5 Blog Ideas to Use for National Lawn Care Month – The Landscape Writer

April is National Lawn Care Month. How are you going to blog about it?                     NLCMinfogrphic FINAL National Lawn Care Month 03.25.2015

Here’s an idea: Use National Lawn Care Month to tell your local audience about your lawn or landscape company’s products and services.

How?

Through your blog, of course!

This is the time of year when you should utilize your blog to tell the world—or at least your local audience—what you do as a lawn service provider or a landscape company; why you do it; how lawn care and landscapes benefit the homeowner; and how the lawn and landscape industry will not bring the end of the world as we know it (in other words, the lawn and landscape industry benefits the environment and local ecosystems rather than poisoning it with too much fertilizer or pesticide use).

Let’s break this down. Here are five blog ideas to use for National Lawn Care Month:

  1. Tell your audience what you do. You own a lawn care or landscape business. Imagine your prospect reading your blog right now. Tell your readers why a healthy lawn is preferred over a perfectly manicured lawn. List the benefits of a healthy lawn, and explain how you can help them achieve it. Remember to avoid using any jargon that you and others in your industry would understand, but your readers may be confused by. In other words, keep it simple because your readers only want the basic facts.
  2. Tell your audience why a healthy lawn and a well-maintained landscape should be important to them. Explain it in layman’s terms why healthy lawns benefit the local eco-system. Explain why a retaining wall will keep their soil from eroding down an embankment. Explain why you perform a soil test on their property before you put any fertilizers on it.
  3. Explain the value of curb appeal. This is where you describe how beautiful lawns and landscapes raise property values. And tell your clients how you will make their properties look fantastic for the summer season. Remind them that they can sign up for landscape maintenance services from March through November to keep their landscape looking fresh and beautiful.
  4. Go to National Association of Landscape Professionals’ website to download information to share with your readers (http://goo.gl/LycNHc). The National Association of Landscape Professionals (formerly PLANET) offers promotional materials that you can download to include in your blog as well as on your other social media channels. Use these free materials to get your blogging juices flowing or to back up your services.
  1.  Make it timely. Don’t wait until April 1st to start blogging about National Lawn Care Month. Instead, start blogging now. You can write blogs about the history of lawns and how the industry has evolved since the first lawn care business opened in the U.S. You can also use other teasers such as a contest about lawn care or landscape facts. The winners could win a 10% coupon off their next mow or they could win a free flat of annuals. Keep putting out teasers so they continue to read your blogs about National Lawn Care Month and why you’re the right lawn care or landscape service to call for all of their property maintenance needs.

Do you want more marketing ideas to use during National Lawn Care Month? Then, go to my friends over at GoiTalk for more information, http://goo.gl/LBxq5r.

If you need help with your lawn or landscape website’s blog during National Lawn Care Month, email me at wendy@landscapewriter.com or call me at 717-381-6719 ET.

 

 

How to Hire a Ghostblogger for Your Lawn Care/Landscape/Outdoor Living Blog

Here are 7 Tips to Help You

hiring_graphic 03.10.2015

Over past the past two years, I’ve written blogs on “How to Hire a Lawn Care or Landscape Company,” for many of my clients.

Now, I’m writing a blog for you, the lawn care/landscape/outdoor living business owner, to help you hire a ghostblogger for your website.

Here are 7 tips to help you when you need to hire a ghostblogger for your lawn care, landscape, or outdoor living blog:

  1. If you’ve found a blogger or business writer who you want to hire, read their blogs. Check to make sure that they write their own content. If they do, get a feel for their style to see if you like it. Also, can they write a cohesive blog that flows and draws you in? There’s a lot involved to successful blogging and readability is one of the most important skills to have.
  2. Check out the content writer’s (also known as a ghostblogger or copywriter) online portfolio. Most writers have their portfolios on their websites. Go down through them. How long have they been writing? Where have they been published? Do they have experience writing about the lawn care, landscape, or outdoor living industries? Have they written for related industries, such as gardening or agriculture?
  3. Do they have testimonials on their website? If not, ask them for references. Check them out and see what their clients say about them. Ask these references if your intended content copywriter gets blogs to them on time.
  4. Go to LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter. Many writers have pages or bios on these sites. Check out their feeds—what do they talk about? Do they mix their personal lives with business? If so, how much? Do they have a professional tone to their business social media channels? Or are they sharing a lot of personal stuff, like what they had for breakfast that morning?
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask for samples. I’ve had prospects ask for links to my clients’ blogs. I happily gather those links for these prospects because I want to convert them to paying clients. Go to their clients’ posts. Again, ask yourself if you like their writing style? The amount of detail? Does the ghostblogger know enough about lawn care and landscape practices to write intelligently about them?
  6. Talk to your intended content writer. Ask him/her questions about their work process; how long they’ve been in the business; and when they’ll send you your blog posts?
  7. Do they stay on top of their learning? Do they read green industry websites, blogs, and trade magazines? Do they read about current SEO practices and content marketing?

It’s always a challenge to hire someone new—even if it’s only to write your blogs. However, you’ll be saving yourself a lot of headaches, money and time if you invest in finding out about your ghostblogger before you hire them. That way, they’ll stay in the background, like good ghostwriters should, without suddenly vanishing on you.

What questions do you have about hiring a ghostblogger, a.k.a., a content writer, a web writer, or a web copywriter?

Do you want to find out more about how to hire a ghostblogger for your lawn care, landscape or outdoor living blog? Then, email me at wendy@landscapewriter.com.

 

Are You Afraid of Ghosts Haunting Your Lawn Care or Landscape Blog?

5 Benefits to Hiring a Ghostblogger for Your Business

Are you afraid of ghosts? What about ghosts blogging for your lawn care or landscape business?

casper-the-friendly-ghost

As you probably guessed, ghostbloggers aren’t spirit-beings who write in their spare time about the green industry. Instead, they’re writers who write under their clients’ names. You pay them to write for you. Then you post the blog under your own name.

Is this ethical?

You bet. We ghostbloggers know that we’re not going to have our name on your content. And that’s okay with us.

Basically, you’re marrying the subject matter experts within your company with a ghost’s writing skills. You and your team share your collected expertise that a ghostblogger puts into a post for your target audience.

Last week, Linda Dessau published “Don’t Get Spooked: Ghostbloggers Can Fuel Your Company Blog,” in Content Marketing Institute’s e-newsletter. In her article, Dessau explains why hiring a ghostblogger is ethical and the best decision for your company’s blog. To read more, go to http://goo.gl/kB7WNS to learn about the ethics of hiring a ghostblogger…

I’m here to show you how hiring a ghostblogger will benefit you, the lawn care, landscape or garden business owner. Here are five benefits to hiring a ghostwriter to glean your team’s collective knowledge and put it into blogs, case studies, and other types of web content. A ghostblogger will

  1. Make your life easier. Think about it. You’re inspired to write a few blogs during your slow months of January and February. But as soon as the ground thaws and your phone rings, you abandon your blogging efforts.
  2. Help your website grow. Granted, there’s no way to guarantee results. But if you instruct your ghost to include keyphrases and your local region within your blog content, you should be getting results from them. Remember to think about your customers’ needs first. You may need to ask your web designer for a list of keyphrases that people in your area are plugging into search engines to find you. Then, give a copy of that list to your writer. He/she should be able to take those keyphrases and incorporate them into your blogs to attract more visitors.
  3. Launch you as a thought leader in your region’s lawn service and landscape industry. One of your ROIs is to position yourself as an expert in your field. That way, your prospects and clients will trust you and come to you first with their lawn care or landscape problems.
  4. Bring more prospects to you. This is the ultimate goal of all Internet marketing—to bring more people to your door and move them through the sales funnel to become paying, repeat clients. While blogging and social media are considered passive marketing, they do work if they’re done right. For you to find success in content marketing, you need to have the right people to help you: a good web designer or Internet marketing agency as well as a competent ghostblogger.
  5. Take your employees’ subject matter expertise to your audience. Do you have a landscape designer on your team who specializes in 3D design, but doesn’t have the time to write about it? Or does your lawn service manager really know his stuff, but hates to put it down on paper? Your problem is solved when you hire a ghostblogger for your lawn care or landscape design company. Your ghostblogger can interview these experts and transform their knowledge into readable chunks that your followers and prospects can digest.

