Growing your landscaping business in the digital age is an entirely different endeavor than a few decades ago. Let’s face it: There’s a lot of competition in this industry, and new businesses spring up every day. However, if you develop a loyal customer base and engage them online and offline, your business will grow from word-of-mouth and get the online advantage some don’t know how to utilize.
There are around 505,643 landscaping businesses in the United States, making up a $99 billion industry. During the last five years, the category grew 4.6 percent — and the growth pattern is predicted to continue in the foreseeable future. Now is the time to work on building your business and getting a solid handle on your local audience with an eye toward expanding into nearby communities.
While you should continue smart offline marketing strategies, engaging your online audience matters, too, since many people turn to the internet first when searching for a local business. Here are eight key ways of reaching out to your target audience online:
If you don’t already have a presence on social media, set up an account on the platform that makes the most sense for your business. Facebook and Instagram are obvious choices because of the ease of marketing to specific audiences on those social media giants. However, if you live in an area where most of your clients are over 50, then Facebook might be a better choice.
On the other hand, if most of your clients are millennials, Instagram makes more sense. Weigh the demographics in your area, which you can find on the Census Bureau website, and make an informed decision about where to concentrate your efforts.
One of the most important aspects of any online promotion is having a home base. Some businesses choose only to have a Facebook page, but you don’t own that content, and some of the rules can hurt your ability to reach your followers. In fact, it’s already made changes that make it harder to promote to your fans.
Think of your social media site as a stopping point along the way to your own property. Once you get users on your website, you can convert them into newsletter subscribers and reach out to them regularly.
Lawn and Order has a great landing page for its website that highlights its beautiful landscaping work in a hero image. It then offers options such as learning more about its story, details on hardscaping, a gallery of photos and testimonials from customers. It also has an easy way to contact it, along with a phone number at the very top of the page.
More than half of B2B marketers use content to entertain and build loyalty with existing customers, and you can do the same with your landscaping business. If you complete a particularly complex project, get permission to share photos on your website or social media and ask people to share what they’d like to take on for their own homes and businesses. You could also write about lawn issues, offer tips on the best plants for shade and sun, or provide any number of other articles, infographics and videos to draw in people and engage them in a conversation.
Once you understand the underlying purpose of your business and why you do what you do, it’s much easier to attract like-minded clients. You likely have a reason you started your business, such as loving the great outdoors. Dig a bit deeper into your backstory. Perhaps your grandmother always enjoyed working in her flower garden, and you helped. Maybe this spurred a love of beautiful landscapes and lawns, and you want to help others capture that feeling of pride your grandmother always had about her home.
Whatever your mission, write it out and describe it in a way that relates to your target audience. Encourage follow-up assignments by being completely transparent about who you are and why you do what you do.
Dragonetti Brothers Landscaping does a good job explaining who it is and why it loves the work it does. It describes its reputation and how its goal is to offer professional and courteous service with quality workmanship. It also talks about the vision its customers have for their homes and how it sees its role as helping those dreams come true. The mission statement appears on top of a beautiful image of a perfectly landscaped flower garden bed.
If you want people to put their trust in you with their outdoor yard projects, you must gain their confidence. One way of doing so is by establishing yourself as a local authority on the topic of landscaping. Online, you can write articles for various publications, answer questions and provide quality content on your own site. You may even want to offer a webinar on choosing the best trees for your location or perennial plants for the long term.
Offline, give talks to local gardening clubs. Always tie any appearance back to your website, encouraging people to visit for a free book, your newsletter and to sign up for your mailing list. Seek future opportunities for connection.
Invest in people who want to know more about your business and what you do. Offer a free quote and educate them about the best course of action to make their lawn look great. You can easily offer suggestions online or via SMS to make it super simple for potential clients to get information from you. While you may need to visit a location to give a firm quote, you can gather a lot from a few photos and shoot them ballpark figures or make suggestions about what you’d like to do to add curb appeal.
Oasis Landscape and Irrigation offers free quotes to potential customers. It asks for detailed information and a description of what you’d like a quote on. It also gives users an opportunity to sign up for its newsletter. This is a way of showing projects the company is working on and offering ideas to potential customers. It also allows people to schedule a service right on the website.
In a study of the state of video marketing in the last year, researchers found about 83 percent of marketers feel videos are more important than ever before. If you aren’t yet using videos for your online promotions, now is the time to do so. Not only do videos help with conversion rates on your website, but they are also a popular item to share on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram. Videos allow you to engage with consumers in a variety of ways.
Landscaping businesses can highlight some of their best works in the form of a video, gather customer testimonials or educate the public about the work they do.
Just having a presence on a website or social media isn’t enough. You must interact with homeowners if you really want engagement. Spend time on social media answering questions in groups. Be careful that you don’t just do so to promote yourself. People see right through that and think it is underhanded.
Let’s say you are in a group called “Help! My Curb Appeal Sucks.” Someone posts a photo of the front of their house and asks what they can do to improve curb appeal. You respond, “Add a large tree to the front left corner and three shrubs under the windows. Include some seasonal flowers in the front as ground cover.” That is going to establish your authority and is a helpful answer.
Do not respond like this: “I own a landscaping business and can help you. My website is www.IAmASpammyBusinessOwner.com.”
Unless invited to share your business, resist the urge to do so. However, being a part of groups on Facebook and other sites gives you insight into consumer needs and allows you to contribute something of value to the online community.
Before you can effectively engage with your audience, you must fully understand who they are. Dig into your current client data and figure out the demographics of your loyal fans. Utilize this information to create a target audience online. Offer content that type of person would be most interested in viewing. With a little attention to detail and smart audience targeting, you’ll grow your landscaping business both online and offline.
Lexie Lu is a designer and writer. She loves researching trends in the web and graphic design industry. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner