The Art of Client Management Launches Next Week
The second SEO MBA course is almost here
I launched the first SEO MBA course in November last year and to be honest, I wasn’t really sure what would happen. I knew there was demand, but I was blown away by the response. Since launch, over 300 people have enrolled in the course. But more than that, the personal stories and personal impact are the things that keep me going.
I’ve spent the last 8 years doing consulting work - where you’re aiming for impact at the scale of business. But teaching has an impact on an entirely different scale. It’s a human scale impact - the most rewarding feedback is hearing that someone is more confident dealing with their boss, or got a pay rise or landed a new job.
But…. developing a course is hard! I wrote a bit about this on my blog. From Notes on Teaching and Chairs:
The biggest surprise building the SEO MBA is quite simply how hard teaching is. As a teacher, you really want the process to be as simple as explaining the concepts in a linear fashion. “Sit down everyone, I’ve got some teaching to tell you about”. But unfortunately it’s not nearly so simple.
You see, the goal of teaching is not to get people to simply remember what you said - it’s to be able to apply that learning in context. For teaching to be effective it has to be felt in the bones. You need students to examine, unlearn and relearn concepts. It’s about reshaping mental models of how the world works.
I’m starting to develop a process for how to build a syllabus and a course - going from initial research and surveys to live beta cohorts, then moving to editing and production. One of the most important steps is to go back through every single client project I’ve worked on and extract real stories. These stories serve two important functions:
Firstly, they allow me to add case studies, stories and character to the course. Moving beyond simply a bunch of lessons, there are real examples, emails, slides and situations from my own work.
Secondly, they keep my BS in check. I force myself to validate everything I’m saying in the course by finding at least one real client situation where I used every technique or approach in real life. It’s quite easy when you’re teaching to slip into the uncanny valley, to suggest ideas or approaches that sound nice, but either don’t really work or aren’t that useful in real life. The kind of empty platitude like “pay attention to your client” - like, sure, I’d agree with that I guess? But.. how? when? why?
Grounding the course in my own experience allows me to be more specific, more actionable and ultimately more useful.
So, Why Client Management?
When I was early in my SEO career, an old colleague of my brother’s ran some training and something he said has stuck with me ever since. He said, when you’re working at an agency you have two ways to grow: you can get close to the problem or close to the client.
Close to the problem means that you’re a technical expert. You understand exactly how SEO works. Close to the client means you understand your client’s organization, understand how clients think and understand the realities of their operations.
Clearly you need elements of both - you need to understand the problem AND clients to do good work. But I see too many people in the SEO industry in particular focusing too much on technical mastery - on understanding the problem, while neglecting to understand clients deeply enough.
As David Maister said, talking about agencies:
“It is ironic that a business in which the serving of clients depends so heavily on interpersonal psychology should be peopled with those who believe in the exclusive power of technical mastery”
This is especially true in the SEO industry. SEO is a cross-functional initiative and we’re often dependent on different teams within the client’s organization to allocate time, resources and budget in service of our goals.
SEO isn’t just about making recommendations - it’s about persuading and convincing clients to actually implement them. And servicing clients is a lot more than just working on the day to day - clients value being listened to, being cared for and being understood.
And that’s why getting close to the client matters.
And that’s why I’ve made the next SEO MBA course - the Art of Client Management. It launches next week.
What is the course about?
I ran a survey earlier this year and gathered a bunch of pain points around client management and client relationships.
From that survey, three common themes emerged:
How to manage client expectations
How to communicate clearly and demonstrate the business value of SEO
How to persuade clients to actually implement our recommendations
So, that’s the course I’ve built! It’s structured around 5 modules that cover everything from building a north star for your project to align with clients to building long term trusted relationships.
It’s my hope that the course will help you do better work for bigger clients, communicating more clearly and ultimately growing and retaining your client accounts. And the feedback from the first beta cohorts has been very positive:
Self Paced + Office Hours
There are going to be two pricing tiers - essentials and professional. The essentials package is all the course videos, resources, homework assignments and templates. But the professional package is the best learning experience - you get all the course materials plus you get two big additional things:
I’ll give you 1:1 feedback on your homework assignments. These are designed to be used with real client situations and real projects so typically this functions much like being able to get coaching and feedback directly on things you’re working on
You can join the weekly office hours. These are weekly zoom chats where we gather a small group (typically 2-5 people) and talk about questions about the course, or real situations and problems you’re facing at work. In the past we’ve used this time to talk about strategies for nonprofits, or dealing with a new boss, or hiring and managing teams.
I really like this structure - it allows the course to have the biggest impact and be widely available while also providing real 1:1 and small group feedback and interaction.
So, the course is launching next week and I hope you enroll. I’ve poured a lot of myself into this course and I’m excited to share it with you!
See you next week,