How to Hire a Digital Marketing Firm

How to Hire a Digital Marketing Firm

Written by Katie Petersen

Are you thinking of outsourcing your social media and marketing to an outside digital marketing agency? 

The decision to do so is a big one, and is not something that should be taken lightly. This agency will have full access to your business and a direct line to your customers – so you want to ensure that the company you do hire understands your business, your message, your voice and continues to uphold the marketing standard that you have created for your business.

Many of these agencies can actually help your company. They understand marketing and can bring fresh ideas and campaigns to your team. They can help grow your business quicker and will give others on your team time to focus on other projects. 

On the other hand, if you do not research effectively, you may get stuck with an agency that over promises and under delivers. They may not effectively get to know your business and thus result in a loss of revenue as opposed to a surplus. 

To ensure that you are choosing the best digital marketing agency for your business, follow these simple steps:

1. Determine What You Need

What are you looking to accomplish by hiring a digital marketing agency? Do you need help with your social media? Do you need assistance with email marketing or creating a funnel for your customers to move through? What about a website re-design or help with SEO? Figuring out what you need help with first will help you determine what to look for in a digital marketing agency and how they could help your business. 

2. Look for an Agency that Knows Your Business

You wouldn’t want to have brain surgery done by a car mechanic so why would you hire a digital marketing agency that doesn’t specialize in your industry? Treat your first meeting with an agency like an interview. Ask them questions specific to your industry. Ask for examples of previous work they may have done. Make sure that they understand what your industry is first before you commit to working with them. If they seem too good to be true, unfortunately, they probably are.

3. Are The Tools and Reporting They Use Effective?

What does this agency use to enhance your marketing and how do they keep you abreast of what is going on with it? Ensure that the tools they are using will give you the results you are looking for. If they promise email marketing, are they using a reputable platform for this? What system do they use to monitor your SEO? How often do they pull reports for you and are these reports easy to digest? 

Knowing what type of information you will get will give you a better understanding of what is going on with your marketing and will help keep you in the loop as to your marketing.

4. Is Their Pricing Fair?

It’s no secret that some marketing agencies will price gouge you and then fail to deliver on promises. Make sure that what they are promising seems feasible within the agreed upon terms. What are they going to be doing for you? Do they have the staff to efficiently and effectively deliver on their promises? What is the timeline for the products that they will deliver on? This is a good one to look into other options for as well. If you know the average price of a few agencies, you can easily tell if one is either too low or too high.

Hiring a digital marketing agency can greatly benefit your business if done correctly. Like any business decision, it is important to do your due diligence and hire an agency that is a good fit for your company. Remember – even if an agency comes highly recommended does not always mean that they will be the best fit for you.

If you have further questions or need assistance with your sales and marketing, contact ArboRisk Insurance and learn more about our Thrive Sales & Marketing Package.


Influencer-Brand Relationships

Influencer-Brand Relationships

Written by Katie Petersen

Think about the last time that you bought a product. What steps did you take prior to purchasing? Perhaps you Googled alternatives, compared pricing online or in-store, or maybe you watched a video from a local personality on Instagram or Facebook where they talked about the specific product and shared the pros and cons of it with you. Based on this information that you gathered, and the trusted voice from the local personality, you then went out and purchased the product. Whether you realized it or not, you had made this purchase as a result of influencer marketing.

Did you know that almost 70% of consumers turn to influencers online when making a decision? Because of this, influencer marketing has seen a definite rise in the last few years. While this type of marketing can seem daunting, this trend may not be going away and is something businesses that are serious about their marketing may want to dive into.

A lot of times when we think of influencer marketing, we think of individuals with millions of followers; but in actuality influencers with a smaller following (<1000) have just as much influence, if not more. With fewer followers, these “micro-influencers” tend to have more engaged audiences that are more likely to take action on products. This brings me to my next question: How could an influencer help impact your tree care company?

When beginning to look at influencer marketing as an option, it is important to decide how you will measure success. Many influencers often have a specific audience, with a specific age and lifestyle choices. Choosing the right individual to help you is crucial to reaching the correct audience that will purchase your services. Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Does this influencer live in my area?
  2. Is their audience my target demographic? 
  3. Is the influencer in question active on the channel (Instagram, Youtube, TikTok, etc.) that will work best for my messaging?
  4. Will their services fit within my budget?
  5. Will they work with me to correctly share my website, services, their experience, etc.?
  6. Will my audience react positively to the form of content used (i.e. video, post, story)?

Influencers are successful for a reason – they know what type of content to promote to get their audience to react. Therefore, it is important to keep in mind that giving them creative freedom with your information may provide you with better results. For example, video is still consistently the top engagement content. If you do not currently incorporate video into your marketing, perhaps working with an influencer is one way to reach your audience with this form of media!

