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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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For the past few weeks, I’ve been talking a lot about the importance of finding a solid, reputable Internet company to help you get your website up and running–as well as reaching your ideal clients. I’ve interviewed Steve Wolgemuth of YDOP about his perspective on web shops to trust.

Now, it’s your turn. Tell me what you think and respond to my poll:

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I know that you, in the garden, hardscape, lawn care, and landscape businesses are really busy right now. But if you have time, I’d love to hear your feedback. Please share any additional comments you may have in the comments section below.

Meanwhile, I’m working on a new series of blogs focusing on the FAQs that lawn care, landscape and other green businesses ask me when they call or email me about blog, e-newsletter, or web content writing.

Until then…enjoy the outdoors and your business!

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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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For the past 15 months, I’ve been writing blogs and web content for various clients in the casual living, lawn care, and landscape design-build industries. It’s fun getting to know my clients and helping them with their online content—especially when they see their return on investment with their websites’ improved Google rankings.
But one thing I started noticing about my clients was their need for an overall digital marketing plan. And since Internet marketing is still young, it’s hard to find the right company to do all you need it to do for your marketing dollars.
In the fall of 2013, I began to looking into HubSpot and other software programs to see if I should be certified to use them in order to help my clients’ with their Google analytics—especially after I noticed that the green industry was very underserved in this area. After getting some great advice, I decided that HubSpot was not where I needed to focus. Instead, I needed to get to know an Internet Marketing Agency that I’d feel comfortable introducing my clients to for their various online needs.
To make a long story short, I finally had the opportunity to meet Steve Wolgemuth. Actually, I interviewed Steve about seven or eight years ago for Lancaster (Pa.) Business Monday about his horse farm. At that time, his Internet Company, YDOP, was newly born. Today, YDOP (http://www.ydop.com/), in Lancaster, Pa., is a successful Internet Marketing Agency that coined (and trademarked the term, “Near User Marketing®.”
I only specialize in one piece of the web content pie: I write blogs, e-newsletter articles, website content, as well as a bunch of other written communications for green businesses. However, when it comes to content marketing, there is so much that you can do from podcasts, to videos, to Google ads, etc. I only touch the surface and I know that you need someone that can address all of your digital marketing needs.
That’s why I’m dedicating the next seven blog posts to Near User Marketing® and YDOP to help you see the big picture and how your business can benefit from it.
Your turn: Have you ever hired an Internet Marketing Agency to help you with your online presence?

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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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English: DJS Lawn & Landscape Ford F-250 XL pi...

English: DJS Lawn & Landscape Ford F-250 XL pickup truck with lawn care equipment (riding mowers) on a trailer bed parked at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Durham, North Carolina. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three things to expect when you hire a writer

Okay, so you decided to hire a writer to blog about you, your work, and your landscape and lawn care services. You’ve learned that hiring a marketing writer doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Smooth sailing, right?

Well, don’t think that you’ve washed your hands from the project. You’re still the boss and you need to provide some direction to your marketing team, which includes that writer you recently hired.

Here are three things to expect from your freelance writer when she writes blog posts for you:

1. Introductory questions: Most market-savvy writers will know to ask you specific questions about your blog goals. But if you hire a newbie writer, she may not know what questions she should be asking you:

Who is your ideal client?

What type of people do you serve (upper class, upper middle class, commercial, or just residential)

What climate and growing zone do your clients live in?

What’s your business’s cycle? For example, if I have a client in a temperate zone, say in Florida, then I need to know what their growing cycle is like since I’m from Pennsylvania.

What does your business do: hardscaping, landscaping, lawn care, or a combination of all three?

What makes your business stand out from the crowd?

How often do you want to publish your blog–once a month, biweekly, or weekly?

How often do you want to pay your writer? After each blog post, once a month, or on a quarterly basis?

And do you want Q&A- (Question and Answer), how to-, or informational blogs? Or a mixture of all three?

2. The editorial calendar: You’re probably thinking, the editorial what? But the editorial calendar is essential for a streamlined relationship with your writer. And an editorial calendar doesn’t have to be formal. I have clients who want me to focus on a theme, like lawn diseases, for a couple of months and others who’ll give me general topics to focus on for one month. I’ll do some added research, if needed, and then, write the blog.

3. Your feedback: It’s imperative that you look at the blog draft before it goes online. You should also feel that your copywriter is approachable to fixing any mistakes–including the grammatical and spelling ones. And a copywriter shouldn’t charge you for revisions–at least not for the first two revisions. After more than two revisions, you and your writer may need to work out communication kinks or decide to part ways.

Look, I know writing can be intimidating. Yet, you can feel comfortable that there are competent writers out there–including ones who specialize in the lawn care/landscape industries–who’ll write blogs for you at a reasonable rate.

Do you want to post a regular blog for your clients and prospects? Then call me at 717-405-9873 (EST) or email me at wendykomancheck@gmail.com to collaborate on your landscape or lawn care blog.

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