Leveraging Instagram for Your Business’ Marketing Needs with Matthew May Hall

Word of mouth marketing sucks. That doesn’t mean that you should stop telling your friends about companies that you know and love, but it does mean that the business isn’t in charge of the narrative. They have no control over the image that they’re putting into the world when they ONLY rely on word of mouth marketing.

Instead of relying on word of mouth marketing, hardscapers need to be all in on platforms like Instagram. But how do you use Instagram effectively? How do you make sure that you’re posting the right things, in the right way, at the right time?

On this episode of Hardscape Growth, I talk with Matthew May Hall. Matthew is the owner and operator of Hardscape Ottawa, and our conversation was all about:

  • How to use Instagram hashtags effectively to reach maximum local exposure
  • Why relying on word of mouth marketing is a huge mistake
  • How Matthew’s company pivoted to Zoom in a big way for home design consultations


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Transcript

Alex Cadieux  00:07

Hello, everybody and welcome to another episode of The Hardscape Growth show. Today we are joined by Matt from Hardscape Ottawa, up in the Ottawa Valley, capital of Canada. It’s a snowy night, but we got lots of hardscape business to talk about. Matt, how are you?

Matthew May  00:25

I’m great, Alex, thanks for having me. How are you?

Alex Cadieux  00:28

I’m great. Thanks for joining us on the show. So Matt, for those of our audience that don’t know you, do you want to tell us a little bit about your business? how long you’ve been doing this? what you guys do? I assume hardscaping is part of it with the name.

Matthew May  00:44

Yeah, so we’re Hardscape Ottawa based in Ottawa, Canada, as you’re saying, we build custom outdoor living spaces built to last. So we obviously put excellent craftsmanship into all of our paperwork. But the biggest thing for us is the base. Basically, we been in business for six years now going on to year seven. I started the business, after about eight years of pushing wheelbarrows, and moving my way up to foreman through the industry.

Alex Cadieux  01:12

So a big part of the messaging of your company is, you took the time to mentioned the base, which to me says like the construction quality is a big part of the messaging and what you put forth in the marketplace. We’re not gonna talk about construction techniques on this episode. I know you’re a super opinionated guy for the past few years that we’ve known each other, you have some very strong things to say about certain ways that people see things in the business. So let’s just get started with the first question here. What is something that everyone in the industry has got wrong?

Matthew May  01:50

So I think the message we’re trying to spread today is that word of mouth marketing sucks. It’s basically you lose control of what your message is. So if your message is not the message that you want it to be being given out to your potential customers, then sometimes, most of the time, you’re going to end up with customers, that maybe you don’t want to be your customers and you’ll miss out on the great customers that you were hoping for.

Alex Cadieux  02:14

Okay. So in your opinion, word of mouth marketing sucks, because you’re not in control of what other people say about your business and the picture that they paint of what you have to offer. Why don’t we talk about how you don’t depend on word of mouth marketing? What do you do to be independent of that and still have success and grow your business?

Matthew May  03:06

Yeah, so I mean, before we get going into this, I definitely don’t want people to be of the opinion that they shouldn’t tell their friends about us. That’s absolutely right. There’s inherently nothing wrong with word of mouth marketing, it’s great. And especially whenever times are good, the economy’s good. It’ll keep your business busy. 

Alex Cadieux  03:27

But you want more than that. You want more than just the referrals of the exact same customers, you want to keep building and growing is what I’m understanding with what you’re saying.

Matthew May  03:34

That’s essentially the point of what we’re getting at here is if you want to continue with the same sort of clients, which you know, whenever you start your business there are those small little walkways that, you know, there may be not what you exactly dream to be building whenever you start your company. But that’s just the fact of the matter is that you’re going to be starting off building smaller projects. So if you’re relying on you know, their neighbor and their neighbor, well, they’re all getting more or less the same project, right? So you need to control that message and get that message out there to a lot more people than just that. You know, a lot of referrals are great, too. It’s, you know, if you get a great customer, while their friends are usually pretty great people too, right? 

