In this special episode of the Lawn Care Millionaire Video Blog Lawn Care Marketing Expert drops in for an unexpected visit. In this episode they discuss exactly what you should be doing at this point in the season and why it is always a bad idea to let Google “help” you setup your PPC Advertising.
Jonathan: Hey, it’s Jonathan. We are a couple months away from spring and I thought I’d shoot a video on what can you do to get ready for spring this season. What are the things that you’ve got to do now so that when spring arrives you’re not in the situation where you can’t get it all done, if we pre-plan and get some stuff done. I thought we’d run through a list here and talk about some of the different things that you need to do. Some will be marketing and let’s talk about some things for employees. I would highly recommend that anything print material-related, anything that you’ve got to get ready in advance – such as if you’ve ever used any of the lead letter strategies I talk about, or the street mellow strategies, or if you use door hangers. You need to start getting all this print material together now and you want to start putting it together.
For example, if you’re doing your lead letters you need to go ahead and print these things out. I print out months of these things; have them completely ready. That way when the spring rush rolls around you are so incredibly busy that you can’t get anything done, that process doesn’t stop happening. If you know you’re going to send out door hangers and you’re going to start distributing them – whether using a company or you’re having your guys do it – pre-print your door hangers now. I’d pre-print enough to get you through at least three months of the spring rush. I’d start working on all of this stuff right now …
What are you doing? (Laughs) I was trying not to look at you while I was doing the video.
Andrew: Don’t mind me. I’m just crashing your blog.
Jonathan: I’m actually in Miami right now and Andrew and I’ve been shooting video. We’ve been working on a product for a couple of days; literally from eight in the morning until almost five o’clock this morning. Slept a couple of hours and got back up and did it again.
Andrew: I thought we had it done before you got here.
Jonathan: It’s like 10 o’clock. Andrew ran out of room on the camera … the battery ran out of space and so we were on a break here.
Andrew: I told you to charge it.
Jonathan: Yeah, whatever I just brought it up a minute ago. We ran out of space shooting a video and so I was going shoot out a couple of blogs here in a moment.
Andrew: You took … what are you doing? You’re supposed to be talking about preparing for the season and you’re jibber-jabbering about stuff that I don’t care about. What are we talking?
Jonathan: Hold on. Let me go back to finish what I’m talking about and we will involve you, somehow. All right, basically, if you’re going to do lead letters, if you’re going to do door hangers, if you’re going to do any of these activities you know you’re coming into spring. You’re going to be swamped for three months. Everything that you know you’re going to distribute or do for the next three months; do it now. Get it all completely ready, sitting on the shelf, ready to go out the door. If you’re going to do nine rounds, then put them on albeit your client’s homes. Go ahead and get the Tupperware containers that are going to go in the trucks under the seats. Fill them up with door hangers now.
Maybe get a double set of Tupperware containers. That way when one runs out the guys can just grab another one and stick it under the truck, but think about all the systems you need to put in place right now to be prepared. Anything around print; get all your print stuff ready. Anything around employee’s stuff, for example if you know in spring you’re going to start hiring a lot of employees, you know they’ve got to fill out I-9s, you know there’s paperwork they’ve got to fill out. There are always things they need to do. Get all that paperwork done now; get all the forms pre-printed. If you think you’re going to hire 10 guys in spring, print out 10, 12, 15 copies of all this paperwork, put in a folders. Have it all completely ready so that when you’re hiring you’re not running around looking for this paperwork.
It’s more than marketing; it’s all the little operational things inside your business. If you know that you’re going to be so incredibly swamped that you’re not going to be able to reconcile the bank accounts for two months after you get going, get them all reconciled now. Get everything caught up; get everything ready so that when spring comes you can put your head down and not do anything in the systems that you’ve already worked on or sort of running on autopilot for a few months. Then things were going to become a mess and they’re going to become scrambled in your company. Fine, after the spring rush, after your big opportunity to sell a lot of work, come back and clean stuff up but at least …
What I see, and I’ve seen it in my own business is it get so busy we keep quit doing stuff because we weren’t fully prepared. I’m saying get fully prepared.
Andrew: You never want to fly by the seat of your pants. That’s the worst business plan that you can possibly have. It’s true for your marketing, it’s true for running a business, it’s true for managing your business, every aspect; you need to have a plan.
