If you run a local service business this guide can help develop a growth focused digital footprint. Whether you run a law practice or a local landscaping business, this guide can help you get started. Throughout the article, we'll be using a local landscaping business as the example.
Why does digital marketing matter for your business?
71% of consumers today start their buying journey online.
While word of mouth and referrals should still be an integral part of growing your business, the tides are turning. Many consumers are turning to Google before they turn to their neighbors for advice on their recommended service professionals.
Your competitors might not be capitalizing on it.
Most local service businesses don’t place enough priority on consistently marketing their business, especially online. If you’re one of the few in your area that is prioritizing your digital marketing presence, you’ll gain an edge over your competition.
It can help get you out of the cycle of constantly pounding pavement to sell.
How nice would it be if instead of having to network like a madman to find clients, new leads just appeared in your email inbox, ready for you to head out and give estimates for? This won’t happen immediately, but with consistent focus and dedication to developing your marketing presence, you’ll see an influx of leads that allow you to say “NO” to the leads that aren’t worth your time so that your can say “YES” to the leads that are going to take your business to the next level.
Common Marketing Pitfalls for Local Businesses:
Not defining your business’s target customer
Not spending time building out a long term marketing strategy
Waiting too late into the season to start marketing
Step 1: Defining Target Market & Core Service:
Before you begin building a fancy website or redesigning your logo, it’s important to revisit exactly “who” you are selling to and “what” you are selling. This will help you tailor your website specifically to your ideal client.
For example, if you’re a local landscaping business and your ideal clients are commercial apartment complexes, but your website only shows imagery of small residential homes, then your messaging won’t resonate well with them.
You may have already defined your target customer, but it’s always worth revisiting:
To define your target customer, ask yourself:
"Who is my ideal customer?”
Don't be general:
“My ideal customers are large residential clients.”
Do be specific:
“My ideal customers own homes over $1,000,000 in the Naples, FL 34102 zip code.”
Now, ask yourself:
“What service is most worth my time to provide?”
As any business owner knows, when you’re just starting out, you’re eager to take on any work that you can get your hands on. Early on, when you’re simply trying to bring money in to the business, it’s ok to say yes to these types of work, but in the long run, you need to get laser focused into what exactly your “product/serivce” is.
Every business owner has dealt with the headache of a customer that demands additional services that were never in the scope of the initial project. This is why it’s so important to narrow in on exactly what you do and make it clear on your website.
Don’t be General:
“We provide lawncare services.”
DO be Specific:
“We provide hardscape installations and year round property maintenance that includes lawn mowing, edging, weeding, fertilization and tree trimming.”
Now, combine the two of those and you’ve got yourself a positioning statement that will allow you to build out a website and digital marketing strategy that draws in the exact type of clients you’re trying to work with.
Your Positioning Statement:
“We provide hardscape installations and year round property maintenance that includes lawn mowing, edging, weeding, fertilization and tree trimming for homeowners with homes worth over $1,000,0000 in the Naples, FL 34102 zip code.”
Step 2: Your Business Name, Logo and Branding
Naming your business:
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you already own a local business and are in a growth stage. If your business is already named, keep it, but refer to the Logo and Branding sections below for a potential refresh.
If you’re still in the works of naming your business, here’s a few pointers.
Make it Short and Simple. A long name drawn out name is hard to remember and doesn’t look good on a business card or as a website domain. Keep it short and sweet.
Make it Unique.
Check for competitors in your area and make sure there won’t be any conflict with your names. If your name is similar to theirs but they’ve been at it for longer, you’re making it more difficult to rank above them on Google and you may end up confusing customers.
Check for Website Domain Names Once you have decided on a few prospects for a name, check to make sure the website domain is available. Try to select a name that doesn’t require you to add a “-” or additional words to the domain.
You can search for available domains here: https://domains.google/#/
Branding constitutes the most artistic part of building out your logo and website. The key to branding is to stay consistent and be distinguishable so customers can spot your brand from a mile away.
Here's what to think about when you're developing your branding.
Overall Mood: Do you want to look extremely professional and serious, or fun and inviting? Think about the customers you’re tying to appeal to and your personality as a business owner as well.
Colors: Our advice is to pick 2-3 colors and stick to them. You can start discovering color combinations with this color wheel.
Fonts: Again, pick 1 or 2 fonts and stick with them. Make sure they are easy to read.
If you’re looking to design a logo, follow these guidelines.
Keep it Simple: This will help keep it easy to remember.
Make it Unique: Check your competition in the area and try to differentiate yourselves from them.
Stay Consistent: Incorporate the colors and fonts you decided upon above.
This quick 6 minute video can help you better understand the basics of design and how you can use them to make a distinguishable and pleasing logo:
When you’re ready to design your logo, here are a few options for getting it done.
