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Solving Agency Challenges During Times of Crisis: PPC Town Hall 15

Ashwin Balakrishnan

Senior Marketing Manager



Running a PPC agency is challenging enough. Clients have to be kept happy, your teams have to stay on top of hundreds of fluctuations, and ad platforms are constantly changing and adding features to their mix.

Throw in something as unexpected as a pandemic and it can be easy to feel like you’re drowning.

So this week on episode 15 of PPC Town Hall, we spoke to two PPC experts with a track record of success in helping their agencies weather numerous storms over the years:

  • Matt Umbro, Key Account Director at Brainlabs and Founder of PPCChat
  • Brittni Swenson, Chief Marketing Officer at Tandem Interactive

As always, you can view this week’s episode as well as previous editions of PPC Town Hall right here.

Here are 6 tips to help you steer your team through these challenging times.

1. Be a partner, not a vendor

Matt: It’s important to work out an ideal solution for an effective strategy. We have to be compassionate and understand everyone’s circumstances.

During the early months of COVID, we saw a few clients who wanted to pause their accounts or significantly cut down on their budget due to a lot of restrictions. We had to work with those clients, figuring out a way to remain working with them; something that works for both parties.

As places have started to open up, we can see that some of clients are coming back to get into business again.

2. Educate your clients

Brittni: When we take over a new account from a previous agency, we ask for KPIs or benchmarks that the previous agency was asked to deliver. It can be a little difficult, especially when clients have unrealistic expectations.

ROAS can be one way, but if a client is looking for a 4x return on $100 a month ($400 in sales), that’s not going to be as beneficial as spending $2,000 a month and getting $4,000 in sales, and then incrementally increasing ROAS.

Trying to find a balance between what clients are looking for and attainable goals is really important.

3. Set expectations from the start

Matt: It’s really important to understand what clients want to do with their business. What do they want from agencies? A lot of it goes back to how clients want to be. Do they want you to help them formulate a strategy and work together as partners, or do they want you to just pull levers?

If the client works with you as a partner, it’s important to go back to expectations and make your client understand your apprehensions and ideas. This way they can make informed decisions to best manage their accounts and goals.

4. Inspire confidence through your history

Brittni: A lot of it comes down to partnership, time and patience. Once you start to show growth and success, a client is able to have trust and confidence in what you’re doing. With time, they’re going to give you those levels of referrals, and those partners are going to be able to trust you. And then you can guide them through their strategies.

If you’re capable of running a successful campaign on a very limited budget, especially dealing with unglamorous products like tires, it indicates a strong sense of strategy which helps build client confidence.

5. Understand a price-sensitive market

Matt: In the context of COVID, a client that doesn’t have a major sticking point when it comes to price, that’s where things like curbside pickup and contactless delivery will help gain consumers.

While additional platforms for selling products definitely work for users, it’s beyond price. It’s more about offering something unique, especially in the time of COVID.

6. Know how to come back from a lull in business

Brittni: There’s definitely been a change in the type of messaging and targeting for different clients. Earlier, a lot of our clients shifted from paid advertising to SEO or local ads.

But as things are opening, these same clients are coming back to paid advertising with a different approach. Many of the campaigns we see today promote COVID safety and precautions. These are the clients who want to maintain customer safety. We need to focus on building brand awareness through any type of display advertising.


Most contingencies can be planned, but sometimes life throws you a curveball that no one can predict. In times like these, trust in your track record of success.

When client business is suffering, they can often have multiple fires to fight: supply chain, hygiene, and delivery come to mind. So a great agency that can continue to create value on the advertising front is worth its weight in gold.

Join us next week for PPC Town Hall 16 where we’ll be speaking to two of the leading ladies of PPC: Michelle Morgan and Purna Virji.