How To Charge Top Dollar For Your PPC Services

6 Comments Written on May 11th, 2010 by
Categories: Business


In a market downturn, there is always pressure to cut your prices. Trouble is, the same pressure applies in an up market, too!

Can you ever win? Either the client won’t pay what you’re worth because of tight budget constraints, or so many competitors enter a flush market that there isn’t enough money to go around.

Here are some ideas on how to achieve premium pricing for your PPC services.

1. Focus On Sales

As we discussed in a previous post, What Is The Key Skill Of The PPC Consultant, apart from search marketing expertise sales is the most important skills an independent PPC consultant can possess. Without sales, nothing else can happen.

How do you generate sales leads? How many leads do you have right now?

If you have few leads, then you need to put a lot more effort into sales, and think about increasing the channels by which you market i.e. PPC, conferences, cold-calling, agency partnerships etc.

You should always strive to generate far more leads than you ever use. This way, you’ll have your choice of clients, and won’t feel under pressure to cut your prices. Of course, this is easier said than done, but the important thing to think about is how much effort and resources you currently devote to the sales side of your business.

If you’re a sole operator, you may not have much time to devote to sales. One way around this problem is to partner with marketing and advertising agencies. Small agencies may not have enough work to be able to hire a dedicated search marketing specialist, but would certainly like to offer such services. If you sign up three of four such agencies, they’ll do much of the selling for you – typically to their existing customer base – and take a commission on your work. This commission usually works out to be way cheaper than hiring dedicated sales staff yourself.

2. Make Your Client Money

If I said to you “For every dollar you spend on my services, you’ll make three“, would you hire me? How about if I said “For every dollar you spend on my services, you’ll save three” would you hire me?

Of course.

ROI – return on investment – is a very powerful sales tool. In your proposal and pitch, demonstrate exactly how you will provide ROI. For example, you might approach businesses who market only on radio and demonstrate how PPC can generate more leads/visitors/responses for the same spend.

No business will turn down a positive ROI proposition, no matter what the state of the economic climate. The economic climate is actually in your favour at the moment – money is moving out of traditional media channels, such as television, newspapers and radio, and onto the web. This is soely due to the positive ROI proposition offering by internet marketing.

3. Carve Your Own Niche

Are there too many generalist PPC consultants?

How about owning a niche, such as travel, construction, clothing, retailing etc?

Look for businesses in niches that predominately use traditional marketing channels to advertise their goods and services and construct proposals that compare the ROI of PPC vs these traditional marketing channels.

The niche needs to be big enough for you to make money, but small enough to have escaped the attention of bigger marketing agencies. Big agencies with high overheads often avoid small niches because they are too small for them to service and still make a profit. Such niches provide rich pickings for the independent consultant who typically has lower overheads and can adapt quickly.

4. Become “The” Guru Of Your Niche

People like dealing with people they perceive as being notable experts. If you’re already known to your potential clients, or can point to independent validation of your guru status, then you have a massive advantage over unknown consultants.

This is also a reason why focusing on a niche can be such a great strategy for the independent PPC consultant. The world is awash with PPC gurus who have been plying their trade for a long time, speaking at conferences, writing articles for major publications etc. Instead of competing with them directly, choose a niche and become a superstar in that niche. There will be many trade publications that have NEVER had a PPC consultant write an article for them.

Why don’t you become the first?

5. Provide More Value Than The Next Guy

Always be on the lookout for areas where you can add more value than what the client pays you to provide.

For example, say you have an interest in usability. You note that the client has a few usability problems that could be easily solved. Write up a detailed report and give it to the client as a bonus. View the time spent on this report as a marketing cost i.e. you’re trying to forge a deeper relationship that will lead to ongoing business.

Clients will never fail to be impressed by value-added services.

Under promise and over deliver.

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6 comments “How To Charge Top Dollar For Your PPC Services”

Great article, I think the most important point is:

“2. Make Your Client Money”

The rest hold value, but if you’re actually making them money rather than just giving a good pitch you’re in for some great residuals. 🙂

Great post. The niche idea is a really great concept because it seems it would make each subsequent campaign succeed sooner because you’d already have experience with similar clients.

I got into SEM/PPC as an affiliate marketer. I’m trying to get a job in the SEM field without much luck unfortunately and have been considering becoming a consultant instead.

Often with PPC you don’t get positive results initially and need to optimize over time to see good results. Do you agree? How do you make clients understand this so they don’t panic?

Also how do you charge your client. Do you charge them an up front set up fee, then an ongoing monthly retainer plus cost of the actual PPC?


Hi Nick
Client model really depends on how much you value your time, how much trust is built up between you and the client, the incremental value add you feel you can offer the client, etc.

Some people do profit share, some do flat monthly rate, some do percent of spend, some do recurring flat rate with set up fee, and for some smaller non-competitive low budget geo-local market segments sometimes a one-off set up fee is the only model that can make much sense. In other words…there is no 1 way to do it. Sort of like eating a Reese’s.

Part of how you get them to see the value right away is to set up analytics tracking right away. Another part is to let them know that off the start you are using traffic to test the site and improve responses, and that while most clicks won’t result in a sale they still are giving you data about the marketplace, and by buying data and feedback today you ensure that the business is better positioned for profit tomorrow.

@Nick – I have been in the PPC marketing business for the past six years and have found that charging based on ad spend is a great way to go.
The main reason for this is that it really sets up a win-win situation for both parites.
For example, if you told me, for every dollar I spend I want to make five.
Well, I could charge you a flat monthly rate or take 15% of your revenue while nailing your goal all day long with a set of five keywords. But this won’t make anyone much $. However, if I charge based on ad spend, I am showing you that not only do I want to hit your return goals but also want to maximize revenue.

@Mike but if you charge on ad spent , let’s say 15% in that case you really need to make sure that client has very good budget on a per month basis. Otherwise it will not make sense to charge on percent ad spent.  What is the threshold budget that you expect to charge on this percent on ad spent basis?

Hello, I am new to PPC management and am looking for a way to generate new local leads. I work for a company like a reach local type and need to generate my own business. Is there a good systematic way to go after local businesses that would use PPC? I have tried cold calling businesses that are advertising in local magazines etc but that is not working. Any suggestions on maybe going after local business that are already doing their own PPC but need help. How do I find these type of customers?

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