A made a 12 month proposal for a SEO services for a website that streams music. It currently has around 5k artists and 50k tracks that need to be optimized. The client told me that they want to sign up a shorter contract and if they see results, we will continue working together. How to explain to them that SEO takes time and I need 1 year to execute the strategy properly?
I agree with Matthew's assessment. The only thing that I would clarify in his answer is to structure your short-term goals or objectives in terms of benefits to the clients. Make sure that the client sees and understands the benefits of these mini-objectives. Associate tactive numbers to each milestone. For instance, instead of stating "increase your client contacts" - your goal is to increase the relevant client contact by 10% in the first month. Make sure each of your milestones (mini-objectives) are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Based. It's not enough to just lay out these project milestones. You need to easily show that you not only meeting them, but the attainment has immediate benefit to your client.
I have three steps to help CEOs and marketing executives come around:
1) Wait until they're hooked before you push on the contract. Don't push for 12 months until they really want you - and ONLY you.
2) Offer annual pricing at a 40% discount compared to quarterly billing. Explain that when you take them on, you're making a commitment to their success - and you only go out of your way for clients who can commit to their own success.
3) Prove it. Show them what you'll deliver, then give them video testimonials from similar clients, show them SERP rankings you've obtained for similar clients, tell them about the ROI clients receive (preferably have this directly in the testimonials), provide references they can call, show them a roadmap and bake in an exit clause to the contract that guarantees you will follow through.
Of course, just because they asked for a proposal does not mean they are sold on you. The most important part of the entire process is step 1: getting them to not just say "I want to work with you", but "I want to work with you - and ONLY you." I can help you figure out how to get to that point.
Once you can get there consistently, the rest is a relative breeze. If you want help creating the plan and brand that will make that happen, pick a time on my calendar and we'll deep dive to get your business growing faster: www.clarity.fm/ryandraving
The best way to work around something like this is to map out the long-term strategy in phases. Build out a brief project map that outlines what they will receive within the 1-3 month period, the 4-7 month and the 8-12 month period. Set micro objectives for each period and this will give the client a bit more confidence in the short-term plans as well as the long.
The key thing to remember here is that the client will often be worried about being tied into a contract that doesn't deliver results. As a result, you need to show why you need the time that you do. One thing that I often throw in is an extra incentive for longer contract lengths - for example, an extra PR/content campaign or some paid advertising extras.
Try to assure them of some shorter term results that you can obtain as 'quick wins' and build their confidence this way - the major targets will always be longer term but if you can demonstrate that there will be progress between then they will be a lot more receptive.
Break it in 3 phases - 1 month, 6 month & 12 months. Tell them what you'll "do" in 1 month and then tell them what they'll "get in results" after 6/12 months. Map results to their revenue/traffic.
Now give them an irresistible offer - if they extend the contract to 12 months within 30 days of signing up , they get X,Y,Z extra worth $XXX. These free things can be landing page's conversion optimization, paid media buys every month, monthly press release for media exposure etc. Think what else might help them as business an club those in free package.
To answer your question, offering a guarantee that minimizes their risk should do the trick... (i.e. if you dont double the money you pay me in 12 months, Ill give you a refund... assuming you don't damage their site, just the time passing and age alone should produce double what you charge them, even without doing any real SEO..)
I don't see any reason why you would need a full year to show results... There are usually low hanging fruits you can uncover and fix for the first crawl google does showing results within weeks.
If you are promoting content to earn links, than I think 4-6 months is reasonable...
Your best bet is to talk about accumulative efforts, and how the value you provide will build on itself, and it would be a shame if you didn't have a chance to see it through. (i.e. building relationships from outreach to earn links will create new linking opportunities in the future...etc...)
All in all, I do SEO month to month, and i have clients that stuck with me for 5+ years... I guess it really depends what you are actually doing for them...
I think the reason they're hesitant is because they're not sure if they can really compete with Spotify, Rdio, Google Music and YouTube!
Even if someone is able to stream one song they couldn't find anywhere else, 5000k artists isn't going to satisfy them for long.
Go in at 12 months if you think it's worth it, but don't do month to month on this. Personally, I would punch a sales person at my company if they sold this client SEO.
This is a great question, and one for the ages. Its difficult to run a business on month-to-month revenues. David mentioned earlier that he's run a successful business for over 5 years on with month to month contracts. And while it can be done, its just not stable and reliable. I've had clients for over 5 years before too, on month to month contracts. But its tough to do when you don't have 100 clients. When you have 10 clients and aren't sure if you can count on that revenue next month or the month after it really holds you hostage.
You definitely need to map out a plan for long term contracts. And in my business, SEO, you HAVE to have a long term approach. Because SEO results come over time. The ROI of SEO should be measured in years, not months, because long after I'm done working for a client they are still reaping the benefits of my work, compounding the ROI.
I offer discounts for 6-12 month commitments and find that this works, along with educating the client on why they need to give SEO a 6-12 month shot. It really boils down to educating the prospect or client. And the long term commitments are not just for my benefit. Clients need to commit to SEO and not get cold feet after 2-3 months and move on to a new SEO agency or give up all together. Doing this is sure way to ruin your business.
If you can't show some results in a few months there's something wrong with your strategy...
Pivot—they don't trust you yet, so you need to build their trust first.
Offer an initial "paid discovery" project, instead of pushing a long-term contract before they're ready to commit. They can see the quality of your strategy work, and you and they can decide if you want to continue to a strategy and implementation retainer.
With paid discovery, you'll get paid (good), and they get a concrete deliverable (also good). For SEO agencies, paid discovery typically involves doing an audit, but you could also outline an initial strategy for (for example) their most-lucrative artist.
Ultimately, you'll also learn what you're getting into before you commit, too—50,000+ pages is a lot to optimize.
And then improve your agency's own marketing (including positioning, testimonials, case studies, and other social proof). SEO clients are happier to sign long-term contracts when they already trust that your agency is the perfect match for them.
Want advice on that? I'm glad to do a Clarity call to help. Good luck!
People who can get results don't need contracts. Do you know who do contracts? People who can't generate results and have large overheads.
Big digital marketing companies with hundreds of clients struggle to get results because they got too many clients, especially in the same niche so they play a numbers game.
And their services end up becoming a sales game and their focus is generally on their big clients.
I do ZERO contracts. Clients pay you to make them MONEY. If you can't deliver then you can't ask them to continue to pay.
If you generate results for your clients they will continue to use your service with or without contracts.
So focus your efforts on making them money.