Alex Cadieux  04:18

So maybe we should dial it back a little bit. It’s what it sounds like, it’s not that word of mouth marketing sucks. It’s just if that’s the only way that you’re planning to grow your business, you’re gonna get potentially put into a little corner or pigeonholed with the type of work that maybe is not what you want. It’s just what you’re getting. And then you get in the cycle of doing things that may not be in your actual wheelhouse, but there’s a market for it. And if you’re not putting your business in the right position in the market with what your best strengths are, and what gets you excited that maybe that’s not the best direction to grow your business sustainably. 

Matthew May  04:57

Absolutely, maybe not even exactly where your your best strengths are, but where you want your business to be. You present the message of what you want your business to be. And it will be that. 

Alex Cadieux 05:10

So how do you do that then, why don’t we get into that?

Matthew May  05:12

Yeah, absolutely. So a lot of it comes down to prequalifying your customers. A lot of it comes down to getting on to as many platforms as you possibly can to get in front of everybody your own sort of soapbox, if you will, the internet, right? It’s through your social media and your website. And then the other thing is, is to provide great products, and that the larger jobs come whenever the quality is there with the smaller ones.

Alex Cadieux  05:40

Getting the right message to the right audience, making that audience as big as possible, so that you can pick and choose who you want, and make sure that you deliver on the promises. And if you do all this, then technically your marketing is going to work. What are some of the like tactical things that you do? I know you use Instagram, I see the Facebook logo over your shoulder. So why don’t we start with social media? What do you do there?

Matthew May  06:02

Yeah, so we do a lot of work on Instagram. We try and post as consistently as possible. But of course, that’s sort of one of those things that gets put by the wayside while you’re building stuff, right. But you know, in order to grow it, and again, I’m not the greatest ambassador of this, but consistency is going to be the biggest key. You want to be getting as much content out as often as possible, every single day. And then you want to be using smart hashtags with that, while you’re posting those photos in order to kind of gain audiences and build likes, and then show up in your more local listings. 

Alex Cadieux  06:40

Okay, so if I’m a contractor listening to this, and everyone’s been telling me, I need to be on Instagram, that’s gonna help my business, you just mentioned two key parts. First is the content. And by content, we’re talking about the pictures that we post, and those pictures need to be representative of kind of the brand, the type of job that you’re trying to sell. And not just anything, because then you’ll get just any calls, right? You want to be able to show the profile of projects that get you excited, get your customers excited, and get people contacting you. But there’s a second part, which is the use of hashtags to make sure that that content is discovered. Can you give us some examples of like, strategies that you use with with hashtags? Like, there are many types of hashtags that you can use so tell us what you do specifically.

Matthew May  07:25

Basically, there’s a couple sort of things. You need to break your hashtags down, or at least the way that we do it into sort of two categories, one, where you’re trying to, you know, our industry has great representation on Instagram. There’s tons of great companies out there, and it’s all sort of a community. So if you’re hitting the hashtags that people that actually want to see pictures of your hardscape of your landscape, then such as you know, hashtag hardscape brotherhood, hashtag Techo photos, whatever it may be, photos, you know, hashtag landscape designer things that people in our industry will follow, then you’re gonna get a bunch of likes, if you’re putting out nice enough work.

Alex Cadieux  08:06

That helps you gain some popularity, you’re not necessarily in front of the homeowners who are trying to find inspiration or trying to find someone to hire, right?

Matthew May  08:17

Exactly. We need the likes in order to rank on the Instagram, but that’s not really our goal. Our goal is to get in front of our demographic of clients, which is quickly growing into the people who are regular users of Instagram. A few years ago, you know, whenever five years ago, let’s say not a lot of people that have full time jobs and own homes and have kids and stuff were wasting their time on Instagram. Now a lot more people are using it, or people that sort of grew up with Instagram are moving into the demographic that are our clients in this industry as well. So that’s always growing. So the likes are great and all but really, we need to get in front of these people. And whenever they go to look up, you know, they’ll just be sitting there: Oh, we need to get our landscaping done while they’re scrolling through their Instagram and they might say hashtag Ottawa landscaper. Well, if you go on that we’re gonna rank really high on a lot of pictures because we got all the other likes from you know, a bunch of random people in Ottawa that don’t care about landscaping, right? They’ll scroll right past me. Other landscapers like your photos, but it builds your your how much you’re seeing in your local market.

