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  1. #1
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    In an Industry Void of Promises, How Do You Guarantee Value?

    I was on the phone with a new white-label partner and they said something along the lines of "I know there aren't any promises in SEO but what can I tell my client to expect as an outcome?" I thought this was a great question to a problem a lot of agencies have in regards to selling and service. So my question to the community is: What will your clients leave with at a minimum?
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  3. #2
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    re: In an Industry Void of Promises, How Do You Guarantee Value?

    For my two cents at least, there's two main principles that seem to be working very well for me in my own business. I don't need a ton of clients though, and I'm building a personal brand, so once you're working with sales people the equation might be very different.

    But for me at least, the two things that seem to matter, are finding the right kinds of business owners, and starting with education. Find business owners that understand the difference between an expense and an investment, owners that have clear goals for their business and are ready to put in the work to make it happen, and owners that are ready and willing to invest the time needed to follow your directives (gathering reviews, working with you where necessary for backlink building, making themselves available for citation phone verification when necessary, taking accurate records about new clients and how they found the business and sharing it with you, etc.)

    Once you know those owners, the easiest thing to do is just to share the power of what this stuff can do for their business. Give them knowledge they can use to make an informed decision, and (ultimately) the right clients will realize they'd rather bring in a trustworthy, knowledgeable expert to take the reigns in that area of the business. Even a single webinar can easily accomplish all that if you fill the seats with the right people. A salesman could help, but I feel like even for a bigger company, you're much better off using salesmen to sign up hot leads at the end of your funnel, or for filling seats at the beginning of your funnel, than you are having a salesman try and find and convert cold leads all on their own. Otherwise you're relying on promises, I'd much rather have a business owner just grateful they found someone they know is competent and that has their best interests in mind.

    I do believe it's important to be results minded, and to make sure you're being paid from a percentage of new revenue (in the long run) but I'd much rather be guiding that conversation, instead of making direct promises. I'd rather have a conversation around what their goals are for their own business, how many new clients they're looking for, what their ideal clients look like, and then stay involved with them and make that a mutual goal you work towards together. Providing ranking reports in my experience at least hasn't impressed very many clients so far, I still include a bit of lip service there, but I haven't met any small business owners that actually care about it if that's what you focus on, and worse, if that's where you focus, you're much more likely to end up with clients upset that you aren't in one particular 3-pack they've decided is important, regardless of how big of a difference you've made in their bottom line.

    To really answer your question though... after talking with a few business owners in your niche, you'll get a sense for how they measure success. For wedding photographers, it's about how many bookings they're getting per season, and how much they can charge per booking while still getting new clients. I wouldn't promise them specific numbers when signing up, but I do work hard to actually reach those numbers, because those are the kinds of stories I love using as testimonials. Working with clients to track and organize those statistics doesn't just make it easy to keep them as a client, it also makes it easier to find new people next time.
    Last edited by James Watt; 07-19-2016 at 10:36 AM.

  4. #3
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    Re: In an Industry Void of Promises, How Do You Guarantee Value?

    Great points. I agree that value is best identified on a personal level and as long as clients see you working and making progress toward their KPIs things move along swimmingly. I would say that with my agency clients can rest assured that they are setup for the future of search-based marketing and will at the very least have a great online marketing cornerstone that they can build on for the future.
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  5. #4
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    Re: In an Industry Void of Promises, How Do You Guarantee Value?

    I think James makes some great points, especially about goal setting. At the end of the day the only thing that really matters is how many customers a website can bring in, so at a minimum I would say the client can expect to have the road-map how to improve their website's ability to convert. Like James said, if you have the right client then you'll be able to teach them how to promote their business properly, build a brand, and understand some of the basics around website conversions.

    You can be the main strategist behind the campaigns, but you still need the face of the business to help execute. You need to teach the owner how to apply fundamental marketing techniques to their day to day to not only bring in new customers, but keep them coming back.

    At this point if you're just selling SEO and not a digital marketing partnership, you're doing it wrong.
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    Re: In an Industry Void of Promises, How Do You Guarantee Value?

    I get this question all the time. I often tell people that hiring an SEO company is like hiring a lawyer. No lawyer can promise they will win your case. They can predict outcomes based on previous cases and they you can rest peacefully by hiring the best lawyer you know based on their track record and knowledge of the law. Same with SEO. People who hire me generally know about me because they've read things I've written or posts I've made and are confident that I know what I'm talking about. I find these types of customers are way better than random ones that have never heard of me because the trust is already there.

    I generally will provide a prediction based on their situation on how long I think it will take to rank but I'm always very clear that this is just an estimate and anything could change the outcome since Google changes their algorithm constantly. I always avoid overpromising. Never a good idea.
    Joy Hawkins
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    Author of The Expert's Guide to Local SEO [, a 260+ page training manual that is updated monthly and contains advanced tips and tactics for Local SEO that actually work and drive results.

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    Re: In an Industry Void of Promises, How Do You Guarantee Value?

    I really like the analogy, Joy. I think the sooner you can establish trust the more likely the relationship will be. To Eric's point, you have to show the client that you care about them specifically so from there it means solving a lot of their problems which, spoiler alert, might not be considered "SEO."
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    Re: In an Industry Void of Promises, How Do You Guarantee Value?

    We started incorporating a "consultant's promise" to our contracts earlier this year. Before I send and agreement, I qualify the potential client and get everything that I need. Once we agree on pricing, we both come up with a KPI (example is a 40% increase in lead volume by the end of the agreement) that we agree on. If we don't hit our KPI by the end of the agreement, we work for free until we do. There is a contingency that if they don't get us information we need to execute services then the promise isn't in effect. Client's seem to like it.
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    Re: In an Industry Void of Promises, How Do You Guarantee Value?

    That's a great idea, Blake! It seems like it would help retention, acquisition and client relationships.
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  10. #9
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    Re: In an Industry Void of Promises, How Do You Guarantee Value?

    Have you guys ever been stuck working for free for many months as a result?

    Joy Hawkins
    Owner of Sterling Sky
    Author of The Expert's Guide to Local SEO [, a 260+ page training manual that is updated monthly and contains advanced tips and tactics for Local SEO that actually work and drive results.

  11. #10
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    Re: In an Industry Void of Promises, How Do You Guarantee Value?

    Quote Originally Posted by JoyHawkins View Post
    Have you guys ever been stuck working for free for many months as a result?
    Hey Joy,

    We have yet to work for free since implementing this. It's important to note that there are only 3 people at my agency, so we aren't growing at a staggering pace. I like slow and consistent growth so I'm picky with who we decide to work with.
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