Jonathan: Spring is so incredibly important to our businesses and it’s such a prime selling time that we need to do everything we can to be successful; we need to do it now. We can’t wait till the last minute. I’d really exhort you to do whatever you’ve got to do and get it ready. One of the things, I guess, let’s … since you’re here, I was talking about prints so if you would tell … Andrew does my SEO at this point. He does my local and my SEO stuff, He took that over a while back. What kinds of stuff are you doing for me right now in January that will put us in a prime position come March? Our stuff’s already working really well obviously, but what are the things you’re worried about on our behalf?
Andrew: You get it, you know that SEO is a long-term strategy and you’ve always treated it that way and that’s very important. SEO is not something that you do for three months and then turn it off. If you’re going to do that, then you’re just wasting your money.
Jonathan: Might as well not do it.
Andrew: It’s going to take a long time to rank, especially when you’re in competitive markets like you are. You need to already have your SEO campaign running at full blast right now, at this point. The sooner that you have your SEO campaign running and you’re doing the right things … you’ve hired a SEO company that’s doing the right things, you’re going to be ranking on that first page of Google hopefully within two or three months. Then slowly over the next longer period of time you’re going to start knocking off your higher ranking competitors who’ve been in your market for five, 10 years, and have websites that are in the number one, number two, number three spot.
It’s a long-term process but you need to start doing your SEO now. The other thing that we do for you obviously is Pay Per Click. We really crank up the budget at the beginning of the season, but we really leave your campaigns around all year round. PPC is one of those great things where if there’s no demand you’re not going to be paying for anything, because if there’s no demand nobody is clicking on your ads. We’ve been working on that, where we’re revamping all your ads. We’re doing split-testing all year round. We really want to have the highest performing ads possible. Those are the two main things.
Jonathan: Let’s give them some things that they can do. For example, Pay Per Click, now would be a good time to be … because you might have not done this at the end of the year. Now would be a good time to be looking at your campaigns and setting up a few additional split tests. You had some campaigns running last year.
Jonathan: You could go through Google, your dashboard there, and you could get rid of a couple campaigns that were your low performers. You could rewrite a few ads to test against your best ad that you have running now. Now would be a good time to write some new ads, then have those ready so that they could be running.
Andrew: We were actually just brainstorming something. I think we came up with a couple of good ones that we did. We’re going to create ads and create custom landing pages for them. I think they’re going to come read well, they will be totally unique.
Jonathan: They’re even using the display network which … The display network is … I think AdWords personally, I think AdWords is easier to make highly effective than the display network. An you see that in this market specifically or …
Andrew: Yeah, definitely. Unless you have, you’re going to get a higher conversion rate, higher click through rate on standard AdWords that are just text. The display network is going to be graphic images. You’re going to have to create graphic ads to run the display network. If you have a limited budget, unless you are already running thousands of dollars on the traditional AdWords network where it’s a text ads, not graphic ads. If you’re not running a couple of thousand dollars on that yet, then I wouldn’t even worry about the display network.
Jonathan: I agree. That’s been my experiences.
Andrew: It’s really more of an advanced thing that we do for our higher budget clients, our larger markets where it’s very competitive. We can get in to some more advanced strategies. But you’re going to get more bang for your buck doing the text ads and really optimizing your campaigns; split-testing, leading pages, all that good stuff.
Jonathan: I’d say if you’re a big company and you’re already spending a lot of money, and you’re absorbing a lot of the traffic through traditional Google AdWords, then I think that’s a good time to be looking at the display network. I’ll tell you from my own experience, I’ve blown some good money. I think a couple of months I blew over a thousand bucks a month. I couldn’t really. I just don’t think I got great results. It took a little while to figure it out. This was in the beginning. It’s worth getting somebody who knows what they’re doing. I’m not saying it’s negative. It just takes a lot … don’t do it. I’m saying it took me a little while to figure it out in the beginning, and I spent some money learning a few lessons.
Andrew: You bring up a very good point. I’ve never … I’m the founder of Lawn Care Marketing Expert. It’s a marketing agency for lawn care and landscaping companies. We’re based here in Miami. We do his marketing and tons of other companies across the globe.
Jonathan: Now I know why you’re on my video … to plug yourself. (Laughing)
Andrew: One of the common things that we see, we get a lot of clients who are running their own AdWords campaign themselves, and they’re usually pretty critical on AdWords. It’s rare when anybody that comes to use loves AdWords, and it’s because they are doing it wrong.
Jonathan: You’re seeing a lot of people come to you getting bad results; spending too much money?
Andrew: You know, AdWords Google does such a great job putting upfront a simple frontend interface – easy-to-use interface – in front of the program that it hides the depth and the complexity. It really … because they do that, it really encourages these you-guys unknowingly to spend a lot of money, that you shouldn’t be spending for clicks that aren’t going to convert into customers. This is where paying somebody – an expert at AdWords to manage your campaign for you – it pays for itself.
