In Part 2 of this interview we discuss… how to avoid getting ripped off by unethical SEO companies, Lawn Care Marketing Expert’s unique approach to marketing and SEO and why marketing your lawn care business is all about building relationships with your consumers.

The interview was conducted by Richard Jacobs of Speakeasy Marketing Inc. & My DUI Attorney another fantastic direct marketer based in New York.

Richard Jacob: Why do you think lawn care entrepreneurs get victimized by unethical marketing companies? What can they do to prevent it if they happen to run into you first?

Andrew: Yeah. Well, if they’re lucky they do run into us first, but we actually do, like I mentioned, we actually get, I don’t know what the percentage would be, but we actually get a lot of second time companies that have already been burned by marketing agencies in the past.

I think one of the reasons is it’s such a booming market, unfortunately that they’re just inundated with sales pitches from telemarketing firms that are really just, they’re shady SEO companies that promise the world or promise you number one positioning and really don’t honestly educate their consumer. So the consumer at the end of the day doesn’t really know what they’re getting and that’s a big deal.

So they might promise you, yeah we’ll promise you the number one ranking for $300 a month, but what they’re actually doing is selling you a Pay Per Click advertisement that would normally cost you $1.50 if you do it yourself and they’re reselling it to you for $5 – $7 a click. And that is a very common and I think honestly a shameful thing.

I just don’t understand companies like this that are okay being in business that’s based on deception and not being honest with your customers about what results they can expect, what it’s going to entail, and ultimately the true return on investment that they’ll get. The companies unfortunately, the majority of SEO companies out there, they just don’t do that.

And I say it like this, the funny thing is that being a marketing agency, we get the same e-mails that our customers get. Every single week we’re getting e-mails from SEO companies saying, “Oh, you’re not ranking on page one for lawn care marketing.” Which tells you right there how shitty these companies are and how they do their marketing. They’re basically spamming everybody they can possibly find.

Because you know what? We’re a marketing agency and we are on the page one of Google for lawn care marketing and a number of important key phrases. So that’s the norm and that’s really frightening that a company is just spamming thousands of people and saying, “Hey, we can get you on page one” and they don’t even know who we are and what we do or anything about us. I think that’s a horrible approach to getting clients.

Ultimately, if you’re going to take that approach, do you really think that a company like that has your business’ best interest in mind? Do you really think you’re going to get a good return on your investment? Me personally, even if I wasn’t, even had a lawn care marketing agency, I would be very suspect about companies that approach you like that, or do aggressive telemarketing.

A lot of these companies, a lot of these big companies that have VC capital behind them or have big well known reputations, they’re basically gigantic telemarketing firms that have, they have huge telemarketing firms. They have a staff on the phone every single day and they have a tiny little SEO department. They have a tiny little marketing department. Their whole business is based on telemarketing and selling services. It’s not . . .

Richard: The actual work is an after thought and the telemarketing is all they do and once they get them in the door, they do nothing for them, right?

Andrew: That is exactly right. I call them churn and burn companies all that they care about is meeting their quota each month and finding as many new suckers that they can take their money. And that’s unfortunate because it really gives our industry a black eye, but our industry actually does deserve a black eye because those types of companies are the majority. So hopefully, if you’re lucky, you find my company first before you get burned by one of those companies.

Richard Jacob: In terms of different style, I’ve seen some of the stuff you do. I see that you have a blog, you do videos on lawn care marketing expert. Tell me a little bit about that and what that does for people searching for marketing help and some of the other unique things that you do that is different from the churn and burners.

Andrew: Yeah. That’s a great question. Let me back up for a second and then I’ll go right into that, to the answer for that. In regards to what I suggest that lawn care entrepreneurs can do to avoid getting ripped off, I mentioned avoid the companies that promise the world or market to you in these shady areas, but ultimately the number one thing you can do as a lawn care business owner is educate yourself.

And that is just getting some basic education in search engine optimization, online marketing, online marketing tech, direct marketing techniques. That will save you a lot of money. I know it takes time. I know you’re going to have to spend hours to do it, especially after a long day out in the field, but that will ultimately save you a lot of money and time at the end of the day.

And actually that kind of goes into the next question because that’s kind of the core of how we get our clients at Lawn Care Marketing Expert. I actually took a completely different approach than these aggressive telemarketing guys and the other shady companies out there who were sending me spam on a daily basis.

My whole approach was well, you know there’s thousands and thousands of lawn care entrepreneurs out there who need help. Who don’t know where to start. Some of them do take it upon themselves to get educated. So my whole approach was well, why don’t I give out free education.

And so the core of my website, if you go there, is hours and hours of educational videos all about search engine optimization, local listing, social media, e-mail marketing, everything that a lawn care and entrepreneur would need to know in order to make an informed decision. That’s really been, that’s really at the core of how we get our new clients.

