Stand Out Online
Hardly anyone under the age of 50 uses the Yellow Pages anymore. A great way to stand out in a crowded marketplace is on the Internet.
The first thing you need to do is increase what I call your Internet Marketing IQ. Focus on the things you need to do in order to strengthen your Internet presence, such as:
- Building an effective, professional website
- Setting up Yahoo and Google business listings
- Developing a company eNewsletter
- Developing a strategy to utilize social media such as Facebook and Twitter
Become a Resource Through Writing
Effective use of the Internet includes writing articles, participating in online discussions, and regularly writing press releases designed for your target customers. Think education.
What are the top 10 questions you answer when you go out on sales calls? Make a list of these questions, and publish them on your website as FAQs (frequently asked questions).
Did you know that the use of video online has more than tripled over the past four years? Failure to learn to communicate quickly, concisely and professionally with low-cost online videos is a failure to obey the new rules. You’ll need to invest at least a couple hundred dollars in a decent digital video camera, but it will prove to be a worthy investment.
Word of Mouse
Once you ramp up your online presence, you should devise a strategy to establish positive online reviews of your work. Think dozens of positive videos, letters and audio recordings. It’ll take a bit of work, but will prove to be a worthy investment of your time.
Proactive, consistent and meaningful publication of positive comments is the ultimate defense against negative reviews, foul comments and techno madmen. That’s right—as quickly as online media can transform your company to superstar status, it can crush your standing in the community.
For example, one unlucky landscape contractor had his reputation destroyed when his truck was involved in an accident that killed a person. The driver of the truck was identified as an illegal immigrant. The news story is now permanently published on YouTube.
In another case, Contractor A is mad because he lost a bid to Contractor B. Rather than simply step aside and try to find new work, Contractor A contacts the local TV investigative news team and accuses Contractor B of employing illegal immigrants. The news team shows up, conducts an investigation, and lets the community know exactly what the shake-up is on the local school grounds maintenance contract.
Are you prepared to deal with online negativity like this?
Set a goal to compile 50 to 100 positive reviews, because doing so will prevent one bad review from ruining your priceless reputation. Your future marketing strategy must include positive word of mouse.
Postman is Still Your Friend
Contractors who understand that effective marketing requires a combination of several promotional and sales strategies are the ones who will grow. Using multiple delivery methods of the same (or similar) targeted message will break through today’s crowded marketplace.
Direct mail is still a low-cost way to target specific neighborhoods, demographic profiles and interest groups. Here are some quick tips:
- Use an enticing visual, such as a picture of an inviting garden scene
- Include your website address
- If you’ve been able to upload some videos to your website, invite the prospect to watch them
- Invite the prospect to go to your website to read customer testimonials; ideally you can even create one or two customer testimonial videos
- Offer something, such as a free on-site consultation valued at $100
Develop Selling Skills
Given the correct tools, a 21-year-old landscape rookie can become as effective at selling as a 30-year veteran. Selling is a skill you can learn, but you must commit to learning and training.
What you say as you answer the phone, in addition to what you don’t say and the order in which you say it, matters immensely. How you convert an Internet lead or prospective caller into a confirmed site visit or proposal quote is a science. You must commit to getting better.