Jonathan: We’re bouncing around here but since we’ve gone to AdWords … As an AdWords expert and spending a lot of money, if Google called you and said, “We’d like to help you optimize your campaigns.” Would you let them do it?
Andrew: No. (Laughs) They’re going to optimize … They’re going to optimize your campaign for Google.
Jonathan: I knew what you were going to say so I was going … I led you in that question. Because if you’re spending a nice amount of money …
Andrew: What they should be asking …
Jonathan: They’re going to call you. They’ve called me and if you’re running a bigger operation, they’re going to call you. Don’t work with Google. Don’t let them optimize your campaigns. They have a service where they have people calling you and then like, “Oh, will give you a couple hours of time. We’ll help you get more clicks and stuff.” You don’t want to do that. You want to figure this stuff out on your own and become an expert at it. Or you want to use somebody like Andrew’s company that is already an expert at it. You don’t want Google to be your expert. They have a vested interest in spending more of your money.
Andrew: Let’s talk about the steps that they go through to optimize your campaign. Step number one; increase you budget. That’s it. (Laughs)
Jonathan: I never talk to them. I wouldn’t take the call. I just didn’t see the point; I knew it was going to happen.
Andrew: It was a joke.
Jonathan: I know it’s a joke. I was trying to think of something else they might ask you but … anyway.
Andrew: They’ll ask you for your credit card number.
Jonathan: The point … you really have it. Their point was preparation. In prep-preparing we’re going to write some new Google AdWords. We’re going to just look at what we’re doing. We’re going to look at what we can do more of. Not only go in the details. You might set up some new Ad groups. There’s a lot of things you might do with your Google AdWords. Now is absolutely the time to do it. You can do it. Obviously, Andrew’s company could do it for you but this is the point of my videos to tell them some things they can do. This is something they could be working on.
I asked about SEO because marketing … online marketing is one of my favorite topic subjects. I love online marketing.
Andrew: It’s brought a lot of money to your business.
Jonathan: In SEO, yes, they need to be doing it now. Is there’s something they should be doing like for example, should they be … Is there something they could be doing, and obviously they could just have you help them, but is there any point or some things they could be doing to now that will help them with their own SEO?
Andrew: Definitely, I think that building a good … building on a solid foundation is a good place to start. The clients who come to us that have a crappy website, that’s all … that doesn’t have a content management system or where you can easily go in and update individual pages, you’re still updating static HTML pages. I don’t want to get too technical here. But the people who are built on a good platform – WordPress is a great example of a platform that’s easy to modify – that would be one place to start. Don’t skimp on relying on a free website; GoDaddy websites, different things like that. It’s going to cost you more in the long run.
I always recommend that you invest in a website that you’re going to be able to use for the next five, 10 years that you can easily ad content to, because that’s becoming more and more important in our SEO and on our online marketing strategies.
Jonathan: That’s not going to change.
Andrew: Yep. Build on a good base.
Jonathan: I’m going to interrupt you and say, so this is another one. Right now is the time to be working on your website, whether you’re doing it or you have somebody help you, but this is the time to add copy on. Maybe last year you had a mediocre site, or you just got something up, or for years you’ve had something. Now is the time to start going back in and working on the copy. Add more personality to your website. Then SEO things would be … you know add … if you know what the keywords are the people are typing into Google and searching for company like you, you could do blog posts around those topics in your website. There’s lots of things you can do, but really be thinking about the wording and the copy on your site so that it matches what people might be searching for in the browsers, so that your site gets found. You’re growing in a way; you’re sort of growing the size of your site right now because you’re adding more to it. Would you agree?
Jonathan: You’re improving your copy and then something else that you should be working on now on your website is … just because you get somebody to come to you. This is one of the reasons I like the work Andrew does. You don’t think about just getting somebody to the site. Once you get them there, you’ve got to convert them into a lead or you might as well not spend a buck. You might as well not spend any money on marketing. You might as well not spend any money on your website. It’s all about converting leads into prospecst. This is a really good topic because this is a great time of the year to be thinking about things we’re talking about; AdWords and SEO to get people to the site.
Now, once we get them to your site because the site is your best sales guy, what do we want to do? What are some actionable tips that they can do to help convert?
