I'll always ask prospects this question: "Who is your market?" The response I get way more than I'd like: "EVERYONE, everyone is our market. We can sell this to everyone." Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
The Internet is hard. It's huge. It's getting bigger and bigger every day, which means that your target consumer of EVERYONE is getting distracted in such a way that you can't even imagine. There is no possible way that your business, UNLESS you are Pepsi, Apple, Amazon, etc., can reach out to effectively grab the attention of this audience and make a difference. The bottom line, your company and its marketing efforts will die way before you get any real traction and grab any market share.
You MUST Niche.
Take a look at your products and / or service. Sure, its possible that everyone could have a use for what you're flipping, but as we've discovered, you can't really market effectively to everyone. Choose a more niche audience, perhaps it's pregnant moms, maybe it's a segment of the population that's obsessed with Banjos or coffee, find a niche of people that would love your product or service and BE THERE. Connect with that target audience, show them how you know them, get to know their language and speak it, speak it well.
Stop Marketing Your Products.
Start marketing the essence of your company. If your company doesn't have a personality, get one. Be you. Bring it to life. People DON'T want to buy from a faceless, boring corporation. They want to buy from a company that speaks to them. A company with conviction and possibly even values, a company that isn't afraid to be creative and NOT speak corporate speak. A company that has balls. Stop being SAFE, start being alive and not afraid to push some boundaries. Don't, of course, be a schmuck, but be alive.
Getting Ready To Get Ready.
What are you waiting for? Waiting for your marketing messaging to be perfect? Good luck. The people who win at Marketing are the wins who go for it. They fail. Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes they crush it out of the gate. The point is, you'll NEVER FREAKING KNOW if you don't get going, NOW. Ready? GO. Sure, you have to plan, sure you have to create and YES, you have to measure, but I see so many companies getting ready to get ready and they NEVER pull the trigger.
Maybe it's fear of failure, maybe it's laziness, maybe it's simply not in their wheel-house. If you can't get your marketing rocking and rolling, call a pro who can help. In fact, if you know enough to be dangerous about social media, SEO, content marketing, etc., you SHOULD hire someone who does it for a living and knows WAY more than how to be dangerous. This is NOT an area to skimp on or attempt to do it yourself.
The Bottom Line.
You NEED to stand out. You need to be remarkable. You need to sending different vibes than all of your competitors. You need to be amazing in your own right and share that amazing with the rest of the NICHE that you've chosen. Hey, feel free to call me, I'd love to help you pull out your remarkable so that you can share it with your target market. Give me a call: 407-830-4550 or drop me an email tom.jelneck@Ontargetwebsolutions.com. I'd love to see you succeed.
Thanks for reading and sharing with a friend,
I've been listening to a great book lately, The 1-Page Marketing Plan by Allan Dib. Allan is basically laying out his approach to how businesses can create a remarkable easy to follow marketing plan that actually does something for your bottom line. One of my favorite analogies that he used to describe people who don't take the time to perform market research and profile out their target consumer is an Archer In The Fog.
The archer in the fog can't obviously see a damned thing when he's trying to hit his mark.
Successful marketers take the time to get to know their audience. They understand that not everyone is their intended client / customer. I've asked so many business marketing department who their target audience is and the response that I often get sends shivers down my spine. "Everyone." We can sell to everyone. But can you? Can you realistically compete against Amazon? Can you compete with Wal Mart? Do you have the funds to compete with Apple who can spend millions upon millions to transmit their message over and over? You can not. So stop trying.
Let's take for an example an aesthetic medical practice that performs botox and other cosmetic procedures. The ambitious doctor opens her practice and is out to rule the world. She decides she wants to market her services to EVERYONE within a 20 mile radius. She thinks to herself, "they all need my services." Here's the problem. No they don't. Here's the other problem. There are 500 OTHER aesthetic practices within the 20 mile radius all trying to do the same damned thing as her. She needs to niche. What if she targeted pregnant moms that are looking for cosmetic work? It's a solid niche filled with resources. There are plenty of newly pregnant moms. And even better, they ALL talk to each other and learn from each other. Why not create your marketing campaigns around THEM? Give them resources, support them, be there for them, and oh yeah, sell to them when they need your cosmetic services.
