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detroitjoker
07-30-2008, 08:29 AM
Hello all,
Was just curious how much work your websites bring in? Do you market it yourself or is it subcontracted? Thanks all.

Chris

CrimsonLawnCare
08-02-2008, 09:48 AM
I built my own website, i actually get more calls then i thought from the site, most people see our trucks or signs in the neighborhood and go back home and type Crimson Lawn Care in google or yahoo, and my site will be on the list.

Flow Control
08-02-2008, 02:54 PM
Good Question> I am wondering the same thing. I just committed to a company to build a interactive website and it is not a drop in the bucket. Is it worth it to drop another couple k into SEO? Is it worth it to hire a company to take care of the adword stuff? All said and done this whole process could approach 5k and in the current economy that is a ton of money. I keep on asking myself two questions. Can I afford to do it in hopes of seeing a return? Can I afford not to do it? Not sure, would appreciate some input from companies that went ALL IN and let us know if it was worth it or if you would have put the $$ in other forms of advertising.

CrimsonLawnCare
08-03-2008, 02:44 AM
Personnaly,I feel that if you took good work for a fair price, you wont need to advertise you will grow strong and steady, so i would say to just save the money. Not enough people look on the web for landscapers.

Flow Control
08-03-2008, 08:03 AM
Personnaly,I feel that if you took good work for a fair price, you wont need to advertise you will grow strong and steady, so i would say to just save the money. Not enough people look on the web for landscapers.

So are you saying go with doing the website the way I want, but just don't opt for the SEO?

cpel2004
08-03-2008, 12:58 PM
Websites done properly will definitely help any business, it allows you endless possibilities to gain and earn business. How can you afford not to have a website? Websites is another spoke in the wheel, its not a cure all, but its a valuable asset to your customer and your business.

Flow Control
08-03-2008, 06:00 PM
Thanks for the info, pretty much how I looked at it as well.

detroitjoker
08-06-2008, 08:27 PM
Great info all. I appreciate the input. Do you guys market your site yourself or do you let AT&T handle all that?

NightScenes
08-06-2008, 09:53 PM
You can shop around and get a very nice site made for less than $1k. I paid about $800 for my site and he's been taking care of it for a year now and I haven't gotten another bill. Don't just look locally either, my guy is in Kentucky and I'm in Texas.

Don't pay for those website promotion gimmicks that say they'll get you on all of the search engines either. Your site builder should do that for you and then the hits that you get will come from your advertising, signage and other means. You don't need hits from other states who are doing broad searches anyway. You'll get hits from those who are looking for information about you/your company.

Just my .02

B & B Yardscape
08-08-2008, 06:58 PM
It blows my mind how much some of you are paying for your web site to be built. On rainy days I joke with my guys that it is a good day to be a web page builder.

I built my own. I have countless hours in it. I enjoy doing it. I get that some people don't have the time or the know how to do it.

I think every business should have a web site, but it needs to be profitable. What does that mean for landscapers? I think it needs to draw in customers. I think that it needs to help the customer choose you instead of the other guy.

I think your web page address needs to be on all the trucks, business cards, & yellow pages ad. I use it on the front of my trucks instead of just putting the business name up there.

The site should tell your clients and potential clients what you do with examples of your work. If you are not selling stuff over the internet, there is no need to be #1 on Google.

Can a bad site hurt you? Yes. If it doesn't tell the customer what they want to know and they don't contact you further, then it will hurt. If it shows pictures of golf courses and 30 foot high retaining walls that you didn't do, it can give the impression that you are bigger and better than you are. When you meet the client, they might not choose you because you didn't meet their expectations.

Can a great site bring in more business? Yes. If it is honest and projects the right impression.

