Marketing Your Land Surveying Business Online-A Few Thoughts

LinkedIn IconBefore I get to this article about marketing a land surveying business online, first a little about how you might be reading this post. This is my first endeavor in creating a post exclusively for you, a Premium Member. Congratulations on joining my site as a Premium Member!

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Now let's get down to business

For the past few months I've been working on setting up your premium membership and I've been chomping at the bit trying to write a whole slew of special, exclusive, and premium content. One topic I've wanted to write about is about marketing, the internet, social media, and social media marketing. While my focus is on marketing for the professional land surveyor, this content would be suitable for any business, really.

What I intend to do is to take this premium content and deliver it to you in a variety of formats and media. It’ll be fun for me to create and you’ll learn how to market your land surveying business and services, conventionally, and using the tools and techniques available on the internet. Within the past few weeks, however, I noticed a few things that really caught my attention, glaring things, and I thought I’d start here with a few of my thoughts on this subject.

  • First, I had an online conversation online with another professional land surveyor, who I’ll call Bob (not his real name), about marketing land surveying services. I had posted online a request I’d received for land surveying services in an area that I don’t work and Bob responded, so I sent him the contact information of the person requesting the surveying. Long story short, Bob contacted that person but the work had already been given to another firm.
  • Bob emailed me an update, thanking me for the info, and to say that he didn’t get the work. He went on to say something along these lines, “I looking forward to better times when we don’t need to market”. I guess he was saying that because of the tough economic times surveyors needed to market their services, but in good times marketing isn’t necessary. This is so untrue, on so many levels. If Bob had done a little more marketing in the good times then maybe he would be doing better during this recent downturn.

  • Second, I’ve seen a lot of stories about businesses not knowing to, or how to, use social media. Most of what I’ve seen and read concerns all businesses, but I know from first-hand experience that it’s especially true for those in the land surveying and related industries. There is a reluctance to incorporate social media into their marketing plans, if they have one at all, and a general ignorance on what social media is, from a business perspective, and what social media marketing is, and could be.A lot of this, I think, has to do with the word “social”, which many associate with “personal”, and not with “business”. Perhaps a better name than “Social Media” would be “Human Media”, of even better, “Human Online Connections” – This is really just all about making real human societal connections, including your existing customers and potential future customers. Do you have too many customers right now?
  • Third, in writing this blog I do a lot of research online and read a lot of press releases. Some are very well done. Some are not. Many press releases from companies are published through various online sites that either only publish press releases, or are industry sites, like mine, that also publish press releases in addition to their main focus. When I see a press release that I feel is newsworthy and pertinent to this site, I always go to the company’s actual website to first learn more about them.
  • Having just pushed a brand-spanking new press release onto the world, you would think that they would also publish it on their very own website on their existing “Press”, “Press Releases”, or “News” page. You’d be wrong. Three times in the last week I found interesting press releases specifically about land surveying companies and when visiting their websites, that wonderful and already created content was not on their site!

Twitter IconThis is what I did find:

  • One site had a “Press Releases” page that hadn’t been updated since early 2009. The new press release was nowhere to be found.
  • One site had no news or press release page at all. Why bother ?
  • One site had a company news page that had a big splashy picture of the owner and text that said, “Check Back Often For Our Company News”, or something like that. What message is this sending about this company and this owner? Check back often? You just released a press release that week and even it’s not on your company news page!

It’s no excuse, but I’ve even seen this on major corporations’ websites, too.

I’ll write more about the whole press release and company news page issue another time, and why you’re telling your customers to go elsewhere and are missing out on being found by potential future customers who are searching for your services on the web, but for know I want to address social media and social media marketing.

Whatever the reasons you’re not adopting these new techniques and tools don’t really matter. The bottom line is that social media and social media marketing are here to stay. Know this: You should adopt social media because it’s how people are finding services and service providers, you need to take control of your online identity and “buzz”, both good and bad, it’s inexpensive, it’s big (in a world-wide sort of way), and it’s small (in a local sort of way). Take note, your reluctance to use this “new” tool is costing you money.

Let's Go Back In Time

To explain on how new technologies, like social media, can be a boon to your company, I have a favorite story from my past about another new and emerging technology – email. Way back in the early days of the internet and email, we signed on to AOL for my family’s personal use. When I realized you could have multiple email accounts setup I created one for my land surveying business. Not too many other professionals or clients that I worked with had email at that time and sending large email attachments, let’s say for AutoCAD drawings for instance, wasn’t practical either. But I could see how huge the possibilities were in using email.

