The Tree of Good Fortune audiobook is now live on audible.com and the book is available on Amazon. If you run a snow and landscape business and you want to know which marketing should you focus on first to get the best results without wasting your time and money on marketing that doesn't work, check out today's podcast episode where I'm going to share a sample chapter from The Tree of Good Fortune: The Landscapers Guide to Modern Sales and Marketing Audiobook.
Welcome to the Landscaper's Guide. This podcast is all about helping the snow and landscape industry grow through sales, marketing and leadership ideas. And if you're feeling stumped around where should you start with marketing, which social networks make sense for your business? How does SEO work? Where should you get reviews? Could your website automate some of your sales process, but you're kind of spinning your wheels with your marketing? You're not alone. A lot of people are. If you Google any of those questions I just listed, you'll probably find a million different opinions, and chances are most of them are not specific to the green industry, and most of them aren't backed by actual results with real landscapers. Doing your marketing in the wrong order can not only cost you a lot of time and money and opportunity cost, it can also stress out your staff and exacerbate the retention and recruiting challenge the industry already faces.
The Tree of Good Fortune
The Tree of Good Fortune is based on real experience, over 13 years of running Ramblin Jackson where we've helped over 1,000 clients in refining our process, which we call The Tree of Good Fortune, that helps you go in the right order to get the hell yes customers you want efficiently, economically, and enjoyably. The Tree of Good Fortune is a metaphor for the garden of your online business because just like a landscape in a garden, there's a lot of different components that need to work together, but it's not just some farfetched metaphor. I break it down into the landscapers foundation of digital marketing that helps you go from the ground up, building something that's going to last, that's going to generate results quickly, and that's going to continue to generate results ongoing. And the result is you'll stop wasting time and money on things that are at the top of the foundation, like online advertising or social media that may be driving people to a weak foundation.
Each chapter also includes a harvest story, an interview, or a story of a real landscaper and real examples. Plus, we've created this amazing audio companion guide. So all of the things that I reference in the audiobook, there's a cool PDF that you can download with fill in the blank questions to help you figure out your marketing strategy, links, real examples of things like logos and graphics that we refer to throughout the book. So last fall, October, 2021, we released The Tree of Good Fortune privately on treeofgoodfortune.com. We released it as an audiobook with our online course management software, and we've had an amazing result. We've sold more books than the average independent book seller sales on Amazon privately thanks to you, our podcast listeners, the people on our social media, the people on our newsletter list, we're super grateful for that. And over the last year, having gone to shows, worked with clients and talked with a lot of different people, I realized that by releasing the book on Amazon through Audible, which is owned by Amazon, I'm just going to reach more people. I'm going to help more people.
I have a chapter in here about big tech and privacy and things like that, and I still feel the same way as I do when I wrote the book.
And part of it is realizing that not sharing it on that platform isn't really going to change anything. If anything, it's going to reduce the impact of the book. So that's why I'm releasing it now on Audible because frankly, Audible is an amazing app. I've been using it for about 15 years. If you've never used it, try it. The cool thing is if you're like me, you're busy. Maybe you have your family life going on, you have your personal health and whatever's involved with that, you've got your business to run, you've got your own yard to maintain. All these different things can make it hard to read print books.
But the cool thing about Audible and audio books in general is that it's always with you. You always have your phone, and so when you have 7 minutes, or maybe you have a 20 minute drive to the grocery store or whatever it is, you can just pop on the book and listen, take notes and get the value without necessarily spending the time reading when you're tired and maybe don't have the time.
Where Should I Start With My Marketing Landscape?
One of the questions I set out to answer in this book is, where should I start with my marketing landscape? Company owners, marketing managers, people in the industry ask me this all the time. Now the answer depends on you and your goals and your local market and what you already have. So I've created something called the Foundation of Digital Marketing that'll help you get scores and ideas of where do you need to focus first. And we always want to focus on the Foundational Four. So today I'm going to share with you a clip from The Tree of Good Fortune, Chapter three, The Foundational Four.
The Foundational Four
"Missing any one piece of the Foundational Four is as detrimental to your business' marketing as skipping leg day is to your fitness. Skipping the Foundational Four in your digital marketing is like attempting to napkin sketch an entire backyard renovation with an outdoor living area, a patio, irrigation system, drainage, water feature, and pool without going through a design build process. The Foundational Four must be built and maintained together for the whole system to work. The Foundational Four includes branding and differentiation, website design, local SEO and online reviews.
Branding And Differentiation
Branding and differentiation. Why are you different from your competitors? While branding includes things like visual identity, including your logo, it has a much deeper meaning. It answers the question why you over your competition? Getting clear on who your hell yes customer is and crafting a repeatable experience and process to serve that customer is a key why you over your competition.
Website design. A critical piece in communicating your branding and differentiation, your website is the core hub of all your marketing and recruiting efforts. Print marketing, referrals, online job ads are all going to drive people to visit your website. It must be excellent.
Local SEO. Local SEO is the work that helps you get found online when people search for businesses like yours on the internet. Local SEO includes not only the content on your website, but also vital online map listings like Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Howe's and other websites that link back to your website.