The argument is always, well, I'm losing out on a huge market share by niching, but now you're the archer without the fog. You're targeting CLEARLY and acquiring your targets. Once you own this space, if you have the capacity, figure out another niche and market the crap out of that. FOCUS and you'll win.
The Human Factor
All too often marketing is all about the products that people sell. "We sell the best damned reciprocating saws," or, "Our computers are made with 90 gigowatt plasma induced gingerbread flux capacitors." Yes, this CAN be important to some, but the problem is, you're not solving anyone's problems by dwelling on the specs of your product. Have you ever heard Apple Computer tell you in a commercial how powerful their core processors are on their iMacs? They sell by being human. They sell by selling a lifestyle, an attitude, a sense of belonging to something larger and great. Take a look at your marketing, your ad copy, your website, your messaging. Is it product centric or people centric? If you find yourself always talking about how wonderful your company is, or just how awesome your products are, odds are, you're turning people away. Make it about them, and seize the day. Make it about them and come out of the fog. Shoot with clarity and reap the benefits down the road.
Armies don’t go into combat without a strategy. Sports teams don’t take the field without a playbook. And content marketers shouldn’t be publishing or executing marketing campaigns without a plan. So how do you develop a content marketing plan? Here are some simple steps:
Find the goalpost. Make sure you understand your customers, their goals and objectives, and their pain points. You can’t reach new business unless you thoroughly understand what your customers need and how your product benefits your target market.
What’s your content marketing game plan? To reach that target market, you need to establish your content themes and topics, and establish your publishing frequency. In short, you need an editorial calendar, with titles, topics, and publishing dates. Plan ahead — a quarterly calendar gives you time to jot down topics as they occur to you, research those ideas, and create outlines and drafts. Remember, content can be repurposed across a variety of channels. Press releases can become blog articles, then whitepapers, case studies, and more. Remember, though, rewriting the content for different formats is essential. Google doesn’t look kindly on copy and paste.
Scout the other team. Let your competitors motivate you. Look at what your competitors are doing on social media, in their search engine results, and in traditional media. You can see what content does well on their websites, how they’re ranking on search engines, and where they’re thriving. Then use that information to adjust your content marketing strategies.
Bring in some MVPs. Contact external experts and ask them if they’ll produce content for your site. These industry influencers give you greater visibility and often will share the content with their own audiences, boosting your reach. Yes, there may be a cost involved, but it can be well worth it. MVPs are valuable — it’s right there in the name.
Connect with the fans. It’s called “social” media for a reason. You can connect with your customers on a personal level. Nurture their needs and interests, answer their questions, and engage with them. In turn, they’ll talk about you and recommend you to others.
Rewrite the playbook. No team sticks with strategies that don’t work, and neither should you. Review your content marketing strategy regularly and figure out what’s working and what isn’t. Don’t be afraid to abandon strategies that aren’t getting results and try something new. Just keep monitoring the new strategy, too.
The pros always make things look easy, but there’s a lot going on beneath the surface of good content marketing. It takes careful strategy, time, effort, and, yes, money. Many small business owners don’t have the time to generate content and engage customers and potential customers on social media, and that’s where my company On Target can help. We’ll customize a content marketing plan for your business that reaches your target market and meets your needs.
Thanks for reading and sharing! @TomJelneck
Some very good friends of mine are college and / or grad school professors. You’ll often hear them say, Publish or Perish. Simply put, if a college professor isn’t churning out intelligent content in the form of papers, studies, white papers, findings, etc., they are typically DONE within the institution. Institutes of higher education thrive on content creation and if you’re a new professor, the best way to prove yourself is to publish and defend your brilliance, CONSTANTLY.
