Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘lawn care’

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.

 

Read Full Post »

I’ve been talking a lot about the importance of investing your marketing dollars toward more digital outlets, as well as focusing on localizing your green business (lawn care, landscape, hardscape, outdoor living, and irrigation) on the Internet.

Now, it’s time to investigate what you need to consider before you sign on the dotted line. Here are five tips to keep in mind before you commit to a particular digital marketing company or consultant because they’re NOT all the same:

  1. Check to see if the intended company’s client base is similar to yours. Granted, you probably won’t find a company solely dedicated to the green industry. Yet, they should do at least 50 percent of their business in local search optimization—the kind of SEO you need to invest in to reach your targeted audience.
  2. Know who’ll be handling your website content. You need to ask your potential vendors if they outsource their work, and if so, to whom? I’ve worked for agencies as well as directly with landscape design-build and lawn care companies. If your intended company hires out, do they put jobs on bid sites where writers and others bid for jobs? (The lowest bidder usually gets the gig. But can they do the work?)? Additionally, some companies outsource to developing countries (where English is a second or third language). Again, cheap labor that probably doesn’t understand your ideal clients, your region, or even what you do.
  3. Make sure that you own all of the creative content on your website. Some companies will own your work even if you decide to change vendors. So if you like your website design or writer, too bad, you can’t take that stuff with you. Double check the web shop’s “Offer of Services Agreement,” to make sure that you own the website property and can take it with you if you decide to change web vendors.
  4. Make sure that you can go into the website to add or change content. Steve Wolgemuth of YDOP (www.ydop.com) recommends WordPress because it’s user-friendly and you can easily take your WordPress content with you.
  5. Don’t believe the page one Google guarantee. I confess that I’ve made this mistake with clients when I was first starting out. But no one, I repeat, no one can guarantee you where you’ll rank on Google. You can only use the recommended tools to beat out your competition when it comes to Google placement. But Google’s algorithms have the last say where you’ll be placed—no matter how good the SEO.

I love what Steve advises: “Don’t ask for guarantees as this isn’t possible. After all, it’s a race against other competitors who may be investing heavily to outrank you. Do ask the company’s sense of what you might expect and when. Ask for stories of comparable work they’ve done and what outcomes they ran into. Find out how often you’ll receive reports and what will be measured.”

Hopefully, these five tips will help you as you decide who to hire for your digital marketing needs.

If you’ve hired an internet marketing company or consultant, how successful was your website? Did you get more prospects coming to your virtual door? Tell me your story.

 

Read Full Post »

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?

 

Read Full Post »

 

 

This is the final installment of the three part series where I make an attempt at being transparent. I actually wanted to have this blog written a few weeks ago, but I’ve been busy with client work. Yay!

In this part, I’m going to talk about the three ingredients to my secret sauce. In other words, why should a lawn care, landscape, garden center, or hardscape company hire me to write their web content and blogs?

Well, here are my answers—and it’s not just the great customer service or my prices either that make me stand out compared to my very capable and talented competitors:

  1. I’m a content specialist. I specifically target lawn care, landscape, garden, and outdoor living industries as my niches. Why? Because it’s an area I know much better than any other niche, save farming. For the past 10 years, I’ve written for many of Moose River Media’s (www.mooserivermedia.com) trade magazines. I started writing for Farming: Journal of Northeast Ag and for Growing. Then, I started writing about golf courses for Superintendent and lawn care company profiles for TURF.

 

In the beginning, I was a lousy writer. But my first editor there, Bob Montgomery, had immense grace and patience by allowing me to grow as a business writer.

 

  1. I’m intense about helping small to medium-size businesses grow. I grew up in a small business and come from a long lineage of Mom and Pop small business owners. So, I was instilled with an innate knowledge about how to run a business including good marketing and people skills.

 

  1. Finally, I’m passionate about writing. I admit it, I’m a word nerd. I constantly read up on how to write better web content so I can apply those new skills to you, my client.

 

In the end, I pair my two loves, add my established lawn care, landscape, and garden knowledge, and voila, I’m a content writer for you in the lawn care, landscape, and outdoor living business world.

