of person where you can see it, like how she’s feeling. You can see it on her face. Like if she’s annoyed , you can read. 

And I came in and I knew straight away something would happen. And walk into the office and you can see a group of people huddled around a computer watching something. I was like, “Oh, no.” And we went and it was, oh, it was shocking.

Like the video that we briefed, which was supposed to be about the products, instead was what we said, a group of men sat on a sofa, you know, with the actual watch on and the camera focus. But instead of focusing on the actual product, it was a wide shot with a group of women in lingerie just walking in the background.

Morgan Friedman (Host): In lingerie? 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. Like it was so… 

Morgan Friedman (Host): But they’re not selling lingerie? 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): No. So you get other snips of someone. Yeah, it’ll just be  mainly about the women in underwear when it wasn’t about that, and I could just… everyone just didn’t really know what to say. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Question. I have to ask. For people watching in the future, it’s now the year 2022. How long ago was this? Cause I feel like in 2022, it would be like a big red sign, but there’s a point 10, 20 years ago where this is a bit more acceptable. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Oh, this wasn’t that long ago. So it became massive, yeah. So I regularly sat down and said… I told her, obviously, and then she goes, “That’s not all.” She told me to type in the name of the client with the name of a tabloid into Google.

And they’re just…  They were plastered on the front page of UK’s, one of the biggest tabloid, in a negative, in the wrong way because… 

Morgan Friedman (Host): For this video? 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, because it was shown as like degrading women. Like it just came across in the wrong way. And we just thought all that work that we’d put in to building that brand before we, you know, start pushing in other channels and it’s just gone the wrong way, so we started to regroup. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Quick question, I just wanna unwrap this a little bit because to me, I’ve seen lots of videos launch, including very offensive ones, but they rarely ever make it to the front page of the Daily Mail or whichever one it is. Do you know how the Daily Mail, as soon as it was on the same date, found out about this? Cause it feels weird.

Divya Patel (Interviewee): I don’t know. I think it must have been social media as well. Like they probably shared the video, but it obviously went quite fast. I wouldn’t say it’s like it was the topic of the day for everyone, but the fact they actually appeared online for the wrong reasons and we were trying to sort of… 

We assumed that they didn’t know about it, so we were coming up with a plan on how to tell the client but also come up with some sort of plan of action on how we sort of minimize this. And they already knew about it. And the surprising thing was that they were actually really happy because there was… I dunno whether I’m putting it down to age maybe, but they just thought like good pub, like any sort of PR was good PR, but they thought this was a nice way to get their name out there.

But it was just in the wrong way. And I think it was really hard to pick everything up, you know, with all the marketing, the strategy that we had to…  

Morgan Friedman (Host): Let’s discuss that for a minute cause it’s interesting that this public fiasco happens. You view it as a fiasco, but the client is actually really happy about it because one of the objectives here is to keep the client happy, and if the client likes it, you have a happy client.

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, that was different. So my role wasn’t very much client-facing. So, the way the company was structured was, as a PP specialist, I sort of sat in the backseat.

Morgan Friedman (Host): I see, doing the campaign itself. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. Whereas we have what we call here client services, so it’s account managers who speak directly. So from what I heard, they were trying to obviously make sense and say, “Fine, you know, people know who you are, but it isn’t the best way forward considering we’ve got so much plans in terms of pushing on social and things like that, so… 

Morgan Friedman (Host): So I think there are two interesting points to dive into for a minute here. One is often what clients want is not what’s in their best interest. And what’s very, very difficult is to convince a client, “You want this, but you want this other thing.” 

Get the sort of guys that want ads and like ads with women in lingerie even though it has nothing to do with the product, it’s like it’s hard to convince them to not to deal which is why I think in these cases, one of the best pieces of advice is to identify whether your visions are aligned with the clients early on in the beginning. And if it’s just too different, to avoid it. 

So, an interesting con or an interesting implication is how can you realize, “Oh yeah, there are these sorts of guys,” you know, earlier when you started. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. It, no, I completely agree. And I think we did ask them, obviously, why, what was their logic behind putting this piece of content together, cuz it is their business and they care about it, so it must have come from some sort of, you know, a point of view.

