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Archive for the ‘Lawn Care and Landscape Marketing’ Category

Hi Everyone:

I moved to http://www.landscapewriter.com. So, if you like to keep reading how to use content marketing in your lawn care, landscape, or outdoor living business, please visit me.

And you can email me at wendy@landscapewriter.com with any questions that you may have.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog!

Best,
Wendy Komancheck

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Happy June! The kids are almost out of school and it seems that everyone in the lawn care/landscape industries are busy back at work making residential and commercial properties look beautiful this season.
There are three common questions that I hear from lawn care and landscape prospects before they decide to commit to a blogging regimen. And even though these questions are asked differently, they boil down to these three:
1. Can I trust you (Wendy) to deliver on your promises?
2. How do you know that this will work?
3. And what will you be writing about?
There are many other kinds of questions that pop up when a prospect and I are getting to know each other. But the above three are the most fundamental to many businesses before they decide that they want a blog on their website, let alone hire out to a complete stranger to get the job done right, the first time.
So here are my answers:
1. Yes, you can trust me. But I’m happy to work with you so you can discover how my writing services help your return on investment. I know that there are a lot of charlatans out there who claim that they’ll write you a wonderful blog, full of great keywords, and other SEO jargon. You pay them and later find out that you have to rewrite everything because the blogger didn’t know a grub from a bean.

Also, there are a lot of outlets where you can pick your writers for a very low fee. Yet, you get what you paid for. Even though it’s great that you’re paying $2.00 for that lawn care blog, don’t expect a lot of detail from someone who isn’t familiar with American lawn care and landscape methods—especially if they’re from third world nations.

2. Social marketing is here to stay—whether you’re on board the social media train or not. Other lawn care and landscape businesses are adding blogs, e-newsletters, Facebook pages, and video to their marketing plans. And while I can’t guarantee you certain results, I can tell you that, so far, my clients are happy with me.
Also, you should be getting feedback on how well your blog and overall website are doing. You can find out by asking your web developer or Internet marketing agency to run an audit on your blog. What keywords pop up? How much traffic is coming to your website? What blogs most resonate with your readers? And … most importantly, are you converting prospects into paying customers?

3. You’re in total control of what is posted on your blog. I offer free consultation on ideas and direction, but I won’t write a word until you okay the topic idea (and you have the final say before the post is put on your website). This is your blog. I’m just the person writing the words for you.
For many of you, blogging and social media are new concepts. And you’re busy. But it’s worth your while to find a blogger or content writer who understands your business needs and can deliver what she promises.
What questions would you like to ask me about blogging, web content, SEO and the like? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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Then read my latest blog post for TURF magazine.

Here are the first two paragraphs just for you:

Do you believe that a blog can help your bottom line? 

For the past month, I’ve been blogging on my site about how lawn care and landscape companies need to find solid Internet marketing agencies to help them with their digital marketing. For the series, I interviewed Steve Wolgemuth, CEO of YDOP (www.ydop.com), in Lancaster, Pa., who’s an SEO expert. And I learned more about how blogging and other forms of social media are essential for today’s landscape and lawn care business owners.

You can read the rest of the blog at http://www.turfmagazine.com/blog-7177.aspx.

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How do you know if you picked the right or wrong SEO (Search Engine Optimization) company? Remember from earlier posts to this series (I changed it from eight to four posts) that we talked about what to look for in a reputable SEO company: localization which will represent the counties and regions that your lawn care or landscape business serve; adding a blog to your garden center or irrigation website to draw in new prospects; and the five things you should be looking for in a reputable internet marketing company.