So my approach is give away as much free information as possible. Give away everything. Give away all the secrets. Don’t hide anything from your potential clients. And ultimately some of them will become clients. We have 1,000′s of people who watch my videos every week who are on our e-mail lists and 99.9% are never going to give me any money. They’re never going to write us a check. They’re never going to sign up for a package, but that’s okay. That’s okay.

They have, take our free information, go on and do your online marketing yourself, that’s awesome, that’s great, but that .1% who don’t have time to spend on it. Who trust us. Who see the value of hiring a marketing agency as their partner, that’s our market. And so I think that’s the way to do business. Be honest. Be open. Be ethical. Give away the bank. Tell everybody your secrets and there’s a percentage of the market that still needs your help to implement for them and that’s really the approach that we take.

Richard: Okay.

Andrew: So just going into the next question you had, you were asking what our unique approach is in marketing and SEO. What approach do we take that’s different than the other guys.

Richard: Right.

Andrew: Well, there’s a couple of different things that we’ve developed over the years when we market to the lawn care and landscaping companies. I come from, even though I mentioned earlier that I come from a brand building, huge ad firm background, I actually take a more direct marketing approach.

So what that means is we try and identify what our customers want. So what does a lawn care customer want in Oklahoma City? What do they want? Ultimately, they want somebody who’s reliable. Somebody who shows up on time. Somebody who doesn’t let their dog out and remembers to close the fence after they’ve mowed their lawn. Somebody who doesn’t break their sprinklers or should that happen, they have an insurance policy that’s going to take care of it. So all of these different things. That’s what we try and determine and that’s how we approach the marketing.

So everything that we do to your website, that we do to your — what we call your marketing message, reinforces that. And let me give you a basic example, we do what’s called PPC, Pay Per Click advertising typically people know that as Google Adwords and one thing that we do that 99% of the companies don’t do, is that when we do a PPC campaign, we match the message to the market.

So for instance, we might run an ad for, that’s targeting homemakers in Oklahoma City, okay. Homemakers, the wife at home, raising the kids, they’re oftentimes making the decision about the lawn care. The father’s at work, the husband’s at work, he doesn’t deal with taking care of the home. He’s the bread winner. He’s busy. He can’t deal with that stuff.

So we’ll write our Google Adwords headlines and the message to market strictly to those homemakers. And that could be in the form of a testimonial. That could be a number of different ways that we do that just in the language and the copy of that actual advertisement.

And then when somebody actually clicks on that advertisement, when we’ve lured in Susie Homemaker because the advertisement, she responds to it, it takes her to a page that corresponds to that message. It speaks to Susie Homemaker. So that page would be all about all the other housewives that we’ve helped in Oklahoma City take care of their lawns, manage their landscaping, and on that page along with a number of different things, including copy text that actually speaks to the homemaker, we would include six different testimonials from other women, just like Susie Homemaker on that page. As well as a number of different things that we do that are proprietary to Lawn Care Marketing Expert.

So that’s something that 99% of the other companies out there aren’t doing. 99% out there they’re running generic ads and they’re taking you to a page that says, “We’re the best lawn care company in Oklahoma City” and that’s it. So that’s not very effective. And taking the opposite approach we know just by split testing and looking at the data and looking at our analytics that we have the right approach. And that’s something that . . .

Richard: Something that is funny is, as you’re talking to me I’m standing out here looking at my back lawn and you’re talking about not letting my dogs out and I’ve got dogs. And you’re talking about not running over my sprinkler heads, and I’ve had them broken.

I can tell that you guys know what the issues are for customers because I’m smiling as you’re talking and we’ve seen that my lawn care company, who sucks, would never address any of these things. I’ve never heard any of them ever address any of these things about lawn care. So I can definitely tell right off the bat the way you say, I’ve never heard this before and I think it will definitely be a wake up call for lawn care companies listening that you know what’s up.

Andrew: Well, Richard I’m sure we have a lawn care client in your area that we can recommend to you.

Richard: I’ll have to get that from you.

Andrew: I just really like to reiterate that point because I just think it’s so important and that’s something that the million dollar ad firms just forget about. It’s all about me. It’s all about the company and it’s not about the people who are doing the buying and I think that’s the wrong approach to take and that’s not the approach that we take.

So I think that’s definitely something that’s very unique to us and taking that further if you want to get more technical, some of the different packages that we offer as well. We offer local listings which include Google Places and Yelp and different things like that.

Everything that we do is even though we offer similar packages and offerings to different lawn care/landscaping companies throughout the U.S., Canada, Australia, they’re all custom. At the end of the day, they’re all custom and tailored to that particular client. Their particular geography. Their particular services and all of these different things.

