Feature: Rice and Beans at Every Meal

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It is winter in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro now, but one would never know it. The southern hemisphere's sun is warm and the people are hospitable. It is hard to imagine that anyone would not feel comfortable here.

Morning commences with Brazilian coffee, fresh passion fruit juice and breakfast. Just a few hours later, a home-cooked lunch of rice and beans, salads and meats is ready. Dessert is ever-present, as are the many, many fruits. A quick trip to Grandma's house in the afternoon means more coffee and cake. Dinner, of course, is waiting when one gets home.

These actions are not only custom, but genuine. It is simply unthinkable to do otherwise. In return, it is a pleasure to give back. This is a relationship, something many growth firms, search engine marketing shops included, have forgotten in the land grab for clients.

One might say that a familial relationship is far deeper than a commercial contract. I agree. However, the basic principles of hospitality and partnership are still valid, and their absence can be a hurdle as many clients take to an annual search for a new SEM provider.

So how to avoid such a scenario? Take a few lessons from Brazilian cookery.

Rice and Beans at Every Meal

Quantifiable results are the rice and beans of search engine marketing. As the most basic component, you should be able to do this in your sleep. If your clients are not seeing the positive results promised, I suggest you stop reading here and go back to your campaigns until you have mastered this step.

Something of Substance

Since every search marketer should be able to make good rice and beans, your skills will be demonstrated in the selection and complexity of the main dishes. Smart thinking and insight, like the salads and meats, are the substance that will carry you and your client throughout the day. There are no shortcuts here. Any client will recognize when your documentation is really a serving of leftovers quickly reheated in the microwave.

Seasoning to your clients' expectations is equally important. You should know how much salt is expected without asking. If it is early in the relationship, never assume.

Dessert is Served

Dessert, being the last part of the meal, is often more memorable than the rice and beans and main course. Even if we have delivered the right leads at the right time in a creative fashion, we still partake in the small delights that keep relationships together.

A little something extra is also handy when perhaps something earlier in the meal did not go as planned. If it is really bad news, a spoonful of sugar does indeed make the medicine go down. Remember that this is not a ruse to cover up poor service, but a sincere demonstration of your commitment to the relationship's success.

If your client does not have a sweet tooth or rebuffs a make-good, do not be offended. Perhaps an honest and simple bowl of fruit will do. The conversation over the coffee that follows should reconfirm your sincerity.

With full bellies, one might assume that the job is done. However, we must wake up each day and perform each task again. Search engine marketing, despite the emphasis on its tools and technologies, is inherently a service business. This we must never forget.

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