Strategies for a successful first encounter

Your manager just informed you that you have a new PPC client. How exciting!

Once the news settles in, the questions start flowing into your mind:

  • When do I start working with them?
  • What services am I going to provide them with?
  • What does their business do?
  • Where are they located? 

Overwhelmed and don’t know where to start? Here are a few tips and tricks to help you impress your boss and absolutely nail that first meeting with your new client. 

Prepping ahead of time is key

First impressions are everything. The client will not forget an analyst who comes to their first meeting underprepared. It’s imperative to gather all the information you can before heading into that meeting. 

Consider reviewing the contract that the client just signed. What paid media channels, organic search services and analytics projects are outlined there? If you have questions about the contractual language, consult your manager or business development team beforehand. 

Review the client’s website. It will tell you about who they are and what products or services they provide. Examine the way the website is structured. How have they grouped their products, services or industries together? This might spark some paid media campaign structure ideas for you to jot down for later. Bonus! 

Want to be instantly notified of any newsworthy updates about your client? Set up Google Alerts. You will get an email whenever your client’s name is mentioned in a news article. Did they recently win an award? The kickoff meeting is a great time to congratulate them on that. This will truly knock their socks off!

Meet with your business development team, which has just put in blood, sweat and tears to pitch that client to your company. They can give you valuable information on what the client is looking for in this new partnership, what expectations were set and maybe even tips on how to wow them from the start.

I always meet with the business development team before I meet any of my clients, and I usually come up with a list of questions based on my research.

OK, now all your questions are answered, and you are finally prepared for this meeting. You may be tempted to go right into that first meeting and absolutely hammer them with questions.

Patience, young grasshopper. Let’s create a thoughtful meeting agenda first. Send your client the agenda ahead of the meeting so they know what you plan to discuss.

Dig deeper: Client onboarding and offboarding: The PPC agency’s guide

Take a beat before you get down to business

Your meeting agenda is finalized. The client has it in their hands. The meeting day is finally here, and you are eager to jump in. While it won’t hurt to get right down to business, don’t forget that clients are people, too. 

Everyone is meeting each other for the first time. Take a moment at the beginning of your meeting to engage in some small talk. Perhaps use the first five minutes to do a round-robin of introductions so everyone can get to know each other. Why not throw in a fun fact or an icebreaker question? 

“My name is Christine Askew. I’ve been at my company for 3 years, but I’ve worked in the digital marketing industry for 8 years. I live in Denver, Colorado, and recently I’ve gotten really into making sourdough bread.”

You might uncover some commonalities with your client that you can bond over. This will only help you build a stronger partnership. Results are one thing, but relationships and results will really seal the deal.

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Ask your client the right questions

With introductions out of the way, it’s time to get the information you need to do your job and do it exceedingly well. Show them what you have already learned from your proactive research. 

Don’t ask them questions that they’ve already told your business development team. This will only frustrate them and will cause you to lose credibility very quickly. Make sure you ask the right questions that get to the heart of what you need to build a strong strategy. 

Are you clear on what they do or sell? Sometimes, how a business makes money is not straightforward, so now is the time to ask. 

Do you understand their target market? To create a strong digital marketing strategy, you need to have a pretty good understanding of who they are looking to sell to. What are their goals for the marketing program? 

One of my favorite questions to ask a client is, “What would be a homerun scenario for you in terms of paid media performance?” You hold the key to the treasure chest if you know what kind of results would really impress your client.

Dig deeper: 6 tips to build PPC client relationships

Follow up right after the meeting

After all that preparation, the meeting was finally over. However, there is one final thing you can do to ensure you nail that kickoff meeting with your new client. After the meeting, consider sending your client a follow-up email that covers three main points:

Thank them for their time 

They just took time out of their busy schedule to meet you and answer all your questions. The least you can do is say thank you!

Reconfirm everything you just heard

This seems silly, but it’s so important. You won’t know if you accidentally misheard or misreported something the client said to you until it’s too late, and there’s nothing worse than not being on the same page at the start of a client relationship. 

If you recorded the call, send the recording for everyone to have. If you took notes, then summarize the key points and ask if you took down everything correctly.

Clearly outline the next steps

Make sure everyone is perfectly clear on who is responsible for each action item resulting from your kickoff call. I recommend outlining two sections for the next steps: one for you and one for your client.

Bonus points if you can provide your client with estimated due dates for when you plan to complete each item. It’s imperative that you set realistic deadlines, though, because missing deadlines will also become something your client will not forget.

Dig deeper: How to set and manage PPC expectations for teams and stakeholders

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