How Do You Convince Clients That It's a Marathon And Not A Sprint

I came across an interesting thread last week in Linda's Local Search Forum and one of the biggest problems consultants were facing was convincing their clients that Local SEO isn't a sprint but a marathon.

It's important for clients to understand how quickly the ecosystem for local businesses is changing and that getting a visible and consistent presence takes a lot of time + effort and gets harder as you wait longer to get started.

I wanted to put my thoughts down about how you can actually educate your clients that it's not just important, but necessary for them to stay patient. This education will go a long way in setting expectations and ensuring that your clients are happy and stick to your service.

Here's how you can go about convincing your clients that it's a marathon and not a sprint:

  1. Be upfront even before you "close" the gig

    Educating clients prior to them actually signing up goes a long way in ensuring that they know what they're getting into in terms of timelines. Depending upon the amount of work involved, you should let your clients know that it'll take at least three months for them to see movement and six months for them to actually see concrete results.

    Talking about timeline is also a great way to weed out clients with unrealistic expectations. Signing someone who wants you to do the impossible is just setting yourself up for disaster anyways.

  2. Show Them Results With Previous Clients

    Nothing sells as well as showing customers timelines and results with previous clients. This will reaffirm their faith that you can produce and will also reinforce in their mind that it takes time to produce results in the SEO game.

    Ideally, you should prepare documents with case studies for previous success stories and should have a section specifically dedicated to timelines. While doing this, ensure that you avoid "outliers" who may have produced prematurely.

  3. Point Them To Threads & Blog Posts By Other Experts AThere have been so many conversations on the web about how insanely hard it is to get instant results with SEO. You should link your clients to these to show them that you're not some sort of magician and results take time.

    Some good reading material about this subject, include:

    How Long Does SEO Take To Start Working?

    How Long Does It Take To See Results With An SEO Campaign?

    10 Reasons Why SEO Takes Time & Ongoing Investment

  4. Give Them A Timeline Of Tasks

    It works best to show clients the kind of effort that needs to be put into a campaign before seeing results in terms of actual tasks. When they know how much work needs to be done, they'll be more understanding and give you enough time to actually execute.

    Ensure that you have well visualized funnels that are easy to understand. Clients like to see time and effort sheets that are dumbed down without making them appear dumb. Use funnels, simple visuals and easy to understand English.

  5. Constantly Communicate Progress With Clients

    Though it takes a lot of time to see a lot of progress, you will still have small wins that you can communicate to clients and celebrate. Showing consistent progress over time will go a long way in building trust and helping you make your clients understand that it’s a marathon.

  6. Start a Monthly Newsletter for Ongoing Education

    This is something that I've practiced diligently with all my clients during my days as a consultant.

    A major part of getting clients to stay patient is to educate them; and, there doesn’t exist a better and tested way than sending out a weekly newsletter with useful articles. If possible, try to co-ordinate articles with the effort you are doing that particular week. For example, if you're tackling responsiveness issues, that week's newsletter should be focused on that topic.

    Take some time to collate a list of articles, best practices, changes relevant to their industry along with live examples of what their competitors might be doing. Believe me they will love these.

To conclude..

Education and updating is key. The client should be made aware of what you are doing each step of the way as well as the expected timeline on each activity. That way, their progress is more visible and their patience doesn't need to be tested because they are seeing results real-time.

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