And I think they tried to go for like the tongue-in-cheek sort of tone of voice, which I feel hasn’t obviously come across that way. And we did agree. You know, we took the video down, we went back to basics, and tried to not pretend it didn’t happen, but try and just push it to one side and try to salvage.

Morgan Friedman (Host): There’s, by the way, there’s another subtle point here, which is tongue-in-cheek campaigns are difficult to pull off successfully that most people take humor literally, and when people take humor literally you need to be so careful about your jokes. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. It’s so hard, like even when you’re doing… as an agency or as a marketer, when you’re doing paid social campaigns or anything, you know, social-related, it’s nice to do it cause I feel like it’s one way to get noticed and to stand out, but it is a very thin line between getting it right and then getting it wrong. 

And I think I’d rather stay far away from it and be really safe rather than take a look at the risk. I think it’s really important that if you’re doing that as an agency or as a third party, you work really, really closely with a client and that we’re all on the same page that this is what we want to do.

Morgan Friedman (Host): Yeah, and by the way, in going back to your onboarding plan that we started with, I think a good onboard lesson actually… I try to get some new insight in every one of these interviews, and one that I had never thought about before that I think I’ll add to my onboarding materials is  big brand decisions need to be communicated beforehand.

Like there’s a certain level where if they wanna do this, you can’t stop them. But if you know about it, then you can prepare in so many different ways. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, no, I completely agree. And I think looking back at how I would’ve maybe changed it, you know when I said that how we didn’t onboard the client very well, it’s sometimes difficult when you are not in control of the process that goes on in the front end, because most places where I worked at this specific place, it was more of like the heads of department and the sales department who deal with the initial pitch stage. 

And we only get brought in until the clients sign the contract and is ready to come on board, whereas I feel over time, it really helps in the final stage to maybe involve the specialists from, you know, the teams that they’re gonna invest in to have their say on how we’re gonna move forward. I find that over the years, that’s really helped.

Yeah, as I said, that’s definitely key is to bring the people who are actually gonna do the work, get them involved at some point before you, you know, officially sign and say, “We’re going do this,” because it’s good to have your say in that. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): I think that is a good point because what often happens in bigger companies is the sales team is completely separate from the people that actually does the work. 

And introducing them earlier not just let’s you do better in information exchange, but there’s this level at which you need to like the person you’re working with, and if these are like these frat boy lingerie types, then it  might make it easier to identify the problem beforehand. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. Yeah. And I think it is generally where, cuz they, I feel, I don’t wanna put it all down to age, but I think they just thought that this is the demographic we want to target. So they’re probably thinking about the demographic, and I still don’t understand exactly how they came to that conclusion, but it could be due to that.

But over time, as we started to develop the relationship, I think they understood to listen to our opinions first and, you know, the implications it can have if they decide to go a little bit rogue like that. I think it, from our end, even if they told us or we’ve sort of worked together, them sort of uploading the video without letting us know, I think that was just something like, you know, “We need to build a relationship where it’s we’re equal partners.” 

And that’s, again, something I’ve learned moving forward is that it’s never us against them, like we are the agency or the client. I always want to treat it as we are like an extension of your team, so we want to be part of your team.

And I think when you come to situations like that and if something goes wrong, I feel like fingers won’t get pointed because if they treat you like your team, it’s more of “How can we work together to fix it?” rather than “What did you do?” If that makes sense. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): That makes sense. So it sounds like after this calmed down, they started trusting your team more and incorporating you more into these sorts of discussions. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, definitely. We kind of felt like part of the inner team, if that made sense. So we did obviously go back to basics. How we then rolled out the strategy for me was quite smooth considering what went on beforehand because they just listened and we told them, you know, “We are here to help you.” 

