Leveraging Social Media to Boost Your Close Rate and Grow Your Hardscaping Business
Leveraging Social Media to Boost Your Close Rate and Grow Your Hardscaping Business
What’s your most profitable demographic? New-home buyers in their 30s and 40s? House-flipping young real estate professionals? Maybe it’s the empty-nesters looking for new outdoor living spaces? Maybe it’s the DIY homeowner who’s hit a wall and needs a professional to take over.
How would your marketing strategy differ if you could personally interview everyone in your target market, if you could completely understand their aesthetic preferences, their expectations, passions, and priorities?
If you could actually do that, you’d have all the insight required to determine exactly what, and how, to market directly to them.
Well, it turns out you might have that demographic, and that kind of insight, right in front of you.
In fact, everyone with an outstanding job proposal from you has already told you about their dream project and articulated their priorities. And while what happens right after the proposal isn’t necessarily in your total control, it’s the wrong time to stop marketing to those prospects you understand best.
Maybe it’s a generational thing, or maybe it’s the common perception that marketing to locals doesn’t merit the global reach of the internet – either way, social media is one of the most underutilized tools by established community businesses.
More than just another marketing option, social media may be the missing ingredient in the recipe for a drastically improved close rate – giving that last nudge to prospective clients who have your bid in one hand and a pen in the other.
Why Social Media?
For some business owners in the landscape industry, maintaining a Facebook or Instagram presence is still in the nice-to-have category. But for many potential customers, it’s already become a minimum requirement, a qualifier, and a means to assure themselves that your business has the testimonials and track record they’ve come to expect.
Less intrusive and more effective than annoying follow-up phone calls or emails, reaching prospects through social media is also a cost-effective way to maintain engagement, brand presence, and visibility after the proposal.
Once your bid is in their hands, prospective clients are just looking for something to make the decision for them – a reason to go with you, or perhaps with your competitor. When it’s a close call, they just need a sign. And as much as your social media footprint might put you in the running for a job, it can be even more powerful as the nudge that closes the deal.
The fact that over 3 billion people use social media in 2018 should tell you something. Not that you need to reach them all, of course; rather social media’s power lies in its effectiveness to reach only those people who really need your services.
Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram – all provide unique engagement channels that have the potential to reach your customers based on their particular interests.
With nearly 70% of Americans on Facebook, a social media presence may be the best way to maintain brand engagement. It’s also the linchpin of effective, targeted marketing campaigns that leverage everything you already know about your prospects to help close those open deals.
A Simple Push
Your prospects are serious enough to get a bid from you, they’ve seen your portfolio, they know what they’re looking for, and you’re in the running.
But don’t rely solely on their schedule for them to decide. Even the photo-driven project portfolio on your website requires a “pull” – visitors must exert effort to get to it. They have to intentionally navigate to your website, then to those pages.
You need your images and message to find them, not the other way around. That makes a big difference. Posting a paid ad to Facebook or Instagram is a “push” – when you advertise on social media, subscribers in your target audience will see your message. They’re presented with a single-click opportunity to see your latest post or project and the more it looks like their job, the more attention they’ll give it.
Right after the proposal is the perfect time to reassure them that you’re the right choice for the job.
Boosted posts and targeted ads on social media aimed at open prospects should naturally be calibrated for the kinds of jobs sitting in your pipeline. Look at your open bids, specifically those that will benefit your business most, and those with the highest margins or prestige. Prospects are likelier to respond to social posts or ads that resonate with their vision of their completed project. Psychologists call this “priming.” If you have five open bids for patio jobs, an effective boosted post would highlight a recent successful patio build, complete with a compelling image and customer testimonial. While a post about beautiful retaining walls may also put your business in the spotlight and remind prospects of your brand, it won’t resonate quite as much.
Posts and ads don’t have to be limited to images of recent jobs. They can announce a new bid award or successful project completion, or even showcase a high-prestige job to grab their attention.
A little nudge or two is sometimes all it takes to seal the deal.
Content Is King
What should go into your social media content? What kinds of creative and which topics are the most effective?
Start with the visuals. Posts that include images are over 40 times more effective than those with text alone.
Select from the most inspiring images in your portfolio – photos of successful projects in just the right light. They’re even better with a satisfied customer in the frame. This isn’t a quantity thing, it’s an opportunity to show off your best work.
Here are some tips for creating content that will improve your close rate:
- Use your most relevant images. Remember the goal: posts and ads that resonate with prospects who are holding outstanding proposals. Sharing not only visuals of completed jobs but also ones of projects as they progress sends reassuring messages to prospects that need a gentle push to close the deal.
- Include text over the image. Identify the job with a name, and highlight challenges overcome or unique features – anything to make the post stand out.
- Make sure your brand is visible. Each social media post is an opportunity to reinforce your brand.
- A testimonial, sometimes overlaid on an enticing image, increases the power of the post.
- Humanize your post. Include a satisfied client beaming into the camera from their new patio, or a hard-working crew member standing atop a successful project. Having people in your photos can go a long way towards assuring prospects.
- Add links. It’s the Internet. Link back to your main website, and to specific portfolio pages. Links are breadcrumbs for your prospective customers to follow.
And even though the central mission is closing business, not every post has to be about projects. Consider compelling secondary topics, such as:
- A guest post from an employee;
- Images of your team outside of work – the softball tournament or the 5k fun run;
- Content, including images, from vendors and customers;
- Recruitment posts;
- Recent industry information; or
- Side-by-side before-and-after pictures. If you use 3D design software, showing a job from computer to completion can be a powerful narrative.
Dive in Today
Realize that there are no significant barriers to leveraging social media. Many business owners simply don’t even give it a cursory glance. It’s not difficult to open Instagram or Facebook accounts and start exploring. Filling out some basic contact information and setting your password takes only a few minutes. And sure, it may take a little longer to discover what content works best for your business, but try a post or two to get started. You can’t read a book to learn how to use social media, you just have to dive in and do it. Refer to a book or online advice and how-tos when you need help or inspiration.
Don’t hesitate to look at social media sites that offer free tips. Just doing the simple things right can make a huge difference. You’ll find statistics and support online that can help fine-tune your marketing plan.
If some of this is new to you, don’t worry. Billions of social media users means at least one thing for sure: Basic posting is nowhere near as difficult as people think. The most difficult part is actually in the creation and production of great content specifically designed for use on social, and then understanding the targeting process that’s best for reaching your best prospects. Whether you as a business owner have the time to gather the knowledge and become a practitioner yourself, or you choose to double down on your core business of hardscaping and hire a professional to manage social for you, the end result is the same. When used correctly, social media is an incredibly powerful tool for increasing your close rate and growing your business.
Social media offers low-cost, high-impact avenues to market your business with little risk and a high potential upside. Gone are the days when the best way to reach your prospects was a quarter-page ad in the local paper. There’s nothing wrong with that, but its effectiveness pales in comparison to the flexibility and engagement of the Internet. You just can’t get better return on your advertising dollar.
And it’s really much more than advertising – it’s a dynamic set of tools for capturing a following, announcing seasonal promotions, and pulling your community into the fold.
Most importantly, crafting social ads and posts with the right content has a unique ability to boost your close rate.