SEO has seen an overabundance of changes in terms of alogorithms with cute names such as penguins, pandas, tarantulas, anteaters, (I made the last two up…) etc.. The almighty Google has strived to keep its search engine results pages squeeky clean, but unscrupulous SEO types have always managed to find a way to game the results. This manipulation has caused Google to constantly refine it’s formulas in order to provide clean, relevant results to users.
So, now that I’ve painted a gloom and doom scenario, how do you truly win at SEO? You take a lesson from those professors. You publish. You publish amazing works of your brilliance that let your hungry audience know and admire your expertise. People / customers want to buy from experts, from leaders in the industry. Your mission is to not only feed your audience, but to alert Google know that your web presence has it going on. You simply do this by publishing.
Some publishing keys to SEO success:
- Create with purpose.
Build an editorial calendar based around your brands sales cycle. You know what products are hot when, you know when your audience needs one service over the other, so develop a calendar that fleshes out content ideas around those cycles.
- Create with meaning.
Be inspired. If you’re not inspired, get inspired. Visit blogs in your industry, read, listen to music, go to the gym, weave a basket underwater, whatever sparks your plugs, but write with purpose. Don’t simply write to write.
- Create with your audience in mind.
It’s not about you. The Internet belongs to the people, give it to them. Know what your audience looks like in terms of demographics and feed them what they want. If you don’t know what they want, simply ask them.
- Create it to be shared.
True SEO gold is when your content gets shared and talked about around the Internet. Make your content shareable, make it easy to be shared, make it so juicy that it begs to be shared. Include photos, videos, commentaries, styling, make it amazing.
- Create it to be engaged with.
Make it easy and lead people to interact with your content. Make sure that your blog is easy to post comments on, make sure that you ask your readers to engage, lead them and respond to them.
- Create it to be talked about.
I’m not a fan of creating controversy for controversy sake, BUT, make your titles and content remarkable / sexy / enticing. We need people to want to click, read, share & engage.
Most importantly, keep your eye on the prize. Keep writing for your users, not just for SEO. The more you put your users first, the more Google will reward you. Google, in its webmaster guidelines spells out the following and tells us exactly what they are looking for:
Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.”
Thanks for reading / sharing. Now, get to work. Your users are hungry for your wisdom, Google is anxious to get your brilliance found.
How To Attract Media Coverage Through Digital Marketing.
So many people ask me how I've managed to become a trusted media provider of Tech & Digital Marketing content. The simple answer? I'm an expert. The more complicated answer? It took me years to finally come to the realization that I have to tell my story. I have to be comfortable enough to tell the world that I'm an expert. Once I did that, everything changed.
I'll never forget... Looking down at the caller ID in my office and seeing the Daily Buzz calling me. The Daily Buzz was a Nationwide morning program filmed live here in Orlando. They had done a Google search and found me under a keyphrase like Social Media Expert. After a few appearances on the Daily Buzz, my phone rang under. This time, it was the local Orlando Fox affiliate. They came to my offices and shot a piece on Social Media. Not long after that, I was appearing in their studios, sometimes taping 2-3 segments at a time.
This earned media coverage has been a blessing, one that I NEVER take for granted, one that helps instill confidence in my prospects, one that helps me stay on top of the ever-changing tech and digital marketing space. I've had the great fortune to appear on TV now over 260 times. As a side effect, I've also been on other media outlets and channels, have been covered in the USA Today, have been on a global station, CCTV a few times, it's been amazing.
So, how can you become a trusted expert? Well first and foremost, you have to know your stuff. Read EVERYDAY, absorb your industry, go to the networking events and hang out with smarter people than you. Read industry publications, subscribe to every bit of information that you can in order to constantly improve yourself. Next, the hard part, TELL the world that you're an expert. People want to buy from experts, they want to know that you / or your company is the absolute best. No one wants to work with a novice, ever.
9 Ways To Help Build Your Expert Status Level
- Start a blog. Keep it up. Share your thoughts, share your wisdom, share your feelings about the state of your industry.