One day I got a call from an attorney in Ohio who represented a large national corporation that was looking to expand and build a facility in Rhode Island, where I work. This attorney asked if I was interested in doing this work and if I wouldn’t mind him sending my contact information along to a representative of said large national company who would email to me their specifications and requirement for the scope of work. I, of course, said yes.

Then I asked him a question: How did he find out about my company? You see, my company was fairly young at that time and while I had a lot of experience at doing this sort of work in the past, this type of work was normally given consideration to much larger firms in my area. His response surprised me.

He said, “I wanted to find a local surveyor who we could email the specifications to, so I called the local Chamber of Commerce and asked them if they had a member who was a surveyor and who had an email address”. Luckily for me, I had joined my local Chamber of Commerce (social), mostly for reduced health care costs, and with the prior renewal they had a spot where you could enter your email address (social). So I did. It turned out that I was the only company listed (both for surveyors and engineering companies that typically would’ve gotten this type of work) that had an email address, so I got the work!

One Client Led To Another, And Another .....

Facebook IconThis new project was in an industrial park and after I did all the surveying and work on the parcel that this national corporation was going to build on, they decided on another location in the industrial park. And, I got that work too! Then another corporation, who was represented by the same law firm as the first company, hired me to do work for them. Work snowballed and over the years I was hired by more and more companies to do their surveying because of references from my now existing clients there, or because they heard that I was working there, or saw my plans.

I don’t think any one of these jobs was more than 4-digits (not counting decimal places), at most, but a few years ago (before the Great Recession) I took some time to add up my total fees that resulted from that first inquiry from the attorney and it was amazing. Do you think it was $25,000, $50,000 or $75,000? No, it was over $135,000 in business that I know I can directly attribute to getting that first job because I had an email address.

1 Email Turned Into Over $135,000!

Did you hear me? Because I had invested a very small amount of time and money in a new technology, email,  I got one customer to give me one job that turned into several customers and $135,000 in revenue. Now that’s not counting any additional work that may have come from those customers and surveying jobs. For instance, I did not count in several new clients that I believe hired me to do other work because they knew that I now had experience in dealing with that municipality. Heck, even the municipality hired me to do some work for it.

So in the end, while I know that having that email address (and a Chamber of Commerce membership, too) led to at least $135,000 in surveying fees, if I had to guess I’d say that the total fees generated where at least double, if not triple that. Not a bad investment, really.

Take the above example and now replace “email” with “social media”, factor in that with social media you have the immediate opportunity to be found by millions, and consider that the cost of entry can be zero dollars. I’ll ask you again, do you have too many customers?

Email IconHere are a few tips to start using social media and social media marketing as part of your overall marketing plan for your land surveying company:

  1. Take control of your online identity. Register your company name and/or brand - at least on the major social sites like Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn. To register is quick, easy and free. Do it before someone else takes your company identity!
  2. Develop a plan for implementing your “social” strategy with regard to what you want to accomplish and how much time you will spend. If you find that you really love the social interaction, then you might be fine with spending a lot of time being social. If, however, you have a busy schedule, as most of us do, an hour a day (half hour morning and half hour end of day) is more than enough time to meet the right people, learn the ropes, and share your message.
  3. Connect with relevant people. Who are they? Well, that depends on your goals. Twitter, for instance, has become one of the largest search sites, so you can search for people that are in your locale or in an area your business may be thinking about expansion. Do not, however, rule out the funny and interesting (but business appropriate) as the people you want to find may find you through them. Besides, it’s much more enjoyable that way too.
  4. Listen. Did you hear me? Listen. Before you go all off and make some social faux pas, learn the rules of the road and social etiquette for each social network. Each social site has its own ways and culture – what you would say on Twitter or Facebook, for instance, might not be appropriate for a site like LinkedIn, which has a more business focus and atmosphere.
  5. Be HUMAN! Nobody likes droning, repetitive, and me, me, me, me conversations. Remember this, social media is not a megaphone, it’s a conversation. That doesn’t mean that you can’t occasionally sing your own praises and spread messages about how great you or your company are – of course you can, and should – just don’t do it all of the time. Some social media “experts” say that you should keep it to no more than 3 to 5 sharing message to each one of your own “it’s all about me” messages. That sounds about right to me.

Take this time to sign-up and learn more about social media if you haven’t already done so. Feel free to connect with me once you’re there and if you have any questions or if your company needs help with its marketing, feel free to contact me.

Thanks and Be Brilliant,

Eric D. Colburn, PLS

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Eric D. Colburn, PLS, "The Geo-Business Innovator", helps geo-professionals improve through innovative solutions, mastery of marketing and business growth strategies, and coaching/training. Eric is a successful, serial entrepreneur, podcaster, industry writer, product development consultant, and RI licensed professional land surveyor.

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