Question for all web designers and marketing consultants, what are your pain points?
When a landscaping or lawn care company calls you up or completes your contact form, requesting a quote to revamp their website or help them create a marketing plan, what do you do?
Over the past five years, I’ve gotten calls from green industry business owners who are frustrated with their marketing consultant or web designer.
Sometimes, it’s because the consultant doesn’t understand the industry or sometimes it’s because the landscaper doesn’t like the direction you’re taking their project.
So, they want out. How about you? Would you like to hold onto these customers rather than lose them to your competition?
Hire a Subject Matter Expert
There are a lot of good writers out there. However, how many of them are subject matter experts (SME)?
You should want to increase your stable of writers with SMEs. For example, if a roofing company hires you to design a website for them, don’t you think the copy would be better if it were written by someone who has spent years writing for roofing companies?
Here are five reasons why you need an SME writer:
- They’re experts in the industry they serve: SME writers, like me at the Landscape Writer, understand the industry they serve. For example, I’ve been writing for the green industry for the past five years. I read the industry’s trade magazines, I’ve talked to business owners, and I know what they need in their web copy, blogs and landing pages.
- They understand their niche’s pain points: Every business sector has pain points. For example, an organic lawn care company’s pain point is helping their clients and prospects understand that the process of natural lawn care takes longer than its synthetic counterpart. Also, many lawn maintenance owners like to stress to their customers the importance of mowing the right way and how much water a lawn needs to survive.
- They know their customers’ marketing goals: Many green industry pros are a bit hesitant when hiring a marketing or web design company. These owners get hounded with calls during their busy season—spring and summer—and some of them have taken up offers from unscrupulous companies—only to lose money and not get their return on investment.
- They’re passionate about their subject: SME writers are passionate about their subject—or they should be. For example, I enjoy writing blogs that educate my clients’ prospects and customers. I love writing about soil health and how that leads to lawn health. In a nutshell, I enjoy landscaping and hardscaping topics. It’s fun to picture a gunite pool or a new flagstone patio gracing my home.
- They know where to find sound information: So, do your in-house writers know where to find their information? Many busy business owners don’t share their processes which means that the writer needs to go looking for it. Where do your writers go?
- They know the right questions to ask: Finally, the SME knows from experience what questions to ask. They’ll be able to dig deeper and write smarter because they have the background knowledge to write well-versed copy.
Since web designers and digital marketing companies make up about 25% of my business, I want to get to know you—what are your pain points? If you’re interested, please fill out this survey that will give me a glimpse into your pain points.
In the meantime, if you need an SME writer for your green industry clients, call me at 717-381-6719 or fill out my consultation form.
Since Running Out of Blog Ideas continues to be one of my most popular blog posts, I decided to create Part 2 for you.
The points I made in Part 1 are still valid. And yet, I have a few more years of experience under my belt, and I have a broader audience with different needs.
One thing all of you have in common is coming up with blogging ideas.
Whether you’re a business owner or a content marketing machine, you need smart blog ideas to help reach your ideal audience.
In this blog post, you’ll learn to look at your keywords for blog ideas; check out your competitors’ blogs to see what they’re posting; and get more ideas from the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).
Use Your Keywords
Your keywords and locations make great subjects and subject heads. For example, if your keywords are
- Organic lawn care
- First mow,
Then, your blog topic could be “Spring Organic Lawn Care.” Then your subheads would be
- What is organic lawn care?
- How organic fertilizer feeds the soil
- How organic pre-emergent doesn’t harm the soil
- Schedule your first mow by April 1.
One other point: Don’t forget your locations. If you cover a bunch of towns, you want to mention that somewhere on your blog.
A lot of times I add the customer’s cities at the end of their blog, and I mention their state one to two times throughout the post.
For example, if your customer base is in the Philadelphia, Pa. suburbs, you want to include Phoenixville, Royersford, and Valley Forge, Pa. at the bottom of your blog.
See What Your Competitors are Posting
Please note that I’m not encouraging you to plagiarize. I merely want you to evaluate your posts compared to your competitor’s blogs.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you’re comparing blogs:
- How often are they posting?