Do you want to learn more about how a ghostblogger (also known as a content writer) can benefit your lawn care, landscape, or garden business? Then, visit my website at www.landscapewriter.com or email me at wendy@landscapewriter.com.

 

Resources:

Dessau, Linda. “Don’t Get Spooked: Ghostbloggers Can Fuel Your Company Blog,” Content Marketing Institute: http://goo.gl/kB7WNS.

Clip art courtesy of www.webweaver.nu

 

3 Questions I Get from Lawn Care & Landscape Professionals

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Thinking Outside of Your Company’s Box

How to Get Inside Your Customers’ Heads to Meet Their Needs

About two years ago, I met a marketing consultant who belongs to the same networking group that I do. He took a look at my tagline and essentially said—“The tagline should not be about you, but about your client. What you have here is how you see your business, not how the client sees it.”

Light bulb moment!

Then, this gentleman asked me a series of questions to get me thinking from my clients’ perspective. First, who are my ideal clients?

They’re you: Business owners in the landscape design/build, lawn care, and outdoor living businesses. In other words, this seasoned marketer asked the kind of questions that put me in your shoes.

I took that business person’s questions and used them to brainstorm a new tagline: Growing Your Business, One Word at a Time.

Through my tagline, I’m trying to communicate that I’ll help you bring in more business and elevate you to expert status in your region through the use of my words.

In today’s business world, it’s imperative to have a website. Yet, not only do you need a website, but you also need to regularly add fresh content in the forms of blogs, case studies, white papers, etc. to keep Google happy.

So, it stands to reason that you may need a writer to consistently communicate your message to homeowners, retail managers, and other prospects about the value that you bring to them through professional lawn care and landscape design/build, as well as outdoor living products like BBQ’s, outdoor kitchens, and fire pits.

How about you?

Do you step in your ideal customer’s shoes and find out what motivates him to invest in your services or buy your products? And if you did walk around in your client’s shoes, did it help you better nail down your marketing message?

Here are some questions to get you started on your tagline:

  1. Who is your ideal client? How do you solve those problems?
  2. What are his or her landscape or lawn care problems?
  3. If you’re an outdoor living manufacturer or in sales, how do you meet your clients’ dreams for an outdoor pizza oven, fireplace, or patio furniture?
  4. Finally, how are you going to let your ideal clients know about the problems you solve or the dreams you design?
  5. Do you know what keyphrases people are putting in Google, Bing, or Yahoo to find you?

Think about these questions—have a brainstorm session with your sales force or your web designer, and see what all of you come up with, and then narrow it down to its simplest terms to create your tagline.

If you want to know more about taglines, here’s an article I wrote about a similar topic, Unique Selling Proposition, for TURF magazine: http://bit.ly/1aCLH5S.

 

 

 

3 Things to Expect When You Hire a Content Writer

Another blast from the past. One side note: I’m writing a blog that will focus on your part of the content writing process. Stay tuned.

Data_driven_journalism_process 01.02.2015

Okay, so you decided to hire a writer to blog about you, your work, and your landscape and lawn care services. You’ve learned that hiring a marketing writer doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg.

Smooth sailing, right?

Well, don’t think that you’ve washed your hands from the project. You’re still the boss and you need to provide some direction to your marketing team, which includes that writer you recently hired.

