A little Respect

This is a post by Barrie Moran: a digital native and a top technical SEO I admire in many ways.

“I’m about to give you all of my money. And all I’m askin’ in return, honey Is to give me my profits”

Lyrics from the famous Aretha Franklin song, the song will resonate with everyone, but so do the lyrics.

Yes Mr/Mrs client, I do want to work with you, and I do appreciate that you want to make a return on your investment and yes I do know you have choice in the marketplace, but please, respect me, respect my team and believe me when I say we know what we are doing!

NB: This needs a massive caveat. This does not apply to every client / agency relationship. There are some amazing relationships, long lasting relationships. This applies to some client / agency relationships and unfortunately like most things, people talk more about their bad experiences.
“A dissatisfied customer will tell between 9 and 15 people about their experience -White House Office of Consumer Affairs”

It is an all too familiar story;


There was a great post last year from Willie Reynolds, “How Google Makes Liars out of Good Guys in SEO”. Basically, Google has made so many changes in the last 18 months that all the solid advice the majority of SEO, Digital Marketing, Internet Marketing, Content Marketing, Growth Hackers (that’s a different post BTW) give is true, accurate, correct, but in some verticals, niches are not working or not appearing to be enough!

This massive amount of fluctuations as demonstrated by the Mozcast project highlights the volatility of the marketplace we all operate in:

Another good post recently was the Confessions Of A $100/Month SEO Client.

My personal advice would be that if anyone is investing that level into their online marketing strategy, stay away, don’t touch a client who wants to invest that type of money, they will just be trouble for you!

Back to the point of this post:

Some, not all, but a number of companies treat their agencies like ****! If you disagree please feel free to leave a comment or give me abuse on Twitter.

But, IMHO, from various sources, it’s true. Most agencies make themselves vulnerable including in their pitch:

  • “We work with you not for you”
  • “An extension of your marketing team”
  • “We immerse ourselves in your company and your team”
  • “We do all the hard work to make you look good”
  • “We help you achieve your goals”

This can invariably lead to.

  • Clients dangling carrots in front of agencies.
  • Treating the agency and the staff at the agency like ****.
  • Having no respect for the agency because they are just an agency and can be fired at any time.
  • Making unrealistic demands against budgets and time.
  • Putting unacceptable demands on the agency and the staff.

And a personal favourite:
Demanding a piece of work to be delivered at a certain time only for the agency to receive an auto responder informing them you are out of the office for the next however long!

I know there are a few “bigger” agencies and personalities who happily boast about firing clients, but, for the majority of agencies out there in this tough market and because of competition, changes and economic climate that is not an option for most.

There needs to be a better relationship between client and agency, and IMHO. Most clients who are looking to engage a SEO / Digital marketing agency because of the experience and expertise they bring to the project to help the company achieve their goals, need to show a little more respect and the more the better.


Shock Horror!

“One hundred people were asked who likes failure and no one put their hand up”

You are not only buying the knowledge of success, you are buying the expertise that limits failure on your campaigns to maximise your return on your investment. They know what works, and more importantly, if they don’t, they have the bad ass skills to find out.

IMHO, you owe them a little respect for even bringing this to the table, never mind what comes next.

A lack of respect can kill a relationship before it starts and before it has the chance to blossom into something awesome.

Yes they are Geeks (most of them), but please do not be condescending. Show a little respect and listen to the excellent advice they are offering and the fact they want the relationship to start off on a positive, enthusiastic manner.

Once bitten twice shy. A wise man once told me never cut your nose off to spite your face, so in the early days people take some crap, but the same wise man also told me never burn your bridges, and that’s the advice that should be given to clients. Sometimes, you don’t know what you have till it’s gone.

It’s like any relationship. If you destroy the relationship with the agency because you have not listened, been condescending or bullied, and treated staff like garbage then you will soon come to realise how frickin awesome that agency really was and if you try to go back to them after you fired them, well personally I think your chances are slim to none.

One of the worst things you can do is bully the team at the agency. There are many forms of bullying and typically calls, emails, texts, tweets, DM’s, IM’s, Skype, are all forms used to communicate with you, but seriously, just because you forgot something, because someone internal in your organisation had a brain fart, doesn’t mean you can hit them up at 9:00pm at night and either:

  • Expect an immediate answer
  • Demand something before 9:00am


One of the other issues commonly encountered is more psychological bullying. Be honest and forthright; if there are issues, identify and address them. Then they can be fixed and you can move forward together.

Don’t have a meeting and act all nice because you don’t have the balls to say what you feel. Then after the meeting send a series of ill-considered communications in whatever format. All you are going to do is start to burn bridges and alienate those at the agency who are trying their best to work with you to achieve the fantastic strategy that you agreed to.


Goal posts move, they get that.
They live in a world where Google for example updates its algorithm on average twice a day.
But don’t hit them with a brush, because things change at your end.

Why are they an agency?

Well, mainly because they are smart and they love what they do. They get a big thrill out of continually testing themselves, striving to be the best, learning, sharing knowledge and achieving kick ass results for all their clients.


They are a business. They have people’s salaries to pay and overheads to meet. Typically they get paid by the hour, and they know how much they need to make to keep the lights on, keep people employed and continue achieving.

So if you pay for 20 hours, don’t expect to get 40! Don’t expect the team to be at your beck and call holding your hand all the time; you are not paying for unlimited access and time. They would be glad (I think) to give you extra time but you need to pay for it.

Just because you are a big brand, why should they give your account management and project reporting free of charge? Why should these be inclusive? Why should 6 hours spent in the month on telephone calls answering your questions and giving you advice be expected and not be billable time?

Again, a little respect, that they are an agency, filled with amazing people, but they are also, like you a business, they need to make some profit and they have other clients as well as you who pay them for their respective time and success allocation.

Be prepared to pay for the time. Time costs them money and the money you invest in time gets you success. If they feel they are being “used” why would they try extra hard to achieve awesomeness for you?

They are an agency, they employ the people who work on your project, you do not employ their staff. They are not employees of you; therefore please don’t treat your agency like one.

They cannot give you 100% of their time as they are not your employee and they have other clients to service.

Simply a little understanding and respect:
Yes they love working with you, they love working on your project, but please do not take advantage of that.

are you listening

When they offer advice or critique on your site, architecture, code, calls to action, social media, e-mail marketing etc.

They are not being critical for the sake of it.

They want you to achieve your strategic goals.

You don’t have to use them to fix what they find and what they share with you, but, please fix it. It’s not a sales ploy to get you to spend more money.
They have identified inefficiencies with your current programme and in order to achieve those goals they discussed you must address it, it really is as simple as that.

Friends and Family:
Don’t you just love them? But the agency doesn’t want to hear what your friends and family think about what they are doing. Your new employee who is eager to impress wants to critique the agency, but please don’t bother sharing that with them.

You know the spam e-mail offering you best practice seos from long time practice for $100? Don’t bother sharing that with them please!
So listen, they love you, they love to work with you, their team loves working with you on your projects, but, please, please, show a little respect for them, and they will return that tenfold!
Don’t, and the project will only end in one way.