So it’s not a one size fits all plan. Everything that we do is tailored to their market. To their consumer. And that’s just another really important approach to take. We will do unique key phrase research for each market. We write unique content for each market and that’s really critical.

Richard: That’s really something that I’m hearing is that because you deal with not only all kinds of climates that lawn care companies work in, but all kinds of regional preferences. I’m sure in Canada people think about their lawns very differently from Texas, from New York, from Florida and over in Australia. So I can definitely see that’s one of the benefits.

No matter where I am, what kind of company I have, you’re able at least to give me some insight into not only what works for me in my area, but also other areas. Pretty sure I can pick up ideas, hey guys down in Virginia doing this and it’s working so I should use that in my marketing as well.

Andrew: Yeah. And that’s exactly right. And that’s something, that’s another one of the benefits of focusing on one industry and being the expert, being the true best in that industry. I mean we can, there’s been a couple of different occasions where we’ve gone into different markets whether it’s in Vancouver or Toronto and we’ve discovered some different, we’ve discovered some different things that we can actually apply to some of our clients in Ohio.

So that’s one of the benefits of having a razor sharp focus. Going a little further something that we do also that’s very unique, is we’ve developed what we call Online Credibility Builders and what that simply means is that when somebody visits your website, we’re not going to tell them that you’re the best. We’re going to show them that you’re the best.

And we do that by really promoting your reviews on Yelp, on Google Local. We want video testimonials from your clients. We want to display the fact that you’re involved with PLANET, with GIC, with all of the industry trades. We really promote the fact that you really are the best in the industry.

I mean every lawn care company in your area is telling your same target audience that they’re the best. So when that’s the message in your market that just turns to noise, it’s meaningless. That’s meaningless to your prospects. So we want to show them.

Richard: As an outsider I have no clue what lawn company is better than another. I mean all I’ve seen is that a listing, we cut trees, we do this, we do that. I haven’t seen anyone talk about what you’re talking about as a consumer, nothing. So if there was stuff to help me decide who’s better and who’s worse versus them saying, we’re the best, we’re the biggest to me again, that would work. I’d appreciate that.

Andrew: Yeah. This goes back to our implementing direct market principals. The benefit of doing that and approaching your marketing in that way rather than just telling everybody that you’re the best and just being more noise in the marketplace is that when you can really just establish yourself as having a reputation and convincing them in a non-pushy, in a meaningful non-pushy way, you start to position yourself as a lawn care or landscaping company that no longer has to compete on price.

Because when everybody in your marketplace is telling all of your potential prospects that they’re the best, it’s all noise. But when you can show them, you’re no longer competing with Joe Schmo and his lawn mower who is going to undercut for $15. We don’t want to compete with those guys. We don’t want their clients.

We want the clients who actually want the best in your industry and in your market. And that’s one of the things that our Online Credibility Builders that we developed, that’s what they do. And it’s huge. It’s huge.

Richard: Another thing too, is I’ve never talked to my lawn care people. My wife might of talked to them six months ago when we started using them. We haven’t spoken a word. We get a bill shoved in between the fence and we pay it. There is no communication. I’m sure that you guys address that too and have your lawn care entrepreneurs communicate with their clients and build a relationship with them. They’re not easily replaced by, like you said, someone who charges $15 less.

Andrew: Yeah. That’s exactly right. At the end of the day, it’s all about relationships. We give them, even though we focus, with our smaller clients we focus on, with inbound leads, inbound marketing and getting them leads through their websites, through the different things that we do online, helping them upsell to their e-mail marketing and social media campaigns.

And then some of our larger clients we do help them with their offline marketing, but this goes back to my point that marketing is really a partnership. Because at the end of the day, you’ve got to deliver. If you’re not delivering then you’re just spending a lot of money to get leads. If you’re not closing those leads, then you’re just spending a lot of money to get leads that aren’t valuable.

So it really is a partnership. Like I said, you’re company really needs to be firing on all cylinders as well, but at the same time I recognize when you’re a small company that it’s hard to man the phone all the time. It’s hard to do all these different things at once, but that’s what you’ve got to do at the end of the day to compete with the TruGreen’s, with the big companies, with the franchises.

And we do make a lot of recommendations. It’s another thing that a lawn care marketing agency does, and SEO company doesn’t do, we really make recommendations on different ways and strategies in their operating procedures that they can implement within their company that will help them close leads, that will help them get reviews and testimonials, which are critical but are completely undervalued, unfortunately.

So we help them and give them advice in a lot of these different areas. And that’s just sort of included in our online marketing policies. We always answer our phone. And when our clients have problems we try to assist them the best that we can.