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Seek out your geek

They might not score you any cool points, but these tech tools will make life easier on the job.

Chris Heiler | June 19, 2013

I readily admit to being a total tech geek. I prefer my fingers on a keyboard rather than wrapped around the controls of a skid-steer, a threat to all those in close proximity. And I’ll let you in on a little secret about our industry that many folks perceive to be too “old school:” Tech-geeks walk amongst us. That’s right. I’m not alone in my love for all-things apps and software.

One commonality our agency’s clientele share is their curiosity and forward thinking as it relates to technology along with a strong commitment in leveraging it to grow their businesses. If you want to succeed in business in a forever-changing world, you better embrace your inner geek like these folks.

Let’s go behind the scenes and look at five popular software applications that we use everyday both internally at Landscape Leadership as well as with our green industry clients.


HubSpot marketing automation software. Green industry companies are waking up to a new marketing reality: Traditional, interruption-based marketing – like print and radio advertising and telemarketing – is becoming less and less effective and in most cases completely missing the mark. It’s also expensive and difficult to measure the return on your investment. Inbound marketing is different.

Inbound is more effective because you attract people to your business by creating marketing they value, when they are searching for your services. This is accomplished via your website, content, social media and search engine optimization.

HubSpot is all-in-one marketing automation software that provides all the necessary tools (within a single dashboard) to implement a comprehensive inbound marketing campaign that generates qualified leads and customers. It also provides closed-loop reporting that shows the true value of your marketing dollars in action.

Our clients are very pragmatic. They want to see a return on their investment. HubSpot is the catalyst for this.


Yext PowerListings.
Having multiple citations about your business across the web is an important local search ranking factor (please excuse the geek speak). Basically, the more relevant and reputable websites your business is mentioned on is a key indicator to Google in how credible and authoritative they view your business to be. This is why you want your business listed in local search directories like Yelp, MerchantCircle, Manta, Foursquare and CitySearch.

While quantity and quality of citations is important, consistency between citations is equally important. In other words, your business name, address and phone number needs to match up across these sites for Google and the other search engines to truly understand who you are exactly.

Keeping these citations and listings organized and updated can quickly become a mess. Enter Yext PowerListings software. We avoided using this local search software for more than a year instead relying on spreadsheets to manage the hundreds of client listings our agency maintains. I wish we hadn’t waited so long to switch to the software. It’s been a valuable asset to our agency and clients.

Yext ensures that a company’s location information is accurate, up-to-date and enhanced with photos, featured messages and more. Another pain point for small businesses, like landscape contractors and lawn care operators, is the ability to keep track of online customer reviews across these multiple local search directories.


Highrise CRM software.
Every company, no matter the size, should be using customer relationship management (CRM) software. The software you choose should be simple. If you want your staff to actually use it. It cannot be difficult to learn – or teach – or an overwhelming task just to access and update it. Adding or retrieving information from your CRM should be as frictionless as possible.

Highrise fits the criteria perfectly with its simplicity and intuitiveness. It has what a small to medium-sized business needs in a CRM tool and nothing more. Because of this the learning curve is small and initial implementation is painless. Highrise is also web-based so your CRM software is accessible from any device with an internet connection. Office staff can access your Highrise account from a desktop computer while your sales staff can access it in the field from a tablet computer or smartphone.


Basecamp.
I would truly be lost without Basecamp project management software. We use Basecamp every hour of every day to manage projects and campaigns both internally and for clients. We create a unique Basecamp workspace for each new client, and inevitably, the client falls in love with the software and implements it throughout their company.

No matter how many projects you have, or how many people you have working on them, Basecamp keeps everything organized in one place from discussions to files to task lists.


HipChat instant group messaging.
Email is not ideal for group communication. This is why we prefer Basecamp and also why we’re exploring HipChat as a better way to communicate in real-time. HipChat is group chat software and instant messaging for teams. The web-based software has a desktop app as well as mobile apps for Android and iPhone which enables conversations across all devices, whether you’re sitting at a desk or on a project site

HipChat provides secure, persistent chat rooms that are perfect for individual projects, teams, or entire departments. You can also hop into a 1-to-1 chat with a coworker anytime. You can share files in real-time and also see a complete history of the conversation.

HipChat is important for our team because we operate remotely and instant messaging like this is more convenient than email or picking up the phone. I expect this software could be valuable to many green industry companies who are striving to become more mobile and less reliant on a single place of business.

Any technology that can foster more effective communication amongst team members is worth testing in my opinion.


 

The author is the founder and president of Landscape Leadership, an inbound marketing and PR agency for green industry companies.

 

For a product round-up of the latest in GPS technology, go to lawnandlandscape.com and look for the web extra tab after clicking the current issue tab, and selecting June 2013.

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