Working long hours, battling inconsistent weather, and dealing with labor and product shortages are just a few of the plates that Green Industry business owners have to juggle. On top of that, tackling marketing for your small business can feel like an impossible task when you are simply struggling to make the day-to-day requirements happen. It may seem like too big of a job to even begin—Where do you even start? What is most important? At TruNorth Landscaping, these seven tips have helped get our marketing program off the ground and keep the phones ringing.
1. Work with what you’ve got
For most small businesses in the Green Industry, hiring a marketing firm is not an option due to the cost. While a fancy marketing firm would certainly make life easier, it is not needed in order to improve upon your marketing goals. If you happen to have the time or would like to be the person making improvements to your marketing program, that is wonderful. But if not, use who you already have on your team.
Enlist your foremen to take pictures of the jobs as they work. Most people have some sort of a smart phone, and they have excellent cameras in them that produce perfect images for social media purposes. Create a list of the top five most important things you want to work on and ask the leaders in your company how they would like to help.
Marketing for your company does not need to be a full-time job to start out. If everyone on the team can pitch in a little bit, you can get to your goal. The long-term goal obviously should be to have a well-funded marketing budget and an in-house person or persons that handle the marketing for your company, but for now, work with what you’ve got.
2. Start with and invest in the "star of the show"
Right now, the absolute most important marketing tool is your company’s website. But creating the perfect website can become really overwhelming as we feel the pressure to have tons of pages with pictures and videos and lots of information which equals tons of time and money.
To begin, it is OK if your website is simple, clean, and professional. Using a few really great images is better than posting tons of unprofessional ones. If you have the time to dive into creating your own basic website, there are several free or low-cost tools out there to do so. If you plan to invest any money in advertising or marketing, your website is the place that cash should go. Hiring a web developer to update your site and make it secure is worth every penny. These professionals usually charge by the hour, so you can get a clear quote from them with specifics of what you would like completed and then pick the options that fit into your budget.
3. Use social media, but don’t stress about it
Unfortunately, social media has transformed a bit from a free marketing tool to one you must really pay for to see many results. Algorithms are constantly changing, making it really difficult for just organic (non-paid for) posts to be seen. This doesn’t mean though that there is not value in using social media.
With the number of social media platforms, it can be really overwhelming deciding which to use or trying to update all of them. Choosing just two or three that you update regularly makes for the most effective use of social media. Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn are the three that tend to be the most effective.
Start by deciding how often you want to post, even if it is just once a week, and be very consistent about it. For the most effective social media marketing campaign, you have to be posting regularly AND paying for ads. If paying for ads is not something that is in your budget right now, start small with a few consistent posts a week and invite your friends and family to follow your page.
You can post tips and tricks for homeowners, links to your website, interesting articles about landscaping, photos of jobs you are working on, photos of your team at work, or even beautiful things you and your team see while out working. Many clients check for Facebook or Instagram accounts to see if a company is legitimate, so having an account, even if it doesn’t have thousands of followers, is still worth it.
4. Utilize "Google My Business"
Google My Business is an easy and free-to-use tool. If you absolutely cannot afford to invest in a website at the moment, having a complete and updated Google My Business account can be helpful. Google has been adding to the options that are available in Google My Business, which allows potential clients to glean a ton of information just from this one account.
First and foremost, make sure your address, phone number, and company name are accurate. Next, you can add a company description, service list, photos, posts, and more. Google My Business also houses Google Reviews that can be left by clients, which is an extremely important tool! Be sure to respond to any reviews, even if they are negative in a professional way. Google My Business has an app that can be installed on your phone to update you after any reviews are left, so you don’t have to constantly be checking the site.
5. Update citations and directories
There are literally thousands of citations and directories your company can pop up on these days. Going through each directory and making sure that your name, address, and phone number are correct can be huge for your ranking on Google, but can be time-consuming. Utilizing a resource like Moz Local can be an easy way to check your citations and make updates. The small investment is worth it in order to manage your listings all in one place.
6. Be customer-focused vs company-focused
In order to have a successful marketing campaign in any way, your tone needs to be customer-focused. While it is important to share information about your company, clients want to feel that you hear and understand their struggles. They want you to identify those struggles and demonstrate how they can be solved. If you choose to write blogs, avoid making them ‘bragging’ pieces about how great your company is, make them useful tools that a client can reference to help them make a decision or learn something new. Whatever content you put out into the world should provide some value to those consuming it.
7. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help
Start building connections on LinkedIn and through associations you belong to. The National Association of Landscape Professionals has marketing kits they produce for free throughout the year that are easy to download and push out to social media or even on your website. Look up those big, expensive marketing firms and see what resources they offer. Most companies have at least a blog that offers excellent tips, videos, and even webinars. These big companies understand that the smaller companies can’t afford their services, but they work really hard to offer resources that are easy to use and implement. If you see a post on LinkedIn from a marketing professional, don’t hesitate to ask a question. Everyone loves to be the expert in something and share some insight.
While the area of marketing can be overwhelming at times, it is vital to keep the leads coming through the door. Starting small and making a few meaningful changes can make a big difference. It takes time to build and maintain an online presence, but the results from working at marketing will make your time and money worth it!