I spend a lot of my time trying to figure out what our clients/ideal clients want in terms of services and results. I do this by asking them questions directly, observing the questions and comments they make to our account managers and surveying crazy smart in-house people that are in committed relationships with their current partners or have made a choice to keep PPC in house.

While every client/person/company, etc. is different, there are three things that tend to be universal when it comes to what an in-house wants.

You don’t get to take credit for the basics.

I once asked an in-house PPC guy what he valued most in his PPC partners. After a few insightful paragraphs he wrapped up the email with, “oh yeah, and flawless account management.” The basics barely crossed his mind and came with a big fat assumption that you do the basics right and on time, every time.

Sure, this can be frustrating. We all know that mistakes happen, surprise competitors jump into the landscape driving up CPCs, and not all ideas pan out. In-house people know that too. You’re just not going to get credit for catching your own mistakes, finding out about new features and keeping the lights on in the account.

This is why agencies need multiple checks for quality assurance, to ensure that action plans are appropriate and comprehensive and they need to be pulling in more than one set of eyes on every single account.

Your hard work has a shelf life.

You don’t get credit today for what you did three months ago.

Sure, good ideas have some staying power. But at some point (usually 2-3 months) in-house people will start to get the twinge that you are riding the coat tails of your past ideas and their account could be doing better with a new set of eyes on it.

The question the in-house manager is going to ask themselves (and maybe you) is, “if I never touched this account again, would it keep performing the same or at least good enough to make the cost savings of firing the agency worth it?”

You have to keep driving ahead with new ideas for account expansion and cost reductions. This includes finding new engines and networks, testing betas, incrementally improving quality score, optimizing landing pages and potentially developing proprietary systems and software that improve results and cut waste.

You should focus almost as much learning about their business as you do worrying about how to manage their PPC account.

What’s their peak season? What’s their promotional calendar look like? What’s the most profitable product or service they sale? How are budgets set and by whom? Why do they shy away from bidding on competitor terms?

A very common complaint in-house managers have is that the agency does a good job of pulling levers and coming up with general ideas but they don’t think enough like an “x” employee. This includes aligning goals. Which typically means that the agency needs to not just focus on how the agency increases their own revenue but on what the business needs in order to hit its PPC targets, overall marketing plan, and corporate vision.

The best tool with which to arm yourself is a child-like curiosity combined with the maturity to identify the right time to ask the right question(s).

(Thanks, Sean Quadlin for the editing help with that last sentence.)

Keeping these three things in mind will help you avoid frustration and focus on the right things with your clients!