• [00:03:43] 100 podcast episodes in a year!  How did Garrett stay sane through that?
  • [00:06:00] Garrett’s history – coming from teaching to the start-up culture.
  • [00:09:14] Hiring internal SEOs.  The challenges of the industry
  • [00:11:12] The evolving nature of the target: Google.  A completely different paradigm.
  • [00:13:58] Supplementing your in-house with agency talent
  • [00:18:2] Experience matters in the Agency/Client relationship.  Broken trust is the major pitfall
  • [00:23:14] What are the key breakdowns inside of the agency, client relationship?

Garrett Sussman’s perspective on getting clients on board with the Buyer’s Journey and creating content with them through the process as the client’s persona evolves. He dives into what to avoid through the process and how to keep a client from losing trust in an agency, as well as what he has learned through his podcast. 

The Buyer’s Journey and its Effect on the Agency/Client Relationship

With the evolution of a customer person and buyer persona, several challenges are met. An agency must identify the customer persona and encourage the client to participate in the Buyer’s Journey. It can test an agency’s relationship with the client, as well as the content creation process. An agency must nurture a relationship with a client through exceptional account management.

Challenges in Creating Content with Clients

There are challenges in creating content with clients, specifically the Buyer’s Journey. The Buyer’s Journey includes awareness content, consideration content, and decision-making content, and it is the process of extracting that information from clients. Through Sussman’s experience working with clients and mining the useful but ubiquitous, Buyer’s Journey content, he has found that different stages are gone through. One crucial aspect is the first stage: identifying personas. Personas have fallen out of favor in marketing, but they aggregate all different data that a client can pull together. This data relates to who the customers are, what their needs are, what they want, and where they are on the funnel of discovering who the client is. Once the client understands that, the agency and client can create content that resonates with the customers. Creating content can be a lot of guesswork, and if the client is putting out content that they think the customers want, they haven’t gone through the formula or discovery process.    

Encouraging the Client to Participate in the Journey

The clients are the source of truth for audience research. It’s important to talk it through with the client to find the point where the client has understood what the customer wants. Personas have changed and continue to change, but this point in time is an excellent opportunity to move clients into discovering the Buyer’s Journey by positioning it as an opportunity. Agencies can start with the client and their customers. Generate those conversations through tools like surveys or send out market research firms to do research with focus groups and identify where customers are hanging out online and how they’re finding you. If the client is driving a ton of organic traffic that isn’t resulting in new customers, is that helpful? If there is a whole new customer persona and the client is not marketing them, it is just preventing growth. There is a lot of value in re-auditing the persona or auditing it for the first time because revenue can be driven there, impacting the whole marketing strategy.    

Areas to Avoid on Agency/Client Discovery Procedure

When getting to the deeper areas of content on the discovery journey with a client, the agency needs to be collaborative and not just tell clients what they should know. The agency is an educator but is also working with the client through the discovery process. If the agency removes itself from the process, then comes back with results, it’s not going to get the same buy-in as an agency that is along for the journey and showing results along the way. It’s crucial to identify touchpoints to keep clients in the process. This will lead to more success and a better relationship with the client.  

Buyer’s Journey Content Process

When it comes down to clients understanding the Buyer’s Journey content metrics, they sometimes struggle to see a direct line of sight ROI, especially if they haven’t gone through the process before. The agency can communicate the value of the Buyer’s Journey by having specific metrics they want the client to hit along the journey. The journey is a funnel, and depending on how deep an agency is going into the services offered to a client, the agency should make sure that the funnel isn’t broken as they move through the funnel. A broken funnel can prevent the client from driving revenue which is the final goal. 

The agency can train clients on the metrics. The metrics is ultimately not an exact science, and an agency being transparent with the client is necessary. Marketers struggle with attribution in general, and technology is only making it more difficult. It’s becoming challenging to tie metrics to eventual revenue KPIs and customer KPIs. The journey is a long game, and with the customer base being as digitally savvy as ever, the agency needs to be involved in the process and conversation. 

The Importance of Account Management 

With everything changing and evolving, it’s not always linear. This is where trust and the agency/client relationship become important. Agencies know the reality that certain content won’t always do as well as they thought, and other content will do much better than anticipated. When things aren’t working out immediately, clients can sometimes feel like they need to bail. An agency can’t expect the client to be on the same page as them; therefore, they must have an internal barometer. The relationship with the client must be constantly honed. Otherwise, they may begin to look at other agencies. Account management is pertinent to gauge how the agency is doing and how they can do certain things better for the client. Larger businesses find it harder to move from one agency to another, but there are signs for when a client is considering a move. Part of an agency’s own Buyer’s Journey is developing loyalty and a solid line of communication with the client. 

What Sussman Has Learned Through His Podcast

Sussman has plowed through a lot of content on his podcast in the last year. He has learned that there are so many voices that deserve the opportunity to share what they think about SEO and their perspective on marketing. The SEO industry has a history of having the same speakers at conferences, and while they are all brilliant, there are new voices in the world. Sussman reached out to his Twitter network to ask who he needed to talk to. He wanted to bring in people with different voices, experiences, backgrounds, and demographics because those people bring in different perspectives. Conversations with women and people of color in the industry were about the nature of the sector and strategies it also about discovering other people’s stories. People have interesting stories, and Sussman enjoys sharing them with the community through a creative outlet.