Alex Cadieux  09:35

So your social media strategy breaks down into two parts. One is post good content consistently. And the second one is helping get discovered by a two pronged approach. One is using hashtags that will be popular with the industry, assuming you’re doing good, cool work, people in the industry always appreciate and will like it. And then the second part is making sure you’re found locally so like Ottawa landscapers I guess would be a hashtag or, you know, anything that has the region that you work in, or you want to be working in as part of that hashtag, right?

Matthew May  10:10

Yeah, absolutely. There’s, also sort of to break that down a little bit further, within those hashtags, there’s sort of almost like a ladder, right. So you have zero to 1000 for example, 1000 to 10,000, 10,000 to 100,000, 100,000 to a million, where, if there’s about that number of posts on that hashtag, then you’re competing against that many, but you need to sort of climb the ladder with having some, you know, the lower engagement ones, but that may be a very niche market, that people are going to see if your content is good enough, they’ll like it from there, and then it will get jumped up that ladder, through it. 

Alex Cadieux  10:50

So there’s a bit of research to do like if you go into Instagram, you go to the search, and you start typing in a hashtag, you’ll see the number of posts associated to that hashtag. So basically, you got to kind of gotta sit down with a notepad, and make notes of all these different hashtags to identify which ones are the sweet spot to where there’s enough eyeballs on it, but you can also get some attention, you’re not lost in the ocean. 

Matthew May  11:15

That’s exactly it. If you type in hashtag landscaping, there’s gonna be millions of posts. Your your little lowly photo, if that’s the only hashtag you throw on it, it’s never gonna be seen. But if it gets a bunch of looks at, you know, hardscape mafia, you know, the people that specifically follow that hashtag, and gets a bunch of likes there, well, then that’s the next kind of step on that ladder. It’s gonna start being shown to a wider audience there, if that content is good enough to make it in that sort of boxing ring, then it moves up into the heavier weight divisions, basically, until it is ranking in the landscape one. So that’s the hashtags, it’s a little, you know, it’s not complicated, it’s all pretty straightforward. You just need to figure out, you know, what is your set of hashtags that you want to use, you know, sit down, write down every single thing, Ottawa landscaping, Ottawa landscaper, landscape design, landscape whatever, and then research those. Write down which category they fit in, and then make yourself a list and then say, Okay, I need to put X number of hashtags on this photo, I think it’s 29 is the max, I’m pretty sure is the number it could be wrong with that. But, you know, you want to kind of work with those.

Alex Cadieux  12:26

Is that something that, like, you always use the same ones?

Matthew May  12:31

I play around with it, just because I’m scared that Instagram will catch on to what I’m doing. I’m not claiming to be an expert on this stuff. Everything that I’m saying to do I read to do this, and I guess I just don’t know if they’ll punish me for posting it exactly the same every single time. I try and really make sure as well that the hashtags are relevant to that photo. I think that’s where a lot of the time you’re gonna lose out. Maybe you’re a pool installer, and you say hashtag pool installer, and you put that on every single one but not every one of your photos has a pool. Instagram, like started going, Hey, like, Where’s the big blue box on this? It’s kind of missing, right? 

Alex Cadieux  13:14

I think that happens organically, too. Because if you’re showing up in the search results for a pool installer, and there are no pools in your pictures, well, people won’t like it, therefore you’re just gonna get squashed. So yeah, you have to be smart about using appropriate hashtag. That’s a super interesting tip. I like the way that you use the two hashtags, one to get popularity and other one to make sure you’re popular in the right spot. That’s smart. Tell me, like social media is one big part. But I know that right now, we’re having a conversation before starting the show here, how you’re rebuilding your website. So can you tell our audience like the importance of a website in your business? how you use it? Because it is a marketing tool, right.

Matthew May  14:02

Yeah, I think it’s really succinct right there. It’s a marketing tool. It’s not just a flyer that you put up on the internet. You can use it to carry people through your sales funnel, explain to them your sales process and your construction process. Have them really know what they’re getting into whenever they’re buying from you. And have them be really qualified, informed customers before they even pick up the phone to call you. Or now in our case, pick up the Zoom call to make a virtual consultation with us, but we use the website as a tool to prequalify our customers, really educate them as much as we possibly can about our process and about what makes us better than the other guy without necessarily putting it that way. You know, just really putting our strengths out there.

