Pareto’s Law and Client Stupidity

I read a quote yesterday from Albert Einstein that says “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Working as a consultant in the Internet marketing industry, I can tell you that the latter is absolutely true.

Vilfredo Pareto was a genius, and his 80/20 rule is as applicable today as it was in his time. Case in point, SEO clients.

I am an Internet marketing consultant, specializing in SEO and Social Media. I’ve been working as a consultant in that industry for over 5 years, and in all that time I’ve found that clients, despite paying sometimes ludicrous amounts of money each month for my expertise, rarely do as they are told. Why is that?

For example, just yesterday I had to cancel some work for a client because they have yet to implement changes to their website that I sent to them over 2 months ago. The changes are simple, literally copy and paste, and yet they have not been implemented. I just don’t get it. That client paid $2,625 for those documents/changes.

The sad thing is, that really isn’t unusual! I’ve had client’s paying $5,000, $10,000, even $25,000 per month who have done the exact same thing. They pay, I do, and they ignore. Not too bright, if you ask me.

The reason I reference Pareto’s Law is that, in my experience, only about 1 in 5 clients actually implement the on-site changes I send, and only about 1 in 10 clients do it correctly/completely. Why on earth would a client pay thousands of dollars for something just to toss it aside? It boggles my mind.

The funniest thing is when I have clients ask me why they aren’t ranking yet, after months of ignoring the changes I send for them to implement. Really? You wonder why you aren’t ranking?

This shouldn’t really bother me, since I get paid whether changes are implemented or not. However, I got into this business to help people make their websites better, to actually improve the quality of what is online, so it really does bother be.

I can say with 100% accuracy that every client I have worked with who has implemented my recommended changes exactly as sent, in a timely manner, has achieved their ranking goals (usually within a matter of a few months). I know what I am doing, and if you are going to pay for the expertise, do us both a favor and LISTEN!

Alas, the only conclusion I can come to is that too many companies have more money than sense. If you are going to pay for something, and your business would benefit from using what you paid for, then common sense would dictate that you use what you paid for…wouldn’t it? 🙂

3 replies on “Pareto’s Law and Client Stupidity”

  1. Hello Sam,

    I am a business coach and business broker and we work with business owners every single day. Pareto’s law applies to our business too, as, most likely, to any other consulting business.

    I think that the client-companies do have intention for improvement and have money allocated for it, however lack time and follow-up discipline. The only feasible solution seems to be selling not an advice, but rather “solution in the box”, meaning that you have to implement the required changes yourself or request client to connect you directly to the webmaster. Such shortcut should help with the implementation part of the project.

    1. Jacob,

      You are absolutely correct, and we do just that. One of the first steps upon signing a new client is to verify that they have the means to implement on-site changes. If possible, we send on-site changes to be made directly to the webmaster. If they don’t have implementation ability, we refer them to a company like to do the implementation.

      We’ve actually got 3 good reasons for not making on-site changes ourselves: #1, and the biggest to us, is liability. Depending on the CMS, one little coding error can crash a site, so we just don’t go there. Reason #2, and almost as important, is that companies that lack a competent webmaster are usually companies that like to micromanage, and everything has to go through a committee prior to putting it up on their site. That is simply more hassle than it is worth to us. And finally, Reason #3…why spend more time than we absolutely have to? Implementation often takes up more time than the corresponding content creation did, and has to be done by a more senior/tech savvy person. That eats into margins, which is a no no.

      If a client has no webmaster, and won’t agree to use a 3rd party to make changes, then we don’t take them on as a client. So the clients I referenced in the post are clients who agreed to make changes, and said they had the resources to do so, and simply didn’t do it. That, to me, is stupid.

  2. Sam,

    I completely agree with you on all three reasons. If you were our client, I would advise you to do exactly the same. You just do your best in serving your clients, however shouldn’t lose much nerves on things beyond your control.

    Good luck.

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