So, they might just need to just take our ideas on board because at the end of the day, they kind of hired us for our advice and for our expertise, so they need to allow for us to have that creativity, that opportunity. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): That’s great. So question, what were the long-term effects of them being on the front page of this tabloid and all this happening? Did it end up hurting them? Because maybe their initial instinct was correct. Maybe they got some publicity and it ended up helping. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. I mean, it’s still there. I tried Googling it the other day. It’s still there, but I think they’ve changed the way they come across on social. So in terms of like Facebook, Instagram, or, you know, in social channels, they’ve changed their tone of voice.

So, I know you can’t undo what’s happened, but I feel like if you change the messaging, sort of just bury it a little bit and just move forward and also figure out where you actually want to be. Cuz you can’t temporarily like… it’s a long-term strategy. What do you need to do to make sure that your brand goes on forever?

There’s some longevity behind it. So I think it was more coming across just, “What is your tone of voice?” and starting off with that, trying to, you know, spread that all over social, get your messaging out there, and just change the way you come across to the audience. And then let all your services, like the paid marketing, come after.

Morgan Friedman (Host): Yeah, that makes sense. Everything is a journey, especially on these sensitivity issues so you can improve the journey. Okay, that’s great. 

So, crisis happened, calmed down, they started trusting you. Looking back on it now, what did you change as a result of this crisis?

You mentioned at the start that you changed your onboarding a bit, but now that we know the story, how did you change the onboarding and what other process or what other lessons did you learn and changes you did make as a result? 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): So, when we onboard clients, we educated them. Well, we found out first about how much they know about digital. So where they sit in terms of knowledge-wise, get to know a bit about what they want as well as a brand cuz sometimes, clients don’t know what they want. They just know that they want to grow their brand, but sometimes, you’ve got to help them figure out what they want as well from the business. 

And I think firstly educating them about the services, for example, we had a similar brand that came on board. It was fast fashion. I don’t know if the term is known in the States. So it’s women’s fashion, but it’s very low costing. I dunno if you heard a pretty little thing in the US. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): I don’t know much about women’s fashion. So… 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): It was a women’s fashion brand, and he literally had no idea about anything to do with marketing. I mean, he barely got involved with just the organic posts that you put on Instagram. And we’ve just taught him the basics of how PPC works. And once he knew that, so we basically just did one session, like a consultancy session, and we just… I wouldn’t say teach him, but just make him just go through the basics of digital marketing and then finding out what they want.

And just doing a full brainstorm session, so one person from each delivery team, so that’s PPC, paid social, SEO content, CX team as well. And we’ll all come together and look at the website, look at the client’s objectives, and in terms of order, what is the best channel to push forward? So come up a six-month plan, and in month one, month two, how would we do it and pitch that back to the client. 

I think that way, you get to iron out any issues that you wanna sort out before you involve paid advertising because I feel like paid is something that should be last compared to things like fixing the conversion rates and things like that on the website because it’s marketing that you’ve put in money behind.

So you are paying for people to come onto your website, so you need to make sure that the website is actually accommodating to users, and having people who will end up working on the project, to be involved right early, you get your say. 

And to be honest, I feel like you get it right and there’s no ways of going back and forth because what I’ve found sometimes is the clients come on board, you go through month one of results, and you’ll get into conversations like, “Well, you said that you’d be able to do this for me.” And when you are getting asked that, you weren’t in that initial conversation, somebody else was because it’s literally, they’ve done the pitch, they’ve handed the brief to you, and now you start the work.

So anything that was said at the start, you don’t know what they were promised or what they were told cause clients, hold on to certain things that you say. So you’ve gotta be very careful of obviously what you say to them in the start. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): By the way, I love that. I’m totally gonna quote you on that. It’s a very good observation.

Clients hold on to certain things you say. It happens to me all time where I’ll be talking to a client sometimes, like former clients from years ago that I’m still friends with, and they’ll put back minor little observations or the most least important strategic idea I came up with and sometimes really resonates with them. And it’s always interesting when that happens. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. And it’s a very tricky situation when they quote you on things that you never said and it was somebody else that was involved. So I feel like the people that will end up working on it involve them in the initial, you know, right from the start so there’s no issues about this person said this or this person said that. 

And also, you get to figure out what the problems are and come up with a solution cuz the right people are in the process. So, I’ve actually found, in terms of what we call in an agency like churn, so when clients come on board and leave, I found the churn rate to be very, very low. 

