Promoting your business is important.
That’s common sense.
But not all marketing efforts work.
Take this example: A well-known coffee company did what many brands have done to increase their social media reach – offer a coupon or free sample for following them on Facebook or Twitter. Unfortunately, this coffee company offered more than it could deliver, depleting its supply of free coffee after only three days.
Two weeks later, they sent out a message saying it was first come, first served.
That’s a marketing failure, to say the least.
Let’s assume every company markets its products or services in some form. What’s the best way to do so? The answers are wide-ranging. But one aspect is crystal clear: Successful marketing plans and strategies are absolutely essential in running a profitable business.
In the tree care industry, companies large and small use different methods to market their services.
There are the traditional lawn signs, promotional materials mailed to customers, advertising and branding on trucks, referral programs and good ol’ word-of-mouth.
There’s no shortage of technology-friendly methods, such as email marketing, promotion on your website, customer review-based websites like Angie’s List and Yelp, and even more advanced methods like search engine optimization (SEO) and Google AdWords.
There are many possible avenues to take when choosing and budgeting for your marketing portfolio.
Tim Bruchez, owner of Princeton Tree Care in Princeton, New Jersey, said his company uses lawn signs along with doorknob hangers, Angie’s List, Facebook, Google AdWords, SEO and direct mailers.
“Marketing is a vital part of your business. Having a diversified marketing portfolio helps your future customers find you,” Bruchez said.
Judy Macauley, marketing manager for Blooma Tree Experts in Seattle, said her company also employs a variety of marketing tactics, but there’s a common denominator.
“It’s important to set yourself apart from the competition,” Macauley explained. “Some companies rely on cheap price, some rely on quick turnaround, whatever it is, you should have something that is unique to your company that will make you rise above the crowd.”
For example, she said, “We have at least one ISA [International Society of Arboriculture] Certified Arborist at all times on the job site, and we emphasize that in all of our marketing.”
Rising above the crowd is the most important reason to have a solid marketing plan, according to Pete Shamlian, CEO of AdMark’s Bear Marketing, which does marketing work for tree care companies.
“The importance of a good marketing strategy cannot be overstated,” Shamlian said. “Fewer customers have money to spend for maintenance, and others are waiting until their problems cannot be ignored any longer. Customers may need to look for a new tree service, or they may be making decisions based not on long-term relationships, but on cost. This means that you need to have a presence … you want the opportunity to bid on all the work in your market. The question is how to do it.”
What exactly is SEO?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a Web page in a search engine’s “natural” or unpaid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of searches, including image search, local search, video search and industry-specific vertical search engines.
As an Internet marketing strategy, SEO considers how search engines like Google work, what people search for, the actual search terms or keywords typed into the search engines, and which search engines are preferred by their targeted audience. (Search engine) Optimizing a website involves editing its content, HTML and associated coding to both increase its relevance to specific keywords and to remove barriers to the way the search engine indexes activities of the search.
For additional information, search ‘SEO’ on Google or visit https://bigbamboomarketing.com (tree service SEO agency).
To create a good website, it’s not just about spending money.
“You are [also] being thoughtful about content,” Shamlian added. “Unfortunately, many tree service owners opt for the basic one-page site which they either build themselves or spend the minimum on. This is not in their best interest. Put yourself in the shoes of the customer; include what is important to them. [Also] be sure that your site is built to conform to any [mobile] device.”
“The wonderful thing about today’s technological landscape is that it provides a huge variety of ways for a company to market itself,” she said. “This can seem daunting, but there is also an enormous amount of creativity that can be unlocked in the process.”
Search engine optimization: SEO ensures that a website can be found in search engines, like Google, for words and phrases relevant to what the site is offering. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.
Marketing ideas your company can use
- Be different. Take your cue from big advertisers and brands: Find something that distinguishes you from your competitors, and then promote the difference.
- Talk to your customers. Ask them for feedback. Ask them what you can do to better serve their needs. If you see a trend act on it.
- Put your business on the Web. If you haven’t already done so.
- Get listed in Google Places. Make it easy for people to find and contact you.
- Fill out social media profiles. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest. Provide as much detail as you can, being sure to include website links and products.
- Use direct mail to reach your customers. Yes, it’s an oldfashioned technique in an always-on world, but it still works.
- Send a card or a postcard. Send something to customers to remind them when you need to go back to perform a service or inspection.
- Use local keywords. List the name of your city or county on your Web pages and in title tags to help people find you online.
- Use email to stay in touch with your customers. Contact them regularly with special offers, industry information or other content.
- Make the telephone number on your website a click-to-call link. This makes it easy for customers using smartphones to call you.
- Advertise. Try weekly shoppers and the classified section of local weekly papers if your business is local. Ask for a discount to put your ad in both the print and online editions of the publication.
- Be proactive and be persistent. You have to keep at it until you find what works for you. Then, to continue your momentum, you have to keep on marketing.In many respects it’s quality control for websites. Why have a website if it can’t be found?Monitoring SEO can be done in conjunction with Google AdWords, an online advertising service that places advertising copy at the top, bottom or beside the list of search results Google displays for a particular search query.Many companies, like Blooma Tree Experts, realize the importance of SEO and hire outside companies to make sure their website shows up at the top of Google search results.
“SEO is a huge field, and it’s important to let an expert do that,” Macauley stated. “Online marketing is the most important kind of marketing we do, and we definitely can see a direct correlation between how much work we have and how much we spend on Google AdWords.”
Need proof having good SEO matters? According to the Search Engine Journal, 75 percent of users never scroll past the first page of search results.
“In today’s marketplace, if you aren’t visible online, you do not exist,” Bruchez said.
Other online methods: Email can be used to communicate with past customers or to reach new ones.
“We use Constant Contact to send out a newsletter focused on educating the reader about some aspect of tree care,” Blizzard noted. “These emails do lead to bid opportunities, but on a larger scale they reinforce our brand as a company.”
Third-party customer review websites, such as Yelp or Angie’s List, can bring in a considerable amount of business. This depends, of course, on your company having a reputation for doing satisfactory work.
Yelp, where companies can utilize a free profile or pay to have a “highlighted” ad on relevant searches, boasts over 67 million local reviews. Angie’s List, a subscription-supported website containing crowd-sourced reviews of local businesses that pay to be listed, claims that members conduct more than 700,000 unique searches for top-rated professionals each month.
But beware, customer review-based websites can pose problems as well.
“Feedback is a double-edged sword,” Shamlian said. “Positive reviews are helpful but may have validation issues. The problem with negative reviews is obvious. The tree service business justifiably carries the aura of a rough, tough, brawling sort of business. It attracts people with the pioneering spirit. These folks have no time for nonsense and do not suffer fools lightly. Yet, in the end, tree service is also a retail business … so it’s a combination with inherent friction.”
Get the word out
Make no mistake, word-of-mouth, referrals and face-to-face interaction with the community still matter.
“We put a lot of value on retaining customers and building new business through existing clients,” says a local arborist.
Being involved in the community can also go a long way toward building customer relationships.
“We participate as a tee box sponsor in select charity golf tournaments. We choose a theme and then create a scene near the tee box where golfers, many of whom are potential customers, can have fun and meet our team in a low-pressure setting,” a local tree pro explained. “This type of marketing both reinforces our support of the association hosting the tournament and provides an opportunity to create relationships with potential customers.”