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Online Marketing for Lawn Care Businesses – Is it Worth it?

Jonathan from Lawn Care Millionaire & Service Autopilot join us to discuss using online marketing for lawn care businesses.
Andrew: All right, so why don’t we talk about online marketing strategy. Is it worth it? Is online marketing worth it?

Jonathan: Is it worth it? Absolutely. It’s not free. Which, I think there’s a perception that it’s free, because you think of print as costing money. You think of postage and printing. So you think, online there’s no postage and no printing, so it’s free. Some people do it themselves, so they perceive it to be free. But it’s far from free because there’s that opportunity cost of, 1, them working on online marketing and not something else; and 2, working on online marketing and spending massive amounts of time not really knowing what they’re doing and not getting great results. There are a lot of people that perceive it to be free, don’t get good results, and are disappointed by it. But,it does cost money. I wouldn’t describe it as cheap, but when compared to the return on print and some other sources of marketing, I think online is the best. I really, really do. I also really believe in print, and that’s important to say, but online marketing absolutely works. You have to do it right. It’s an investment. It’s truly an investment. I think that’s why so many people throw in the towel. You’ve got to buy in that this is going to work, you’ve got to know what you’re doing or hire somebody who knows what they’re doing, and you’ve got to be willing to wait. Because it’s a process.

Andrew: You bring up a very good point. Having an agency, a lot of people who come through the door, and a lot of people who call have the expectation that this is something that’s like designing a website. Here’s a check, you design a website, and it’s done. Project’s over. A lot of people have the idea in their mind that I have a website and I’m not getting ranked in Google so I need to get it optimized. They come or they call us and they say, “How much does it cost to get my site optimized?” That’s not such an easy question to answer. It’s not a question that you can answer with a dollar amount. Meaning, this isn’t something that we do once and that’s all it’s going to cost. It’s something that’s a recurring thing. It’s something that you have to do every month. It’s something that you have to work on every week. There’s a lot that goes into it and it’s something that you have to dedicate a budget to and do every month, just as you would running a campaign in the newspaper or an advertisement in a magazine. You have to think of search engine optimization and online marketing in that same way. It’s not something that you set and forget. I think that would be the best way to describe it. You don’t set and forget it, you have to keep working at it. You do it every week. You do it every month.

Jonathan: You have to keep on working on it and tweaking it. I’ve talked to a lot of people that don’t think it works. Often they’ve let a friend help them or try to do it themselves. There are people that do it themselves and get good results, so I’m not saying that you can’t do it yourself. But, I see this common mistake where they have a buddy who says he can do SEO optimization and there’s a lot more to it than most people realize. They don’t really know what they’re doing. That’s a huge mistake and then people decide it doesn’t work, or again they don’t give it long enough. Quite a few clients that we get have attempted to do it themselves.

Andrew: Or they’ve already been burned by somebody.

Jonathan: They’ve either been burned, that’s even more common, or they’ve tried to do it themselves but haven’t gotten any results. So they’ve wasted a lot of their own time, when they could have been focusing on other aspects of their business.

Andrew: I’m positive the returns are there. With our service autopilot clients I get to meet a ton of clients in all kinds of business. Some of the savviest ones are doing very well at this stuff. This is one of those things where you talk about whether or not it’s worth it, and yes, it absolutely is. And you need to do it right away because it’s only getting more expensive, difficult and competitive. If you’re just starting today, you’re behind somebody that started five years ago. But at the same time if you put it off another three or five years, the costs are only going up. I perceive that getting in now will save you money because you start to build history, you get in before it becomes more competitive, and you’ve already gained some rankings. So it’s something that you want to act on.

Jonathan: The barrier of entry is just going to go up.

Andrew: And it’s been going up.

Jonathan: It’s going up exponentially, because people are starting to realize how important this is. There’s less and less of that “first market” advantage that you can capitalize on, being the only person in your geographic area that’s taken advantage of this. In most geographic areas, unless you’re targeting a really small city or providing a really unique service that no one else is, there’s probably somebody in your area or in your market that’s already trying to use some of these same techniques. They might not be as effective as what we’re doing, but they’re probably thinking about search engine optimization and they’re thinking about pay-per-click. They’re trying to take advantage of some of this stuff.

Andrew: In my market it’s become extremely competitive. There are a lot of guys competing and spending money on it now. I don’t see that everywhere in the country, but in certain markets it’s extremely competitive.