I feel like that’s the best way to maintain a strong relationship with clients, again, and all the whole being an extension of them as a team rather than an agency. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): By the way, part of the way I manage my teams is one of my iron laws is if it’s not documented and shared, it didn’t happen, like for every little thing. 

So after every meeting with the client, even  quick little informal one, meeting notes, sometimes it’s three sentences, but everything is documented and shared.  There are a whole bunch of reasons that I like doing this transparency documentation, accountability, etc., but one of the reasons is because this completely solves the, “Wait, did you say this problem?” 

Because even if someone mentioned something quickly offhand or made a mistake, like if it’s not in the official meeting notes, it’s not on the record. Like, so if they wanna use it against us saying, oh wait, “No, you wanted to do this and it didn’t happen.” I’m like, “Let’s go look at the meeting notes.” Like, when did this happen? Was it in the strategy talks? 

By the way, this strategy I got to do with my client and with my employees, but I tell my clients from day number one that I’m doing this. So they know that there’s this source of truth for everything. And it just eliminates that whole class of problems. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, and I won’t say this is a common issue. I think it’s just something that we’ve all experienced. So I won’t say, you know, this is a constant issue, but it’s always great… 

Morgan Friedman (Host): It’s a constant issue for me. You’re lucky it’s not a constant issue for you. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): You asked me to come up with… To think of a client. I found it really hard and I don’t know whether that’s cause I’ve got something coming ahead or maybe I’ve just been really lucky. But I tend to work with tricky situations, but they’ve been quite short term because luckily we’ve found a solution. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Right, right. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): But understand how sometimes you are with a client and there’s just teething issues  that just last on forever, and I feel like it’s just not an enjoyable experience.

The client doesn’t want to be experiencing this sort of relationship. They’re getting frustrated because all they care about is how much they’re investing and then how much they’re making. But sometimes they just care about the bottom line figures. So you know, when I said about educating the client where we’ve presented like a document, a presentation that is about 10 slides that goes through the basics of PPC?

Sometimes, even doing that, they still probably don’t get much from it because they’re just not interested. They’re just wanting to know how much you can make me back if I, you know, invest in X amount of me to spend. But like you say, documenting and everything is still important to do that as a whole.

Morgan Friedman (Host): The clients that are just interested in the bottom line, in my experience, are the worst clients because if you only care about money, it’s like “In the last month, I put in 10 cents. How come I’m not a millionaire?” When all they care about is what the bottom line is, they’re gonna judge you fast based on a million numbers.

Second reason why I think those are usually the disaster clients is this: to do digital marketing well, you really have to be partners. Like you were saying before, you have to be an extension of their team. You have to think the ideas together. It’s not like digital marketers know a magic button.

“Oh, you pay me 10 cents, I’ll press the button, and you’ll suddenly be making millions of dollars.” Well it’s just not that way. We have to come up with ideas, campaigns, targets, funnels together. And that takes both sides cause they know the brand as well as the product better than the digital marketer ever will.

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. Uh, yeah. So, a much bigger process, I think, than what they think. They think it’s just a paid form of advertising that “If I pay for it, I’ll get an X amount back,” but there’s so many factors involved that even the most experienced people, you can’t be in control of every single variable, especially in this day and age.

I feel like post-pandemic, that’s just a completely different discussion topic. From what we’ve experienced  in the UK and this is, I feel like it’s a global thing, is that e-commerce or general, like PPC, it’s changed since the pandemic because people are changing the way they purchase, the way they’re buying.

And that has had an impact on costs, like cost per click, and that’s obviously gonna have an impact on your spend and the returns. So, clients who were spending an X amount of budget years before COVID are now having to pay more with the same amount of return, you know, like the return on ad spend.

And I’ve experienced that with a couple of my clients as well recently where the market’s just changing and trying to educate that to the client to say, “We need to change the way we work now because everything else is changing.” 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Yeah. I agree a hundred percent. To wrap this up and go back to the story, any other lessons you’ve learned or points you wanna share from this experience or did we cover the main ones already? 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): I’d say when it comes to what I said about setting expectations, sometimes clients want something in figures of, “Give me a rough idea on if I spend this much, what I will get?”

