educate clients on local marketing

How to Educate Clients on What Matters Most In Local Marketing

Local clients want the most bang for their buck, but they don't have a plan. They don't know which local marketing tactics will produce the best results. That's where you come in. Read More...
Reading Time: 15 minutes

Updated: 7/9/2019 with a variety of client pain points, digital marketing agency service offerings, and more!

Is there a way to automatically focus your client's attention on the details that matter most in local search marketing? Where should their attention be focused? More importantly, how do you focus their attention?

Where do you start?

Should you focus your client's attention on local business listings, reviews, or leads? What about content, social media, and call tracking - how much attention do they dedicate there?

It's a tough question to answer.

When you can answer these difficult questions for your clients, you'll start to see a general uplift in client retention.

Improve client retention rates by directing client attention

Experts recommend a variety of different tactics.

"Focus on your local listings. No, no, no, you should be investing in Facebook Ads. If you're focused on content marketing and SEO, you'll have lots of free traffic."

The suggestions from the experts are typically very broad, incredibly vague, and focused on the wrong things. In fact, 9 times out of 10, the advice from these "experts" misses the mark. This leads to a tangent of unfocused ideas that suck up a client's time and budget, but fails to produce results.


Your clients are listening to the wrong people.

Follow the wrong advice and client retention rates suffer

There's a problem here.

What is bad advice? Where does bad advice come from?

A better question would be to ask where great advice comes from. The answer is simple and obvious. It comes from your client and their customers. This is the key to customer retention.

Does this mean they're experts?


It means your clients and their customers understand their pain points. Both of these groups have their own set of desires, goals, fears and frustrations. This is how you determine what matters most for your local marketing campaigns.

Does that work though?

Customers are often the least knowledgeable group you can draw data from. Why would asking them for advice work?

Your clients and their customers - they know what hurts. Speak to these pain points and you improve client retention rates automatically.

First, let's take a look at your clients

Your clients have pain points.

Their business has specific challenges that keep them from achieving the results they desperately need. Challenges your agency is uniquely equipped to handle.

  • They’re not generating the quality or quantity of leads they need
  • They aren’t closing the leads they have
  • Their margins are too small due to mistakes like discounts, logistics, special offers, etc.
  • They’re being undercut by competitors via price, service, quality or presentation
  • Maybe their advertising costs are too high
  • They’re attracting poor quality customers, which hurts retention rates in the long term

See what I mean?

They don't have to be experts on local search marketing to understand their problems. They just need to know/understand (a.) their pain points and (b.) that you have a solution to solve those pain points. This means you have an understanding of three types of pain points.

1. Pre-client pain points

2. Active client pain points

3. Post client pain points

Let's take a closer look at these.

1. Pre-client pain points

The agency/client relationship is just beginning. It's typically motivated by fear and frustration. A client comes to your agency in a panic. They're afraid and/or frustrated with the results (or lack thereof) of their campaign.

  • They’re hit with a flood of negative reviews and no crisis management plan in place
  • A stream of negative reviews means your client’s conversion rate is average to poor
  • Local sales and revenue is falling, but your client can’t seem to figure out why
  • Your client’s product or service is better, but their customers aren’t buying
  • Your client’s customer retention rate is poor and they can’t seem to hold on to the customers they have
  • The client’s per lead costs have spiked unexpectedly and continue to climb
  • Your client wants more/better reviews

At this point in the relationship, it's likely that clients haven't connected these problems to their reviews. Most clients do their best to fix the problem, but it's really more of the same. When they arrive at your agency it's because...

  • They’ve made the connection between these pain points and their review portfolio
  • You’ve made the connection for them, identifying the root cause of their pain points

If your client has already made the connection between their pain points and their online review portfolio, your work gets easier. You'll be able to jump right in and get to work.

2. Active client pain points

Clients have finally signed on the dotted line. It's now time to get to work. It's common for active clients in this stage to experience anxiety and loss. They're in the process of adjusting their desires, goals and expectations or they're dealing with fear, anxiety, and loss.

