Rarely does anyone in landscaping look for offline marketing techniques online – so this piece begins with online marketing first. But remember, marketing works best when online and offline work cohesively, in unison. You can scroll on and read all the offline and generic marketing techniques relevant to landscaping business as well.
Before you start spending anything on advertisements online you must ensure your online business presence is in place. You need to have the following:
Every business, whether online or purely offline could do with a website. Invest well in your website as its your online base of operations. Have clear and consistent messaging across all your pages. Your products and services should be well described. You also have to design pages in a specific way and put relevant CTA’s but we’ll get to that later. For now, if you have a website you’re good, else consider getting a website professionally designed.
Consistent & Accurate Business Listings
Your business needs to have accurate and consistent business listings across the internet. Business listings on large sites such as Google, Yellowpages, Yelp, Whitepages, Hotfrog and more are a must; additionally, choosing relevant niche directories (specific to your business domain or area) and broad directories to boost your reach is advisable. Why, you ask? The benefit is three-fold:
- You get more exposure and reach from each directory.
- None of your customers ever reach the wrong office or call the wrong number.
- You get a backlink to your website from each directory increase your website’s profile and hence pushing up its search ranking.
You can either manually get your business listed on each website/directory or you can use a local marketing software to help you get listed consistently and accurately on all the directories in one shot. Using an automatic listings management system will give you additional benefits, such as:
- Changing your details anytime eg. working hours, sudden holidays.
- Managing all your listings in parallel, i.e. all changes will always be global and reflect on all the directories.
- Your reviews will be all collected in one place where you can respond from.
- You can track your ranking on google, bing and more.
Have you heard of the term content marketing? You’ll be hearing plenty of it in this article, if you haven’t already. Content marketing is essentially creating content around your domain and attracting readers and potential customers. To do so, you need somewhere to write and publish content i.e. *enters to wild applause* blog. You can use a free wordpress blog. It’s simple to set-up and your website developer should do it for you. Its best you use the same company or person for your entire website and blog.
Social Media Handles & Pages
Quintessentially important in 2017 is sharing everything you do, not-do and perhaps even think of. Individuals sharing everything from their first kiss to hospital visits seem quite counterintuitive to our mass privacy concerns but as a business, your privacy concerns are far and few in between – jump on the bandwagon and yap all day long on Twitter, share your photos on Instagram, build followers on your Facebook page and don’t forget Pinterest – it’s a hit with ladies (remember who’s the boss of every household). So now that you have the basics of your online presence covered, let’s really dig into it!
#1 Rise of the Reviews
Your business reviews are your single most important factor for credibility, quality and quality of service indicators. Word-of-mouth suggestions from yesteryear are now transformed into the ubiquitous review. Google Research has suggested that consumers now trust online reviews by strangers as much as word of mouth suggestions by friends and family. So, as a business owner, you need to get reviews for your business – most importantly on Google and then on Yelp, Yellowpages, Foursquare and other platforms. Businesses with better and more reviews rank higher on Google Search. To get more reviews the best thing you can do is ask for reviews, but don’t be pushy, be polite and forward – most customers already know of the reviewing power they wield. You can stick posters and stickers of relevant business directories where you want customers to review you, to go one up- you can send them review handouts (automatically generate review handouts for your business here).
#2 Responding to Reviews
Once you got the reviews coming in, you have different beast to tackle- responding to these reviews. Every review whether positive or negative should be responded to by a business- this shows professionalism and a high degree of involvement and dedication by the management. Customers love a dedicated team, some of your flaws even can be hidden behind great customer service and responsiveness. It’s easier said than done and responding to some of the damning reviews can be quite a challenge. To help you out we’ve created a set of review response templates that you can modify and use for free.
#3 Blog Posts
Now we are venturing into the realms of the much venerated content marketing. So, how does a blog post help you get business? It’s quite straightforward, really: With the advent of Google, every time we have a query or conundrum we put it forth to the all knowing force majeure. Google then feeds you with curated results from all over the internet. You read these results and gain understanding and perhaps even make a purchase decision. Pre-empting what your potential customers query is going to be and then creating great content around it so that google shows your blog post to the user is what modern day content marketing is all about. This content is no longer limited to written content but expands into video, images, infographics and more. Content marketing costs nothing but the time you put into creating your content and it creates long term assets that appreciate in value over time. For eg. if you are running a landscaping business that focuses on gardens then popular keywords can be – garden cleaning, garden design, garden cleanup, lawn mowing, lawn design and so on. Pick a topic such as “Top Garden Designs of 2017”, “Best Garden Landscaping in Delaware” and write detailed content utilizing your expertise. Remember to search your title on Google and ensure your article is better than the first few that show up on Google- a simple, no nonsense recipe to rank on Google. Put this content on your blog and share it via your social media, friends, family and wait. You’ll have to wait a while for written content on your website to start ranking organically, sometimes months for content to start showing results. It’s a long term play, there are other plays, read on.