I spend $4.95 a month to host my site. I spend $265 a month for a business card sized ad in the ATT yellow pages. The yellow pages add tells people to visit my web page. More and more people are finding me on YellowPages.com & through other web based searches or advertising. But I still have to have the hard copy yellow pages ad. (atleast for one more year)

WebMan
08-11-2008, 03:10 PM
IMHO--DO NOT WASTE ANY MONEY ON ATT OR ANY SIMILAR ON-LINE MARKETING--

The deal is they have all these on line yellow pages and things and they will list you for a price which gets you on quicker... BUT what most people don't know is that like the search engines these companies are terribly competitive. It may take a year or so but as they copy each other and as soon as one picks you up you will be in all of them within a year; plus not that many people use on-line yellow page stuff compared to just a plain Google search.
Make sure your landing page has plenty of text containing your keywords/phrases, your site has a good robots.txt file and a Google sitemap and you'll be set for basic on-line marketing.
To generate the local customer traffic put your address on everything you do, cards, brochures, your regular free yellow page listing (just a few $ a month more to add your web address) sides of your trucks/trailers/crew shirts/everything. As I say all the time; make sure the home page catches my attention (as a customer) quick and the site makes me want to call or submit a form/e-mail or something right then.

Anybody that thinks people don't look on-line are either not using their site well or not checking stats. I host an association with an on-line contractor search and they are getting over 150,000 searches for contractors every year and might top 200K this year. They have grown every year for 8 years.

While typing this I just checked stats on one of my very "average" home service provider clients, their stats show they are getting around 2,000 visitors a year and i haven't ever talked them into puttting the site on their trucks or job site signs, yellow page ad or anything (like the above--they just don't believe people will look there. But they still are getting 2,000 chances a year to make a sale for ~$100 a year or so-- 5 cents per potential lead...cheap per lead in spite of their lack of effort...and if they would take my advice that would immediately jump to 2-4 times that many for the same cost)

Do you shop on line? I know I have been comparing some software lately and have been reading blogs, forums, ratings sites, etc. to try to find which brand will best suit me.
So you say "yeah but you are a "web guy" and I'll mention my 88 year old mother has a laptop & desktop w/broadband and can Google whatever she wants from a family tree to a lawn care service :)

Turf Troll
08-11-2008, 05:27 PM
IMHO--DO NOT WASTE ANY MONEY ON ATT OR ANY SIMILAR ON-LINE MARKETING

Go webman!

Add yellow pages online and any of the phone companies in your local area who want to do web services for you, I have yet to see a website done by the area phone company that was on the first page for a keyword search of importance.

I did two hyrdroseeding jobs in the last 30 days for people who found one of my websites. I don't really try to sell hydroseeding. But the site is first for "hydroseeding+town" on a Google search. If you find a reasonably priced person to build your site and do the proper link building the returns can be substantial.

If you want to pay for a site and seo it should not cost you more than $1500 for both and maybe $150 a month for link building for a year. After that a site should be fairly well established.

WebMan
08-11-2008, 08:12 PM
Exactly, for sites like landscaping & terms like you mention, a site should be less than $500 and a little SEO maybe $100-$200 top-end, not hard at all. In fact someone could do it themselves if they had a good site builder and spent a few hours reading about how search engines work (and Google will tell you all about theirs)

Bill S
08-14-2008, 05:27 PM
The month of April I had over 4,000 page views!!! A majority of all new work comes directly from our website and most people find us with Google searches (about 55%) Yahoo and MSN are the next two best referrers (about 20% combined).

Originally I designed the site myself and optimized it with a bit of help from my friends, thanks Sal, Troll and Steve...

Recently I did have a design company come in and clean my site up aestetically. Though there is a bit more work to do I did not want it all done at once as I dominate my search key words and didn't want to risk losing my spot from massive changes...

Websites are a must! Use your work, don't use someone elses. I looked at one of those sites on the Google Adwords (one of my competitors) and knew the work on it wasn't his. Not his style and much too good looking of a job. Scrolled down to the next listing, clicked the ad and what do you know...same pictures on the home page. Be careful of these companies with their gimmicks for instant success.

Build a site utilizing your best photos and lots of relevant text , optimize it, do some link building and you will succeed.

WebMan
08-14-2008, 06:55 PM
That's a big key, and Bill is working it well it sounds like. Always be watching the most common keywords or phrases people in your area are using and which search engines they use most.