Now, we’re going to wrap up this series by talking about the five things that some SEO companies employ which should trigger warning bells in your mind:

  1. They use spam or telemarketing. Yikes! Cold calling and spam email are disruptive and annoying. A reputable SEO company will allow you to find them. “Internet marketing is one of those industries that is doing very well even in our recent, tough economy,” noted Steve Wolgemuth, YDOP CEO and an expert in SEO. “If a company has to resort to cold calling that might be a warning sign. You probably hate spam and being cold-called as much as the next person. If a company is callous enough to still use this type of solicitation that should tell you something about the company’s culture. Run.”
  2. They won’t take your calls. Grab a ticket. Literally. Have you ever called only to be put on hold as the fifth caller? And the company believes it’s being “considerate” because you can leave a message for them—which they may return in a few days. “Ticketing systems contribute to geek utopia and make perfect sense to the employees. But you’ll probably need a real person on the phone at some point, and you better be able to get it. By the way—don’t call every week,” Wolgemuth advises.
  3. They guarantee results. “We promise you first line and page one on Google,” an SEO firm promises. Wolgemuth points out that, according to Google, those types of promises can’t be made: “That either means they plan on running AdWords and buying you page placement, or they plan on optimizing you for keyword searches that are easy to earn, but never are used by searchers, such as ‘Internet Marketing Company in Lancaster named YDOP.’ Google warns against using companies that make guarantees. Don’t hire anyone who does this.”
  4. They don’t have an outlined plan. It’s the first day of your service. Do you know what your SEO firm’s plan of action is? Some companies don’t have a solid plan to help you with your SEO needs. “There is no excuse for ambiguity. A good Internet marketing company has a detailed tactical agenda that they can show you before you sign off and write the first check.”
  5. They don’t have in-house expertise. “Many web shops feel as though they need to offer SEO services, but are having trouble delivering the service, so they outsource this work, often to inexpensive, shady vendors in Third World countries. With Google’s recent algorithm changes, you risk a ranking penalty if an SEO company tries to use short-term ranking strategies. Make sure you hire a company that does white hat SEO work and they do it in-house. Make sure you can actually talk to the people that will be working on your SEO before you sign the contract,” says Wolgemuth.

If you’re seeing any of these five red flags popping up as the sales person continues to talk, turn and run away. Digital marketing is too important to let some shysters pocket your money without providing you the return that you expect.

Has this four-part series helped you get a better grasp on your green business’s digital marketing needs, as well as the professionals who can help you solve them? Please share your comments below.

 

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5 Reasons Why I Recommend Near-User Marketing®

Have you digitally localized your online business? This question is the second most fundamental question that you need to ask yourself after you’ve decided to forge ahead with digital marketing.

Most people would agree that localization is important and it should be obvious to any business owner venturing into digital marketing. Yet, I’ve found that a lot of my clients don’t realize the importance of elevating their platform to include their region, counties, and even states where they do business. And some of them are paying a lot of money for content that’s being recycled to other lawn and landscape companies in their region.

There are many Internet marketing consultants and agencies who know how to effectively localize your lawn care or landscape business. But I personally favor Near-User Marketing®. I’m not trying to sell you a product or service with this blog series. Instead, I want to introduce you to a method that I love because it’ll get Google’s attention, and hopefully, help you move your lawn care or landscape business up through Google’s rankings to convert your prospects into paying customers. Near-User Marketing® is a tool, and here are five reasons why I believe your lawn care or landscape business needs it:

1. It gives your website special consideration on Google: Near-User Marketing® is more specialized than regular SEO. According to Steve Wolgemuth, CEO of YDOP (http://www.ydop.com/), “Near-User Marketing® recognizes the opportunity to intercept with nearby web searchers on Google’s local search engine results.”

2. It gives you an opportunity to deeply engage your fans, followers, peeps, and readers. You can put a call to action at the end of one of your social media posts, such as “Download this coupon for 10% off your next mow,” or “Use this code when you buy this garden product from our website.” You’re letting your audience connect with you on social media and getting them closer to committing to becoming a regular customer.

3. It allows locals to find you. For the past several months, I’ve been preaching that the traditional Yellow Pages ad is dead. Instead, Google and other search engines have taken its place. “Today, about 1/3 of all searches done online have a local intent. That means the searcher is looking for a product, service, or place within traveling distance to them,” Wolgemuth says.

4. It allows you to have a strong online presence in your local area. This not only helps you to be found,” Wolgemuth states. “But increases the chance that they’ll click through to your website, and that they’ll trust that you’re the business to call.”He also points out that there are several things that the garden, lawn care, landscape, hardscape, and casual living businesses have in common:

  • Mailers, print ads, radio, billboards, and newspaper ads aren’t as effective as they once were, and you’re probably realizing that you need to shift your perspective when it comes to your business’s digital marketing goals
  • Your prospective customers—especially Millennials and GenXers—don’t use the Yellow Pages anymore. You may not like how pre-occupied your youngest prospects are with their iPads, iPhones, etc. But the reality is that this is the medium that you need to harness for them to find you. And you’re behind the times if you’re unwilling to invest in getting your business online. No matter what your opinion is about Facebook or Instagram, they’re effective outlets to targeting your audience.
  • Everyone seems to give you a different spin on Internet marketing. You need to be wise when it comes to hiring an Internet marketing consultant or agency, as well as web developers and content creationists, like writers and videographers. I’ve heard that some lawn care and landscape businesses are spending too much money on digital marketing only to find that their service provider doesn’t deliver on the goods or doesn’t know anything about strategic localization.
  • “Strong advice: Focus on ‘owning’ your local presence online, including a strong search presence, a great, local website that converts, a great mobile strategy, and a review/reputation management plan,” Wolgemuth says.

5. It’s a program that may help you with your localization efforts: Near-User Marketing® uses all of the digital marketing tools available to get your business put on Google’s map—both figuratively and literally—such as SEO, local search optimization, social media marketing, content marketing, online branding, etc. Yet, it uses different strategies and approaches to get your website online and noticed by the people in your region.

Look, this information isn’t meant to sell a product or service to you. I hope that it helps you make a more educated decision before you’re “wowed” by a slick salesperson at the next green trade show you attend. If anyone promises you that if you pay for their services, they can guarantee that your website will land on Google’s first page, run the other way. There are content marketers out there who will charge you an exorbitant fee only to not deliver on their promises.

How are you using digital marketing and localization to garner more prospects?

 

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English: The family garden at RHS Wisley

English: The family garden at RHS Wisley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This seems like one of my more popular blog posts, so I’d thought that I share it with all of you again:

If you’re in the landscape, lawn care, or garden center industries, you’re still busy with your clients’ projects. However, for some of you, business may be slowing down.

And you can use that extra time to think about how you’re going to market your business in 2014, beyond door hangers and brochures. One of your marketing goals in 2014 should focus on beefing up your web presence.

The first step to improving your online presence in 2014 includes updating your website by making it more appealing to your prospects. In May 2013, I wrote an article for TURF magazine called, “Power Up Your Sales with USP,” http://www.turfmagazine.com/article-9500.aspx. For the article, I interviewed three marketing professionals who work in the green industry, and they shared a lot of good information that all lawn care, landscape, and garden center businesses should know.

For example, do you know that it’s better for your portfolio to have pictures of your satisfied customers enjoying their landscapes and lawns instead of the standard pictures of different projects? One marketing professional also stated that it’s better to have real people, your clients, in the photos rather than hiring models to pose in your finished projects. Of course, if you use pictures of your clients enjoying their properties because of your work, make sure that you get your clients’ permission first to use those photos (don’t forget to first ask your clients if you can use pictures with them in it).

Here are some other ideas for beefing up your online presence in 2014:

1. Consider starting a blog. Ask your website designer for a copywriter who can help you maintain your blog posts.

2. On your blog, remember to add information that will benefit your readers. Your clients and customers subscribe to the acronym: WII4M: “What’s in it for me?” So, make sure that your content focuses on them. You can ask your copywriter to put a call to action at the end of your blog post to encourage prospects to call you for business.

3. Use Linked In to learn and connect. Get involved with other folks in your industry on Linked In, such as Green Industry Pros, Green Mark Landscape, Landscape Contractors, Lawn and Landscape, LI Lawn and Tree, and PLANET (Professional Landcare Network). Learn more about your industry and become an expert in it.