- Keep your social media on point. Tweet and post about your industry, share your insights with substance, remind people that you are the expert in your space.
- Build your tribe. I can't stress this enough, surround yourself on social media with influencers who believe in you and your expertise. Feed them, enlighten them, entertain them.
- Build a media list. Find the right people that you want coverage from on social media. Be a real human being, don't spam them, don't solicit them, but feed them and help to make their jobs easier. Reporters need your help, they need your expertise, make it available to them.
- Be gracious. If you do get a media hit or inquiry, be nice. I can't state that enough. Try to be as accommodating as you can to help the reporter get the information that they need.
- Be thankful. After a media hit, remember to thank the media outlet / reporter, etc.. Professional courtesy goes a long way.
- Market your media hit. Don't forget to post your media hit on social media, boost it on Facebook, upload it to your website / blog, it helps to attract other media outlets and builds credibility for your company / business.
- Google is your friend. Be certain that you are keeping your blog / social media channel / youtube channel current. The media USES Google to find experts like you.
- NEVER, EVER sell your products or promote yourself during any media hit. It's perfectly acceptable to say who you are and what you do, but, this is not an opportunity to sell, EVER.
Again, the hardest part of all of this is telling the world that you're an expert. I'm actually a very shy individual and don't thrive on telling people how awesome I am. It's hard, but it HAS to be done. No one will recognize you as an expert if you don't recognize yourself as one first.
Thanks for reading and good luck out there!
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Just because you're number ONE in the organic OR paid search results does not automatically equate to more sales, more leads or even more traffic. Many businesses drool over the prospect of being number 1, many of them place so much emphasis on SEO that they totally take their eyes off of the prize in all of the other areas.
I've heard the question asked so many times by eager prospects and even some customers, "Tom, how much will it cost for me to being number 1 in Google and, how fast can I get there." It DOESN'T Work that way and further, you shouldn't be obsessed with being number 1, you should be obsessing about being amazing.
So, you're number 1 and you're getting more leads, more appointments, more traffic, etc.. You've ponied up maybe for extra PPC dollars and are 'out-bidding, out-ranking' your competition, but you're still not moving the needle. It may be tempting to FIRE your SEO company assuming that they are behind the failure of the search campaign, BUT, you need to dig deeper, you need to understand just why your website visitors aren't falling in love with your products, services, your website or your brand.
I've compiled 10 reasons why your #1 Google Organic OR Paid search result isn't yielding a damned thing:
- Your ad copy OR meta name and title description showing on your Google result simply don't appeal to anyone. You have to give the people what they want, speak their language, KNOW what they are looking for. Compose your ad copy or metas with your audience in mind.
- Your keywords just don't work. RULE #1 of Marketing: Know your audience. Know your audience and what they search for or don't even bother.
- Your AD is showing up for 'NEGATIVE KEYWORDS' or keywords that only include a 'snippet' of one of your desired key-phrases. Example: If you're trying to get found under Air Conditioning Service but prospects are search for Air Conditioning Jobs, your ad may still be displaying because you simply did not setup negative keywords in your campaign.
- You are driving people to your home page. This is the most common mistake I see companies make, they sell a specific product, want to show up under this product, bid on the keyword but drive the URL to the home page RATHER than a specific landing page that ONLY talks about that product. People are seeking THAT particular product right now and when you push them to your GENERALIZED home page, you don't push them through the sales funnel.
- Your website sucks. This is probably by far the most common reason for SEO and PPC failure. You spent all of this time working on your Organic SEO, you're spending hundreds or even thousands monthly on PPC only to ignore the way that your site is being perceived by audience. An old, dated, sloppy site will not convert. If your site is noisy, it will not convert. If you don't lead people through a sales funnel, your site will not convert.
- Your messaging sucks. This is also a very common problem. Messaging is critical, calls to action, value propositions all have to instill confidence in your website visitors. If your messaging doesn't resonate with them, they're gone and your didn't sell anything.
