What should you do if the clients branding message or offer sucks?


  • You’ve got to be careful that you don’t over service and feel obligated or responsible for tasks that are outside of your service offering
  • Clear communication is essential when faced with issues that might be preventing you getting results
  • Be mindful of anything that might interfere with positive outcomes BEFORE you start working with the client


Rhys:                     So inheriting or working with a client that just has horrible branding and how that affects user experience and conversion percentage. So I had a healthcare client come on board, and I know this is a subjective matter, but I could tell their branding was horrible. It was like greens, everywhere, browns. It was really horrible. And I let the campaign go for a month and then I backed up the site and I changed it to what I think looked quite good. And then the site started to perform a little bit better. It’s a little bit hard to prove that, but I think our visual perception of a site, and you and I both can look at a site and see if it’s built with conversions in mind and it’s clean and logical, and we achieved that, and the performance started to go much better.

Rhys:                     So have you ever had that experience where someone’s just got horrific branding and you sort of had to step outside of what you do as an SEO to just discuss it?

John:                     That right there, I think is a problem, right? Have you been hired to assist with branding?

Rhys:                     No.

John:                     The answer is no. And I know exactly what you’re working towards, is that it’s going to impact your conversion rates, right? Because that’s what we report against. I think there are two things that, I scribbled things down in my list here as you were speaking, one… And we’ve had this conversation before. Actually, let me make it three.

John:                     The first one is don’t care so much, Rhys. If you’re working with a business and they haven’t got their shit together and it’s outside the scope of why you’ve been hired, then your responsibility there is to say, “Listen, I can’t get the results that you want from me because of these reasons.” And these reasons are potentially outside the scope of my service offering.”

Rhys:                     Right. I’m with you.

John:                     Right. Now if the business is broken, or their offer is shit or nobody wants it, or the people that work there a fucking horrible, you can be doing the world’s greatest SEO, you’re not going to get the result. No one’s going to get the results, right? That doesn’t mean it’s your responsibility. You need to be really clear about what you do and what you don’t and where to draw the line.

John:                     Now let’s say that their branding was fantastic and the website looked brilliant, but the girl answering the phone was rude as fuck to customers. “What do you want? No, we don’t do that.” Is that your responsibility? No, it’s not. So that’s the first thing. Not caring too much. So I know I’ve said that to you a few times in the past, and that’s probably not something you want to hear. I know you’re one of the good guys and I’m not telling you not to give a shit, but don’t over-service and care too much and step outside the reason why you’ve being hired in the first place.

John:                     You haven’t been hired to do branding. Branding is something for someone else to do. That’s not SEO. Even though we talk about web builds and building a site with conversions in mind, I can see where you’ve gotten that. There’s a little bit of an overlap there and a grey area between how much should I care, this shit’s affecting my ability to do my job. Should I go over and outside or above what I should be doing in order to get the results that my client wants? You’ve got to be really careful.

Rhys:                     Yeah. Yeah. So what you’re saying is basically, you don’t do any of that work, but you can raise it during strategy-

John:                     Absolutely. If you can’t do your job because of some sort of influencing factor or thing that’s going on within the client’s business, whether it’s branding or they’re not closing sales calls, or their product sucks, or it’s priced too high or whatever that might be, it’s your responsibility – and this is where, you can care, because you want what’s right for everyone. You can get them on the phone and you have that honest conversation and say, “Listen, I’m doing the best I can here. We’re not getting any inquiries because your website is bright, fucking yellow with a dancing chicken on the home page. It’s not going to work. Your whole identity and business branding and your slogan and everything, it doesn’t work.” But that’s for you to say, “Okay, you need to either change these things, work with a branding company that can help you get this shit sorted, or I’m out.” It’s that simple. You haven’t been hired to do branding.

Rhys:                     I like that. You’ve made a very clear distinction.

John:                     We’ve been talking a lot lately about specialising and niching down in the group. And I think that’s probably multilayered. I’m going to do SEO. I’m only going to work with WordPress and I’m only going to work with Physiotherapists. Stay in your lane, dude. Again, you haven’t been hired to do branding, so don’t start moving in that direction. It’s not your responsibility.

John:                     And that was my next point. Don’t care too much, point one. It’s not your responsibility, is point two. And point three is, know what do and what you don’t do. And that doesn’t mean that you need to be rude or arrogant or anything like that. It just means that you need to communicate that point with the client. Get them on a call. I’m always saying that. Get the client on a call and fucking have that conversation. Just be fucking brutally honest about it. Because the more you dance around it, the longer it goes on, the more it’s going to fester, and eventually it’s going to fucking blow up in your face, and you’re going to be eight months later and say, “You know what, Kevin, I think your branding’s off, man. Even though you’re selling life insurance, I’m not sure having a coffin on the home page is really sending the right signals to your target audience.”

Rhys:                     Yeah, yeah.

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