Andrew: That’s a really good point to bring up. Something that we see a lot is that clients will spend all of their money on making their phone ring, whether that’s expensive [inaudible 00:15:02] campaigns, or advertisement, or even online stuff, but they don’t put any effort into the other things – the things that actually convert those leads to customers. That can be … that beyond your website that could just be how your staff is answering your phone. In regards to your website, and you just mentioned it right there, your website is your ultimate sales guy. Think of your website as your ultimate sales guy and your sales guy, your ultimate sales guy need sales tools. You need to enable your website to sell you and your services. One of the things that I think about when it comes to websites, is how it looks. Would you send your sales guy to see to a client’s home or to their business in a wife-beater, cutoff jean shorts, and flip-flops?
Jonathan: What kind of blog is this maybe they do.
Andrew: Just the guys that watch your videos; not mine. Well, you shouldn’t do that. Don’t show up to your client’s house in wife-beaters and cutoff shorts and flip-flops, but this is the exact thing that some people do with really crappy websites. I’m not saying you want to go out and copy the big cold incorporate look of some of the large franchises in our country; but you should have a professional appearance. You should look professional. It should look like you’ve spent time, energy, and money on your website, not that you threw something up and you don’t care about it. I’ve seen websites where I can barely find the people’s phone number, [inaudible 00:26:44] for questing estimate. That stuff is just silly to me. You’re mentioning how you can help convert visitors to customers. Well, having a well-designed website that’s laid out properly where your information is easy to see, is the first step in that.
Jonathan: I would say it would match the appearance of the appearance that you give off as a company. As an example, on the flip side of what you are saying we wouldn’t send a guy in a Ferrari wearing a tuxedo to a client’s home to give them a quote on mowing the lawn. At the same time you can way over spend on your website, go way too fancy with your website – way more than you need to. It’s a balancing act and you guys do a nice job of balancing that.
I think that you’re really trying to match your company’s personality and your website. This is where it gets into doing with some custom work on a site, because a good designer can help you match the design of the site to the kind of people and company you are. There’s two sides of this. There’s the wife-beater analogy and there’s the guy in a tuxedo analogy. You want to find the happy middle ground and that’s really a good thing to be working on this time of the year – is really enhancing your website.
Andrew: Just like a sales person, it’s going to get better over time. The more practice it has … in a salesman case at closing sales. Your website should improve over time, you’re adding new fresh content to it, you’re adding a personal … I always recommend you put a personal video from the owner or your team leader, or whatever on that video, telling them a little bit about your services. It’s essentially sales [inaudible 00:18:19]. Talk about maybe your top five or seven points and sell your services. Tell them why they should use you; why are you different from the hundreds of other lawn care companies in your market.
Jonathan: Faceless lawn care companies.
Jonathan: They’re just faceless. Nobody knows who owns them; nobody knows who the people are at the company. They don’t really see them. All they see is a logo. You have an opportunity with video to connect with personality and they get to know you and they get to see you. You get an opportunity to connect with them at a level that you couldn’t possibly connect by just sitting out a door hanger with your logo on it.
Andrew: I completely agree. I get so many calls at my lawn care marketing agency, lawncaremarketingexpert.com, where people have been watching my videos for six months and they’ll call me and they’ll speak to me like we’ve known each other for years and video has that power. You might be sitting on the other end of your computer, or your iPad, or right now watching me, but after you’ve seen me and heard me talk I know that you want to call me immediately at 786-309-7898.
Jonathan: This will be the last time I’ll record a video at your place for my stuff.
Andrew: (laughs) I was … joking aside, video has that power …
Jonathan: It’s really worth it and it’s a perfect thing to be doing this time of the year and it’s so easy with an iPhone or a droid phone or whatever your Galaxy, or whatever . It’s so easy to record a video. It doesn’t have to be overly produced. It only has to be so good; I mean it’s not that hard.
Andrew: I’ve put some effort into it. I put some thought into what you are you going to say. I would absolutely not just turn on the camera and start talking like he does on all of his videos. I would actually put some fun into what you are going to say, because some people do care.
Jonathan: (Laughs) I know you’re a [inaudible 00:20:10] comedy. Thank you. Thanks for listening. I hope that at least this has motivated you to go out and start thinking about all the print material stuff you’ve got to do. Start getting all that stuff ready in stage right now. Start thinking about all the employee operational stuff that’s about to hit you in the next couple of months. Get that pre-prepared. Even if you – like I’ve said before – even if you get all the stuff ready and you put it on the shelve and it’s just sitting there waiting. You know that you’re not going to have any time for at least four months of the year. Do everything in advance so that this year things actually happen in your business. Don’t let this year pass where you’ll end up at the end of this year having good intensions for the next. My point being; get it done now so that it will really happen and 2013 will be a very good year!