Running a geospatial business of any kind isn’t meant to be easy, but it shouldn’t be terrible either. I see how many of you struggle, busting your balls for minimal profits, working all hours of the day, night, and weekends…
It shouldn’t be this hard, guys. And it doesn’t have to be.
Let’s make 2024 your best business year ever. I’ve compiled a bunch of tips to help you start the year off right so you can grow your business, business work less, and earn more!
Does that sound like a pie-in-the-sky idea? It’s not. Once you know what to do, you’ll see that it’s not so hard to run your business efficiently, effectively, and profitably.
Let’s get started.
Watch the video.
Tip#1: Know your audience.
In marketing, it’s absolutely imperative to know the audience you’re marketing to. Are you trying to connect with business owners, government employees, or, if you’re a reseller, surveying firms and construction contractors? Before you write your first email or social media post, you need to understand everything about these potential buyers. You should be able to answer each of these questions:
- What problem will your business solve for them?
- What keeps them up at night?
- Where do they find their information? In magazines, on website, or social media?
- How do they choose a solution like yours, and how long does it typically take them to make a purchase decision?
- Who influences their purchasing decisions? (If it’s a big company, there could be many influencers involved, from the CFO to the end-users.)
If you’ve been in business for a while, you probably know all the answers to these questions, but it’s worth writing them down and creating customer profiles, or buyer personas. Create a document for each persona, and refer to them when you need to interact with them.
Tip #2: Nail down your messaging.
There are a number of things you should be making abundantly clear to your audience without them ever having to ask. As soon as your prospective customers see anything on LinkedIn, in their inbox, at a conference, or wherever about your business, they should know right away:
- What do you do, exactly?
- What’s your specialization in your industry? Is it land surveying, GIS mapping, drone surveys, etc.
- What makes your service unique? Is it your process? Your team? Your fantastic customer service? Make sure your audience knows – right away.
This step is also the foundation for building your brand, which is more than having a neat logo. In fact, if you don’t have a neat logo, do this step, then (if you have a budget) hire a designer and give them this messaging document so they can design a logo that truly reflects your business.
Action item: Create a document that answers all these questions. Then, make a checklist so that you can be sure all of your emails, posts, ads, and other communications answer them before anyone has to ask.
Bonus tip: Struggling with this part? Our friend Pam has a great template that will help you pull things together.
Gold star: While you’re building your messaging, take a crack at writing your mission, vision, and value statements, too. These may seem like silly things but trust me – when your customers see a framed mission statement on the wall that says you’re committed to delivering the best quality work, on-time, under budget, and with the most accurate equipment on the market – it will make a difference. You may find your team also feels more invested and engaged.
Tip #3: Build and boost your brand online
(Note that it’s CRITICAL to complete step one before starting step two. Seriously.) Create or commission a professional website showcasing your services, past projects, and client testimonials. If you’re hiring an agency or freelancer, make sure they follow SEO best practices so that search engines find and rank your site!
Honestly, this is not something we recommend you do on your own – or something you have your web-savvy teenaged nephew handle for you. We get that websites can be expensive, but if there’s one place you should invest some marketing budget, this is it. Your website is your front door. It’s the first view most people get of your business. Make sure you’re making a good impression.
And, ask around. You probably know someone who knows someone who does great websites for a reasonable fee.
Bonus tip: We confess that we don’t actually know this company, but they do have a clear and comprehensive list of website must-haves that’s worth the quick read!
Tip #4: Use social media – wisely and frequently
If you follow me on social, you KNOW I walk the walk on this one! Social platforms are not only a great way to stay in touch with contacts you already have, they also allow you to build a following and make new contacts! Using platforms like LinkedIn, X, Facebook, Instagram, and even TikTok can help you find and build new audiences of potential customers.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to write whole essays or shoot feature films every day! Upload a pic from your phone with a caption. Share an interesting industry news item with your perspective. Do what I do and take a quick video with a fresh idea or tip for your customers – or just introduce your new office manager. It doesn’t have to be rocket science – it just has to be friendly and genuine. And sharing helpful tips – like your holiday hours or a reminder that it’s the last day for $1 coffee at McDonald’s? Those are always appreciated.
You know I tend to post multiple times every day, but don’t feel pressured to do that out of the gate! Start with 2-3 times per week and try to build up to five or more.
Bonus tip: Have someone on your team learn Canva or Snappa. These online tools help turn your social posts into little works of art, quickly and easily. Both have tutorials (Canva’s is here, Snappa’s is here) and both offer free versions.
Tip #5: Get out there and network!
You know this one’s important. You need to meet new people to make new connections. Going to events like GeoWeek or INTERGEO is a great idea, but even if you don’t have the budget to travel, you can attend local business events, trade shows, and industry conferences. Joining a local service organization or Chamber of Commerce can expand your network, too, leading to partnerships, referrals, and new opportunities.