Alex Cadieux  14:54

You’re presenting your value position up front. Prequalification has come up a ton on the show here so far. I’m curious, what do you do to prequalify because there’s a few things that you can do. 

Matthew May  15:10

I know a lot of people like to do that through a conversation, sort of, listen for a little gasp whenever you give them a great big number for the project and see how they react, right? We found that it’s best to just kind of put all the prices out front of people. So as big part of this new website rebuild that we’re doing, and it should be live by the time this actually airs, we have this online estimator that we created, that basically will carry a person through every single part of an outdoor living project, and ask them, you know, do you want a patio and then break down the sort of different sizes of patios they could have. Do you want an interlock driveway? Do you want a water feature, whatever it may be? By the time they’ve worked their way through this, they have a range of prices that they can kind of know that, you know, we need to budget somewhere in this best case scenario it will be this much, worst case scenario will be this much, probably be somewhere in the middle, and they’re not gonna be tire kicking, basically.

Alex Cadieux  16:14

Creating basically like an online questionnaire, that the customer just answers the questions as they come up. And that’s giving them a good idea of the value of the project lay. Is it a front yard? Is it a backyard? Is it a driveway? Is it a patio? How big is the driveway? How many parking spots? Those are the kinds of questions that are helping the customer understand whether or not they have the means to hire you. And at the same time, I think you’re doing a really effective job of communicating the professionalism of your company. So that’s a good opportunity to not only prequalify them, by giving them a good idea of how much money they need to spend to get a quality project from a quality company like yours, not more importantly, but as importantly, is you’re potentially giving them greater inspiration, because you’re telling them like, Hey, we could do a fire feature for you. We could do a water feature, we could do an outdoor kitchen, we could do seat walls, we could build you a pergola. These are all things that may not have been on their radar until you’re asking like, Hey, we can do these things. Is that something that interests you? And then they hit yes. And then it tallies up a total at the end and then they know how much it will cost. And if they’re if that’s still interesting for them, then I guess you have a mechanism to get them in contact with you?

Matthew May  17:53

Yeah, so it’s going to collect their email address, it’s going to collect their name. Beyond that, we don’t necessarily look for too much information beyond that, at that point. From there, we’re trying to kind of work them through the funnel, to get to our virtual consultations, where, you know, we we can kind of give our expert opinion and break down that price a little bit more. Some of these price ranges are going to be wildly varied, you know, from $50,000 to $80,000, but a conversation with us might narrow that. 

Alex Cadieux  18:29

So tell me the virtual consultation, like we’re going down the funnel now, right? So we have customers who are discovering on social media, the link in your bio takes them to your website, on your website, they can see why you do awesome stuff and how you do it. And if they want to get a good idea of how much this one’s gonna cost me, which is a very common question. I click on that, I answer a few questions that tells me a dollar range I should expect to pay. From there, I click on a button that allows me to put in my contact information, which then sends it to you so that you can contact me back. And the next step from there is a virtual consultation. Now, obviously, like COVID has kind of forced a lot of people to adapt their business. But is that something that is working well for you or something that’s kind of just painful and we have to get through it?

Matthew May  19:23

Yeah, so we implemented it last winter, whenever COVID hit there was a bit of a scramble at the start, before the entire world knew about Zoom, we spend a lot of time coaching people how to how to turn on their mic and stuff like that. That seems like everybody’s got it figured out now. But no, it’s incredible how it frees you up, gets you off the road and gives you a lot more time to spend with the customer. You can spend a full hour in the meeting with them really engaging with them speaking about their project, focusing on them, really giving them your time. Whereas, you know, if you’re doing it sort of the more traditional way where you’re driving around going to different people’s houses, maybe you have three appointments in a day, you’ll spend the entire day on the road, maybe 20 minutes with each of those people, you’re tired from driving, you know, it’s not that you’re not able to provide the same experience to your clients. So I’m actually finding it a fantastic way to sort of just do a first interview with us see if we’re going to be a good fit to work together, if it’s even worth their time to get me to give them a quote. And yeah, I use a lot of the time to come up with some great ideas for their project at that time.

