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How does your business compare? Vertical Responses’ survey results on “How Much Time, Money Do Small Businesses Spend on Social Media?”…

Posted by on Nov 6, 2012 in SEO | 0 comments

How does your business compare? Vertical Responses’ survey results on “How Much Time, Money Do Small Businesses Spend on Social Media?”…

Small businesses:

  • Spend more time on social media, but many struggle with the added workload.
  • Focus on Facebook and Twitter, while adoption of Pinterest and Google+ remains slow.
  • Realize the value of content – but, again, time is an issue.
  • Find value in paying for social media tools.

How to: Define and Manage your Brand

Posted by on Oct 18, 2012 in SEO | 0 comments

Landscape Management — October 2012

Define and Manage your Brand
Lara Moffat, ASLA

When was the last time you evaluated your brand? What process did you use to define it, and how have you managed your brand? What’s branding? Simply, branding is how you and your business are viewed in the marketplace. However, it’s not that simple. A brand takes a process to create, time to develop and consistency to endure.

Branding isn’t solely a marketing concept—it plays a part of how every aspect of your business is communicated and perceived. The saying might be cliché, but perception is reality in the eyes of the consumer, and you want to be perceived favorably. Think about all the contact you have with your team, clients and community. How are you and your business viewed?

When defining your brand, there are several basic questions to ask:

1. What core services or products do we offer?

2. Are we servicing what our market wants?

3. Do we need to modify our business model?

4. How are we perceived by our employees, clients, competition and prospects?

5. Does our team have a clear understanding of its role in our success?

By answering these questions, you’ll be on your way to clearly specifying your services, identifying your market and differentiating your company, which will help determine how to manage your brand. Use the following guidelines to help define your brand and develop a plan.

State what services or products you’ll offer. The more specific you are about stating what you do, the more likely you’ll be able to communicate accurate messaging to the community. This includes internally to your team and externally to your customers, industry colleagues and prospects. If you’re routinely contacted by consumers about services you don’t offer, it’s time to review what message (i.e., promotional materials) you’re sending to prospects.

Determine what motivates the decision makers in your Key market. Knowing your target audience is essential to marketing to any given audience effectively. Identify the consumer behavior—the study of when, why, how and where people do or don’t buy a product or service—that motivates your specific group. Consumer behavior will vary greatly from residential to commercial and from tree sales to high-end landscape construction projects. Additionally, it’s important to note people don’t buy a service because of it; they buy it because of its benefits.

Promote what differentiates your company from another.

At frst glance, many landscape companies offer the same services from the consumer’s perspective. But your clients aren’t concerned with the service—it’s the benefits they receive that are paramount. Define a personality that speaks authentically to your target audience, business model and community culture. Focus on a client’s lifestyle, a company’s involvement within the community or its sustainable practices.

Now it’s time to manage your brand. Develop a plan that reviews and integrates all contacts your business has with the marketplace: employees, clients, industry colleagues, collateral, marketing, equipment, etc. Every impression makes an impact on branding, and professionalism tops the list as the way to build a positive brand. Think about the individuals you respect. I bet you have a high regard for them because they’re professional in the way they talk, act and look. The same is true for your business.

Train your employees to be professional by valuing what they do, and that investment will have a high return. By engaging your staff and making it aware of the business direction, you’ll build ownership and develop a team mentality. Set expectations first through leading by example and second by holding yourself accountable. Put tools and guidelines in place that enable all to achieve. Then expect attention to detail, from the cleanliness of the feet to the consistency of marketing materials. Acknowledge the successes, and constructively correct the misses.

Each year devise a focus. During the initial year, work with your entire team, from senior managers through crew members, and lead exercises that provide them with the basis to communicate your brand. Start with a clear and concise mission statement or tagline—a succinct version of an elevator speech. Ensure everyone understands and lives it. Remind them about the message in speech, conduct and print. Share it in press releases, promotional materials and conversations with clients and colleagues. By embodying and embracing your brand, your company will be difficult to miss in the marketplace. LM

Moffat, former director of marketing and recruitment for Lambert Landscape Co. in Dallas, is principal of LM Creative Consulting. Contact her at Lara@LMCreative Consulting.com.

Posted by on Aug 22, 2012 in SEO | 0 comments

Aug-12

LAM: Now                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Lara Moffat, ASLA

On October 20, 2003, Dallas and the world alike welcomed the opening of the Nasher Sculpture Center.  Ray Nasher, local real estate developer, and his wife, Patsy, had amassed one of the world’s most significant private collections of Modern art that museums near and far coveted and courted.  Thankfully for Dallasites, the Nasher’s decided to keep the collection intact and in town.

Located in the Dallas Arts District, which was planned by Sasaki Associates in the early ‘80s and has been taking shape ever since, the Nasher Sculpture Center is equal parts museum and sculpture garden.  The Nasher’s called on the design talents of Renzo Piano for the galleries and Peter Walker for the gardens and no expense was spared.  Heralded as important as the Guggenheim in Bilboa and as timeless as the Kimball in Fort Worth, the Nasher has been received in the best light.  That is until now.

On the city block due east of the Nasher, an aptly named in-construction Museum Tower literally towers the museum.  At 42 stories, the glass clad building dominates the eastern skyline. It not only creates harsh shadows deep into the single story structure, but the specified glass reportedly reflects the sun at an estimated 150 percent of normal direct sunlight based off a Sunlight Study executed in March by the engineering firm Arup Texas Inc.  Consequently, these external factors are adversely affecting the art displayed in the Nasher’s galleries and garden.

Inside the museum, numerous works have been placed in storage due to extreme light levels and direct rays.  The barrel vaulted interiors were designed specifically to capture natural light with expansive windows, light colored materials, and an innovative series of aluminum sunscreens.  The curved metal screens oriented north precisely eliminated both direct rays and harsh shadows, until the recent development took shape this spring.

Outside, Skyspace, Tending, (Blue), a site-specific James Turrell commission set deep in the landscape has been closed for re-design.  Turrell’s installation, which focuses on unobstructed views of the changing atmospheric conditions, is now permanently marred by Museum Tower.  Elsewhere and at certain times in the afternoon, the glare from Museum Tower makes it exceedingly uncomfortable to be in the garden and blinding when viewing the sculptures placed throughout this urban oasis.

Art and visitor’s experience aside, what does this mean to the health of the landscape?  This March on a 78° day, a test of the ground temperature on the bluegrass read 103° due to the intensity of the glare.  104° is noted by turf specialists to cause plant death for grasses, depending on length of exposure, species, and cultural practices.  If interpolated for an average summer high of 96°, 127°  far exceeds the temperature required to destroy the lawn.

Thus far, the turf seems to be the only planting visibly harmed; however, the late spring has been mild in comparison to last year.  Time will tell what damage the 1.5 acre garden will suffer if the abnormal sun glare is not resolved.  Dr. Moon, the Nasher’s horticulturist, is closely monitoring the landscape and was quoted, “We are looking at the potential effect of our garden being destroyed.” (Granberry, Michael. “Nasher Sculpture Center says glare from Museum Tower is causing harm.” The Dallas Morning News. 28 March 2012.)

The severity of this issue cannot be understated.  After several months and four fruitless meetings between the Nasher Sculpture Center and Museum Tower, mediation initiated by Dallas Mayor Rawlings is underway to find a resolution to the unnatural light glare.  With this intervention a media ban has been imposed, though the topic is being discussed widely from local publications to The New York Times and Vanity Fair.  Questions of urban planning review, architectural respect, and even appropriate material selection are leading discussions amongst the design community.  The health of the garden relies heavily on the outcome of the mediation, may it come sooner than later!

Setting up Google Analytics for a few new clients…when was the last time you reviewed yours?

Posted by on May 21, 2012 in SEO | 0 comments

Setting up Google Analytics for a few new clients…when was the last time you reviewed yours?

www.google.com/analytics

Capitalizing on public relations within a marketing plan: Start with planning…

Posted by on Apr 13, 2012 in SEO | 0 comments

Capitalizing on public relations within a marketing plan: Start with planning…

Plans are nothing; planning is everything. —Dwight D. Eisenhower

PLANET Front Page News

Do you want your PR to show up in Google News?

Posted by on Feb 22, 2012 in SEO | 0 comments

Google News might pass you by if you are using traditional Press Release writing techniques…There is an art to writing a Press Release and there is a science to writing the headline.

Want to know the most common, over-used, buzzwords?   What are the most used action words?  Are you using keywords that your target audience is using to search for you or your product?

To learn the answers to these questions and more, read “How NOT to write a headline for your Press Release” which answers my post’s question:

“If you want Google News to find your headline, brevity is key. The study states that for a news release to show up in Google News, it must have less than 23 words in the headline (the subhead not included). And who doesn’t want their press release to show up on Google News?”  (Schwartz MSL Research Group )

 

An Editorial Calendar is a MUST!

Posted by on Feb 7, 2012 in SEO | 0 comments

When developing your marketing, there are certain tools that help direct your campaign and keep you on course.  An Editorial or Content Calendar is one of these and for those within the landscape industry, a horticultural calendar for your region is an ideal place to start creating.

This article highlights some ways for you to build your own: http://www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/2010/08/content-marketing-editorial-calendar/

Does your website need contrast?

Posted by on Jan 21, 2012 in Web Design | 0 comments

“Because a website’s content is primarily there to be read…”…  http://lnkd.in/mb9R4p