I stumbled upon the concept about five years ago while doing some research on the Internet about how to adjust the sales process for my company. I was learning quickly that the days of showing up to a lead’s home and trying to aggressively close a sale on the spot was not as effective as it had been in the past. Consumers did not want a lawn care company selling services like the archetypal used car salesman. Consumers were beginning to demand information. Enter content marketing.
Instead of high pressure sales tactics, I began to use content marketing. I started providing potential clients educational content for free before ever speaking to them. That’s right! Give your potential consumer the step-by-step information outlining how to do the services you perform. I know it seems crazy but today's consumers are looking online for information about the services they need before they reach out to potential lawn care providers. Let's face it, if people want information, they will use a Google search bar to find it. Why not get ahead of the search and position yourself and your business as the expert that provides them the information they want?
Video Started It All. I began creating content using video to answer the most common questions potential clients were asking when they called our office. Video was the quickest, easiest way for me to get content out as it did not require someone to proofread or edit script. I created the videos using my smartphone and posted them to our website, Facebook, YouTube, and later on Instagram and Twitter for access. The video not only allowed me to share content but to begin creating a virtual relationship with potential clients.
Video content marketing is not an easy strategy. One of the biggest challenges I faced was becoming comfortable filming myself. At first, it felt very awkward. In an effort to overcome this fear (and my need for perfection) I adopted the adage that a first draft is better than no draft at all. No matter how bad I thought the video was, I would share it anyways. The interesting part is this; those videos that I thought were the worst and seemed the most unpolished were the videos potential clients loved the most. When I look back, I realize that this reaction is due to our ability to relate to imperfections. People saw the complete transparency and vulnerability in my videos. They also saw the value I was providing and knew I was not attempting to sell them something. These content videos soon became a new way of selling services that set us apart in the lawn care industry.
The Guy From the Videos. As we continued to scale our business, it became increasingly more difficult to perform all of the estimates and sales calls myself. To alleviate this problem, we began repurposing the videos I had made. We embedded them in our online estimates so they would play live upon receipt. The videos became a way to clone myself and I was educating and addressing sales objections on demand, twenty-four hours a day, without having to be everywhere at once. As prospective clients called during the estimate process, one thing kept coming up: people already knew, liked, and trusted the guy in the video. It was surreal. When I did show up to do an in-person estimate, people would walk out of their homes welcoming me as if we were long lost friends although we had never met. They would say, “you are the guy from the video!” The process of presenting an estimate was no longer a process of overcoming sales objections and answering questions. Instead the question was “where do I sign to approve your services?” These videos were providing perceived value to justify our pricing. Even better, these videos where addressing any sales or price objections upfront through education.
But What About the Content? If you are like me, you are reading this and thinking, “this all sounds great, but what do I make videos about?” Consider creating content that answers the most consistent questions people ask your company or addresses consumers’ fears or concerns they may have with a service or hiring a lawn care contractor. Once I was confident that this process was paying big dividends I started to answer the questions that no industry professional wants address (i.e., what happens if your equipment breaks down; what is really meant by your satisfaction guarantee, how do you handle a rain delay all week, etc.?
Create a list and use it to drive your video content. After you become confident on video and this strategy becomes a part of your daily routine, the ease of finding topics to talk about will come. As a rule of thumb, the things we think are the most obvious are usually the best and most valuable pieces of content you can provide. The top four areas that have netted the biggest returns for Callahan’s include: answering questions asked, how-to education, addressing the good and bad, and answers to the tough questions that contractors don’t want to address.
Don’t be like every other lawn care marketer out there. Challenge yourself to engage in some content marketing this spring season. Position yourself as the expert and give consumers the information they want before they find it somewhere else. And remember, the easiest way to start your content marketing strategy is to pick up a smart phone and video record an answer to a question that a client or lead just asked you this week. Post on social media and be amazed when you see what happens.