Alex Cadieux  20:32

Smart. I’m curious with that process, obviously you’re able to do more sales calls in a day as well and more of your hours or productive hours instead of like their they’re potentially revenue generating versus directly costing you money just driving. Right? But I’m curious with those conversations, like how do you prepare for those because the difference between like going to a customer’s house and seeing the property versus just doing a Zoom call or whatever, video conferencing thing are there specific steps that you make them do? Is there like homework you give them before you call them? Or do you just pull up Google look at Google Earth or something? What do you do?

Matthew May  21:17

Yeah, so Google Earth is one thing that we do, of course, what we will do as soon as somebody books a consultation with us, we prepare a folder in our drive for them. In that we put an overhead view of their property, we’ll put the Google Earth screenshot, you know, Street View in there. Often people have a sketch or something of what they want sort of thing, right. So you know, in as their booking, we encourage them to send along any other information that they may have, you know, such as a little sketch or design or some inspiration, photos, stuff like that. We’re not quite at the stage where we need their measurements yet, to really give them an exact, we’re just at the stage where we’re just kind of guessing at what stuff costs. So we don’t necessarily need a surveyor to go take measurements in that first conversation just yet. So we’re using it a lot more as sort of a discovery opportunity for both whether we’ll be a good fit as a contractor for them, and if they’re a good fit as a client for us.

Alex Cadieux  22:23

I like the way that you word that too like you want to see if it’s a fit both ways. You’re not just trying to earn their business, you’re making sure that they’re earning your business as well.

Matthew May  22:36

That’s especially important now that our industry is so busy. It’s not everybody can be your customer, right. And especially, you know, you want to be building the types of projects that you either enjoy building, or know that they are your niche project that you make the most revenue on whatever your reasoning is for wanting a certain type of project, you’re generally going to have sort of your company’s project that works for you. And you need to make sure that, you know, first and foremost that this is going to be a project that fits within that mold of what works for your company.

Alex Cadieux  23:14

Totally. So we could continue down that sales track, but I want to go way back up, because you’re spending a lot of time and energy building a new website, building this estimation tool. Which, by the way, what tool are you using for the estimation tool for like anyone who’s like, I should totally do that. And they want to invest the time to do it?

Matthew May  23:38

Yeah, so we’re using a type form it’s called. 

Alex Cadieux  23:44

Anyone not familiar with that it’s actually a pretty straightforward tool. Right? The big key is mapping out your workflows and mapping all the questions and answers. 

Matthew May  23:52

Yeah, it’s straightforward. I feel like we’ve probably made it a little bit hard on ourselves really trying to get some of the intuitive questions to function with each other so that we’re not asking you about pool heaters if you only want a patio sort of thing we’ll make sure you get through the Do you want a pool question first. 

Alex Cadieux  24:10

If you’re in a northern climate like you are, now’s the time to do it, especially with the surge in demand that we have right now. So I just wanted to hit that one point. But the other thing is, if prequalification is so essential to your business, it’s such an important part that you need to invest that much time trying to figure out how to build this kind of questionnaire working all these workflows and everything that tells me that you’re getting a lot of leads. I’m a little skeptical to say that a lot of your leads are coming just from social media, I’m sure that your SEO or SEM so search engine optimization or search engine marketing or both games must be pretty strong. If you have to have that kind of intense filter on your website. Am I right?

Matthew May  24:54

Yeah, absolutely. I mean we’ve gotten some great customers from from social media, but the majority of people that come through our doors, proverbial doors, is from our website. And yeah, we rank very well organically. For a lot of search terms in the region, Ottawa interlock company would be one that we’re generally gonna pop up in the top three sort of thing. 

Alex Cadieux  25:24

And in English Canada. For those not familiar, interlock is a very common term for paving stones or brick pavers, or in Quebec, we call it pavé uni, which is just a French way of saying it, but like, you’re using the local terms, you’re not necessarily using like the proper term saying, interlocking.