#4 Before vs After Photos
Content isn’t limited to text; for landscaping businesses, one easy theme would be to build content with “before our work” and “after our work” photos placed side-by-side in one image. You could just share this on your blog but a better option would be to create one blog post and keep adding more photos to it. Write a little about what went in between the before and after, for the content. Now use these photos and text snippets and share them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Remember each of these social platform works differently but you can use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to publish to multiple social media sites at once. You can also use more sophisticated features such as scheduling and automatic posting.
#5 Timelapse of Landscaping Work
Landscaping is art, often misunderstood as just labor. Bring out the beauty in your work, a timelapse video of work from beginning to completion like this one here. Consider making a slightly shorter video as people have a small attention span online, and get to your end faster so that the viewer leaves with the final complete image. Also, note the good use of music in the video.
#6 Link Building
So we’ve covered photos, videos and text but perhaps the most challenging part of content marketing is finding people to link back to your content, not creating it. Since there’s no point in reinventing the wheel, we’re just going to redirect you to the best link building post in the world and you can take it from there. (Ahrefs also made a newbie friendly link building guide you can find here.)
#7 Pinterest Boards
Pinterest is the domain of the fairer and dare I say, the better sex. So if your landscaping business is domestically focussed then your target market resides here en masse. Pinterest allows you to create boards – so create boards around your main service offerings and then add photos under each relevant board, in an act that pinterest calls “pinning”. “Pin your interest”, yes, that’s the idea! You can drop links to your website and landing pages on each of these photos, be careful to send people to relevant pages- for eg. someone looking at images of fern planting should not land up on a weeding services page.
#8 The Forum Stalker
To build your business as an authoritative one online, you must join online forums in your niche, a couple we can point you out to are – Lawnsite ContractorTalk Garden.org LawnServiceForum Now, while you can hustle and find the odd job on these forums, your primary goal is quite different here. You want to establish brand value for yourself and your business. So go out there and answer everyone’s problems, give fair price indications, help customers from far away areas you could never actually hope to serve decide their best options. Over time as your reputation builds, people will come to you for advice and as your clout keeps growing- soon you’ll be getting requests for all kinds of work. This takes time and hard work but if your intention is to build a long term business, you might as well as get started now. Note: Use a constant unique handle, profile image across the websites so that people can recognize your brand everywhere.
#10 Social Shenanigans
Social media(typically facebook and twitter) offers you many avenues of creatively promoting your business such as: Contests – You can run contests such as best garden in *city*, ask people to submit pictures and provide some sort of makeover by your company as the prize. Content Sharing – You can share all the content created by you on your social media handles – you get free eyeballs on your content at no cost. Remember to make quality header images as these are most likely to entice your audience to click your link. Updates – You can share updates on your current works with images, videos and more. Your client is likely to(you gotta ensure they do) then share these to their social network, giving your business more reach. What you can do on social media is only limited by your creativity and ingenuity – here’s a bunch of social media content ideas to get the ball rolling.
#11 You’ve Got Mail!
Email marketing is still alive and kicking. It’s a simple and tedious task that leads to a steady trickle of potential customers. To start marketing through email, you need to first have a list of email IDs. Now there are two ways you can go about creating a list- .1 Buy the list from a seller: You will easily find sellers of email lists with a simple google search, try to get lists with area targeting your service area. 2. Organically build your list: You’ll have to slowly build your list by building subscribers via your website and other social pages, you can also add email ids of your previous customers on this list. You’re better off doing both at the moment but inorganically bought lists will give you a much lower rate of return and are generally frowned upon by the marketing community. Once you have your email list, you can use simple newsletter emailing tools such as Mailchimp & Aweber These will let you import your list and send them emails on a regular basis. A conversion of 3% on your email list can be considered as a good conversion rate.
