How To Win Social Media Arguments With Your Clients
It’s old news that advertising/marketing agencies and clients often disagree, at least initially, about strategy or tactics.
These differences of opinion can be particularly tricky to navigate when it comes to social media. In many cases, a client may have strong opinions about social media strategy that are based on personal use of social media mediums, beliefs that “everyone needs to do it”, or that one social channel is “cooler” than another – in other words, everything but sound marketing strategy.
When you find yourself being directed to execute a course of action that you believe to be against the best interests of your client’s business objectives, it’s time to employ some savvy persuasive tactics to help you win your social media argument – or avoid one altogether:
Let data make your case.
By data, we mean social media, website, and digital advertising analytics – along with any facts and stats that relate to your client’s best customer profiles or marketing/advertising outcomes.
For example, if you believe that your client is overly-focused on Facebook marketing, you might use the client’s Facebook analytics to demonstrate that most of their Facebook followers don’t appear to be among their best customer segments. Or you might compare and contrast Facebook advertising outcomes to some other tactic, like direct mail results, to bolster your argument that one tactic deserves more attention the other.
Query instead of quarrel.
Advertising and marketing agencies have a way of asking a lot of questions during discovery, but the questions sometimes fade away when we actually commence work for our clients. The fact that we fall into this get-it-done authoritarian mode is understandable: We’re hired for our expertise, and depending on the situation, our knowledge and experience can greatly exceed those of our clients.
But just because we think we’re the smartest people in the room when it comes to marketing doesn’t mean we know everything – and even if we do, a “do this, not that, don’t argue” approach isn’t going to work with a lot of clients. In some cases, it’s better to firmly but respectfully launch a line of questioning with your client that helps both of you better understand the client’s position on social media. It may be that the client will reveal some piece of information or insight that causes you to change your mind – or it may be that probing questions will help the client realize that his social media rationale isn’t particularly sound. Once you get to this point, it’s going to be much easier to get approval for your recommended course of action.
Study their competitors.
While we all wish our clients would just “take our word for it” at every turn, sometimes the client needs to hear from someone else in order to feel confident about making a decision. This is especially true if the client may be suspicious that a desire to increase billing hours is playing a role in the recommendations that your agency is offering.
If you think this might be the case, let your client’s competitors make your argument for you. Put together a mini-case study that analyzes the competitors’ social media presence and content tactics. Depending on the situation, the arguments you might employ include “You need to be out there, too”, or “Your competitors don’t seem to be getting results – what makes us think we’ll be any different?”, or “Your competitors are missing opportunities, which means there are opportunities for you to leverage.”
Offer to compromise.
If you’re dealing with an extra-stubborn client, an offer to compromise might help you retain a fighting chance of ultimately prevailing in your efforts. For example, you might ask the client if she’s willing to try something for six months – with an assurance that you will defer to her wishes without argument if she’s unwilling to continue your recommended course after seeing the trial period’s results.
Compare and contrast.
Let’s say you believe that you believe that a Google Ad campaign is going to get better results than a social media ad campaign, but your client believes the opposite. Ask your client to let you set up two test campaigns that run at the same time, target roughly the same audiences, and use similar creative. You can use the test campaign’s outcomes to help you make a stronger case for the adoption of your long-term strategy.