LM150 Lessons Learned: Consistent marketing matters

June 12, 2014 -  By

No. 100

Engledow Group
Carmel, Ind.

Joe Judd

Joe Judd

It’s common for company marketing efforts to go in fits and starts, especially when there’s multiple people manning the effort.

That’s been the case for the 82-year-old Engledow Group, operated today by second- and third-generation Engledow family members.

There were periods where marketing played a big role, says Marketing Director Joe Judd, who joined the firm in 2012. For example, in the 1960s you could open a Central Indiana newspaper and see an Engledow advertisement. It’s also held a strong brand position since the 1970s with its signature lime green trucks. 

But by the 1980s and 1990s, marketing efforts tapered off. “At that time we considered ourselves the market leader since we’d been around for so long,” Judd says. “We were comfortable with our reputation and other stuff took precedence. In a sense, we became complacent.”

However, the increase in competition over the last two decades, plus thinning profit margins due to the Great Recession, prompted Engledow to reevaluate things.

The company hired a consultant in 2010 and 2011. One outcome from that process was to add a marketing person to implement and oversee a marketing strategy. Enter Judd, who’d worked for several ad agencies before Engledow.

“Consistent marketing would have helped us overcome a lot of challenges we’re experiencing today,” Judd says. “When margins are thin, it’s tough to differentiate your products and services. We try to use marketing to show the value behind our services. In a sense, we’re trying to take price out of the conversation.”

When Judd came on board, he first addressed the website, which hadn’t been updated in years. The new site, launched in December 2012, incorporates a blog and other search engine optimization tactics. It also uses an “inbound marketing” strategy. The goal is to draw customers and prospects to its site by providing useful content, such as a free landscaping calendar. 

“It’s not pushy or aggressive,” Judd says. “The goal is to educate people and be the expert. When they’re ready to make a decision, we’ll be top of mind.”

The company also renewed some of its community service efforts. Engledow has long partnered with nonprofits, but this new approach entailed choosing several that align with company values. Keep Indianapolis Beautiful is one example. 

Additionally, the firm gets exposure through a partnership with the local CBS affiliate on a morning show called Indy Style. It’s the second year Engledow, which does some digital advertising with the station, has participated in a monthly landscape tips and trends segment. It also posts the video clips on its website and shares them via social media. 

The results of the two-year-old marketing revamp are good, Judd says. “It just seems like there’s a lot of momentum building in all areas of our business,” he says, citing nearly 1,400 Facebook followers (up from zero two years ago), excellent website metrics (a nearly 200 percent increase in traffic in the first year) and good feedback from clients. All this activity has resulted in more than 150 leads coming from the website since its relaunch—compared to none before. Some of those have turned into substantial contracts.

For others looking to assemble a cohesive marketing strategy, Judd offers a few tips, starting with identifying the budget. From there, he’d focus on the website.

“If I was going to spend money anywhere I’d first look there,” he says. Whether or not a customer can find you with a simple web search is the first hurdle. From there, he says to explore other advertising avenues, such as Google AdWords or local media advertising partnerships. 

“There’s no magic bullet when it comes to marketing,” he says. “Sometimes people have the mindset that there is and try to make a video go viral, for example. You might get lucky, but I’d rather put energy and efforts into creating a thorough marketing strategy for our business.”

 

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About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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