- What topics are they covering?
- Are they the same as yours?
- Does it seem that your competitor understands their clients and prospects?
- How can you change your blogs to meet your audience’s needs better?
I always tell my kids, “Know your audience” before you share your opinion. And when it comes to writing blogs, the most successful ones are when the writer addresses their unique audience.
Know. Your. Audience.
Knowing your audience includes
- Demographics: Demographics include the region you serve, the people who hire you (young families, senior citizens, etc.); if they have HOA regulations; and how much land the typical homeowner owns.
- Who makes the call?: The husband or the wife? The property manager?
- How much money does your client make?: Middle class, mid-upper class, higher end clients? Do they live in Manhattan during the week and enjoy their homes on the weekends?
Once you know who you’ll be writing to, you can focus on their primary property problems.
Questions like what specific lawn and landscape problems do your customers and prospects face in your region? How do they spend their weekends—working in their homes or running their kids around? Or both?
How does your green industry company help solve their problems?
Have You Checked Out NALP’s Website Lately?
NALP has worked hard in the last two years to really to put out content that green industry business owners can use. Go to their website and scroll down their resources in “Featured Content.”
Get more blog ideas at NALP’s sister site, LoveYourLandscape.org. Both sites provide treasure troves of blog ideas.
If you use their info, don’t forget to site it in your blog’s text by hyperlinking like I’m doing in this blog post.
Here’s one more tidbit to generating ideas. April is next month, and that means it’s National Lawn Care Month.
And guess who has a toolkit for you to market your mowing, lawn care and landscape maintenance services? You got it, NALP.
There’s a lot of simple, free things you can do to get more ideas for your lawn and landscape design blogs. Use your keywords, NALP resources and reading blog posts your competitors are putting out there.
If these ideas seem overwhelming—especially since you’re just a minute away from the busy spring season—then you need the Landscape Writer.
This year, focus on fixing your customers’ lawn care and landscape problems while I write blogs and social media content for you.
PS – One other service I need to tell you about. One of my clients told me about Answer the Public. It’s easy to use and generates great blogging ideas.
Do you start each New Year strong in regularly publishing your blog posts to your landscaping website, only to peter out by the beginning of April?
You know from trade shows, marketing blogs and green industry trade magazines that you need to consistently upload new posts to your blog or you won’t rank high on Google or other search engines.
And yet, you find blogging to be another task on your to-do list that sucks away time.
In this post, you’ll learn why hiring a business blogger can help you save time and allow you to consistently post blogs on your landscaping website.
Why is a Consistent Blog Post Important to Your Landscaping Website?
A consistent blog is important to bring more people to your green industry website. Here are some other benefits of consistent blogging:
1 It helps you rank well: The more you blog, the higher you rank on Google and other search engines. However, there is a caveat here—just pushing out blogs without good content isn’t going to help you in the long run.
The key to ranking well is to present information that helps your readers with their outdoor problems. For example, a lot of lawn care operators in the southern part of the U.S. say that their customers deal with a lot of weed issues.
So, if you’re a South Carolina lawn care company, you should have some articles pertaining to weeds and how to keep them out of SC yards.
2. It helps your brand: You want your followers to become familiar with your brand, so they associate your company as a rock solid advisor on green industry issues.
Jayson DeMers in a Forbes.com article says, “Your blog posts give you a unique opportunity to share your voice and personality, building up trust and increasing your brand’s likeability quotient.”
3. It establishes you as an expert: Let’s face it—if you’re a green industry business owner, you have a lot of competition. And regular blogging is becoming mainstream in the lawn care, landscaping and other field service companies.
You need to actively blog to keep your name in front of your prospects.
Plus, the more knowledge you can share that shows your expertise, the more your followers will see you as a trusted advisor to all issues related to lawn care, landscaping, mowing and outdoor kitchens.
DeMers states “A blog is one of the best ways to establish yourself or your brand as an expert in your field, as it gives you a platform for sharing important industry-related information and insights. As you build up authority in your niche, this breeds trust and familiarity, keeping you top-of-mind when your prospects are ready to buy…”
4. It helps differentiate you from your competitors: Your blog is your voice to the world. Plus, your blog also focuses on those areas where your company is the strongest in your region.