Matthew May  25:43

That’s it. You and I both know that they’re called interlocking concrete pavers, and that’s the only way to address them, Right? But basically the colloquial term is interlock so we go after that, because that’s what the people are searching while they’re looking for us.

Alex Cadieux  26:02

So interlock Ottawa, landscapers Ottawa, hardscapers Ottawa, I guess, are kind of some of the search terms?

Matthew May  26:08

Hardscape has been generating a lot more. And obviously us being hardscape Ottawa, we’re gonna rank number one on Google for that every single time. And that’s basically the reason behind the name right there. 

Alex Cadieux  26:24

I like that. We were talking with Mike Pennington on one of our episodes, and his business is named after his Instagram handle its Paver King Enterprises, he named it that because of the traction he has on Instagram. You named your company Hardscape Ottawa, because you knew that that would rank well, with SEO, it’s really well, why get super creative when I just need a business name is gonna help me get found and make me get customers. And that’s how I earn my money.

Matthew May  26:51

That’s it. It’s very important to go after the terms that your customers are using. And when I started Hardscape Ottawa six years ago, hardscape was not necessarily on the lips of people that were looking for a patio. I went to the Techo-Bloc contractor showcase the winter that I decided to start the business up, I already got all my branding put together. And Pete, Paver Pete says, you know, make sure you’re using the words that your customers are using, the word hardscape, they don’t know it, don’t be using it. And I was like, Oh, no, what have I done here! But now, you know, six years later, as customers are becoming a lot more informed of what they’re buying, they start doing research, they find companies like yours, they start hearing that term that maybe they’ll end up working with a landscape architect that starts talking about the softscape and hardscape portions of the project. And now it’s becoming a term that a lot more people are familiar with outside of the industry.

Alex Cadieux  27:47

For the consumers doing a bit of research, who’s considering some of the higher end options is maybe getting more exposed to the term which is working in your in your favor at the moment.

Matthew May  27:57

Absolutely. So the search term Hardscape Ottawa has landed me some awesome clients, we track all that stuff through how whenever we collect information from our customers, you know, where did you hear about us? What did you type in to find us or big questions so that we know, right? You can look at Google Analytics and stuff. But it’s really like, you know, how are people finding you? And yeah, we’ve gotten some great clients from that Hardscape Ottawa search term, and I say, you know, how did you know to look up hardscape? And you know, for some of those reasons that we just listed is exactly what they said.

Alex Cadieux  28:28

You rank like, position one for quite a few of those terms do you not?

Matthew May  28:35

Yeah, And hopefully this doesn’t change whenever I launch my new website, working on some 301 redirects, which don’t even ask me what those are, I kind of figured out.

Alex Cadieux  28:48

That’s making sure that the old pages that are still ranking high, don’t lose their ranking position, because they are linking to the same content just on this new site or new page. So 301 redirects are an important part.

Matthew May  28:59

So at the time of recording here, I was ranking very well, and provided I do a good job of these 301 redirects next week, whenever I get at them, we rank obviously, number one for Hardscape Ottawa and really high up for Ottawa interlock, and then any sort of preferences of that right Ottawa interlock company, Ottawa interlock contractor, etc. 3d landscape design Ottawa is one that we rank really high on as well. And some of the work that, you know, at the same time that we’re building this estimator that we talked about, we’re also building the website. And we’re going to be pushing after some more of those search terms with some other sub pages and things like that on the website as well. 

Alex Cadieux  29:44

So what’s maybe an example of say there’s a term that you want to rank higher for. What would you do? Like if there’s a term that tomorrow morning, you’ve identified like, I need to rank better for this term, what would you do specifically?

Matthew May  30:02

So Google is looking for the authority on the subject, right? That’s the simple way of putting it what Google is searching for. So the authority on the subject would theoretically have the most content on the subject because they know the most. So basically, our website is extremely content rich. And it organically uses all of the search terms that people are punching in, like interlock landscape, Ottawa, very repeatedly throughout the website, but careful not to do it in a way where it seems forced, because Google will punish you for that. But yeah, just heavy on the content is really what ranks that website well. We don’t do any paid ads on the website, which we probably should, right, there’s you should always be doing paid marketing. But you know, we’re working on how to deal with all the how many leads coming in. That’s not on the top of our mind right now.

