In a world of increased competition, fast-paced change, and heightened customer expectations, how do you get your company noticed?
This is one of many questions faced by landscaping companies every day and, let’s face it, it isn’t supposed to be your specialty—you’re a landscaper. These days, marketing can be complex, time-consuming, and expensive if you don’t know what you are doing and, at the end of the day, may not bring the results you are looking for. No matter what the goals are for your company, your online profile is perhaps your most critical tool for communicating with potential clients so seeking advice from an expert can make all the difference. Whether your landscaping company is large or small, well-established or you are just starting out, well-timed advice can help you achieve more high-quality leads, formulate a brand strategy, or simply free up your own time by streamlining or outsourcing your marketing communications. No two companies are the same, so you want to develop your own long-term strategies but remain flexible in your approach to take advantage of market changes.
In the modern market, your online profile consists of not only your website but your social media presence too. Both can be crucial to helping you present your business with the right mix of professionalism and personality. To learn more about how to make the most of the time and money you put into your online representation, I spoke with Ineke Clark, Director and Founder of Ambition Consultants, about the most important things you should focus on. Before launching Ambition Consultants, Ineke was CEO of Master Landscapers South Australia, where her tenure saw a massive 200 per cent increase in membership and a whopping 400 per cent increase in sponsorship for the organisation. With Ambition Consultants, Ineke has brought together an agile, dynamic team with intimate knowledge of landscaping and the unique challenges of successful branding in the industry.
“It’s no longer enough to be good at what you do,” Ineke tells me when I ask her why an online profile is so important. “As a landscaper, you would once have received all your work from satisfied customers and word of mouth. Modern consumers expect much more. Even if you do receive recommendations that way, potential customers now want to be able to see a body of your previous work for themselves. Fortunately, landscaping is such a visual art form that websites and social media are ideal for showcasing your work history.”
This of course is a double-edged sword. The quality of video and images you place on a website or social media can make or break the deal for potential clients. It is imperative that your images are professional, and highlight finished projects, preferably well-maintained and with several years established growth. These images will show your skills in the best possible light, looking lush and luxurious. If your budget can stretch to it, consider hiring professional photographers and videographers to assist with the presentation of your work. These experts will be able to help you capture the best angles and features, as well as your company’s individual character. Clients love to be able to get a feel for a company and its personality before committing, Ineke tells me; it helps them feel more confident and builds trust. Consumers love brands but building brand awareness is nearly impossible without a great online presence in modern markets.
Adding finesse to your images can also assist with helping to take your business to the next level. If you are hoping to gain larger jobs or entry to a new area of the landscaping industry, the images you select for your profile can be crucial to sourcing new leads. “It all comes down to how you present yourself”, Ineke says. “Get creative and strategic about the types of images you use to attract bigger and better jobs. Then, make sure that all materials are slick, polished and professional.” Ultimately, you get what you put out so show what you want to do.
In terms of gaining more and better leads, Ineke also gave advice about how to treat your website and social media offerings. According to Ineke, both channels are extremely important in modern-day marketing but serve very different purposes. Your website acts as your main point of contact, day, or night, 24/7 and provides vital information about the services you provide, your company approach and other relevant information. Many consumers now do a lot of their research at night, after work to help them narrow down companies they might contact for a quote so it is vital they can find you easily and get a sense of who you are. Websites may be very simple, even just one page cleverly designed, as long as it is on-point and in line with your brand image. You can also use your website to promote some of your work but keep in mind that websites can be time-consuming or tricky to change.
This is where social media comes into its own—it’s quick and customisable and can allow you to regularly display your work and build a following. Ineke tells me, “Think of it almost as your company brochure.”
But what if you have limited time, money and aren’t very techy? Where should you focus your social media efforts? In this case, forget using Facebook, according to Ineke. Facebook used to be good for building a great organic following but changes to their business model now mean that you really have to pay for advertising to get any traction. Instagram, however, is perfect for landscaping social media because it is designed as a photograph sharing service. Your posts are a great chance to connect with potential clients and advertise your exclusive style.
“Don’t expect instant results from social media, though,” Ineke tells me. “You have to be in it for the long-haul, it will be at least 3–6 months before you really start to see results, no matter what the size of your rganisation. The key is consistency.” Ineke dvises that you post to your social media channels once a week (more often if you get more time) and simply upload a great image of your work and a couple of sentences describing the project. Build up a bank of images with your photographer ahead of time and this doesn’t need to be an onerous task, but it will keep your company and brand front of mind with your followers.
As landscaping companies grow, they often realise they need to hire someone in-house to handle their marketing or outsource at least some aspects to keep jobs of the right calibre coming in. This is where companies such as Ambition Consultants can be ideal. None of us are great at everything, it is important in business to get help in the areas that are not your strengths. Brand experts can assist you with every aspect of marketing from inspiration through to strategies and materials. If you think this is just what your company needs, then you are in luck! Ambition Consultants are offering a free 30- minute brand strategy phone meeting to all TLA members. To book your session simply email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Ambition Consultants’ Instagram profile for the booking link.
If you are not yet a TLA member, why not consider joining today? This is just one of many benefits you can receive as a member, all tailored specifically to helping landscaping businesses of every kind to grow and thrive. We have a suite of excellent resources and services designed to assist with every aspect of your business, from technical workshops on tools and practices, through to client contact templates and staff management materials.
Visit our website today at www.landscapeassociation.com.au. With TLA in your corner, the world is your oyster.