For example, you may be the only organic lawn care company in your city or county. Your blog, then, should focus on organic lawn care rather than conventional lawn care—separating you from your competition.
If you’re a landscape company, your specialty may be yard drainage solutions. You can tailor your blogs to focus on issues such as flooding, rain gardens and dry riverbeds.
5. It improves your “know, like and trust”: The basic concept of “know, like and trust” is that your followers get to know you through your blog and social media content. As they get to know you, they begin to like you and finally, they start to trust you.
And when they trust you, these followers will call you to work on their property.
DeMer notes, “Blogging gives your business a way to touch on issues and concerns of interest to your prospects, while also sharing what you and your employees are passionate about. Your blog posts give you a unique opportunity to share your voice and personality, building up trust and increasing your brand’s likeability quotient.”
Why You Need the Landscape Writer
Early in my business, I had people say to me that they thought hiring a writer is expensive. And yes, some writers do charge a lot.
However, there are writers who price their services with an eye to what the industry can handle. So, not all writers are overly expensive.
Likewise, you want a business blogger who understands your industry. Why?
So, your blogs reach your followers at the point of their pain. When you have a writer who has been writing for the same industry for five years, you can trust that she knows what she’s doing.
A landscape blogger can save you an enormous amount of time. At the Landscape Writer, there is an annual editorial calendar consult where you and I work on 12 months of topics.
Then, when the calendar starts on January 1 or April 1, you don’t have to worry about your blog posts because they’ll be coming to your inbox at the same time each month.
In the content marketing world, “know,” “like,” and “trust” are three characteristics that mark an effective marketer. Did you know that you can incorporate know, like and trust into your blogs and social media?
As a local landscaper, lawn care or home service business owner, you already employ know, like and trust in your community. Word of mouth, the best type of marketing available, is born from your customers knowing you, liking you and trusting you to do a professional job. In return for your hard work, they recommend you to their friends and family.
And yet, you also need to cultivate that type of relationship with the people who visit your website and on your social media channels.
In this article, you’ll learn how to cultivate know, like and trust to get your sales prospects to click on your contact form.
Do Your Prospects Know You?
There are a slew of methods you can use to get noticed. But for the sake of this article, we’ll focus on those characteristics that increase your online profile:
Consistency: To get your name on the map, you need to blog consistently—whether that means once a month or once a week. Make sure your blog topics are what your readers’ need―not what you think they need—and that means knowing who your ideal customer is.
For example, are your customers classified as the upper- or middle-class? Do they need you to put fertilizer on their lawns, and they’ll do the rest, or do they need you to do all of their yard work, from fertilizing and weed control to mowing their lawns? You need to deliver blogs, videos and other content to them on a regular basis so they can get to know you.
Sharing across social media: You need to be where your customers hang out. For example, if your ideal customers hang out on Facebook and Instagram, you need to develop your presence on those social media sites. To entice new followers to click on your contact button, run a lawn care special or another type of incentive.
Responding: Make sure you’re responsive to your audience. If you get more clicks on your contact button make sure you respond in a timely manner. And if someone complains about your business on social media, don’t ignore it, but try to fix the problem.
Do your readers like you?
Your content is relevant: You know your area’s specific problems and you blog about these issues. For example, if you and your customers live in a transitional zone, and it’s hard to grow grass, you blog about weed control and proper lawn maintenance. Or if you live in an area that’s made up of sandy soils, you blog about lime applications and other soil amendments. If you and your customers live in a flooding zone, you may post about drainage issues and how you can fix them.
Your content focuses on helping your customers solve their problems: Before you put your call-to-action in place, you need to give your readers some DIY ideas that they can do on their own. Granted, your readers may not employ any of these ideas, but at least you’re empowering them to make that choice.
For example, you may need to remind them that good lawn maintenance requires raising the mower blades, so they only take a third off the top of the grass when they mow, or that they should set their sprinkler system timers for early morning irrigation.
You don’t talk down to them: People are busy, and the majority of folks don’t want to know the nitty-gritty of a solution. You want to tell them the basics—but don’t feel you need to use a lot of jargon or technical turf talk. “Just the facts” is what they need and want.
Do your readers trust you?
Do you publish consistently? You may not have time to post every day or even every week. But can you post every other week?
Consistency also includes posting for the majority of the year. Just because the mower is put away and a hard frost has put lawn grass into dormancy doesn’t mean you should stop blogging or adding content to your social media channels.
You may want to cut down during the winter since people have their minds on the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you go dark until March or April.
Are you active on social media? You should be active on social media. Again, where do your ideal customers hang out? If it’s on Twitter, then you should be on Twitter. If it’s LinkedIn, you should be on LinkedIn. For your company page, make sure you’re posting tips, tricks and hacks to your prospects.
And it doesn’t have to be about lawn care or landscaping for 12 months of the year. For example, I saw a lawn care company share a recipe on Twitter, and it’s totally appropriate because it’s close to the winter holidays. Nobody is talking about grubs or green yard grass right now. Spice it up and make it fun.
Look at your content through your customers’ eyes: If you were a homeowner, would you feel that your biggest lawn care and landscape problems were addressed on your website’s blog? If you were a potential customer, do you feel as though your company cares about that sales prospect?
Sometimes, social media and blogging may feel a bit “touchy-feely,” but that’s what the current market is looking for—companies that take a more personal, compassionate approach to their marketing. If your readers and followers feel that they know, like and trust you, they’ll click on that hyperlink that leads them to your contact form.
If you’re a busy lawn care, landscaping, or home service business, and you don’t have time to craft a blog or social media content to reach your local audience, call me at the Landscape Writer today, 717-381-6719, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or fill out my free consultation form.
El Morshoy, Georgina, “30 Ways to Build ‘Know, Like and Trust Factor that Grows an Audience,’” Copyblogger.com: January 16, 2013.
New post for Home Improvement Entrepreneurs: On the Landscape Writer, guest blogger Jason Griendt of Render 3D Quickly shares his thoughts on selling new construction home upgrades.
A home is an essential aspect of the human life. It offers us comfort as well as a sense of safety. When buying or constructing a home, the buyers look for the best house. They try to create an environment that suits them. As time goes by, one might feel the need to change the orientation of their home. Also, some parts of the building might begin falling off after some time. The homeowners will look for a remodeling contractor to fix their rooms or give their house a new look. As a home renovation professional, you must position yourself strategically on the market. You need to know how to sell your services. Below are three ways to sell new construction home upgrades.
Make the most out of referrals
Once you’ve done a great job, your clients will recommend you to their friends, colleagues, and family. With time, your brand will grow bigger. Therefore, it’s your responsibility to ensure that you offer quality upgrades to all your clients. This strategy will help you sell your services to more people, both directly and indirectly. When handling a project, always remember that you’re also working on building a name for yourself. It may take a while to sell referrals but it will be worthwhile. What’s more, you’ll get repeat business which is as good as getting a new client.
Use meetings to generate new leads
Meeting and interacting with people is a number one way to sell a product, service or idea. When working on home upgrades, try to meet with your clients. You may never know what will come out the meetings. They might want more of your services or introduce other people to you. Be sure to make the meeting friendly so that you can build trust with your client. Once an individual feels that they can trust you, it easier to present whatever you’re selling. Give the client time to think about your offer. This way, you’ll avoid misunderstandings in the future. If your client seems to be willing to do business with you, offer them consultancy at a lower fee or for free. This will be a great way to give them a sample of what you can do.
Incorporate technology into your sale
Technology advancement has made work easier. Additionally, it has reduced the time required to perform certain tasks. Undertaking home improvement projects involves the development of plans and 3-D images. These drawing can help you sell new construction home upgrades as they enable the homeowner to visualize the end product. You can use a laptop, projector or virtual reality equipment. You’ll create the design on CAD software and present the renderings using a VR headset. With virtual reality technology, clients can “walk” through space. It’s easier for them to point out the changes they want.