Here are three things to expect from your freelance writer when she writes blog posts for you:

  1. Introductory questions: Most market-savvy writers will know to ask you specific questions about your blog goals. But if you hire a newbie writer, she may not know what questions she should be asking you:

Who is your ideal client?

What type of people do you serve (upper class, upper middle class, commercial, or just residential)

What climate and growing zone do your clients live in?

What’s your business’s cycle? For example, if I have a client in a temperate zone, say in Florida, then I need to know what their growing cycle is like since I’m from Pennsylvania.

What does your business do: hardscaping, landscaping, lawn care, or a combination of all three?

What makes your business stand out from the crowd?

How often do you want to publish your blog–once a month, biweekly, or weekly?

How often do you want to pay your writer? After each blog post, once a month, or on a quarterly basis?

And do you want Q&A- (Question and Answer), how to-, or informational blogs? Or a mixture of all three?

  1. The editorial calendar: You’re probably thinking, the editorial what? But the editorial calendar is essential for a streamlined relationship with your writer. And an editorial calendar doesn’t have to be formal. I have clients who want me to focus on a theme, like lawn diseases, for a couple of months and others who’ll give me general topics to focus on for one month. I’ll do some added research, if needed, and then, write the blog.
  2. Your feedback: It’s imperative that you look at the blog draft before it goes online. You should also feel that your copywriter is approachable to fixing any mistakes–including the grammatical and spelling ones. And a copywriter shouldn’t charge you for revisions–at least not for the first two revisions. After more than two revisions, you and your writer may need to work out communication kinks or decide to part ways.

Look, I know writing can be intimidating. Yet, you can feel comfortable that there are competent writers out there–including ones who specialize in the lawn care/landscape industries–who’ll write blogs for you at a reasonable rate.

Do you want to post a regular blog for your clients and prospects? Then call me at 717-405-9873 (EST) or email me at wendykomancheck@gmail.com to collaborate on your landscape or lawn care blog.

 

Red Flag Warning: 5 Signs It’s Time to Run Away From THAT SEO Firm

This is an oldie but goodie from my former website….

red flag warning pic 12.29.2014

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.

 

What’s Holding You Back?

5 Questions to Help You Get the Most Out of Your 2015 Marketing Plan

happynewyear-oldmanbaby 12.12.2014It’s nearly the end of 2014. Can you believe it? Where did the year go?

Things are probably winding down at your lawn care or landscape company’s office with finished projects and a sense of well-being from another successful growing season.

Yet, it’s also time to start thinking about 2015 and next year’s marketing plan. In 2014, you may have invested some money in Internet marketing. Now’s the time to look over that decision and evaluate how successful your Internet marketing plans were. Since many of you still incorporate traditional marketing methods with Internet marketing, I’m going to include some pointers in the following list. Here are a few things to check before turning off your office lights on December 31, 2014:

  1. How’s your website? Is everything up to date? Check your About Me; FAQ’s and Home Page. And don’t forget to go through your Contact Us page. Do you still offer all of those services that you have listed on your Contact form?
  2. What are your marketing plans for 2015? How much more of your marketing dollars are you going to invest in Internet marketing?
  3. What types of traditional marketing worked for you in 2014? Did you get your expected return on investment from your mailers, brochures, and door hangers?
  4. What Internet marketing outlets worked for you in 2014? Did you start a blog, and did you keep posting regularly throughout the year? Did you get more people contacting you because of your blog? Look at your Facebook page. You may have 1,000 likes, but who has contacted you from those likes?
  5. What are you planning on keeping, adding, or changing when it comes to traditional and Internet marketing?
  6. What is your marketing plan for 2015? Where are you now? Where do you want to be in six months when your busy season is just starting? Where do you want to be next year on December 31, 2015?

These are the types of questions that you need to ask yourself in order to move forward. After you’ve discovered your answers, then decide how much money you can invest in marketing and how much will be designated toward Internet versus traditional marketing.