With some playing around and creativity - - maybe a few late night beers - - you can whip something up on your own on this platform.
Fiverr connects you to freelancers all over the world for all types of work, including logo design. If you’re going to use Fiverr to outsource your design, spend an extra $25 to $50 and hire multiple freelancers to work on the same project. This will give you a few options to choose from, then will allow you to make final adjustments to the design with the freelancer of your choice. Make sure to be clear on the design specs for your designer. If you already have a concept in mind, draw it out on paper and send it to them.
Professional: 99 Designs
If you’re really looking for a professional logo, 99 designs creates design contests. You’ll post your idea, business name, and rough concepts and over 30 designers will send in their design. After a few days, you select your favorite and then work with that designer to make final tweaks.
Done For You: AuthentIQ
Cost: From $1000
Don't have the time, patience or expertise to design a logo yourself? Consider partnering with a marketing partner that can deliver a professional looking logo that will give a commanding face to your business. Want more information? Just scroll to the bottom of this page to reach out!
Step 3: Designing a website.
Why have a website?
A website is your 24/7 marketing force: Your website is always working for you, ready for potential customers to find you on search engines. Just remember, simply building a website doesn’t mean you’ll find leads for your business immediately. Keep reading for more on how to make sure your website encourages customers to reach out and request a bid.
Increase credibility: A well designed website with professional imagery will increase your credibility and help you gain the trust of your ideal client.
A knowledge center for your potential customers:
If potential customers have questions, they can always access your website to answer any questions that might be a waste of your time to answer over the phone.
Over 70% of consumers start their buying journey online:
If you don’t have an online marketing presence, you’re missing out on a huge customer acquisition channel.
DIY Website Builders
If you're looking to go the DIY route, here are some website builders that you can use without any coding or development knowledge.
Our top choice for a basic site: Google’s Basic Website Designer
Google’s built in web design platform makes it super easy to add a website to your Google Listing. It’s meant to be simple and easy to use, so it doesn’t have a ton of functionality, but if you’re trying to DIY this and get started with your online presence in as little as a day, then this isn’t a bad way to do it.
Ease of Use: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭑
Professional Aesthetic: ⭐️⭐️⭑⭑⭑
Long Term Value: ⭐️⭐️⭑⭑⭑
Learning Curve: With persistence and watching a few youtube videos, you should be able to get this done in 4-5 hours.
Our top choice for the tech savvy: Strikingly
Strikingly has 10+ website templates that are very simple to work with. Most importantly, their templates are all mobile optimized which means potential leads that are visiting from their phone will get a user friendly experience. At AuthentIQ, we sometimes use Strikingly to build basic websites for our clients.
Learning Curve: You can learn Strikingly quickly even if you don’t have much experience designing websites. Give it 3-4 days to design a site and make sure to watch some design videos prior.
Ease of Use: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭑⭑
Professional Aesthetic: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭑
Long Term Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭑
Value: At $20/Month it has nearly all you need and nothing more. After trying WIX, Squarespace, Weebly and more builders, we think Strikingly takes the Gold while staying budget friendly.
If you're looking to become the 800 pound gorilla in your area, then these platforms can help build a website that will enable this. We wouldn't recommend working with this platform unless you have had experience. At AuthentIQ, we use Wordpress and Wix to build advanced websites for our clients. Learning Curve: Expect to spend a few days just figuring out how to use the platform, then another week getting the bulk of the design done. These platforms are not for the faint of heart. Ease of Use: ⭐️⭐️⭑⭑⭑ Professional Aesthetic: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Long Term Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Value: At ~$25/Month it's not much more expensive than Strikingly, but the functionality is massive and can scale with your growing business. If you're looking to look extremely legitimate, then this is the platform for you.
Done For You: AuthentIQ
With AuthentIQ, you'll get a fully custom, conversion optimized website that is built to perform. It's "done-for-you" which means you don't have to worry about learning complex design platforms and you'll get the experience of an entire marketing team working on your web presence. Would you like to request more info about getting a site designed for you? Ease: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Professional Aesthetic: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Long Term Value: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Value: With sites starting from between $1000-$5000, it's a larger up front investment, but requires less effort on your end and guarantees that you'll be happy with t
Optimizing Your Website for Conversion
Want to know the single biggest mistake beginners make when building their first website? They completely forget that the goal of their site is to get website visitors to turn into leads. They spend all this time trying to make the site look pretty, but completely forget that the goal of the site is to convert website traffic into leads for their business. For landscapers, this means that you need to make it SEAMLESS for customers to fill out a quote request form to request additional information. Even if you have good promotion, and advertisement, if your website isn’t conversion optimized, then your potential for attracting leads will be low.
Here are the basics of website optimization:
Make sure it’s mobile optimized:
In many of the digital campaigns we have run for clients, nearly 70% of the traffic has come from mobile. This means that if your website does not work well on mobile devices by loading quickly and displaying relevant calls to action, then your results will suffer. When designing your site, always make sure you use a mobile optimized theme.
Have clear calls to action on your home page:
Do NOT expect that your customers will find your “contact us” page. Most website visitors only visit one page before they leave and check out your competitor’s site. This is why it’s extremely important to make sure your home page has all of the necessary information and a strong call to action.
Your home page should include:
A large, clickable phone number, and email address
A distinct button that prompts individuals to fill out a quote request form
A contact form at the bottom of the page to collect their name, email address, phone number and a quick description of their project
Have a website popup:
A website popup displays after a prescribed amount of time over your screen. Yours should prompt the potential customer to fill out a quote request form that includes their name, email address, phone number and a quick description of their project.
Getting Traffic to Your Website
Paid Search Marketing
Results Window: As little as 2 weeks. Search marketing allows you to intentionally target individuals that are searching on search engines like Google for keywords and phrases like “Landscaping Toronto” or “Landscape Management Companies.”
This type of advertisement is paid, and the cost usually ranges from $2-5/ click in the landscaping industry but can be much higher in industries like law or insurance. This may sound high, but since the traffic is highly targeted, it’s likely that a significant number of website visitors will take action on your site. It’s all about Return On Investment (ROI). Since Google gets nearly 90% of all web traffic, we recommend focusing on Google Ads if you’re just getting started (sorry Bing and Yahoo). Here are some quick rules for how to start out on Google Ads for your business: WARNING: Google Ads is an advanced digital marketing tactic that requires you to do some homework! Make sure to watch a few hours of videos on Youtube before embarking on this journey. If you have specific questions, we are always willing to help. Just click here and submit your question.
Before you start: Watch this video to get a broad overview of how the platform works and if it’s something you’re willing to take on.
Simple yet Important Rules for Google Ads
Rule 1: Only Target Searches in Your Local Area
The best way to do this is to only run ads in the zip codes that you are servicing with your business.
Rule 2: Be Concise with Search Terms
Identify at least 20 search terms that make it highly likely that a potential visitor will be interested in your service. Examples:
Landscaping Near Me
Residential Landscapers Near Me
Weekly Lawn Mowing
Rule 3: Start Small, and Be Patient.
When an ad campaign has reached maturity by collecting data and running multiple experiments, we recommend that your local businesses invest between $500-$3000 per month based on the capabilities of your business to scale. Despite that, if you’re just getting started, you can start with as little as $75 in ad spend per month. It’s not likely that you’ll receive a significant amount of traffic or leads with that amount of ad spend, but it’s a great way to get your feet wet as a DIYer. If things aren't working in the first month, keep experimenting, learning and trying new things.
Rule 4: Experiment with 3-4 Different Ad Creatives
Make sure to run multiple ads for each ad group to determine which ones perform best and can be optimized for.
Rule 5: Update Ads Weekly
Make sure to consistently edit your ads week in week out to ensure they’re generating leads. You should consistently look at:
Ad Click Through Rates
Average Cost Per Click
Conversion Rates for Each Ad Creative
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Results Window: 6 Months to 2+ Years
Search Engine Optimization is the process of setting up your website so that it ranks high in searches for relevant keywords and phrases that indicate the individual is seeking your services. The goal is to get your site on the first page of Google. SEO is organic, which means you don’t have to pay for the traffic coming to your site. With that being said, it does take expertise to set up correctly and patience as it can take months, and even years for your site to appear on the first page.
The Basic SEO Checklist
✔️ Do you have a Google Listing?
This is the fastest way to rank organically for Google searches in your area.
✔️ Are you encouraging reviews for your Google Listing?
Do this by asking your current customers to leave a review with a few sentence description of their experience with your services. Tell them how important it is for the success of your business moving forward.
✔️ Does your Google Listing have photos and a description?
Make sure your Google Listing has high quality photos, and a detailed description that gives search engines more keywords to identify.
✔️ Does each page have a thorough description to help Search Engines rank your site?
✔️ Do you have separate pages for each of the services you offer?
Having individual web pages for each service will help search engines rank your website organically for relevant searches.
✔️ Are you listing your NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number)?
For local business, the more places your business's NAP is listed, the more likely it is to rank in search engines. Make sure that the phone number and address are typed out EXACTLY the same everywhere you place them ("St" should stay "St" and not change to "Street"). Here’s a list of a few places to list your business to start out:
Ready to take action?
Have questions about what you've been reading? Never hesitate to reach out and ask! If you would like to run advanced, proven techniques for running digital marketing campaigns, consider contacting us. We specialize in active management of marketing for local businesses nationally.