Landscape contractors will always battle forces like economic downturns and weak consumer confidence. The good news is that things like this always turn around. What you really need to be wary of is the fact that it’s becoming harder and harder to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
In 1970, the average consumer saw 500 advertising messages a day. Fast forward to today and the number is closer to 5,000. Furthermore, the cost of advertising in newspapers and on the radio has about tripled during this same time period—and most small businesses get significantly fewer leads. What is a landscape contractor to do?
Here’s a pretty revealing statistic: 81% of all major purchases begin with an Internet search. Given that fact, you must ask yourself: Is my company really online? Am I really embracing the Internet so my company can stand out during what is an extremely competitive time to be in business?
Consumers Must Find You
“When I go into a new town to meet with a landscape contractor or speak at an event, I like to do an Internet search to see how the local landscape contractors are doing with their online presence,” says Tony Bass. “For example, when I was in Minnesota this past February, I Googled ‘landscape contractor St. Paul’. In less than a second, more than 200,000 records popped up.”
How can a consumer go through more than 200,000 records? Well, they can’t. “What matters is that your listing is in the top 30,” Bass points out. “More than 90% of the click-throughs come from those first 30 listings.”
Get Listed in Directories
Getting back to the St. Paul example, the majority of the top 30 listings were directories, as opposed to links to specific landscape contractor websites. “Popular online directories include the Better Business Bureau, yellowpages.com, yellowbook.com and dexknows.com,” Bass says.
Google also offers free business directory listings. This is an essential tool for landscapers who want to stay in the game when it comes to Internet searches. “When I clicked on ‘local business results’ after I’d searched for ‘landscaape contractor St. Paul’, the number of links dropped from more than 200,000 to just over 4,000,” Bass relates.
Specifically Describe What You Do
“Here’s where the rubber meets the road,” Bass continues. “You need to be very specific with the words you use in your directory listings, not to mention your website. I typed in the term ‘paver patio St. Paul’. This time around 30,000 records came back. When I clicked on ‘local business results’ only, the results were narrowed to 160.”
The contractors with information-rich content in their listings were the ones who were at the top of that 160-record list. These contractors included text about paver patios.
“Make sure you write specifically about the services you offer and products you sell,” Bass hammers home. It would be a shame if a great hardscape installation contractor lost out on a potential lead because he simply wrote that he offered hardscaping, without specifically citing things like paver patios and/or retaining walls.
Taking the Google search yet one step further, video is a great way for landscape contractors to emerge from the pack. “When I first clicked on the video tab in Google before searching for ‘landscape contractor St. Paul’, only 30 records came back,” Bass says. In other words, at least in the St. Paul, MN, market, there are hundreds of thousands of listings for landscape contractors, but only 30 that are videos. “What an opportunity this presents for contractors to stand out,” Bass adds.
You’ve all heard of You Tube. It’s free, so feel free to use it. And for less than $100 you can get a decent video camera.
You can also post video to your Facebook page. If you don’t have a Facebook page for your business, set one up; it’s another free tool for you to use.
You don’t have to be the biggest landscape company in your market with a multi-million-dollar advertising budget to do some creative, powerful things on the Internet that will help your company stand out. Just make your mind up to do it—and get started right away.