Jason Griendt is the man behind Render 3D Quickly. He specializes in online business as well as mechanical engineering. His company, Render 3D, has made him a business leader in the construction industry. The entrepreneur attended Fanshawe College in Canada.
As a landscaper, your business focuses on visual appeal. With each project you tackle, your primary focus is creating a landscape that’s as aesthetically pleasing as it is functional. Following this line of reasoning, it’s only natural that your potential clients want to see some of the projects you’ve completed in the past.
Maybe you’ve already considered this; you may have a website with a smattering of snapshots of some of your old projects. But how much thought and effort have you put into your marketing? If all you have to show your prospects are a few photos that were practically afterthoughts, you’re not really doing yourself justice. Consider focusing more on your marketing strategy, making professional photography the first item on your “to-do” list.
Why is Photography so Important?
If you’re wondering why customers rely so heavily on photography, the answer is pretty clear: Humans are visual creatures, especially when it comes to art and design. It’s difficult to envision something without seeing examples. That’s especially true with landscaping. It should come as no surprise that high-quality images drive sales.
How to Include Photography in Your Marketing
When you include high-quality photos in your marketing, you’re helping potential clients find you. Here are some ways to reach customers with your images:
1. Add a Portfolio to Your Website
For most businesses, photos are included on a website as attention-grabbers; they’re meant to drive traffic to the site so visitors will then read the content provided. Landscaping is an artistic industry, however. For your visitors, the photos are the main event. That’s why you’ll want to put them front and center. You can add a portfolio to your website using a portfolio template. If you’re not tech savvy, hire a web designer to do the work for you.
A great portfolio will showcase your best work so it’s one of the first things visitors see when they visit your site. This is one of the easiest ways to drum up business, and it’s simple to set up.
2. Use Professional Photography
Because so much relies on the quality of your photos, you should never rely on your own cell phone camera to get the job done — unless you happen to have great iPhone skills. Instead, hire a professional photographer who can visit each job site and take a few shots you can use for your website. It’s a small expense compared to the return you’ll make from all the new business.
3. Add Social Media
With a professionally-styled portfolio, your website is sure to impress — but first you have to drive people to it. Social media is the easiest way to do this. You can use any platform you like — Facebook and Twitter are both popular options. However, because your business is so visual, you might have better luck starting with Instagram.
Instagram lets users post images to their account each day. You can use hashtags to describe what’s in your photo so users can easily find your images using search. Over time, you’ll gain followers and your account will grow. By adding your website link to your profile, you can send Instagram users directly to your site.
If all the statistics in the world won’t convince you that photography is the key to unlocking the potential of your business, consider our story: We started investing in photography for our own business, Renaissance Pools, and we’ve seen great results so far. Throughout our website, you’ll find professional-quality photos that help us stand apart within the industry. With a little time and effort, you can do the same. We wish you the best of luck.
Benji Horning of Renaissance Pools in Henderson, NV wrote this blog post and supplied the photograph.
by the Landscape Writer ~ Copywriting for the Green Industry for 5 Years ~
The days are getting shorter, and the air is crisp. That means it’s time to tell the folks who read your blogs, watch your videos and follow you on Facebook to make their appointments for fall lawn and landscaping jobs.
In this blog post, you’ll get six blog ideas to tell your audience about your fall lawn and landscape maintenance services.
6 Lawn and Landscape Blog Ideas
There is so much for homeowners to know about taking care of their lawns and landscapes come fall. However, many of them—especially younger homeowners—may not know what these tasks are until you tell them.
In each of your blogs, you explain the benefits of getting these chores done by a pro compared to the cons of doing it themselves or not doing it at all.
Here are your six blog topics to try:
- Why Your Fescue Lawn Needs Core Aeration & Overseeding
- 5 Reasons Why You Need to Keep Mowing Your Lawn in the Fall
- It’s Time for a Fire Feature
- Get Your Patio Done Before Winter
- 7 Yard Care Chores that Need to be Finished by Thanksgiving
- Why You Need Your Gutters Cleaned Before Winter.