- Your website is busted. Yup. This happens too. Contact forms aren't functioning, the store isn't working properly, the shopping cart is hidden on the page, the phone number is buried in the footer under the copyright statement. Make it easy for people to buy from you!
- Your site looks like a turd in a mobile device. 60+% of site visitors are using their smartphones or iPads to check out your site from a Google SEO or PPC search. If your site isn't' responsive (doesn't render well in their phone) they are gone and on to buy from your competitor who is doing it right.
- Your site isn't secure. Would you put your credit card number into a website without a padlock / security certificate? I hope not. Today, more than ever, your site needs to be secure to instill confidence in your website visitors that their info is safe and secure when they buy from you.
- Your e-commerce store sucks. Not all online stores are equal. A good rule of thumb, 3 clicks to a sale. If it takes way too long for a customer to fill this out to register, or click here and do this, do that, don't do this, they are gone. Your store needs to be intuitive and stupid simple to use. Pro tip: Ask some friends to 'buy' something from your site and get their feedback on how the shopping process was.
- BONUS REASON: Seasonality. Believe it or not, people don't buy everything on your TIME frame. They may just be kicking the tires, or browsing, perhaps they are gathering information so that they can make an informed buying decision when its time for THEM. Pay attention to Google trends to understand WHEN your prospects buy things and plan accordingly.
The bottom line is this. SEO is important, yes. BUT, pushing people to a website that isn't polished is a huge mistake. Not doing your homework on how your customers shop, search and act on a website is a huge no no. Take the time and spend the money to do it right, or you'll be frustrated and spinning your wheels.
For a free site evaluation AND SEO evaluation, drop me a line. I'd be happy to help. In Orlando, call me at 407-830-4550, Nationwide: 866-998-6886.
I've had so many people over the years ask what my secret sauce is for SEO and digital marketing. I guess with so many hacks out in the digital marketing landscape and so much dis-information out there about search marketing, companies / businesses have come to look at SEO as grey, or some wizardry behind a curtain.
The search engine optimization industry has gotten a bad rap. Yes, there are hacks. There are a ton of them. There ARE ways to game Google, there are ways to influence rankings that are non-ethical and yes, many companies have been screwed over as Google retaliates and drops them from the rankings.
So, do you want to know my SECRET SEO SAUCE recipe?
Work Hard And Never Stop.
SEO is an ongoing commitment. It's not a one and done. It's not simply playing around with some code and tweaking copy. It's about being dedicated to providing website visitors and customers with an amazing digital experience when they land on one of your digital channels. It's a strategy driven commitment to create remarkable stuff that pulls people to your brand.
Don't Be An Asshole.
As mentioned, yes, there are many ways to screw the system, and yes, screwing the Google system COULD yield some search results, but guess what... Not for long. Practicing in un-ethical practices to hyper-inflate your search rankings is NEVER a good idea. So, don't be an asshole, play by the rules and focus on creating remarkable content and an amazing experience for your site visitors.
Why do you want more website visitors?
Who do you want coming to your website?
How do you want them to feel about your brand?
If you can't answer these questions, you shouldn't even have a website. The whole point of the Internet, the core, is to give people what they are looking for. If your SEO / Digital Marketing strategy is to churn out tons of copy in order to attract Google and be NUMBER 1, you're doing it wrong. Plan and simple.
The way to get to the top is to be noticed. Be noticed by creating amazing 'stuff' that people (your audience) are interested in. Ask them what they want. Feed them what they want, talk to them about how you can constantly improve what you are feeding them. Businesses need to realize this: they need to focus on feeding humans rich, amazing content, and THEN optimize that content so that Google loves it.
Technical Is Important, BUT...
You do need to know the fundamentals of SEO in order to succeed, but, without a strategy to connect, grow and nurture your audience, you may as well hang it up.
- Have a crappy looking, dated website? Why bother optimizing a turd? Build a responsive, beautiful, secure site that people actually WANT to go and experience.
