Is digital marketing a priority for your business?
It should be. But we realize it can be a challenge to get started for those doing digital for the first time. So we consulted our friend Chris Penny to give us some advice we could pass along to our partners. (His go-to pro tip for getting started? Install Google Analytics!) Penny is a 15-year landscaping veteran who operates a digital marketing agency called Lawn Authorities catering specifically to lawn care and landscape companies. He also runs a highly popular Facebook group where successful landscape business owners can share ideas and tactics with their peers. Here are Penny’s top 5 tips for landscapers looking to become local authorities through digital marketing.
1. Track data
Data can be intimidating if you’re not a numbers person, but its impact is undeniable. “If you don’t have a good way to track your data, you lose sight of the big picture,” says Penny. Making a first foray into digital marketing? It’s important to realize the differences from traditional marketing. “The first step to responsible digital marketing is collecting data and not just treating it like offline marketing, throwing it into the wind and seeing what happens.” With digital, the data dictates what works. So, where to start? Penny says a good first move is to install Google Analytics so you can track your customers’ behaviour on your website.
2. Lean on your website
While Facebook and Instagram are all the rage and a Google Ads campaign could propel your sales, there’s still nothing more crucial than your good old-fashioned — ha! — website. Penny considers a landscape company’s website its top salesperson. “They never get sick, they’re there 24 hours a day, they don’t forget anything,” he says. (Sound good so far?!) Your website contains all your business’ information, acting as a sort of robotic salesperson that you don’t have to train. Plus, it doesn’t forget details and is constantly improving — provided you give it the right attention. “Any time you make a change to your website, the change remains forever. We could make a slight Google Ads adjustment, and a two-second change might save us $10,000 over the next five years. That’s insane ROI.”
3. Gather reviews
What’s the first thing you do when considering a new restaurant to make a reservation at, a hotel to stay at, or a company to hire? If you’re like most people, you read what other customers have to say about their experience with that product or service. Online reviews are, Penny says, king. “I think one day anthropologists are going to look back at this time in awe with the impact of online reviews. Everyone looks at them. And they work.” It’s true. According to a study by e-commerce conversion rate optimization company, Invesp, 90% of consumers read online reviews and 72% of consumers will take action only after reading a positive review. Meanwhile, 86% of potential customers will hesitate to purchase from a business with negative online reviews. Convinced yet? The bottom line is online reviews have a major impact on buying decisions. Make sure yours are in check.
4. Prioritize positioning
Positioning is not only what you sell, but to whom you sell it. “It’s not just a matter of getting business; it’s getting the right business,” Penny says. The “right clients” are the ones that want the level of quality you offer and can pay the rates you charge. Penny suggests starting with your most profitable clients. Collect their feedback and inject that information — you can go as far as using the words they use — into your digital ads to attract new, quality clients. Establishing a position and spreading it online will help keep you efficient by delivering only the leads worth spending time on.
5. Hire a marketing manager
One of the biggest mistakes a CEO can make, according to Penny, is managing his marketing himself. In the past, creating a simple sales flyer with basic graphic design and copywriting skills may have been doable. But with all the data collection and analysis now required, Penny strongly recommends hiring an expert (part-time or even as a consultant) to oversee your company’s marketing channels. Don’t have the budget for a Marketing Director? A student intern with digital knowledge could take the load off your plate but keep in mind their experience could be limited. And a marketing company like Lawn Authorities could give your business the leading edge thanks to the massive amounts of industry-specific information it has collected for almost a decade. “When we sign up a new client, we’ve already collected a massive amount of data for them in their industry, saving them immense costs in trial and error,” says Penny. “It’s a no-brainer.”
Visit Chris Penny’s Lawn Authorities Facebook page to contribute your landscape expertise!