What do you think? Do you see a growing need within the green business industry for more content writers and producers? Share your thoughts in the comment section below or email me at wendy@landscapewriter.com.

Read Full Post »

Lawn

Lawn (Photo credit: Moyan_Brenn)

What makes you stand out from the landscape/lawn care crowd? Please don’t say, “Great customer service.”

Everyone says that.

No, what makes you different from the other lawn care and landscape businesses that you compete with?

That’s the question that you need to answer.

Here are some ideas:

1. You carry a certain brand of organic fertilizer because you use it on your lawn and like the results. Thereby, you stand by a particular brand

2. You take Saturday appointments

3. You have a loyalty program

4. You specialize in HOAs, property management, tree work, or senior citizen lawn care packages

5. You have certified tree technicians on your staff who won’t top trees, but prune them for health and beauty.

Specializing may help you stand out from the crowd. Focus on an area that you’re good at or have an interest in. Learn more about it and promote it as your specialty. You might see an upsurge in interested clients.

How do you stand out from the crowd? Do you specialize in a lawn care or landscape niche? Tell us about it.

Read Full Post »

It’s late Friday afternoon and Hurricane Andrea is barreling up the East Coast. It’s been a rainy, soggy day. Yet, there is some hope that the sun will push its way through the rain clouds tomorrow.

But for now, I’m stumped. And so I ask a question of my readers:

What do you want to read about in a blog focused on marketing and the landscape/lawn care industry?

If you have a small to medium landscape/lawn care business with a small office staff, what are you hoping to learn on this page?

I don’t want to be presumptuous to write about any old marketing topic. I want to write about an issue that will help you move forward with your business during the hectic days of summer.

So, what burning marketing question do you have? Please write it in the comments area. I will do my best to answer you. And like a wise professor told me in college, “If I don’t know the answer, I’ll find it for you.”

Read Full Post »

What’s the first thing that a person will see when they land on your home page? Is it you just talking about how great your company is?

How much time did you spend on the “About Us” page versus how much time did you spend on getting testimonials from satisfied customers?

What or who do you focus on when you’re writing your blog? Your prose or your client’s current, seasonal turf questions?

Hopefully, you spend more time solving your potential clients’ turf problems and posting testimonials that back up your service claims rather than just tooting your own horn. When someone does a Google search for lawn care or landscape services, they expect that your website will tell them how you will help them with weed control, bare patches on their lawns, or how much your mowing services cost. And customers appreciate when regional lawn service and landscape companies answer the land care FAQ’s of their region.

Unfortunately, most lawn care and landscape websites that I’ve visited over the years are very basic. Most of them include portfolios showcasing their work, a long or short “About Us” page telling me when and where they started. Yet, there’s not a lot of information connecting me to them. They don’t connect with me because they’re not addressing my basic lawn care frustrations. And, that’s not good marketing.

Instead, when I land on your website, I should see a picture of you and read how you can solve my most pressing grass and landscape problems, whether that means that you entice me to join your mowing loyalty club or that you specialize in disease-resistant plants.

To solve this dilemma, remember to employ the “What’s in It for Me?” rule. Your customers are coming to your blog and website to learn something, to check out what services you offer, etc. They may check out the “About Us” page after they read your blog, but they’ll see your homepage and blog first, so think about what you can do for them when they “step into” your site.

Look at it this way, when you walk into a restaurant, the hostess doesn’t come up to you and tell you about the restaurant’s history, or who works there, or why they’re the best. She simply smiles and asks, “How many are in your party?”

So, keep your ideal clients in the forefront of your mind when you’re writing your blog or putting up website content. Think about their needs and wants. Think about the client who has kids and doesn’t want a lot of chemicals on her lawn. Think about the senior citizen who may want the basic mowing and lawn maintenance. In other words, think about your readers first. Keep the “we’s and I’s” to a minimum and the “You’s” to a maximum.

Your turn: Have you designed your website to be customer-friendly? If it’s not, what is one thing that you can do to connect with your clients?

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: