Branding: The McKay way

April 1, 2015 -  By
McKay clients receive oversized, M&M-filled light bulbs as seasonal gifts.

McKay clients receive oversized, M&M-filled light bulbs as seasonal gifts.

Why this lighting company focuses on three key marketing segments.

Jerry McKay loves marketing. The owner of McKay Landscape Lighting in Omaha, Neb., has a lot of ideas, but chasing too many of them doesn’t always get the best results.

A few years ago McKay determined his best bet was to focus marketing and branding efforts on three areas: strategic partners, existing customers and new customers.

“We need to communicate to each group differently,” McKay says. “It’s a targeted vs. shotgun approach.”

Vital to all these efforts has been bringing a marketing coordinator on board to keep everything on schedule, McKay says.

3-pronged approach

Strategic partners are McKay’s No. 1 focus. About half of its marketing budget goes to this segment. The goal is to strengthen relationships with current partners and add new partners, such as builders, architects or designers.

To develop new partners, McKay and Andrew Coleman, lighting designer and salesperson, start by identifying prospects. Next, they connect with them on LinkedIn and begin to form a relationship by inviting them to lunch, golf or another networking event. They also may offer to host a company Lunch & Learn, where they’ll bring in a meal for the prospect’s staff and spend an hour teaching them about landscape lighting.

“The goal is to add partners who will spec McKay only (for lighting),” McKay says. Between himself and Coleman, they like to add a few partners per year.

Existing strategic partners and prospects receive holiday gift baskets, Christmas cards and McKay Landscape Lighting calendars. Throughout the year, the team also may swing by their offices with oversized light bulbs filled with seasonal M&Ms to keep the company front of mind.

New this year, McKay has planned blog posts specifically to appeal to prospective partners.

0415_casestudy_mckayNext, focusing on existing customers is vital for McKay, as this group accounted for more than half of the company’s revenue in 2014. The goal is to retain these customers, while increasing their upgrades and improving their customer service experience.

The company reaches them with an email campaign several times a year. The format is a personal email from McKay, featuring professional photos from the company’s recent projects to pique clients’ interest for future purchases. Content may include security, safety, before and after photos, vacation homes and more. Similarly, blog posts appeal to existing customers with topics like service/maintenance, upgrades, add-ons and FAQs.

On a quarterly basis, the company’s top 150 customers receive a one-page printed piece with recent project photos. In the highly competitive, digital age, sending hard copy materials with beautiful photography is something McKay says makes his company stand out. “I want to be the guy who has a brochure that overwhelms people,” he says.

McKay’s final focus area is reaching new customers, including those outside of its immediate geographic region. Again, blog posts are important for search engine optimization. For example, the company blogs about its out-of-town projects to emphasize it does work in other cites and states.

One successful tactic in this segment has been a PDF document the company created called “The Essential Guide to Selecting a Landscape Lighting Professional.” This lead-generation tool is available for prospects to download online in exchange for providing contact information.

Rounding out the new client branding and customer experience efforts is a Customer Care Packet, a leave-behind that outlines information on warranties, company contacts, service programs, FAQs and a small gift, such as the M&M light bulb.

Related: Download a copy of McKay Landscape Lighting’s quarterly marketing calendar worksheet.

Photo: McKay Landscape Lighting

Marisa Palmieri

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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