It’s so difficult to, what forecast shall we say? What are you going to get back? So sometimes if the client’s really pushing for it in the front end, develop, like, put together some figures, not in stone. So you’ve gotta make it clear that we can’t guarantee we’ll get this. 

This is a ballpark of if you invest this much, looking at this is the average order value of what people are buying on your website and your conversion rate, this is how much traffic and what we are looking roughly at revenue.

I think that really helps because if you don’t let the client know roughly what they’re getting into, that can cause issues because again, they probably have higher expectations, and you’ve already looked at the site and you know that it’s gonna take three months, whereas a client’s thinking it’s gonna take them one month to get where they need to be.

So, it would be good to test out like forecasts or just do mini targets to present to them to give an idea of, you know, what they’re gonna get back. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): I think that’s good advice. It’s interesting. And in my mind, forecasting is always separate from expectation management. I start engagements by managing the expectations, by how the communication will work and the speed and so on.

But I like incorporating a formal forecast into that. Okay, with such and such ad budget. Then, you know, then it’s likely to grow in this sort of way, any sort of contours over, over time. So I think it’s a good insight to link them. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. It’s difficult, like if people are listening and they’re thinking it’s hard to get specific figures because you are new brands.

If you were set up a startup business, you don’t have any data. To look back on the forecast on how well you’re doing. So, I think even using secondary KPIs, so maybe not just focusing on actual revenue targets, look at secondary KPIs of cost per clicks. Do new research to say, for someone in your market, CPCs are roughly at this much, so you can expect this much traffic with a spend.

And I think even secondary KPIs, just giving some sort of outline on what the client expects cuz I understand as frustrating it is, they do need to have some sort of idea of where they’re gonna be. And I think you should give that to them because if we stick to what we say about we don’t know, it’s hard to close a deal because they want to know, obviously, roughly what they’re gonna get.

Morgan Friedman (Host): That’s another good point where it’s common to start engagements in any industry by giving expectations, including these forecasts and specific KPIs. But I like your insight of separating them out into primary and secondary ones because often what happens is we’ll kind of just group them all together.

Okay, here’s, you know, CPC and the CPA, then target this, target this, target that, and all this stuff. And all this ultimately culminates in how much money you make for real. But really, all the time, there’s like, this one is actually the really important ones and these ones are just disappointing ones, and it’s often not the obvious ones.

Like often in digital marketing, I found people that don’t really care about making money back. They just want to sell a lot of books or whatever. Sometimes the real KPI is like a vanity metric, for example. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, that… you know, sometimes I feel like that still happens now, where clients just want to be on top of first page of Google and that’s all they care about. So, they could be searching for the ads. I don’t know if you’ve experienced this. Oh my god. 

The number of clients I’ve had tell me that I’ve searched for my ad and I can’t see on first page of Google. That’s just like the classic question that you get, and I think just going back to what they want, because you know, vanity, having a vanity metric of just appearing at the top sometimes isn’t the right thing initially to do.

You need to make sure you’re making a return on the investment. So, yeah. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): By the way, let’s talk about this. This goes back to the core of the story where the client just wanted something different than what you wanted for the client where sometimes like the client has money and just wants to buy any metric.

Like sometimes they just don’t care about the business. But more than that, sometimes things, in fact, all the time things will be happening in the business that we will never have exposure to and we won’t know. 

So, for example, I’ve worked, worked with clients where they, off the record, told me when they started the engagement, they really, really wanna sell the business in three years.

Like that’s the target, and to sell the business, on the one hand need, like, their sales were doing great. They just want even more. But more than that, to sell it, they want it to appear very credible in Google when people searched for the company name as though there are all these vanity metrics that they cared about. Because they believe those would be really supportive and important in convincing a potential acquired to them.

So sometimes what seems like metric or what you call a vanity metric, like sometimes there’s method behind the madness to use how much line. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. There was one actually that sold canopies, so you know, like garden canopies?