#12 PPC – Pay Per Click Advertising
Remember we talked about content marketing being the long term play. Well, here we are at our smoking gun, the one that scalps leads from day 1. It does come at a cost though, depending on the competition for landscaping keywords in your area, you’ll have to shell out $$$ for every customer who lands on your page by clicking an ad. Hence the term Pay Per Click(PPC). Google and facebook provide different kinds of PPC opportunities – while google delivers your ads to anyone who searches for keywords relevant to your business( you have to find and add these keywords), facebook lets you target people based on their interests, geography and so on- when these people open up facebook, they see your ads in their feed. PPC is quite a tricky play and our suggestion would be to use a professional to do this or completely absorb these guides before spending too much money in PPC: Noob Friendly PPC Guide by Unbounce PPCHero’s Guide on PPC In-depth PPC Guide by Wordstream
Akin to the online toolset, you need to have your marketing materials ready before you go out there
- Pricing Documents
- Visiting Cards
#1 Yard Signs
This is perhaps something you’ve already implemented, but just for the benefit of making the guide as complete as possible for all readers – remember to leave yard signs on places where you’ve done the landscaping work. Most individuals will allow you to leave a sign on the yard if you do the work well, you can even negotiate a small discount in lieu of leaving a sign with your contact details on their yard/garden/porch.
#2 Van Detailing
Your employee vans are always going around town carrying your brand name on it. You want to associate quality and professionalism with your brand. Get the van detailed well with your logo, contact details all in large bold legible letters. Consider adding quirky one liners to hook potential customers as well.
#3 Employee – Hiring Offers
How would hiring employees gain you customers, you wonder. The idea is to get eyeballs – online and offline – so there are only so many forums where you can share your business for no reason. However, you have several other places where you can advertise that you’re on the lookout for new employees. These ads are free and get eyeballs on your business and brand – a hiring brand is a brand in vogue. Yes, you may have to deal with several job applicants but whether you hire the person or not, you have one more person who is now well aware of your service and offerings. This person may share your details with more potential customers as well, so that’s yet another plus.
#4 Scout the Competition
The best businesses are always abreast of their competition’s moves, look at Pepsi and Coke, for instance. They are billion dollar businesses but they still battle it out like schoolyard children. As a landscaping business, your competition is high and you need to be constantly looking over your shoulder. If your competition makes a move that’s working for them, then you need to be ready to jump on the bandwagon as well. Today’s world is one that’s built on information, but do you have all the necessary information on your competition? Who are they selling to? What are their marketing strategies? Which customers of theirs seem like they can convert to yours? And so on.
#5 Use Eco-Friendly Products
Beside the obvious environmental benefit of using all eco friendly products, is the side benefit of promotions. The “Eco Friendly” badge is one worn and adorned by several brands worldwide. Slip it on to your arsenal as well, and you’ll be able to see quite a few smiles on the more environment conscious clients of yours.
#6 Bulletin & Notice Boards
Company bulletin boards, school notice boards, community center notice boards – wherever you can find a spot – stick a flyer. Get the word around – you don’t necessarily have to do it yourself either, get a bunch of kids to do it for you for some pocket money.
#7 Promote your tools
Again, this is something you can do both online and offline during sales pitches, promotional pitches and such. Talk about the technical details of the tools you use and how these can help the user and get their job done better. More often than not, individuals will not comprehend the technical side of the tools; but humans are trained to respect someone who seems to know more than they do about a particular subject – so when you give them details they cannot comprehend, customers will have to either give you the work or take the heartache of figuring it all out by themselves. here will always be the oddball who does everything by themselves but 9 out of 10 will both be awed and impressed into giving you more business.
#8 Cross Domain Marketing (i.e. make friends with other business people)
In business, you can’t get far without partnerships and connections. Perhaps you already do this but if you aren’t it’s about time you joined the local chapter to business communities in your area. You can meet other businessmen/businesswomen who are both potential customers and evangelists. Since every business owner will have several clients, there’s a high likelihood that their clientele would want your service as well. But remember this works only if you share your clientele and create business opportunities for other members in your group.
#9 Complimentary Businesses
Some businesses are complementary to landscaping – eg. snow cleaning, gardening, carpentry, masonry. Forge partnerships with such businesses- you can both give referrals to each others clientele. It’s a win-win for both businesses.
#10 Local Events
Local events such as school events, sports events, local trade shows and more are great opportunities for promotion. You can either sponsor these events or if you cannot budget in sponsoring events – you could just volunteer, help in some way, talk about in your blog posts, your social media. Use the right hashtags(on twitter of course) to get immediately connected to everyone who’s following the event. Sponsoring though gives you more leverage and opportunity to generate business and get eyeballs on your brand.
#11 Newspaper Ads, TV Ads & Flyer Distribution
These are quite self explanatory. All of these methods have been employed by businesses from eons- -Select weekend for newspaper ads, your audience will be more receptive -Show TV ads on local channels, prices should be feasible. There’s no point in spending more on advertising than you could hope to get in return. Flyers are a excellent and cheap way to promote your business.