This is part one in a two-part series. The sequel article will publish on TLC tomorrow.
The concept of marketing your landscaping company can sometimes seem like a daunting task, especially when looking at the multitudes of channels used to get your name out there.
While your company might find great benefit in the traditional forms of marketing and advertising, taking a look at more of the technological channels and applications available could end up helping your company grow in ways you never knew it could.
While the overall marketing philosophy hasn’t changed much over the years, according to Ewan McNeill, director of marketing with LMN Software, he does recognize that the channels used for it have. The majority of these channels, he notes, are digital.
McNeill says he has seen the impact that utilizing social media channels has had on his company, and he highly recommends landscape contractors wanting to actively grow their businesses to check out some of the practices that have worked for LMN.
What works and what doesn’t
The questions McNeill says he’s often asked revolves around discussing which marketing practices do and don’t work for landscapers and what some of the most common mistakes being made are.
To the credit of those in the green industry, McNeill assures that landscapers are not the only ones making these types of marketing mistakes; he says it’s fairly common amongst most businesses.
“In the newer digital channels, often (people) take a very traditional approach to it,” he says. “I like to call ‘traditional’ interruptive marketing (because) it really interrupts your life. This can be TV, magazine ads, radio ads, a billboard, and some of that gets pulled over and plays itself out in the digital channel, which is much more of an engagement channel.”
Where traditional or ‘interruptive’ marketing tactics focus mainly on grabbing the customer’s attention and drawing that person into strictly looking at, watching or listening to an advertisement, social media outlets allow viewers to engage and participate with different posts.
This, McNeill says, encourages clients to react and interact with your posts without feeling like they are being bombarded by unwanted content.
Do it for the ‘gram
Most professional landscaping businesses nowadays have a website and Facebook presence, but one channel you might not be taking advantage of is Instagram.
While there seems to be the stereotype of “Instagram is for my kids,” surrounding the platform, McNeill says that is absolutely not that case, and many landscapers can find great benefits from using this app.
“If you think about the medium, it’s all about the visual, and people are always seeking out those visuals,” says McNeill. “If you think about it from a landscape perspective, people want to see pictures of beautiful landscape work and get ideas from it, and Instagram is a great place to do it.”
Much like Facebook, Instagram can be utilized by companies of any size, and also like Facebook, Instagram allows you the opportunity to interact and engage with clients.
McNeill points out that one huge aspect of being a landscaper is the ability and desire to interact with people to bring their dreams and ideas to life. This, he says, is where landscapers can use social media to their advantage.
“Landscapers are really building upon what they built their business on, which was the fact that they are people people,” he says. “They like to talk with people, and now they just have to use the digital channels to be able to do the exact same thing.”
Many have argued with McNeill that social media lacks the personal touch that a phone call or face-to-face meeting has, which is why they shy away from using social media to interact with their clients. However, McNeill says that social media can, in fact, be very personal if you learn how to use it effectively.
Social media, he says, allows you to listen to customers, their concerns, ask questions, interact with them via polls and see what kind of content they are really engaging with.
McNeill says that content can quickly go from engagement-based to interruptive with the introduction of an ad, which can sometimes push potential customers away. Instead, he suggests showcasing photos of ongoing projects your company is working on to keep your audience interested in what you’re doing.
In a world where progress and results are desired instantaneously, McNeill says that landscapers need to understand that this type of marketing isn’t about being promotional and getting bids quickly. This process, he says, is all about the slow burn, building up trust and awareness and adding value to the lives of your audience.
“The investment here is much more valid than going out and buying an ad in a magazine or an out of home (advertisement) because you can at least track it and see it,” says McNeill.
With the utilization of social media marketing, McNeill adds that you’re easily able to change campaigns and ads within minutes if you see something isn’t performing as well as you’d hoped. With traditional methods, there’s really no chance to alter content once it’s set for publication or printing.
For landscaping companies that have younger employees or interns, McNeill suggests using their social media knowledge to help with getting your company online and connected.
“They know how to operate (these channels) and they know what people are looking for,” he says. “From an employee retention perspective, it’s a great opportunity to allow someone to have that extra responsibility.”
Check back tomorrow for part two of this article, where we’ll explore what’s considered substantial post content, post timing and consistency.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This interview was conducted in a webinar hosted by Jeffrey Scott.