Run them and see how you do against the competition, then work on your site until you are higher for all those. Search engine optimization (SEO) is not really hard on a local level. Even in large cities with ~20 competitors. When you are going for a local market it's fairly easy.

Now if you are "national" and have 10,000 competitors it gets REALLY tough...like in my business :dizzy:

cbscreative
08-29-2008, 04:41 PM
I see a lot of very good points being made in this thread. I especially agree with WebMan in the sense that your businesses should not usually need to go beyond local rankings which are much easier to get. Yeah, try competing in web design. It's fun challenge though.

If your market area is normal, or like most, you have an incredible opportunity that most are not taking advantage of. How many real competitors do you actually have? Even if you answer is 100, you can outshine them with a web presence because most are wondering if it's worth it just like those asking here. Winning in the market has a lot to do with being visible. Online marketing is an amazingly affordable way to be visible.

The question I see asked that started this thread is one I see a lot. I have also observed that the majority of business owners are misunderstanding an important aspect of marketing. If most are misunderstanding it, then it provides a great opportunity for you if you take advantage of it.

Let me demonstrate the problem many site owners have by illustrating with something you can most likely relate to. If you're shopping for a new car, or some other important purchase, do you research it first? Maybe you read magazine reviews, listen to radio programs from experts, or maybe you take advantage of what the web does really well; you research online. Many, many people do this even if you don't.

Here's where the problem comes in. Let's use the car as an example. In this example, you have researched the car you want to buy online and now you're ready for the purchase. That week, a dealership runs an ad on your car, so you go there to buy. If the dealership assumes that the newspaper ad was responsible for the sale, they might be tempted to scale back on other advertising because they're not directly seeing the benefits.

In my experience, many business owners gauge the effectiveness of their site to what they can directly attribute to it. Since not all results are directly visible, many are not paying close enough attention to a tool that can yield great results. What if you could be on page 1 of Google for a local lawn care search? And if 8 of those top ten results are junk (which is often the case), you have the kind of visibility that will help you succeed.

A web site is rarely a stand alone marketing tool, but it is an under utilized support tool. If someone sees your truck on the road, in the neighborhood, or anywhere else, and they can't find you online, that's bad. If your site makes a bad impression, that's worse.

You also never know when someone else online is going to want to say something nice about your business if they've had a good experience, or another business wants to cross promote with you. Having a nice web site will really help your business. The only way to lose is either a bad web site, a poorly planned web site, an overkill web site, or none at all.

WebMan
08-29-2008, 06:10 PM
GREAT post cbs!

That's where so many people "miss the whole point".
I can't tell you the number of contractors I have asked "You have that big dump truck or utility trailer, why isn't your web address in 4 foot high letters on it?" and I get a "well--uh--" response. I know one contractor in a business similar to lawn care who simply added "sign boards" to the side of his open utility trailer (like I see many lawn companies using) and placed both his phone (which was catchy like 123-LAWN) and his domain name (also catchy like www.BestLawn.com) in huge letters with his actual company name & address in small letters across the top. The results were amazing, now whether they went to the web site first or just called I don't know. But his phone rang a lot more, and the cost was less than $200, not even one newspaper ad!

The points you make you did so well I can't improve on it other than I teach marketing in general besides "sales" and web stuff that all kind of fits together. Most small businesses do not have a marketing plan, so for free I'll give you the first 2 most important places to start then think of what you read above as you think of this.

You MUST have a written marketing plan with a written budget. If not you cannot tell if you are spending your budget for the greatest ROI (return on investment)
Who is you "Target Customer"? That you MUST know. He/she is the customer that makes you the most profit per hour spent. Not necessarily the most gross dollars (big sale) but the most money for the time spent that makes it to your pocket. That's the "perfect customer" your complete marketing plan needs to reach.