Time is running out! If you’d like to invest in adding a blog to your website, call now. I have limited spaces available for 2015. You can call me at 717-405-9873, visit my website at www.landscapewriter.com or email me at wendy@landscapewriter.com.

 

8 Tips to Guide You When You Hire a Content Writer for Your Landscape/Lawn Care Website

If you’re updating your lawn care or landscape website, you know that there is a lot to do to get it up and running. And it’s vital to that you know how to lead a writer and web designer to create content that’ll make your website shine.

I’ve been helping lawn care and landscape clients with their website content for the past 22 months. And I’ve learned some things along the way. Here are eight tips to keep in mind when you hire a content writer to write your website copy:

  1. Make sure that someone is in charge of the entire project. From my experience, I think it’s best to hire an Internet marketing agency to not only help you with localization, but to guide the entire process. If you choose to lead the project, keep in mind that a content writer (even a subject matter expert) isn’t you. So you may have a firm idea in mind for what you want, but if you don’t communicate that idea or understand that it might take longer than you expected, you may be better off hiring a project manager to lead your website’s reconstruction.
  2. Make sure that you introduce your writer to your web designer. I think this is perhaps one the most important points. Most of my clients introduce me to their web designers and that makes the entire website project so much easier. You’re an expert in lawn care or landscaping. The web designer is an expert is web design and the content writer is an expert in providing the content that’ll draw people to you. Thus, it only makes sense to connect your writer with your web designer so they can collaborate. If you decide to keep the two components apart, you’re asking for trouble.
  3. If you expect your writer to put together footers, headers, call out text, and other writing jobs in addition to writing text, make sure that you know that this project can take longer than one month. You know the old saying, “Poor planning on your part doesn’t mean an emergency on my part.” I can’t speak about other writers, but my process of researching, writing and editing takes a bit of time—if it’s going to be done right. So, plan ahead and give your content writer plenty of time to digest, organize, and write all of your content.
  4. Keep your audience in mind. I can’t stress this tip enough. You are talking to clients and prospects. And they’re busy—they don’t have time to wade through a lot of green industry buzzwords or technical terms. Remember the age old rule, KISS: “Keep It Simple, Sam.” You’ll keep your readers coming to you more often if they feel that you’re not talking down to them, and they just get the basic facts to make an educated decision to hire you.
  5. Remember the sales funnel. When people Google “lawn care” or “landscape” business, they’re looking for a local business to come to their property and fix their problems. And that usually requires you to make an introductory visit to analyze their situation. Thus, you don’t want to bog them down with the contractual terms within your website content. If you feel that you need to have that on your website, make sure that you have it as a separate page. Link to it and allow people to choose to go there if they’re interested.
  6. Be clear about what you want. If your writer emails you a summary of your phone discussion with him, read over it to make sure he understood exactly what you wanted. If you tweak the information, allow him to digest it and figure it into the deadline. But don’t constantly tweak the information or add more information to the point where the writer’s eyes are going cross-eyed. I’ve learned that it’s best to take one step at a time. If you want to take more steps, then be patient and ask your writer to add it. But again, this goes back to expectations. If you want your writer to write reams of content in a short time, you may not get what you’re paying for.
  7. Expect that you’ll need to make some edits. Writers are not mind readers and we may not get all of your information down exactly as you want it. So, working with a writer is a process with a lot of give and take. Matter of fact, a great writer is actually a great editor. If you meet a writer that tells you that she’s going to perfectly write your copy the first time around, run the other way! Going through one or two edits is pretty normal between writers and clients.
  8. If the relationship turns south, part amicably. This is a hard one. Who wants to break any relationship? But personalities and expectations are different. Some folks mesh better with certain personalities than others. Realize it isn’t personal when two vastly different personalities part ways. It’s part of being in business.

Now your turn. Are you renovating your lawn care or landscape website? Are you the project manager? Will you be introducing your web designer to your writer?