Alex Cadieux  30:58

The only strategic thing I would recommend, because if you’re organically ranking really high, it’s tempting to say like I shouldn’t spend any money on paid, but it’s still a smart defensive strategy. Defense, paying for the keywords that you are ranking number one for, so that even if someone is attacking your number one ranking status, you’re still there. In a more competitive market you’ll spend money on defense for that kind of thing. But like when you’re saying content, like what’s that mean? Like I gotta write, I have to start writing blog articles for my website to help my website get found.

Matthew May  31:40

Not necessarily blog articles, but definitely what’s written on your website is, you know, you can do it through blog articles, that’s really a great way to do it because those articles are going to link to your website. And they’re going to have those words just naturally through them forever, right. But if we’re as passionate about all of this stuff, as we think we are, then you should have a lot to say, right? 

Alex Cadieux  32:09

Your website, it’s hardscapeottawa.com, right. Okay, the last time I was on there before, he started working on it. Like you have so much written stuff where you’re like, you’ve written out the explanation of every step of construction. You’ve written out why you would use an open graded base versus a dense graded base, you’ve written out the importance of compaction, you’ve been very much on the technical side and that helps for two reasons. One is when customers do show up on the site, they see even if they don’t read it all, they see that you have a lot to say is like, well, this guy’s got to know what he’s talking about. And the second thing is, like you said, it’s helping you get found because the keywords are peppered in throughout that text. So you throw the keywords in your text, you make sure that Ottawa is on the pages, you make sure that your contact information is on the pages. It knows this is a local answer to your question, Mr. or Mrs. Smith, who’s Googling for something right now.

Matthew May  33:07

That’s exactly it. Yeah, it’s basically that, you know, whatever is written down for it. Further to that too you’re gonna want to make sure that your images have proper names, right? Things like that. It’s all your pictures can’t be IMG_3006, whatever, right. They need to be Ottawa interlock construction picture, something like that. 

Alex Cadieux  33:29

I would go more specific like if it’s a fire pit, like, Ottawa construction hardscape fire pit type of thing.

Matthew May  33:36

Ottawa outdoor natural gas fire pit. jpg.

Alex Cadieux  33:43

There you go. That’s pretty good. So if I go way back to the beginning, word of mouth marketing sucks. Doesn’t suck exactly but it might suck if you’re not getting the type of work that you want now, and your marketing plan is referrals. If those two things are true, then you owe it to yourself to take control of your marketing, and some of the simpler things that you could do in a digital space that don’t require a ton of capital investment. They just kind of require a bit of research and a bit of time, and some effort, but it’s a lot of clickety clack effort, not so much backbreaking effort. Social media, get on social media, post quality content, post it frequently, consistently, use hashtags that are going to get traction with the professional community and make you be found locally. Use content on your website to help your webpages be found organically by having the right keywords that are matching proper search terms that you suspect your customers are looking for. Make sure your images are tagged appropriately so your images are showing up as well. If you’re getting a lot of leads, think about how you’re going to prequalify your customers, you might be doing that by phone conversation, you might be doing that by email exchange. But if you can incorporate some prequalification measures into your website upfront, it’s probably a good idea because it stops unnecessary human interaction. Then finally, when you are interacting with the customers, try to make it as efficient as possible so that you’re optimizing your time. So that every hour you spend is an hour earning money and not an hour spending money if you can help it, or at least you spend more hours earning than you do spending. And you’re making the customer experience as convenient and as pleasant as possible for them. Does that kind of sum up basically everything that has made your company grow in the past few years?

Matthew May  36:00

I’d say, that’s a pretty good summation of our marketing efforts there, it’s, you know, it’s basically just get out there. These pictures aren’t going to post themselves, you have to post them. And you have to take them in order to be able to post them. And I mean, you can take that so many steps further. There’s so many people that are doing so much more than myself on Instagram, right, where they’re, they’re walking you through, and they’re carrying the phone around, and they’re explaining, hey, look, they’ve got their face out there, you know, showing off their work and how they built it, and why they built it and telling people, other people how they can build that’s their own. That’s not quite for me.