Is it starting to make sense? You shouldn't judge the success of the business by how much the business "takes in". You can have more sales than anyone in town and go broke! It's all about how many sales you make to that customer who puts the most dollars per hour in your pocket! Because then you have more hours to spend on more of those customers making more of that money (are you having visions of lying on a beach with a margarita yet?) You can "take in" 1/2 what your biggest competitor does and yet make more money! That my friends is what planning your marketing, using a multi-faceted approach as described so well above and then "delivering the goods" to the client willing to pay a premium for your exceptional service. The marketing plan like a business plan is a living-working document that must be changed and evaluated against all the time.

I will leave you with a tip. When the economy gets bad like it is. Those with money have more while the "poor" have less. Think a moment...the smart investors make money in the bad times and the good...the old saying "the rich get richer" is true. So now is not the time to target the customer who may have to decide between that Christmas trip or his HDTV for football season and lawn care (lawn care will lose) but for the customer who knows they will be going and already has the home theater and wants a "homescape" or lawn that is better than the other people in his "peer group" who will be visiting to watch the ball games or coming for the holidays.

Remember these people use the Internet constantly, their cars talk to them, they read different sections of newspapers and magazines and they are NOT going to "do their own work" on the yard for the holidays... see where I am going? Can you change your marketing and make more money by doing more than just the fall "winterizing" treatment for the lawn & shrubs? Maybe you don't want to or have other "winter work-it's just one idea; these are tough times for some in the business...

But that's the point NEVER STOP MARKETING and a few changes in the web site about how to prepare for the best lawn ever at the most efficient cost by planning now can secure all next year's yard work in November (or you can get into "homescapes" if you wish)
Even seen a trendy restaurant where that target customer might frequent that has those little advertising things above the urinal---bet you never thought of that---

AND whatever you do write it down so you can see the goal, identify that perfect customer, then only worry about one marketing technique...the one that reaches your "target" customer. That may require being high on Google for a phrase you (or your competitors) never thought of yet, or maybe being number one isn't as important as how the title reads even though you are number 4...

Sorry, that's all the free time I have today... I have to get back to trying to find the ideal hosting or consulting or whatever customer for me before I take off for Labor Day...best of luck to all...

I know to some all this is nonsense "I'm just a small lawn mowing company, what the heck is "homescape"...to others though just as small now; it made sense and they will be watching a show tonight on Planet Green because they thought there might be a sales opportunity there somewhere...

:drinkup: Happy Labor Day-warning "thinker coming" if you do more work this year you will do less labor the next

Turf Troll
08-29-2008, 07:25 PM
Kudos webman and cbs great post!

The marketing from the internet is rather passive because someone needs to search for a service. BUT great clients come from the internet.

Being pro-active is making sure a advertisement gets in someones hand. Tying it together with having your phone number and web address on it.

If you market to people who have money, they can afford your service.

How do you do that - go to a list provider - I generally us info usa - input demographics.

I think that people who household income is over $100,000. a year and who's house value is over $400,000.00 are my target market (generally) for my landscaping business. In the area I want to work there are about 3500 people who fit this criteria. I try to stay in a 3 mile radius.

The names cost about $300
10,000 - 6x8 postcards cost about $800
my postage would cost $1300 to mail the 10k

so for $2400 I will put a card in a prospective clients hand about 2.86 times with my phone number and web site

I only need 50 clients from the 10000 postcards or 25 clients from the 3500 people on the list for landscape maintenance - hardscaping I only want 10 clients

you have to figure what a great client is worth -

cbscreative
08-30-2008, 04:19 PM
Thanks for the compliments.

With the economy tightening as ICS mentioned early in this thread, many businesses respond by cutting back, even on promoting, which is a formula for disaster. Those who hustle not only survive an economic downturn, they grow stronger and have an even greater advantage when the economy rebounds. The problem with recessions is mostly when people volunteer to participate.

Every challenge presents an opportunity. While I'm sure many in the lawn care and landscaping industry are lamenting the current economy, the ones winning are those who take advantage of the opportunities it creates. They always exist, and with some creativity, you can always find them. If someone is trying to sell a home and having a tough time because of the market, does not landscaping make it easier to sell? Don't try to sell your service, solve a problem instead. Think creatively, and market accordingly.