- Obsessed with being number 1 in Google? Stop. Obsess with creating an amazing experience for site visitors and watch what happens.
- Obsessed with H1 tags, Schema markup, ALT tags? Stop. I'm not discounting the technical components, but I am stressing this: Obsess about creating great stuff for that website, obsess about your audience, not about the technical.
Educate Yourself / Trust, But Verify.
I spend hours reading about SEO & Digital Marketing daily. I have to. You have to. It changes every minute which is one of the reasons why I love what I do.
Take the time read about best practices, but do so with caution. Some trusted sources that I visit daily are :
- Learn about marketing, amazing customer service and how to be unique at Seth Godin's blog.
- Educate yourself about how search engines work at Search Engine Watch.com
- You can find some amazing, unique insight into the world of search, social and more at Search Engine Land.com
Thanks for taking the time to read and share this if you found it valuable. The whole point to my rant here, If you want your site to kickass, create kickass. It's all about the strategy and all about the remarkable content that you create for your target audience.
STOP OBSESSING ABOUT GOOGLE RANKINGS AND CREATE AMAZING CONTENT.
I've been in the digital marketing space for more years than I care to admit now. I've grown gray hairs, seen fads come and go, seen major search engines come and go, and I've spoken to hundreds of eager business owners and marketing managers who are literally obsessed with one thing and one thing only - SEO Rankings. They have to be number one on Google. They have to be number one on Bing (even though no one is there looking for them on Bing). They even want to be number one on the SINA.com website (which is both Chinese end English). They've all be programmed to think that being number one in a search engine or directory will yield them all the of the business in the universe and then some. This simply is not true.
Yes, being on the top in a major search engine under the right keyword that makes sense AND that is popular, can provide your website with some visibility. Yes, people do begin their quest online through Google and other popular search engines. BUT, here's the truth. These search engines can change the way that they rank and prioritize websites whenever they damn well please and guess what? They do it a lot.
Since I've been in the SEO business, one thing has remained constant regarding how Google and other search engines rank websites. It's all about the "stuff" or content on the website. It's all about your influence and not based solely on your website. It's all about where you are placing the "stuff" that you're creating around the web and how it leads prospects back to your website. Simply put, Google wants you to create something amazing and share it with the world. With this being said, Google ranks websites accordingly.
If your website sits dormant while waiting for hungry prospects to pounce on your site and buy stuff from you, you're going to be frustrated with the results. But, if your amazing marketing team starts creating amazing "stuff" and promoting that "stuff" across the Internet, not only will your hungry prospects notice and digest your goodness, but Google will as well. Google simply doesn't want the entire web inundated with junk that's solely created to artificially game the search rankings; they want to index amazing "stuff" that will be worthwhile on the web.
HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO HELP GET YOUR CONTENT MACHINE CHURNING:
CREATE SOMETHING UNIQUE
Think outside of the box, but stay true to your brand's personality. Consider creating a series about the lifecycle of your product, or a video that can be easily shared online that educates your prospects about a new process that you may have created.
CREATE AN EDITORIAL CALENDAR
Create a calendar based on your sales cycle and generate topics that will be interesting to your prospects. For example, if you're a pest control company, you know that termites start to swarm and build up in February. Create content bullet points about all things termites and start getting that content out in January to build momentum. Once the termite season has subsided, move on the next pest on the list and create more amazing content.
CREATE CONTENT IN MULTIPLE FORMATS
Blogs are great for content, webpage copy is great, but your prospects want to see something visual, something creative, something different from time to time. While blog copy and webpage content help Google grab onto some copy to get your site ranked better, unique content like videos and infographics can be easily shared on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.. Find a great balance and create out-of-the-box unique, and vibrant stuff.
GET EYEBALLS ON IT
I think the biggest mistake I see companies make with their digital marketing is that they publish the content and forget it. You can't simply drop your wittiest blog and your website and expect it to attract droves of people. Creating the content is only the tip of the iceberg; getting it seen is another story. Get to know where you prospects hang out, and be sure to create a content marketing plan.