Morgan Friedman (Host): Yes. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yes. And he sold like handmade, customized, we’re talking like thousands of pounds worth of home garden canopies, and you could get a similar product from the supermarket that was like a quarter of the price that he was doing. So what we were trying to make him understand is that costs of materials gone up.

People are not in the same position to spend what they wanted to do in terms of just, you know, spending money on like renovating the house and things like that. So you can’t expect sometimes people to buy a price that item. And his answer was, “I just wanna appear at the top of the page. Do what you need to do, but I need to appear at the top.”

And he just didn’t understand that even if your ad appears at the top and you’ve got a Tesco, a supermarket ad that’s showing the same product look similar but for a fraction of the price, what ad do you think people are gonna click on? Because sometimes people are very price-conscious for most items that’s getting a similar outcome and he just didn’t understand it, and we went ahead with it because he said so.

And he spent like a week just trying to rebuild campaigns because, don’t forget, he didn’t give me extra money to actually appear at the top. So with the same amount that we’ve got… 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Budget. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, try and get the CPCs down. And even if we don’t pay a 90% impression share, like 90% of the time, try and increase that.

And we did, but then he wasn’t getting the return. So, he realized that what we were saying was sort of right and then went back to the old strategy, but it’s just having to shift and adapt to what the client’s saying, and they don’t understand the long term. Sometimes I think they just need to know that some situations it’s not possible and trying to get that through to the client, especially when they’re so set on achieving that, it’s very difficult having that conversation. 

So, going back to think back, yeah. Vanity metric is so difficult. It’s a very subject that you just wanna stay away from really. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): I think to do the vanity metric work well, they have a good smell of the person, who they are, what they want, what they like.

So it also goes back to one of the first points that we began our today’s fun conversation with about how do you know who they are when they start, cause sometimes if they’ll want these sort of things and like according to their world of view, it makes sense, but sometimes they’re just like in outer space.

And part of the trick is determining if they’re in outer space or not. And then once you determine that, they decide, “Okay, do I wanna be in outer space or do I wanna be dead on Earth?” 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, yeah, definitely. I think a full analysis on what they want is definitely important. Come across many who don’t even know what they want.

They’re lost within themselves as well, so I think our job is obviously to be there with them, partner with them, and show them the right way, which is really key. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): This is a fun conversation. We got a lot of points from different aspects. We got put nude women into their ads secretly to get on the front page of whichever tabloid it was.

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, that, that was… I mean, I don’t even, it was kind of a blur now when looking back at how we dealt with it because it just happened so quickly, and obviously with things like that, it just spreads like wildfire in terms of social media. And in this day and age, like you said, it wasn’t 20 years ago, it was not that very long ago. 

So it’s very difficult to come back from that. But yeah, like I said, I did have a Google and they’re still there and the content’s still there. But no, they’ve definitely changed their branding, which is great.

Morgan Friedman (Host): I think also it’s way that people do things like this cause people really, to go back to one of the things you were saying a few minutes ago, it’s a different way, people do have different objectives. 

They want different things and if you wanna do that and you understand the consequences and you understand how the bad come up, have fun creating fun, wacky ads instead. So differently, maybe it’s true that there is no such thing as bad publicity. 

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah. And also, in a weird way, it’s a learning lesson for them cause I feel like every entrepreneur or successful business owner has done mistakes.

We don’t hold them because they are new to everything. So I think we’ve got to take that into consideration, and they’ve definitely learned from it. But yeah, I think the ideal client would be where someone’s just so open and be like, “Tell me what we need to do to get where we are.”

I feel like that’s very rare to come across. I’ve come across recently and I’m so happy. Those are like the gem clients where they’re happy for you to take the reins and I think, it is very rare, but it’s great. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): Yeah, those clients are the gems that you need to treasure all your emotions and energies.

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Yeah, definitely. 

Morgan Friedman (Host): It was fun, Divya. Thank you for a great conversation and everyone who’s made it to the end.

Divya Patel (Interviewee): Thank you.


This transcription belongs to Episode #34, please watch the complete episode here!