When used correctly, influencer marketing can be highly effective. It is also important to keep in mind where marketing trends are headed. There are many ways to reach your audience and influencer marketing is rooted in relationships – if you have a trusted influencer vouching for your product, you are more likely to gain customers that will trust you and work with you again and again.

If you need additional help with influencer marketing or your marketing efforts in general, reach out to ArboRisk to learn more about our Sales and Marketing Thrive Package!

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2023 Marketing Trends

2023 Marketing Trends

Written by Katie Petersen

For the past couple of years, I have written an article regarding the marketing trends for the respective year (see: 2021, 2022 articles). Each year I see evidence of evolving trends and some “trends” that are not really trends at all but have become a necessary part of a marketing strategy. 2023 is no different. From the continued rise of influencer marketing to the tried and true standard of selling yourself on social media, here are some upcoming marketing trends for 2023.

Social Marketing: Rise of the Influencer

While I plan to do a deeper dive on this concept in an upcoming article, influencer marketing continues to grow and develop at a rapid pace. Having a trusted source vouch for your company is something that no amount of money in the world can compete with. The term “influencer” can also mean more than what you probably think. It doesn’t have to be someone with a huge following, it can be an employee, returning client, community business partner – anyone who has had experience with your company and can give others positive feedback about it. 

Tik Tok especially continues to grow in this area as more and more content creators, influencers, and everyday people embrace what the platform has to offer. Tik Tok has refined their platform for businesses as well, so if you aren’t on it yet, now might be the time! They are working towards improving usability for businesses as well as expanding the options for targeted ads. 


B2B Marketing: We’re still talking about video

Remember how I said Tik Tok has continued to grow? Well, there is a reason Tik Tok has claimed and maintained the top social spot: video. If you’re not using video yet, it’s time. Video is here to stay and you should work to integrate it within your marketing for 2023. Whether on Tik Tok, YouTube, or Instagram, creating videos will instantly help you connect more with your target audience and will add more credence to your messaging. Customers like to see who they are buying a product from and the best way to do that is to show your face on a video.

Video can also be used to simply connect with your customers. Many companies (ourselves included) can get caught up in pushing content that only contains a sales message. What video can also provide is an outlet to show other sides of your company. Perhaps you could do a video featuring a few employees from your sales team. As an owner, you could share five fun facts about yourself, or share a story about how you got into the industry. Video is a powerful tool that can help you directly connect to customers – don’t sell yourself and your company short by being afraid of it.


Content Marketing: Building Your Strategy

Did you know that only a little over 50% of businesses have a documented content strategy in place? Ensuring that your content is audience driven, and actually relevant to said audience, is what will take your brand and business from mediocre to extraordinary. Having a documented content strategy will also allow you to focus on 1-2 relevant platforms, as opposed to spreading yourself thin over all of them. Making sure you are checking the insights for your content and how it is performing over time will help you narrow down your strategy and tell you where you should be and what you should be talking about.

Having documented content and a refined strategy will help you reach the audience that seemingly alludes you. Connecting with an outside influencer will also show customers that you are willing to work with others; instead of a “me, me, me” strategy, it takes your message and shows that you trust it in the hands of someone else. This gives customers confidence in you and what you can offer to them.


2023 is here and will breeze by quickly. Take the ideas that you can for the year and implement them in a strategic and balanced way. Trying to tackle too many things too quickly will throw your entire strategy off balance. The work you put in this year will allow you to start your 2024 marketing ahead of the companies that remained stagnant. 

Want additional help with your marketing? Check out our Thrive Sales & Marketing Package!



Hiring Best Practices

Hiring Best Practices

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

Hiring is one of the most difficult challenges that a business owner faces, especially in the tree care world. Despite the frustrations that hiring presents, you can get great employees on your team by setting up a structure for your hiring process. And as you know, better employees will help your company grow which in turn will attract even more all-star employees.

Here are my four Hiring Best Practices that you can use to assemble the best team possible.


1.Initial Paperwork: Job Description, Application and Background Authorization Forms 

To get the right person for the job, you must be able to define the work that you want them to do. Having written job descriptions for each position is a critical. The job description can be used to promote the position opening as well. An application for employment that includes authorization forms for background checks, including driving record checks is the second part of the initial paperwork that you should have before you hire someone. Checking the applicant’s references and driving record should be one of the first things you do to assess their potential for employment with your company.


2. Interviews – I recommend that the interview process is done in three steps…

 Start with a phone interview with a few predetermined questions. You can find out a lot of great information about the applicant before you spend any more time on them by simple talking to them over the phone first. Two things that you will notice immediately with a phone interview are the punctuality of the applicant and how prepared they are. Do they answer right away or does it go to voicemail? You will be able to tell if they are driving (risky behavior?) or sitting in a quiet area. Ask questions to gauge their devotion to safety and how important it is to them as well as what their past experiences are.

If they pass the initial phone interview, schedule an in-person interview with the hiring manager and one of the potential crew leaders. Having two people in on each interview helps protect your company for any he said/she said arguments that may arise if an individual isn’t hired by your company.

