Use a professionally shot photograph of your best work, like the one above, as the main image on your website. This will allow you to use your site as a way to showcase your company's talents.
Photo courtesy of Mullin Landscape Associates

Last week, our office received our yearly copy of the Yellow Pages. Seeing it in the mail bin (probably moments before it was transferred to the recycling bin), reminded me of one of my marketing goals my first year in business.

Nearly 10 years ago, a full-page Yellow Pages ad meant that a landscape company had arrived, in my opinion, at least. Fortunately, I managed to stay far enough ahead of the marketing curve to never spend my company’s money on that full page ad. It was probably around this time that I began considering investing in our first website.

The cornerstone.

While it was easy to solicit quotes from web developers, no one prepared me for the amount of time it would require of myself and some of the members of my small team. I look back fondly on the long nights browsing through pictures, writing text and scouring through other websites for ideas. The investment we made into this website paid back dividends though, and is something that I truly consider to be instrumental in the success we’ve achieved.

Our current website, which is a complete redesign from the one mentioned, is sleek, easy to read and navigate, and full of professionally shot photographs of our work and team members. We use this website not only as a way to showcase our work, but also as a way to highlight the impressive team we’ve assembled, our qualifications and company values.

I’m baffled at the fact that some companies don’t see the value in investing time and money in a professionally designed website. Websites are the cornerstone of internet marketing and a way for prospective clients and employees to drill down and learn more about your company when they see your branding through other avenues.

As important as a good website is to a company’s marketing, all internet marketing is not necessarily beneficial. Reflecting back over the years, I vividly remember both the wins and losses that we’ve had with internet advertising mediums.

One major loss was a referral site that sent members several different competing contractors when a customer requested service.

As a contractor dedicated to quality, it was difficult for us to win those price competitions. Regardless, I went on dozens of these sales calls before I realized that the website’s ideals didn’t line up with ours. Once I realized this, I moved on and was able to spend more time pursuing and taking care of the clients who did value what we had to offer.

Help customers find you.

Search engine optimization (SEO) has been a hot topic in our marketing department lately and we’ve done quite a bit of research into learning the best way to optimize our site. There are several avenues of SEO, all of which we’ve invested in at one point or another.

We’re huge proponents of having our website organically optimized, which is done both on the website developer’s end and our end by continuing to update and add content, which is very desirable to most major search engines.

Pay-per-click search engine ads, such as Google Adwords, can be advantageous to contractors as well, as they can instantly boost a website to the top of the search engine’s test results. These ads require monthly budgets, and can range from $100 a month or so up to thousands of dollars.

There are companies who specialize in pay-per-click campaigns, and can help you maximize your investment and give guidance on the right amount of money to budget.

I was surprised when a friend who owns a large, successful marketing agency pointed out the fact that pay-per-click ads typically trump organically optimized websites on the search engine result rankings. After learning this, we’ve increased our pay-per-click budget. Most reputable website developers are able to offer SEO services, and typically build them in to the price of creating a new website.

Get social.

Social media is another major avenue of online marketing. Despite the fact it may still have some critics and doubters, social media marketing is here to stay. Some of the major social media outlets that we use are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Houzz. We make sure to regularly post to all avenues of social media with regularity to maintain the connection with our followers.

Our social media posts, especially on Facebook and Instagram, tend to be picture-heavy, but we do try to include factual information, company updates and posts that show our team having fun. Company updates and posts of our team show that we’re a local, family-oriented company, which is attractive both to clients and employees.

Houzz has proven to be a great platform to showcase our work, industry expertise and client reviews to perspective clients. As picture-heavy as it is, Houzz is a natural place for a landscape contractor to build a profile showcasing their capabilities. Houzz has also been beneficial during the design process as it’s easy for clients to build “Ideabooks” to show our landscape architects the type of looks, materials, etc., that they’re hoping for.

We’ve found the most success posting on weekdays between the hours of 9 a.m. and noon, when there’s generally more user traffic on social media platforms. Often clients will reference our recent Facebook posts and Houzz albums to show us ideas for what they’re hoping to achieve with their yards.

I was on the phone with a potential client earlier this week who made reference to a pool house and outdoor kitchen that we recently built. Showing off our work on social media can spur ideas for clients and it brings legitimacy to the fact that we’re experts in our craft.

Online marketing is, in our opinion, one of, if not the, most important avenues for branding your landscape company. In an industry that’s difficult to achieve a competitive advantage in, online marketing is a definite means to stand out from your competition.