Jonathan: It’s just going to increase.

Andrew: And there’s no doubt it’s the future. There’s absolutely no question of whether or not this is still going to be a big thing to do later. It’s not going to change. It might evolve, but this is the future. You’ve got to do it. Along those lines to, there’s something else about “Is it worth it?” that we have to to talk about. I’m a big fan of print marketing. A lot of people are not. I am. There’s a good strategy around it, but my point is that with print marketing, let’s say that you own a house– let’s say your condo in Florida– and your hot water heater breaks. How am I going to happen to have timed the mailing to your house at just the right time so that you’re opening your mail right after the hot water heater broke? Or you just opened it that day, your hot water heater broke, and you know exactly who to call. It’s not going to happen. Or, I would have had to have sent you a mailer that you hung on your refrigerator, which I don’t think that you’re doing in your condo. I would have had to have sent you something so awesome that you would junk up your house with it and hang it on your refrigerator, so that when your hot water magically broke someday down the road you knew exactly where to go. It can’t happen that way. It’s very hard to orchestrate with print: to be there when the need happens.

Jonathan: Unless it’s the Pirelli tire calendar. That’s the only thing on my refrigerator.

Andrew: OK, so then, you totally screwed me up. But with search, what happens? Your hot water heater breaks in your condo, you go straight to your laptop, and you type in “plumber South beach”. Next thing you know you’ve got a plumber, you’re looking at the reviews, you call the guy up, the guy’s at your house in 30 minutes. It could be true of weekly recurring service like maid service or lawn care too. The lawn care guys have broken that window for the last time, the homeowner’s done, and they’re looking for somebody else. It’s very hard to time your mailers to be there. That is the most powerful reason why online marketing is such a big deal and you have to participate.

Jonathan: What they want, when they want it.

Andrew: And they look for you and find you. The best analogy is, It’s what the yellow pages used to be. The yellow pages worked, and they still work for some people, but not like online marketing.

Jonathan: It definitely has to do with the age of your market as well. People our age and younger aren’t using the yellow pages. The last time I used the yellow pages was to see what competitors were in my market, and I don’t even think that was a good judge, because I didn’t see my biggest competitors in the yellow pages.

Andrew: And we carry our yellow pages straight from the front porch to the recycle bin in the garage. I think we’ve pretty much established, and I hope you’re convinced, that online marketing is going to cost money but it’s worth it. Let’s talk about some realities of this. I think time is the biggest reality. Forget money. Let’s talk about how long this is going to take. We’ve got organic, pay-per-click and local. Let’s touch on all three.

Jonathan: Sure. Let’s start with pay-per-click. Pay-per-click is probably the only one of the three that’s instantaneous. As soon as you sign up, your ads are showing up. They’re rolling as soon as you hit go. As soon as somebody sees it, they can potentially give you a phone call and you make a sale. It’s the quickest possible thing you can do. Long term, it’s also going to be the most expensive process that you can go through.

Andrew: Yea, if you start getting a ton of clicks, you’re going to pay forever. You’re always going to pay. Click costs are getting more expensive because markets are getting more competitive. You can count on your click costs constantly going up. They’re never going to go down. Even if you optimize your campaigns very well and you’re getting a very good click cost with Google. They’re rewarding you for being very good at marketing, you’re costs are still trending up.

Jonathan: That’s correct, and as soon as you stop paying Google or Facebook, it’s over. That’s something that you have to consider.

Andrew: Overall, pay-per-click clicks, the number of people that click on your ad versus the number of people that click on your organic is very small. A lot more of clicks go to the organic rankings, or local rankings, especially the organic; compared to pay-per-click.

Jonathan: That’s a very good point. This is something that a lot of people don’t realize, how effective or ineffective PPC can be in relation to organic results. If you have a page and there’s no local listings, all it is is PPC and organic results, only about 2-3% of people are clicking on any of the ads on that page. The strong majority, 30% at least, are clicking on that very first organic result.

Andrew: It’s a huge number.

Jonathan: It is a huge number. And then down from 30%, it probably cuts to about 20%, 15%, 10% and on, down the page.

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Andrew Pototschnik is the founder of Lawn Care Marketing Expert, the largest online marketing agency in North America specializing in marketing strategies for the lawn care and landscaping industries.

Google Partner
Facebook Marketing Partner
Service Autopilot
Official Consultant of PLANET Conference