  • Results take longer (than expected) to achieve
  • Pre-client pain points may linger as the agency works to fix initial problems
  • Agency clients invest money but they’ll also need to invest their time, and resources (e.g. connections, access, etc.), helping to solve their pain points
  • The work is more involved/harder than expected
  • Clients will need training to integrate marketing, customer service, retention, and other departments into their local search and review management campaigns

How agencies handle these pre-client and active client pain points determine whether they'll retain clients in the long term. If these expectations are managed well, clients are far more likely to stay.

What if they're not?

What if agencies do their part but clients are unwilling to push through?

3. Post client pain points

It's unavoidable.

Your clients will, at some point in the future, leave you. These pain points aren't necessarily about a failure on your part. Sometimes it's simply about the inability to justify or quantify the results you've already achieved.

  • Clients didn’t see results from online review management (ORM)
  • Your client’s customer retention rates haven’t improved due to a problem on their end that you can’t control
  • Clients didn’t get what they wanted from their ORM campaigns
  • Agencies aren’t able to quantify the ROI of ORM
  • Clients don’t have an attribution model, so they can’t determine who gets credit for what

Here's the real problem.

Managing expectations. Clients arrive with fuzzy, implicit, and unrealistic expectations. As we've seen, they have specific pre-client problems that demand attention.

If you're an agency, it's important that you run the show.

Here's why.

Clients typically don't tell you about their fuzzy, implicit, and unrealistic expectations. They simply assume you already know about them. If you want to keep your clients, you'll need to flush these expectations out ahead of time.

  • Fuzzy expectations. “I don’t know what I want or expect but I want you to give it to me.” These are expectations your clients can’t explain to you but claim they’ll immediately recognize once “you’ve figured it out.”
  • Implicit expectations. The details your client believes to be “obvious” or “self-evident” when they’re anything but. It’s all the general, yet unspoken, assumptions a client makes when there’s familiarity with you.
  • Unrealistic expectations. The expectations you’re either unable or unwilling to meet for clients. Here’s the dangerous part about unrealistic expectations. They can also be fuzzy or precise, implicit or explicit.

These expectations create a significant amount of fallout. Want to avoid that with future clients?

Find them.

Identify the expectations you're dealing with specifically. They come from one of four places (1.) word-of-mouth (2.) past experiences (3.) marketing content and (4.) personal desires/needs.

Next, let's focus on your client's customers

Who are they?

This is the most important step in the process. Why? Your local search marketing is based on the desires, goals, fears and frustrations of your client's ideal customers. These are the customers who are both willing and able to buy.

This isn't everyone with money.

These are the people your clients want to retain as long term customers. These customers display the right behavior set and outcome markers. Your job as an agency or consultant is to learn everything you can about their customers. Then, once you have this data, work it into your campaigns.

This means you know...

1. Their customer's pain points (e.g. desires, goals, fears and frustrations).

2. Their demographics and psychographics.

3. Where to find customers who match the demographics and psychographics above.

4. You know what they read or watch, the brands they buy/follow, etc.

5. Their fears - in the form of risks, frustrations, problems, and objections.

6. What they want to see in reviews, testimonials and social proof.

7. Their buying process - their goals, what they want, what they look for, where they go to find answers, etc.

8. The authority figures they trust, follow or listen to.

9. The specific ways you need to present your product or service to attract and retain customers.

Are these details that important?


The success of your marketing campaigns depends on this first step. Get it wrong and your marketing campaigns fail to perform. If your agency works with small businesses (and medium-sized businesses) understand that they may not don't have this data.

Many don't.

Most of the time, your clients believe they already know the answers to these questions. A few of your clients are able to rattle off comprehensive details about their customers.

But, are they right?