Give these ideas a try and see what results you get. Don’t forget that you get more bang for your blog when you incorporate social media, such as Facebook posts, that correspond with your blog.
So, we’re heading into the middle of July. Have you let your customers know that this month is Smart Irrigation Month?
You can leverage your blogs and social media content in July by teaching about your irrigation sales and service. And if you don’t work on lawn sprinkler systems, you can still educate your readers about smart watering techniques.
What Your Clients Need to Know
Remember to keep it simple when you’re talking about sprinkler systems. Focus on what they need to know. Here are eight things to tell your readers about conserving water while still taking care of their lawns and landscapes:
- Your readers need to know that their lawns and landscapes only need a 1” – 1½” of water per week—and that includes any rain that your area had in that week.
- They need to know that regularly maintaining their lawns—how they keep their yards, such as mowing, fertilizer treatments and weed control—affect how well their lawns will survive a drought or a hot, dry spell.
- Your prospects need to know that they’ll save money when they use correct watering techniques.
- Even though a new sprinkler system is a significant investment, remind your readers that they’ll reap savings on their water bills in the years to come.
- Tell your prospects about the benefits of hooking up their Smartphone to their irrigation systems.
- Encourage your prospects to get their older system retrofitted with today’s gadgets to save water (and money on their water bills).
- Give your readers landscape ideas such as hydro-zoning, microclimates and other water-saving garden tips.
- Use these blogs to include other water-saving add-on services you provide for your local area.
Use Your Blog Wisely
Sure, you know all of the above like the back of your hand. But assume your clients don’t know these tips or services that you provide.
Keep yourself in front of your prospects’ minds by sharing ideas and tips on your blog and Facebook page that will save them time, money, and other pain points. This way, they turn to you when they need a mowing service, landscape maintenance service or better yet, your irrigation system services.
If you don’t have time to write a regular blog and keep up with your Facebook posts, call me today at 717-381-6719 or fill out my free consultation form.
So, you’re out of blog ideas that inform your readers about best lawn and landscaping tips. So, what else do you readers need to know?
How about focusing on special months? For example, April is National Lawn Care Month, June celebrates National Homeowner’s Month, and July is Smart Irrigation Month.
From April through July, you could have 8-10 different blog topics to share with your readers.
Mini-White Paper – Celebrating National Homeowner’s Month
When writing a blog and social media content about these special months, try to tie them into the green industry and your customers’ pain points. For example, for National Homeowner’s Month, your readers may have these pain points:
- They just moved into your area, and they don’t know the first thing about taking care of their lawns and landscapes.
- They’re gearing up to sell their home. You can share pointers on curb appeal and how your lawn and landscape company can help them achieve it.
- If you provide gutter clean-ups, you can focus on the dangers of clogged gutters and how to solve their gutter
Use Facts to Further Your Cause
Let’s stay with National Homeowner’s Month for a few more minutes. You can use facts in your blogs to draw readers into your story. For example, LoveYourLandscape.org (part of the National Association of Landscape Professionals), lists lawn and landscaping benefits:
- A yard acts like an air conditioner—it’s 31 degrees cooler than asphalt and 20 degrees cooler than bare soil.
- If your reader has trees, you can point out that their attic is 40 degrees cooler than if they didn’t own any trees.
- You can point out how lawns also prevent erosion problems.
- And you can mention how lawns provide a haven to play, rest and relax.
- You can mention that homes sell faster when the property’s curb appeal is well-maintained.
Connect these ideas with good home-owning habits, and you now have a blog or blogs that will interest your readers.
3 Takeaways for You
To help get you started with your blogs celebrating National Homeowner’s Month, here are three blog topics:
- How a Lawn and Landscaping Company Gives Your Weekends Back to You
- X Ways to Create Visual Appeal with Your Lawn and Landscapes
- Lawn Services OR Landscaping Near Me—Replace “Near Me” with the three popular cities that you serve.
Did you know that you’re a lot like your customers? You want to save time too—only you may want to save time from having to come up with blog topics, blogs and social media management.