Harnessing the Power of a Great Portfolio to Grow Your Landscaping Business – Part 2: Putting your project photos to work
In part one of this series, we discussed the importance of getting high quality photographs of your company’s design/build work and shed some light on the actual process of going out and shooting past projects effectively. Here, in part two, we’re diving into how you can use those photos to bring your business to the next level.
A quality portfolio is one of the most versatile marketing elements for attracting new clients to your work. When paired with a solid system for proper photo organization and an understanding of the marketing channels in which to use them, a portfolio’s ROI is significant to business growth in the landscaping industry. Once you’ve compiled a portfolio of strong project photos that properly showcase your unique design style and detail-oriented installation practices, fully-utilizing their strengths requires a thorough awareness of the ample marketing channels offered online. Many of these – especially social media platforms – allow the business to tell a story with their work, appealing to the growing interest in the lifestyle a quality landscape provides. Well-designed outdoor living areas allow guests and homeowners to fully appreciate their outdoor environment, so both the placement and composition of your photographs should reflect this trend. With these factors in mind, both the marketing efforts you do in-house as well as your outsourced efforts, should be able to capitalize upon your past work by attracting potential future clients.
Naming Your Projects
Whether the chosen photo lives on Facebook, your company’s website, or on a project-based platform like Houzz or Pinterest, properly naming your photo will encourage visitors to explore your work further. If you take a moment to think like the consumer, you are more likely to compose the photo in such a way that it encompasses the landscape’s potential, and the title should reflect this. For example, “A Backyard Chicago Oasis Perfect for the Whole Family” welcomes the viewer into the story of the space, opposed to just describing the construction performed. Including the location of the project adds specificity and gives the customer some context that allows them to picture how the space will be enjoyed.
Organizing and Storing
Managing the flow of work between your staff members (and/or a marketing agency, if used), is just as important to smoothly implementing a campaign as the quality of your photos. Cloud storage platforms like Dropbox and Google Drive are most widely used and understood, cutting down on tricky photo transfer times for everyone involved. Both of these online programs allow for multiple folder storage, therefore encouraging specific categories of organization. Photos can live in two separate places if necessary—for example, one photo may live in a “fire pits” folder as well as its specific project folder, keeping all materials easily searchable and usable for a variety of marketing efforts, for a range of different audiences. Great project photos are only useful when everyone knows where and how to find them.
Getting More Leads and Referrals
Nowadays, there are several excellent platforms on which to showcase your work online. Social media options allow businesses to stay directly in control of their marketing and a greater understanding of each platform may put you a step ahead of your local competitors. Facebook and Houzz are both excellent places to begin. Always choose your strongest photo for the banner image (also known as a “hero image”) as it’s the first impression a user will get when visiting your company’s page. When posting on platforms like Facebook, consider adding text and details over your project photos. Consumers move quickly through images, and artistically including text on the image can, at times, convey a clearer story. There are free websites, such as Canva.com, that make accomplishing this task relatively painless. When applicable, use hashtags to draw a wider audience (#outdoorliving, #landscapedesign, etc), and always be sure to tag manufacturers and utilized products (#Unilock). Consumers today are seeking a detailed story on how a project was achieved, not just a single image; the more information you can provide to them, the more connected they will feel to your work.
PRO TIP: Consider building a section of your website, or business Facebook page, that features “case studies,” tracing the viewer through the transformation of a project. Creating these case studies, or project feature pages, can be impactful for SEO. Include the project’s location (city, state) in the title, which will improve your online presence in your local service areas.
When it comes to building a presence on Houzz, lean on the side of moderation when posting images of your work. Use your highest quality and most impressive photos to maintain a strong portfolio, even if this means posting fewer examples. The platform is very competitive for attracting traffic. That doesn’t mean, however, that all your high quality photos shouldn’t be put to use. Your company’s Facebook page is a place to be more expansive with photo selection, as users are more likely to scroll through images for a full story without moving on. Don’t be afraid to dive into the details of the design—personal connections and details will help customers imagine this project in their own backyard. If you need guidance in creating these details, consider reviewing articles written in Dwell or similar architectural magazines—their editorial voice will guide the style readers enjoy.
Outside of social media and your company website, consider reaching out to local or major landscaping and home construction publications. Quality photos are invaluable to these editors; many are frequently seeking new material to showcase and feature for articles. This often free publicity is a win-win for both parties and providing well-edited and organized photo collections are a key opportunity for spreading your work to a wider audience.
Word of mouth is often still the strongest source of leads for many landscape companies. Be sure to send the high-quality images to the homeowner themselves, in digital and/or physical form. Photo books from such sources as Artifact Uprising and Shutterfly make excellent thank you gifts, as well as marketing that will live on your customer’s coffee table. Proud of their investment, these customers will most likely spread the photos around their own personal circle and via their personal social media, adding a level of personal trust to the advertising. Referrals are a key way to become the premier contractor in a neighborhood or region.
Closing More Leads
Once a client is inspired by one of the shared photos from your portfolio, using additional images to close the sale is vital. Customers deciding between your services and those offered by other contractors can be reassured by your diverse offerings and professional quality by perusing the pre-organized images. Most importantly, select photos that will help the client understand the specific project they have in mind. Present photos that illustrate usage of similar materials, styles, and design elements—it’s all about filling in the gaps in their imagination. Going a step forward, load these photos onto an iPad for client meetings. This allows you to display a wider variety and higher quality of images without sorting through books or papers. Your sense of competence, calm, and clarity will reassure the customer that they can expect a level-headed and direct experience throughout their entire construction process.
Knowing how to maximize your ROI from your new project portfolio is the most important first step after getting the professional photos themselves. These outreach tactics can be learned over time and when they’re paired with open communication amongst your team they can lead to an understanding of the tools at your disposal and an appreciation for the opportunities available online.