Most of the time no. Their data falls apart under close scrutiny. It's common for your clients to rely exclusively on customer personas which are themselves based on a combination of assumptions, imaginary or non-existent data.

How do we know?

Research from CB Insights found that most small businesses failed due to "the lack of a market need for their product." This is the number one reason, cited by 42% of the startups in their study, for business failure.

Infographic showing the 20 most common reasons that startups fail

That's sobering and all, but I thought this was about local marketing. How does this apply to local businesses?

Local businesses are in the same boat. Most of your clients don't have a deep understanding of their customers. They don't know what their customers want, so they're likely to get everything else - market need for their product, pricing and even marketing - wrong.

What does this mean?

It means the answers they've rattled off about their customer's desires, goals, fears and frustrations aren't in-line with what customers actually want. A quick look at their customer retention rates, average order values and repeat sales will all but confirm this.

How do you get this data from your client's customers?

It's simple, you ask.

In an interview with Business Week, Steve Jobs made this statement.

"Some people say, 'Give the customers what they want.' But that's not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they're going to want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, 'If I'd asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, 'A faster horse!'"

People don't know what they want until you show it to them. That's why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page."

Here's the problem.

This statement is often misunderstood. Many people assumed this meant Jobs simply read the tea leaves and came up with a miraculous solution.

That's not what this means.

Here's what it means. You ask your client's customers about their desires, goals, fears and frustrations. But you rely on your experience and your client's experience, to create and implement a solution that solves their customer pain points.

See the difference?

When you learn more about your client's customers you have the data you need to:

  • Create a compelling value proposition that resonates with your client’s customers
  • Systematically increase ad/marketing/website conversion rates
  • Minimize your client’s ad spend
  • Use negative reviews to increase customer service, product/service, fulfillment, and logistics
  • Create a strategy to consistently attract, convert ,and retain more customers for your clients

Here's the tl;dr version.

Learn everything you can about your client's customers. Feed it back to them via your local search, review management, search and display marketing campaigns. Continue feeding it back to them and you'll increase retention rates.

It's fairly straightforward, right?

The bad news? Your clients may not listen to you

Sure, you know you're telling the truth, but they don't know that. You could be the helpful agency that's looking out for them or the greedy agency trying to pad your pockets.

The truth is that they need to listen to you.

The information you get from listening to their customers, that's the data they need to determine (with a reasonable degree of certainty) what matters most, in local marketing, for them. It's also how you improve customer retention rates which, if you haven't noticed, is how you retain your clients.

The vast majority of local marketing priorities can be broken down by:

1. Process, e.g. the research, analysis, development and promotion phases of a campaign. Each phase of the campaign gives you a clear indication of the resources and platforms you'll need to focus your attention on.

2. Purpose refers to the specific goals of a client's campaign.

Process is, for the most part, fairly straightforward. It's the systems and procedures you use in your agency to get the job done.

What about purpose?

Purpose is a bit more complicated. With local marketing, you may be focused on more than one goal (e.g. customer feedback, driving traffic, generating leads, etc.). It's important to focus your attention on the strategies and tactics that matter most.

Want to better understand your client's customers?

Looking to help customers find your clients?

  • Claim and complete the local listings on general and industry specific review sites. If you’re an attorney, that means you should be active on Avvo, your GMB listings should be complete, you’re active on Yelp, etc.
  • Purchase advertising on the local and social media platforms your customers are already using. If your customers are using Google Maps for generic searches, use Google AdWords to ensure your listing is always present.
  • Claim and complete your listings on search engines and social media profiles. Be consistent with your branding, content, image and tone.
  • Serve your customers anywhere. If they’re on LinkedIn, create strong profiles for the employees listed on your website and complete your company page. Begin engaging with prospects via LinkedIn groups, posts and more. If your customers are on forums, participate. If they consume content on YouTube or Vimeo, create content they’ll enjoy. Are they active in Facebook Groups? Join the discussion and share.

Looking to qualify potential leads for your client?

