Landscape Contractor / Design Build Maintain

MAR 2014

LC/DBM provides landscape contractors with Educational, Imaginative and Practical information about their business, their employees, their machines and their projects.

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22 LC DBM LC: Is it better to hire an online marketing company, go offshore, or employ a market- ing person in-house? CL: It really depends on some very impor- tant factors. Going offshore can be a risky venture. Sure, it can cost less but it's more difficult to communicate due to language barriers. Time zone differences can be tire- some, but most important, quality control can be quite challenging. You won't know if they are using "black hat" marketing tech- niques that can get your Web site penalized in search engines, which can be a nightmare to fix and costly too. I honestly wouldn't rec- ommend it. LC: In all fairness, wouldn't this be a con- cern with hiring U.S.-based Web providers, as well? CL: Yes, but you really must do your home- work. Simply conducting an online search can yield a wealth of information about a company. You can learn a lot by reading on- line reviews. Always ask Web providers for references, call on their existing customers, study the company's Web site. LC: Talk about the differences in hiring an online marketing company, or employing an in-house marketing person? CL: I think it depends on the size of your company and your budget. Smaller compa- nies, with less than 20 employees, tend to hire an online marketing company. It can actually cost much less to forego payroll taxes, worker's comp, insurance, etc. For larger companies, it may make more sense to employ an in-house marketing person. They have a vested interest in your company's suc- cess, but typically online marketing compa- nies dedicate more resources to staying on top of the latest strategies. LC: What about a small landscape company who can't afford either option and has to fig- ure it all out for themselves? CL: A lot of smaller landscape companies at- tempt to build their own Web site, or have Uncle Joe build it for them, only to find out that it did very little for their bottom line. Aside from ending up with a medio- cre Web site, they struggle to gain rankings in search engines due to their lack of online marketing experience. In this case, I would advise them to edu- cate themselves as much as possible. LC: What about small landscape companies and business owners who simply don't have the time to educate themselves? CL: They really have to take time to find the right Web provider who can accommodate their online marketing needs and budget. It's actually not too difficult, since the more reputable Web providers stand out by hav- ing built a solid reputation providing com- petitive online marketing plans that cater to smaller companies. It also helps to ask for re- ferrals from friends at other companies who have seen success and don't mind sharing their resources with you. LC: Isn't it better for a small landscape com- pany to have a self-built Web site than noth- ing, at all? CL: You get what you pay for. You have less than two seconds to capture a potential customer's attention, so the more appealing your Web site is, the better your chances are of converting a potential customer into a sale. So, a cheap, self-built Web site can actu- ally hurt your business more than help it. LC: Can you touch on the importance of Web site marketing? CL: Launching a professional Web site is only half the battle. Marketing can have a significant impact on your sales and bot- tom line. Search engine optimization, or SEO, and social media marketing, or SMM, are key factors in unlocking the doors to your success. For SEO, you need to focus on creating quality Web pages with solid content that is updated regularly, writing educational, informative text and explaining how your company can solve common challenges. Write as an authority on subjects that pertain to the services you provide. Placing the right keywords and local cit- ies in your Web page meta-tag titles is crucial for guiding search engine robots to index your Web pages. Soliciting inbound links from reputable, high-traffic Web sites in your industry can also be highly beneficial. Anchor links, H-tags, ALT tags, also help. LC: Where does social media fit into this equation? CL: It has become a vital component. Search engines pay attention to social media activ- ity and frequency of postings. Again, solid content is the key to building a loyal group of followers for future marketing opportuni- ties. It is imperative to create a Google Plus account for your business, along with Face- book and a blog. However, you should only do so if you have the time to post quality content regu- larly. At the very least, maintain your Google Plus account diligently and frequently. LC: Are there any other online marketing tips you would suggest to our readers? CL: Getting your company listed in online directories is also very important. They build creditability for your company, while pro- viding another avenue for search engines to validate your business, not to mention creat- ing valuable inbound links from reputable, high traffic Web sites. And, if you can get customers to write good reviews about your company, that's even better. Make a concerted effort to list your company in online directories such as Angie's List, Houzz and Yelp, and keep your information current. e e d l e s s t o s a y , l a n d s c a p e c o m p a n i e s d e a l w i t h a m u l t i t u d e o f c h a l l e n g e s i n t h e p r o c e s s o f m a n a g i n g t h e i r b u s i n e s s . O n e c o m m o n c h a l l e n g e i s t h e a b i l i t y t o i m p l e m e n t a s u c c e s s f u l o n l i n e m a r k e t i n g s t r a t e g y . D e c i d i n g o n t h e m o s t a p p r o p r i a t e a p p r o a c h w i l l v a r y d e p e n d i n g o n y o u r c o m p a n y ' s n e e d s . W i t h t h a t i n m i n d , L C / D B M i n t e r v i e w e d C a n d a c e L e a r y , t h e m e d i a m a r k e t i n g m a n a g e r f o r C l e a r I m a g i n g I n c . , w h i c h h a s b e e n d e v e l o p i n g W e b s i t e s a n d o n l i n e m a r k e t i n g p r o g r a m s f o r l a n d s c a p e c o m p a n i e s f o r o v e r a d e c a d e . More information on Clear Imaging Inc. is available at http://www.mylandscapewebsite.com or (800) 380-6942. Online Marketing for Landscapers DBM LC 022-023.indd 22 2/27/14 4:16 PM

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