Bonus tip: Did you know that you can network virtually, too? LinkedIn has all kinds of groups, and you may be able to find one that connects you directly to the people you need to meet to grow your business.
Tip #6: Offer great content. (This is the long part!)
In marketing, it’s often said that “Content is King.” (Of course, here at EBL, “Content is QUEEN!”) Content is the fuel that powers your marketing engine. To summarize, you need to provide valuable content like whitepapers, guides, or webinars on topics that help solve problems for your audience. This helps to demonstrate your expertise and attracts potential clients. (Different content works at different stages of the sales cycle, as you’ve seen in this image we’ve shared in a previous post – and will likely share again!)
Short, shared content attracts
Remember tip #3, about social media? This is how it fits into the big picture. Content should attract people, grab their attention, and make them want more! Post your captivating content, write blogs for your website (or find a writer to help you), and use these smart tips so that Google loves them and makes them easy for your audience to find. As mentioned before, make your content practical and helpful. It can be as simple as the best lunches to pack for days in the field, or as complex as tips to calibrate your robotic total station.
Lead magnets: Your long-form content
You’ve no doubt seen our monthly webinars on LinkedIn or in your inbox. These are lead magnets for our business. This is longer content that I offer to you (much like this article) to help solve your pain point. My goal is to successfully help you navigate the marketing world in a way that best aligns with what you do – saving you a ton of time and money, and hopefully resulting in a fatter bank account.
You need to do the same for your leads and prospects.
They have a problem and they need your help solving it. If you can help them solve that problem – or at least point them in the direction of a solution, you can build trust and goodwill. Here are some ideas that might work for land surveyors:
- Offer a PDF with tips on how to choose the right surveyor for your project (this could be a questionnaire or checklist)
- Make a short video on how to prepare for a land survey
- Write an article on why you need a surveyor, versus doing it yourself with a mobile phone
If you’re an equipment reseller, it’s always smart to offer how-to videos, product comparisons, and spec sheets for downloads.
With any of these offerings, the key is to “gate” the content. That is, ask your visitors to complete a short form in exchange for your content. It’s important to only ask for the information you need, like the person’s name, the company they work for, and their email address.
Nurture your audience with the right content
Once your prospects complete the form, they should be added to your database. This will happen instantly depending on how your website is set up and if you have a customer relationship management (CRM) tool, or you can manually add their names to a spreadsheet. You should then send these interested people – via email – focused content including tips, tricks, and other information that addresses their problems and provides solutions! The aim is to build and nurture the target market so it all turns into moolah (money).
By directing these new leads toward the solution to their problem, you are building trust and equity. They may not be ready to become customers yet, but when they are, you’ll be the one they call.
The overall process can be long, although there is the occasional short turnaround sale. So have a plan, stick to it, and by all means, tweak it. But be patient!
I like to look at content along the marketing-to-sales process in three phases, during which I ask these important questions:
- Phase 1. Is this content valuable and useful to my audience – the people I really, really want to have as clients? Does it attract my ideal audience to my site?
- Phase 2. Does my content page give them an action to take – like completing a form – so they can join my database and I can continue to communicate with them in ways that are meaningful and helpful?
- Phase 3. Am I giving them what they need to build trust and convert them into paying customers?
This formula works, and you can make it work better. Once you have a few new customers, look back at how they found you, which content pieces they read, downloaded, and followed, and start again with new prospects or refreshed content. Refine, review, and optimize, and pretty soon, you’ll have an easily repeatable process.
It sounds simple when I put it like that, but I do this stuff in my sleep! It’s my world! That’s why I want to share it with you. Process leads to money.
Tip #7: Follow up on all those leads!
Between the leads you’ve gained from networking and the ones you’ve captured online with your lead magnets, you’re building a contact database. But if you don’t stay in touch with them, they’re bloody useless. Go back to the nurture process I detailed for you above, and create a series of nurture emails for everyone you’ve added to your database.
Tip #8: Keep learning.
Have we essentially packed an entire post-graduate course on marketing into one blog post?
Yes, sort of.
We know it’s a lot, but there are a lot of resources out there to help you – including the Geospatial Marketing Academy, the only marketing training resource that’s just for geospatial industry professionals! You can also rely on sites like MarketingProfs and the Content Marketing Institute to help you stay updated on marketing trends, technological advancements, and changing customer needs. Adapt your marketing strategies accordingly to stay competitive.
Remember, consistency and persistence are key in marketing efforts. Experiment with different strategies to see what works best for your business and adjust your approach accordingly.
And of course, get in touch if you have any questions!