4. Get involved with your local Linked In groups, too. For example, in my area, I belong to groups like Linked In Lancaster and Reading/Berks Professionals.

5. Don’t forget to have a Facebook business page. Setting up a business FB page is pretty simple. And you can invite your friends to ‘like’ your page. Facebook has a different audience than Linked In–it’s more laid back and personable. You can add contests and upload coupons to your FB page that will draw in clients.

There’s a lot that you can do online that will draw others to you. And if you’re not comfortable with social media, find someone in your company that can keep it clean and professional, but will also update it regularly. Finally, being active online is almost akin to going full circle in today’s marketing climate. For example, don’t forget to put those digital buttons on your webpage so people can follow you, and add your website link to all of your social media outlets, so they can check out your website. Just like one big circle.

What other ideas have you used to beef up your online presence?

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Happy New Year! This is my second attempt at being a transparent writer. Here are five FAQs that green businesses ask me about content writing:

Question: How do I find a writer who understands my industry and my locale?

Answer: I used to get this question a lot. It’s not easy finding a content writer who specializes in the green industry. But we’re out there. You can find green content writers on Linked In’s many green business groups: World of Landscape, World of Hardscape, PLANET, GreenMark, etc.). Of course, Google, Bing, and Yahoo are great places to search using terms like “landscape writer,” “lawn care writer,” “hardscape writer,” or “garden writer.” You can also find writers through the Garden Writers Association (www.gardenwriters.org) or through the Turf and Ornamental Communicators Association (www.toca.org).

Question: Why should I have a regular blog, e-newsletter, or a podcast? If I put too much information out there, my prospects will end up doing their own land care and won’t need to hire my company.

Answer: Those are valid concerns, and I’m sure that there may be some folks who’ll regularly read your wisdom for their personal gain. However, here are four counter-arguments to your concern:

  • There’s a plethora of information out there for people glean from. The purpose of your blog is to get your business on the virtual map and establish yourself as a trustworthy lawn care or landscape professional in your region. Think of it this way: Your competitors, who regularly use social media and regularly update their web content, are more of a “threat” to your business’s success than the guy, two towns over, who reads your blog to help him build a deck or fertilize his lawn.
  • In addition to the above, remember that the DIYer may have a neighbor, an adult child, or an elderly relative who could use your services, and he may provide a referral for you.
  • By regularly blogging and updating your web content, you can establish yourself as a localized business and put yourself on Google’s map. You also can address lawn care or landscape issues that directly affect your region’s property owners.
  • Finally, and probably most importantly, you blog can be used to help your clients maintain their properties in-between service appointments. You’ll enable your clients to take an active role in maintaining their lawns, as well as develop credibility for your business.

Question: Why do I need to update my web content or regularly post updates to my blog when I’m happy with what’s already on there?

Answer: Fresh and updated content helps your Google ranking, as well as continues to bring prospects to your door. Besides, would you trust someone whose website information was two years old? Some of you may say, “Yes, I’d trust them.” Yet, you need to think about your customers and the verdict is that they won’t trust old, outdated information.

Question: What topics should I cover on my blog?

Answer: The topics that matter most to your clients and prospects. You can ask your sales team what they see as your clients’ needs. You can also analyze which programs and products are popular with your clientele. Think about your region and its particular needs, such as xeriscaping and irrigation during the summer. These ideas can get you started, and once you have a following, you can ask your readers what they’d like to read about on your blogs.

Question: How much do writers typically charge for writing web content?

Answer: Writer rates vary. Some writers like to be paid hourly or on a quarterly basis. Plus, writers base their rates on projects. You may be able to get a deal if you’re willing to commit to your writer for six months to a year versus hiring them on a piece-meal basis. Also, don’t be afraid to shop around and interview a couple of writers. See how much they know about your niche, read some of their samples, and compare and contrast their fee schedules.

What questions do you have about hiring a writer to keep your web content fresh and relevant? Drop me an email at wendy@landscapewriter.com.

 

 

 

 

 

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