Working to educate, inform and attract incoming clients?

  • Use local-friendly platforms like Facebook Ads and Google AdWords to drive cold traffic to your content. Your content could be in the form of video (via YouTube), guest posts, reviews (e.g. 10,000 5-star reviews on Amazon), local events, news stories focused on offline activity, user generated content and more.
  • Combine your incentive, lead magnet or irresistible offer with a remarketing campaign to attract the target audience your clients want.
  • Use social media to distribute, syndicate and promote content. Drive cold traffic to content pieces, then provide visitors/prospects with a compelling lead magnet or offer to warm them up.
  • Use a remarketing + click-to-call campaign to convert warm leads to hot prospects, leading with another compelling offer (and a sense of urgency) to close the sale.

Engaging one-on-one with prospects?

Did you notice a theme?

There's a lot of overlap with these strategies and tactics. Reviews, for example, can be used to attract customer attention, convert customers on the fence, defuse objections and more.

Build this into your services.

If you're a digital (or full service) agency you'll want to show clients how each of your services impacts their bottom line. Let's look at a few services to get an idea of the financial impact.

Web design/development

Many, many agencies get this wrong. They treat website design/development as an art project. They bill clients a large amount of money to create brochureware which, as it turns out, is exactly what inexperienced clients want.

Because they don't know any better.

See your client's website, landing pages, micro sites and content for what they are. A chance to optimize customer thought sequences. If you've done the work above, you're fully aware of the things your client's customers think about and when.

Money drivers for this service:

  • Opt-ins via lead magnets, downloads, social media follows, etc.
  • Conversions via contact forms, purchases, reservations/bookings
  • Consumption via top-shelf content, in-depth information, consistent production

Bottom line impact:

Web design/development that's optimized around customer thought sequences...

  • Answer customer questions, objections, concerns before/as they’re asked
  • Reduce or increase website friction
  • Systematically increase your client’s conversion rates
  • Increase opt-ins when paired with consistent A/B and multivariate testing
  • A predictable flow of leads, customers and sales (for you and your client)

While most agencies push for large redesign projects, slow and steady conversion rate optimization is where the true value lies. With a CRO driven approach agencies are able to (a.) produce immediate value for clients (b.) provide consistent monthly income/revenue for themselves.

Email marketing

The same drivers that impact web design/development are at play here. Inexperienced agencies struggle to produce the response rates they need. Segmentation is key to email marketing success.

Money drivers for this service:

  • Segmentation: Subject lines have one job. Get readers to open the email. Headlines have one job, get readers to read the very next sentence, and so on.
  • Optimization: Each item should be optimized in a systematic fashion. Optimization protocols for subject lines. Protocols for content. Landing pages, offers, etc. Test and optimize each element separately and as a unit.
  • Focus: Email content is typically more successful when they’re focused on a single offer. Give readers one task or goal to focus on, one decision to make. Don’t force your links/offers to compete with each other. Focus their attention on one thing and one thing only.

Bottom line impact:

Focused email marketing campaigns that are segmented and optimized in a systematic fashion perform best.

  • Entice customers to sign up for/join multiple email lists to increase subscriber value and revenue. The more lists your clients join the more engaged they are and the less likely they are to unsubscribe.
  • Segment, optimize and focus to increase upsells, average order values, leads, revenue, and more.
  • Show your clients the value of presenting their customers with focused (irresistible) offers.
  • Use psychological triggers, a strong value proposition, social proof, and risk reversals to sweeten offers.
  • Work to warm up cold traffic. Present opt-in offers to warm traffic (making them hot). Present sales offers to hot traffic.

Follow these strategies to produce above average clicks, opens, and conversions for your agency clients. Work to provide their customers with value by following these simple guidelines. You can use your client's website + email marketing to 2x, 4x or 10x their revenue, on-demand.

Local search / listings management

Your clients have a lot on their plate. They're typically not as focused on their listings as they should be. This means their listings are far more likely to be inaccurate, outdated or conflicting.