Alex Cadieux  36:43

I think that’s proof right there. Like your way of doing it has worked crazy well for your business. Then you talk to like a guy, let’s say, Shawn from Premiere, who’s got his face all over YouTube and Instagram, and he just kind of riffing on the phone walking around this job. And that works crazy well for him. And then you have other companies that take almost like a corporate marketing approach for the way they position themselves, and that works really well for them. Like the key is not necessarily that there’s one way to do it, or like anybody who’s listening to this, like, Oh, my God, this is what I got to do. I don’t think that’s the takeaway. I think the takeaway here is, there are some ways that if you’re not doing these, and you want to improve your position online, and you want to improve the number and the quality of leads to your business, these are some things that you can do that don’t require a tremendous amount of web savviness. Is that fair to say?

Matthew May  37:44

Yeah, that’s absolutely that’s it, that’s more or less, the point I was trying to make is that you don’t necessarily need to go full blast, like you have your own YouTube channel, where you’re out there like Sean is, you can do this kind of middle ground where you’re just posting beautiful work, you know, engaging the community, and be part of that social media. It’s not like a scary thing to come into. You can do it without having to really make yourself vulnerable. 

Alex Cadieux  38:10

On the topic of content, I just want to wrap up on this one. Getting started on this on social media on Instagram, posting the right stuff. Like what what does it mean? What is effective? Like, pretty pictures of projects, hardscape projects, drone shots, are those more effective than like on the ground shots? Is video more effective than static images? What’s your advice?

Matthew May  38:39

Yeah, geez, I mean, drone shots you’re never gonna go wrong with those, those are awesome. And drones are not something that is prohibitive to afford these days either. So you can do some pretty awesome content without too much of an investment. Just don’t start doing stunts with them or you might have to Super Glue them back together, I can tell you that from experience. But you’ve built all this beautiful work, why not take pictures of it and show it to people, right? And the better hashtag strategy that you use, the more people are going to see your work. And the more people that see your work, the more work you’re going to get. And it just keeps churning right. The getting going is just make an account, find some other accounts that you know, look up hashtags of some things that you like, right? And then find who are the people that are leading in those hashtags, follow them and see what they do. Either copy it or adapt it to something that works for yourself or whatever.

Alex Cadieux  39:43

That’s such smart advice too like, find something that you’re passionate about, who are the people you follow? Why are they the ones that you follow? And look at what they’re doing replicate that. There’s no there’s no handbook on this. There’s no like this is the course these are the rules. Look at what’s working and emulate it and once you’ve emulated it enough, and it begins to become effective, you start to understand what works and what doesn’t work. And as long as you have this mindset of always looking back at what you did, and how can I do it better, you will get better. And that’s the key. As long as you do that, like, grow your business as far as you want to go. Alright, Matt I know you’re an open book with a lot of stuff. I know you love sharing your insights and sharing your challenges too to help find solutions to those problems, What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you, if they want to ask you questions, talk to you about that estimator tool that you’re building or anything in general?

Matthew May  40:52

Yeah, so it’s basically what we’ve talked about. If you want to just reach out to me quickly, I’ll be able to answer you on Instagram. If you want to reach out regarding a project or finding out more about a process, things like that, our websites gonna be your best starting point there @hardscapeottawa on Instagram, and Facebook as well, facebook.com/hardscapeottawa, and yeah, hardscapeottawa.com

Alex Cadieux  41:17

I’m gonna throw one last thing out, one thing that you do that I really like, and maybe we’ll have you on another episode to talk about this. But one thing that you do is anybody who isn’t following him, follow him right now check out his work. One thing you do is you are really smart with your designs, you’re very efficient with your use of materials. I think you have some jobs that had a saw out for all of like 30 seconds. So we’ll save that for another episode. But that’s something to check out if you’re trying to build efficiency, save some time on the job sites. Take some inspiration from Matt because he’s a smart dude, not just marketing, but also his construction approach. Thanks a lot, Matt, for joining us. Really, really fun time. super informative. I have two pages of notes here. And I hope that our listeners got the same. Thanks a lot. And everyone we’ll see you next time on the Hardscape Growth show.

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