This step is critical. A wise friend once told me, "Tom, you can't expect what you don't inspect." How true is that? You can't expect your content to kill it if you don't measure how successful it was. How many people shared it? How much traffic did it generate back to your website? How many people liked it via social media or engaged with your business as a result? These factors, and more, are all signs of how your content is working for you. If you aren't paying attention, you won't be to switch up your content marketing game / strategy based on any real data.
Content truly makes the digital planet go round and that is exactly why your prospects are using a search engine to begin with. Create content with gusto and watch Google and your prospects do the rest. Thanks for reading!
NOW, GO FORTH AND CREATE AMAZING CONTENT! (Or hire my company to create it for you!) Visit http://thecontentinators.com.
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I lost a client today. I'm upset. I'm not happy about it. But it happened. This particular client was fun. They had live events, they had some great photo ops, they had some amazing social media food that was actually fun to generate and my team took an immense amount of pride in everything we did to more than quadruple their social media presence.
The call came after two months of negotiation to re-sign another annual contract. This client asked us to give them more for less. We refused. You see, we've been killing it for this client. Weekend work, after-hour work, off-site work, miles and miles of wear and tear on our cars, countless emails responded to and acted upon within minutes. We were on point. We went WAY above and beyond AND we killed it, so when renewal time came up, we, especially after we were told we would get one for this year, asked for an increase in our retainer. We did it to prove ourselves. We did it because its what we do at On Target. We go all in. We play to win.
You would have thought that we had asked to move a mountain. This client came back on the defense. They tried to tell us that we did not perform and that we should discount our services as a result of that decline. They told us that they expected MORE results for less money. They needed to go bigger, but didn't want to increase the budget. More for less. What a concept. The relationship changed REAL fast when we said no.
I held my ground. I realized that I could lose the client. I realized that things could go south quickly, but we had to stand firm. The truth: We were losing our ass on this client. They had dangled a carrot because of their name, they dangled a carrot and stressed that we would get the RIGHT retainer after 15 months. I am stupid for falling for it. Here's the bottom line, this client wanted a vendor and didn't want a partner. I'm not saying that partners always deserve more money, I'm not saying that partners are always the best, I'm not saying that we're ENTITLED to being treated a certain way, all I'm saying is that we Care. We go all in. We don't stop. We are wired to win for the client. That's what a partner does. But partnerships need reciprocity. The drive to be a partner is directly proportionate to how well the other partner treats us. We want to be a partner, NOT a vendor.
Partners care about the cause. They are passionate about getting each others backs. They are passionate about delivering a great service and doing their absolute best. Partners VALUE the relationships that they have because they ultimately know that working together will move the needle. Partners know that there are rough times, that their are times where we may need to burn the midnight oil, that the job HAS to get done and its understood that that job WILL get done and done with precision.
Vendors get treated like dirt. They aren't valued. They aren't seen as vital. They aren't seen as mission critical NOR respected for the great work that they do. They are a commodity, easily replaced by the next lowest bidder. Vendorships suck and its not even close to what we want at On Target. This particular client, despite amazing quality, despite amazing customer care, despite amazing response rates and expertise, despite an amazing job that my team did wanted a vendor. A vendor to beat up, to use, to exploit and to spit out again in 12 months when they want another cheaper option.
So... While I wish these folks the best of luck, its time that they learn that the grass isn't always greener. That treating people like partners with dignity and respect will always trump getting the cheapest vendor who could give a rats ass about your success as an organization.
The lessons learned:
- Stand up for yourself and your worth. You run a risk, but the ones that leave you aren't worth it for your organization.
- Don't be lured by false promises or carrot dangling when taking on a new client. Either they buy into your true value and pay what you ask for (within reason) or they can shop on price and get what they pay for by the bottom feeder service providers.
- Don't be afraid to walk away from a dysfunctional client relationship. If its sucking the life out of your organization, move on and replace that client with a partner.
Thanks for reading.