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December 13, 2012

Guest Post :: Why You Tell Clients No

This guest blog hits right at the heart of what CK & CO has experienced along with many other businesses.  

Why You Tell Clients No

By Adam Henige

At lunch with my business partner a week ago we were reflecting on the pluses and minuses of being in charge. One thing we both came to agreement on was how much we enjoyed saying no to clients and prospective clients. This may seem counterintuitive at first, but for our business it’s incredibly important.

In 2008 we launched Netvantage Marketing with the aim of offering two services – search engine optimization and paid search management. That’s it. Not a lot of companies went down this path, instead offering a full suite of web design and online marketing services including everything from email marketing to web hosting and a hundred things in between. Quite honestly, neither of us enjoyed any of those other avenues of marketing and couldn’t claim to be all that great at any of them, so we stuck with our two main offerings.

Times were lean that first year and numerous potential clients turned us down as we couldn’t, or more specifically, wouldn’t build them a new website as well. It’s not that people didn’t see the value in what we did; they just wanted a better website before they spent money marketing it. The money was right there for the taking and still we said no. In my experience, building websites is a long, slow, frustrating process. There are people that are great at organizing, managing and building out websites and I wouldn’t put myself in that category and I wasn’t going to offer B+ service to clients so the answer had to be no. We were search marketers.

An interesting thing started to happen though as we continued to turn down all of this potential business. We built a pretty amazing network. We started reaching out to web developers in our area and learning about their businesses and who their target clients were. They were more than happy to fill us in and we became educated as to where we should be referring people. These web designers were appreciative and once they finished building the websites the clients started calling us back to do their search work. Saying no initially helped establish trust with the clients and helped build us a strong network of partners. The web designers, in turn, began referring business back to us.

As it turns out, many web designers need a partner like us. Revenue in that business can be a bumpy ride as projects come and go. What they tend to lack is a solid base of recurring revenue. We began establishing re-seller agreements with our partners so they were able to make a steady income referring their clients to us for their search marketing work. The model is very simple and benefits everyone involved. In the past three years this has been our number one source of client acquisition and aside from an occasional lunch, it hasn’t cost us a dime.

It’s not easy to tell clients no, particularly when the prospects of additional short term dollars start dancing in your head. But business is a long term proposition and scrambling for those dollars while providing less than stellar service doesn’t serve anyone well in the long run.

About the author

Adam Henige is the owner of Netvantage Marketing, a search engine marketing firm. To read more about online marketing, please check out the Netvantage Marketing Blog.

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