Which produces revenue leakage.

Money drivers for this service:

For this service, you'll want to...

Bottom line impact:

Focusing on these money drivers enables agencies to...

  • Capture lost revenue due to broken links, 404 errors, incomplete or inaccurate citation data
  • Provides your clients with an accurate measurement of the impact local search has on their revenue
  • Provides agencies with the tools they need to verify/validate their performance with/to clients
  • Combine local search with content marketing campaigns to compound the value clients receive

Review management

Research shows reviews can increase conversion rates by a whopping 270%! Here's the problem. The vast majority of small to medium-sized businesses have a poor or top-heavy review portfolio. No reviews, a few reviews, or lots of reviews on a few platforms.

What does this mean?

The vast majority of small to medium-sized businesses need review management for a variety of reasons.

Money drivers for this service:

Bottom line impact:

  • A potential conversion increase of 270%
  • A decrease in ad/marketing costs
  • An increase in leads and sales
  • A dramatic increase in revenue and profit (depending on your margins)
  • A significant lift to all/each of your marketing campaigns
  • Protection against (negative) fake review attacks

With review management, your clients are able to compensate for weak offers, poor pricing, and other client deficiencies. Clients are stating, via reviews, that you're worth it. Review management buys you time, provides a strong marketing lift, and produces revenue.

A strong review portfolio also provides you with the protection you need to defend yourself against fake review attacks from competitors, trolls, and predatory customers.

Content marketing

Content marketing forms the basis of your marketing efforts. Samuel Scott states it best when he says, "All marketing is content marketing because all marketing uses content."

Which is precisely why I dislike the term "content marketing."

Content marketing is really just marketing. To quote Scott again...

"Marketing has always been the creation of a message, the insertion of that message into a piece of content and the transmission of that content over a channel to an audience in an effort to build brands, increase demand and move people down sales funnels."

Money drivers for this service:

  • Avoid what Dan Roam calls Blah Blah Blah
  • Use words simply, clearly and powerfully by combining them with visuals (the IKEA instruction manual model)
  • Create content that always speaks to and deeply resonates with your client’s audience
  • Create content that always produces value for your clients and their customers
  • Create content that’s appealing, exclusive, clear, and credible
  • Aggressively promote and share your content wherever your client’s audience is found

Bottom line impact:

What does this mean then?

It means "a rising tide lifts all boats." Your outstanding blog posts, advertising, video, search, display and publicity content impact the performance of your marketing across all channels. Creating laser focused, high-quality content in one channel boosts the performance of content in another channel.

This is why content is so powerful.

Here's why the bottom line impact matters so much. Your clients and their customers decide what's most important to them.

Your clients won't be able to get the results they're looking for unless they:

1. Understand their goals (e.g. lead gen, education, closing sales, etc.)

2. Understand their customers wants and needs (desires, goals, fears, frustrations, problems, objections, etc.)

Understanding is the key to a successful local marketing campaign. The more you and your clients know about their customers and their business, the easier it is to educate your clients on what truly matters in local marketing.

This is the secret to high client retention rates.

Your clients (a.) See that you care about their customers and their wants/needs. (b.) Your client's customers see that your client cares about their wants/needs. It's not so much a secret as it is an obvious truth.

Directing client attention is the key to client retention

Are your clients confused about local marketing? If so, it's a good indication that they're missing an important piece of the puzzle.

Most clients are confused.

They're not really sure where they should focus their attention. Your clients don't have to deal with confusion. With the right strategy and tactics, they'll know which parts of their local marketing campaign matters most.

Take the time to guide them.

Focus on your clients and their customers. Tie your education to their desires, goals, fears, frustrations and problems. Do this and you'll find your clients are fixated on the details that matter most in their local marketing campaigns.

About the Author

Andrew McDermott

Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin. He shows entrepreneurs how to attract and win new customers.