As the Founder of Indispensable Marketing, it has been an enormous goal of mine to share our expertise and the stories of small businesses we have helped – from landscaping companies to those consulting management firms.
Today’s interview is with Craig Attkisson, CEO of Green Side Up Landscaping Inc., a landscaping company that installs and maintains the finest lawns in central Virginia.
Craig Atkisson launched Green Side Up Landscaping in 2004. While going out on 13 meetings a day to meet prospective clients, he found out what people are looking for and that his ideal clients tended to be people with decent incomes who needed someone to cut their grass. They lived in neighborhoods where not doing the chore themselves was almost considered a status symbol.
But Craig’s ultimate plan for Green Side Up was to cover the full spectrum of homeowners’ outdoor needs — from mowing lawns to designing and building outdoor living spaces.
From a marketing standpoint, spreading the word about services that broad turned out to be a challenge greater than Craig could have imagined.
The Pitfalls of Going in Too Many Directions at Once
First, Craig worked with a marketing company that took a scattered approach to marketing and advertising.
He says, “We weren’t organized. We had someone doing SEO, but we weren’t blogging and putting out new content. I did newsletters in-house. We were listed on Angie’s List and Houzz.com, which is sort of a Pinterest for building home ideas. Those last were two avenues we relied pretty heavily on.”
Craig adds, “We grew every single year, so we had some good systems in place and we do good work.” But he had the nagging feeling they weren’t getting enough bang for the bucks they were spending.
That’s where Indispensable Marketing and Patrick came into the picture.
A Process Approach Begins to Makes More Sense
Craig wanted someone to put the pieces of the marketing puzzle together. He rightly sensed that a coherent, consistent message about Green Side Up on all platforms would yield even better results.
He met Patrick at a networking function through a mutual acquaintance who happened to be Indispensable Marketing’s client and had gotten great results. Craig invited Patrick in for a meeting to see if they’d be a good fit for what Craig had in mind.
Turns out, Indispensable Marketing was.
First Step: Back Up and Look at the Big Picture
Craig remembers, “Indispensable Marketing first made us step back and ask, ‘What do we do well? What do clients say about us? What do we need more consistency on?’ Their big-picture, holistic perspective was great.” IM steered Craig toward things he needed to start doing, things to test and see if they were working, and new things to try.
Craig adds, “Patrick knows he can’t do everything himself, so his role is more of a quarterback. He works with people who are very good at different things. He gets the right people in the right place to get results.”
Next, Figure Out What Your Clients Care Most About
IM helped Craig to determine t what his customers care most about. Craig boils it down to, “They want high quality to make their neighbors jealous, they want constant communication, and they want to make sure that they’re always taken care of.”
That gave IM a blueprint to map out the most important points to hit with their marketing message.
Then Pinpoint What’s Made You Successful So Far
“Part of our dilemma was trying to narrow down what our services were. IM’s process enabled us to fine-tune them,” Craig recalls.
“Starting out with IM, our service goals were property maintenance, landscaping and hardscaping, which is building patios and outdoor kitchens.
“We were trying to gain work in all three avenues. By the end of the process, we were focused on just property maintenance. We did a good job achieving that, getting more maintenance and less install work. It changed the dynamic of our company and where we wanted to be.”
Eliminate or Downplay Distractions
IM continued to lead the marketing by the business goals Craig set and shifted marketing expenditures and resources to where they needed to go to reach those goals.
Craig explains, “To achieve consistency on all our marketing fronts, IM advised, ‘This is what we’re talking about from a content point of view. This is what we’re trying to gain. These are the touchpoints we need to hit in service delivery, hiring, blog articles, newsletters, with the SEO and the pay-per-click. All the way down the line, these are our touchpoints.’”
Assemble the Best Team
Craig discovered that he needed to change his marketing tactics not only to attract new customers, but also to attract good employees. “The labor market for the service industry is pretty challenging. We needed to attract quality employees for our teams who could do the work up to our standards. That involved changes to our budget to attract the best.”
Make Choosing Your Company Simple
Since so many people shop for services online, Craig says, “We’ve made online scheduling super-simple for potential customers. Now they get a pre-meeting document so they come to the meeting knowing what we offer and our pricing. They can sign an electronic document to get started. All their points of contact are emailed to them immediately.
“Everything is easy and fast. I’m trying to take all the frustration points out of landscaping. I want Green Side Up to be a leader in making this a great experience for our clients the whole way through.”
When You Plant the Right Seeds, They Will Sprout
Property maintenance is now Green Side Up’s No. 1 focus.
Craig explains, “Our thought process behind that is, if we continue to grow with property maintenance, clients we have a year-round relationship with will eventually want to do design install projects. They go hand in hand.
“So, we longer need to advertise for landscaping. It’s on our website, but we’re hyper-focused on getting more maintenance clients. We know the design builds will grow as our maintenance grows.”
Step Back Again to Savor Your Success – and Plan Your Next Move
Craig reports that in 2019 with IM as a marketing partner, Green Side Up has achieved 21.7% growth. “That’s about $500,000 gross over last year, which is incredible.”
To continue on that trajectory, GSU is thinking bigger. This means carving out a more industry-specific niche where the company can become the leader.
Don’t Just Break Free from the Pack, Lead It
Craig says, “Indispensable Marketing has an incredible process for any business. I would definitely recommend them even for just a consultation. Their consistency with strategy and implementation, such as communication, messaging, ideal client interviews, blog posts, websites, newsletters, the SEO and the pay-per-clicks all drove home the same point, and that set us on our current path.
“Now we’re changing our processes. We’re promoting high communication with our clients. We’re promoting high quality in training our employees. Our message is that we’re a company that’s technology forward-thinking. That’s what the Indispensable Marketing process did for us.”
Want to learn more? Schedule a consultation with us so we can talk about how to do this for your business.