Jump on the Social Bandwagon

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Social BandwagonHere are five ways to connect with customers on social media.

There was a time when customers found you via an ad in the Yellow Pages. But today, clients may come across your business through a variety of online venues.

They can follow search results to your webpage, say hello on Facebook, share their landscape photos on Pinterest and view your videos and photo galleries all before their first cup of coffee.

So how do you provide custom-content platforms to enhance your reputation and generate leads for new business?

Sean Adams, owner of Lawncaresuccess.com, helps landscape business owners market their businesses more effectively and profitably. He says a solid marketing plan is the key to engaging audiences and growing your business. “After all, you know who your customers are, how they think and where they get their information,” Adams says.

That’s why your company’s first impression comes from your web presence and jumpstarts a relationship that’s engaged across all media channels. But even if you are connected, are you as connected as you could be?

Is your webpage updated daily? Do you engage clients on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram and Houzz? Is your message consistently branded across all of the channels? Here are five tips for giving your social-media presence a redesign.

1 Branding
Having a recognizable, cohesive style across all of your digital properties is a good way to get current and potential clients to notice and remember your company.

For Jason Cromley, co-owner of Hidden Creek Landscaping (hiddencreeklandscaping.com) located in Columbus, Ohio, rebranding his business started with their logo. Residents can now see their green, circle logo featuring a tree and creek on their trucks, uniforms, Facebook page and LinkedIn account.

Cromley says he knew the rebranding was a success when a new client said, “Wow, we see you everywhere.” He has watched his business grow since the rebranding, and he credits the unified image for the 70-percent increase in sales.

Feed the Blog2 Feeding the blog
While most landscape owners have embraced the digital age and include blogs and social media on their webpage, many fall short by not updating with frequent, relevant, lively content.

Ila Barot-Oldakowski, marketing director for System Pavers,  located in Santa Ana, California, says she schedules her social-media engagement across their various platforms. “We update two to three times per day on our social pages,” she says. “We try to use relevant news such as updates on weather and extreme conditions such as wildfires and landslides.”

They use in-house staff to post on Twitter, Facebook, blogs, newsletters and photo-sharing sites. One of their popular promotions is the search on Facebook for the “Ugliest Front Yard.” The winner receives a makeover, and the contest generates huge reader response, nearly 6,000 “likes,” that results in new customer leads and enhanced company reputation.  They also have themed Facebook content such as “Feedback Fridays” and “Tuesday Tips.”

3 Know your audience
The wide range of social-media choices can be daunting, but the key is to target the medium of the audience. For the younger, upscale market, you have to be everywhere, and it’s imperative you keep up with the trends. Right now, the hottest sites are photo-sharing ones such as Pinterest and Instagram, and of course Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr continue to soar in popularity.

Scott Reister, owner of TG&R Landscape (tgrlandscape.com) in Charlotte, North Carolina, believes his best marketing tool is his company’s reputation for creative excellence. “We’ve been in business for 22 years, and the best way to get the word out is through other customers.”

But word-of-mouth now includes recommendations via social media, and he says you have to go where the conversations are happening. He hired a staff member, Heather Halt, to handle his social media and then increased her responsibilities to include managing the office. Halt regularly updates Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest and has had great response from projects appearing on Houzz, the trendy online idea book.

Reister has even seen customers come in with design ideas they’ve “pinned” to their Pinterest garden design boards. “Clients used to come in with vague ideas and pages torn from magazines,” he says. “Now, I can view their dream landscape design before I even meet them for the first time.”

TLC's Facebook Page4 Review sites
Don’t forget to pay attention to review sites. Surprisingly, many business owners have never even heard of Yelp or Angie’s List, Adams says. “I beg every business owner I work with to pay close attention to these sites and other review sites,” Adams says. “Peer-to-peer reviews and recommendations are often how people make their purchasing and hiring decisions.”

You can influence these reviews by asking satisfied customers to rate you. If you do find a negative review, respond to it calmly and with facts. Do not underestimate these sites’ power to influence.

5 Follow the numbers
Chris Heiler, president of Landscape Leadership (landscapeleadership.com), a company that helps landscapers with their marketing services, says he’s encouraged by how companies are thinking more pragmatically about the way they market their services online – especially as it relates to using their websites to generate actual leads. But, you have to measure it and follow up on the leads to make the effort worthwhile.

“I like some of the tools available, like HubSpot, that allow companies to closely track and measure their return on investment,” Heiler says.

Cromley agrees and says they follow up with their leads and measure the number of sales generated from the branding and social-media efforts. “Too many business owners just go through the motions and don’t take the leads all the way to the sell,” he says.

The payoff for engaging your audience in an ongoing conversation across all of the latest media platforms is a more committed, enthusiastic client who can help you spread the word about your services.

Still not a believer that using social media can help your business? Read Lauren’s blog here.

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