Online reviews. How do actual customers feel about this business? Online reviews are the new word of mouth. Personally, when I get a referral to a contractor who has negative reviews, the negative online reviews outweigh the goodwill of the word of mouth, even if it's from a friend or neighbor. Negative reviews stop 40% of buyers from wanting to use a business according to a 2018 BrightLocal survey. 70% of the sale happens before the phone call or contact form is ever filled out. In They Ask You Answer by Marcus Sheridan, one of my favorite books, and one I strongly recommend you and your entire staff read together at once, Sheridan shares research showing that 70% of the sale happens before the first phone call or before someone fills out the contact form. The remaining 30% of the sale happens through the phone calls, meetings, and experience with your company.
Think about that. 70% before you talk to them. This is different from 1987 or 1998 or even the early 2000s. iPhone only came out in 2008. People buy all kinds of things entirely from internet research nowadays, and an increasing amount of the sale happens before they talk to you. Imagine for a moment you are a potential customer of your landscaping company. Maybe you've worked with a professional landscaping company in the past, but probably not. Maybe you have an idea of what things should cost, but likely you're way off. You want to redo your backyard so you can have a nice place to spend time with friends and family, have a sense of privacy, and look at something beautiful as you drink your morning coffee. You contacted the referral that your neighbor gave you, the people who did their yard, but they took over a week to reply, and now you're in the game of phone tag for a couple of weeks now. Then you read some negative reviews and three weeks in without even a consultation scheduled, you're pretty frustrated.
So you start to look at other landscape design companies. You've found searching on Google. You click onto one of their websites and it takes a really long time to load. It doesn't have many photos. It has one page about landscape services with a little bullet point that says design services. But there's no photos of the staff, the logo is kind of squished and pixelated, and they have three negative reviews with no reply from the owner. Would you contact that company? You click onto another website, it loads instantly wowing you with high resolution current photos of outdoor kitchens with lush green gardens. A simple branded graphic lets you know the exact steps you'll go through, from an initial phone call to an onsite visit with a landscape designer to paying a deposit for a design to construction and even maintenance. The website is full of professional photos of their smiling staff wearing clean uniforms, and there's a photo of their truck, which you think you've seen before, maybe at the grocery store. A pricing page outlines budget ranges with examples of what you can get in each bracket.
What you want ends up being a little bit more than you thought it would be. And then you notice they have an online scheduling page with a video from the owner explaining how the process works. You schedule a phone call with them for Thursday during your lunch break and automatically receive a thank you email directing you to read their online reviews. They have a 4.7 star average rating from over 40 customers. So which company is more likely to make the sale even if they're more expensive?
Here's how building the Foundational Four together creates better results than when you try and build them one by one separately. Branding and differentiation includes process. When you build a website without a process in mind, you're just building another "brochure site" out there on the internet that lists a bunch of services. But when your organization has an actual milestone based process, your website can strategically funnel readers into the first steps of the process to become a customer instead of just reading and leaving. A website with the process factored in, actually moves people along steps, it pre-qualifies. Process creates freedom for business owners to delegate to other team members who can grow into leaders. Local SEO includes writing the keywords into your text on your website. If someone "does SEO on your website" but doesn't understand the actual process of the business and the business's unique selling proposition, they're just stuffing keywords.
While online reviews could be part of local SEO, our experience managing over 300 businesses online shows that online reviews and net promoter score are so critical that they make up their own section in the Foundational Four. Net promoter score has a great deal to do with listening to customer feedback, which then when taken to heart, will result in not only the byproduct of an online review, but more importantly, a company that improves its processes and its people. Leading a company focused on systematically delighting customers will yield many fruits, including higher customer satisfaction, employee retention, and recruiting benefits.
Here are key takeaways from the Foundational Four. The foundational four includes branding and differentiation, website design, local SEO and online reviews. Establishing the Foundational Four together will yield higher qualified leads from all of your marketing efforts, including referrals and word of mouth. A crack in the foundation is a common cause of many sales and marketing problems. Your Foundational Four should be updated and maintained and refreshed as your business grows and changes. Building a website without the Foundational Four is like skipping the design and planning phase of a major landscape construction project."
Each chapter includes a harvest story, which is a short story with a real landscaper about their results that they've generated implementing the strategy from the chapter. And in this harvest story, you may recognize the customer's voice because I've edited it directly into the theme song for the Landscapers Guide Podcast.
Honestly, I mean, everything you guys have done, you guys have changed my business. You've changed my team. I mean, I've grown from 5 employees to 12 employees in one year. This year we'll hit 2.8 million in settings. Last year we did 1.8, so we're going to increase our sales volume by the million dollars. We're developing new staff, we're growing exponentially, and it started from the beginning with Ramblin Jackson. I mean, you guys are kind of the first part of our business development team, and we're super happy you're on the cutting edge.
A key part of serving the landscape industry, and that's part of the reason why I'm here. There are other people, other consultants, coaches, marketing companies, things. I want to professionalize the industry and help people run great businesses and expand this as a career path to young people. That's really the outcome of people hearing this book and implementing the ideas in it is they're going to run better businesses that serve their communities.
And yes, maybe some of them will hire me and maybe I'll get a little chunk of commission from whatever they pay Amazon to get the book. But the point is, it's going to help people. And if you help me, you're going to help more people. It's been a personal goal and dream of mine. But more importantly, a goal to publish an audiobook on audible.com. About 14 years ago, I was like, wow, these books are so helpful. They've really helped me when I was driving around solve big problems in my business. And I was like, I hope I can write a book that would help other people solve big problems in their business and impact their lives. So thanks so much. Check out our show notes for links to everything, and we'll talk to you soon.