The last interview should be an informal group interview where the applicant gets to meet some of the crew members that they would be working with to learn how their personalities will fit with your current team. The hiring manager and crew leader should not be present during this time so the applicant feels secure to be him or herself. The best way to facilitate this is to have the applicant drive out to a job site for a quick lunch with the crew. It is very obvious who will fit in with your culture and who will not during an informal interview like this.


3. Physical Testing 

After the applicant passes each of the interviews, it is time to see if they have the physical skills and capabilities necessary to perform the job. This can include having them do a skills test for knot tying, chainsaw knowledge or a climbing test. Perhaps you want to see their tree ID skills or plant health care knowledge. A driving test with one of your larger trucks and trailers is also a great idea to complete at this stage of the hiring process. Lastly, have the applicant go into your local Occupational Health Clinic for a pre-employment physical or ergonomic assessment. This is imperative step to make sure you are not hiring a Work Comp claim!

One very important thing to note on pre-employment testing is that no matter what skills you test for, make sure they are directly related to the job they will be performing.


4. Post Hire On-Boarding 

After the applicant has made it through all of the interviews and pre-employment testing, you must make sure the beginning of their employment goes smoothly. This is the time to establish a fantastic start to their career with your organization. Having a proper new employee training and on-boarding procedure is very important in giving that new team member the best attention right away.


If any of this seems overwhelming remember the goal is to hire the best person possible. I’m sure you have hired someone you shouldn’t have just because you needed another body on your team. Looking back at that, it is usually easy to see how you spent a lot more time and money on that person than you would have if you spent your time finding the right fit for your team. I guarantee you won’t regret starting to implement these best practices into your hiring process the next time you need to add someone.

If you are struggling with finding new employees for your company, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today to discuss our Hiring & Recruiting Thrive Package.


Succession Planning

Succession Planning

Written by Kevin Martlage

The great Mark Twain once wrote, “Plan for the future because that is where you are going to spend the rest of your life.” This quote embodies what I feel is a key point when you think about the importance of succession planning. Without properly planning for the future from a personnel standpoint you may still be successful, but can you sustain that success when unforeseen, or even planned, circumstances or opportunities arise?

My personal definition of succession planning has been developed over 25+ years of leadership roles in both the for-profit and non-profit setting. While I have worked with some very specific succession planning processes like the one we used at FedEx Office, I have also had to develop my own when the organization I worked for did not have anything specifically outlined. Regardless of the process used or my thoughts behind succession planning, there is one key aspect that makes it one of the most important things you will do as a business owner. That one aspect is sustainability. 

Throughout my career leading 100’s of employees and volunteers both domestically and internationally, I have created a process for succession planning that is based on the intentional development of my team as they continue to advance the strategic direction of the organization. Specifically, that definition is:

“Succession planning is an intentional leadership development process that ensures 

Strategic, operational sustainability and growth for any organization or team.”

So that is my definition of succession planning, but why is succession planning important and something you should consider? If I completed an informal survey of the tree care industry regarding issues impacting the sustainability of each company, I can almost guarantee that employee retention and development would be in the top 3. Additionally, I would argue that other things keeping Tree Care company owners up at night, besides revenue and finances, is what happens if someone calls in sick, decides to leave my company for another job, or that tenured employee decides to finally retire? Who are we going to promote as we introduce our new service offering, or who’s taking over for me when I decide to retire? All valid questions that typically are not addressed until one of those things happens. All those reasons listed are why succession planning is important and should be carefully considered when running your business. 

If you do succession planning research online, you will find numerous definitions and approaches to the process. However, you will quickly notice themes to succession planning, regardless of your approach, that must be in place. Those themes include:

  • A formal process to evaluate your team
  • Understanding the critical positions necessary to sustain operations
  • The ability to identify key skills necessary for each of those position
  • Intentional commitment to aligning individual skills with your strategic direction
  • A process to intentionally and transparently develop your team to ensure critical positions and skills are maintained should someone leave or get promoted
  • An intentional commitment to excellence and to the process 

To start the development of your organizational succession plan, I would recommend you begin with the creation of an organizational chart for your company. If you already have one, great. If you do not have one, you can easily create one using Power Point or simply draw it out on a white board or piece of paper. This visualization will help you in seeing your organization from a holistic viewpoint and will allow you to facilitate the next part of the discussion. 

Next, I recommend you identify a few key aspects of each position you have outlined. To help facilitate this part of the conversation, a best practice is to bring in a third-party consultant or trusted advisor to help ensure confidentiality, transparency, and consistency in the conversation. This will also allow you as the business owner to remain impartial and critical as you discuss the following for each position:

  • Length of time in position
  • Top 3 skills
  • Potential position vacancy in the next 6-12 months
  • Ability and desire or that person to be promoted to the next level

Those last 2 questions may be difficult for you, or your leadership team, to answer and will involve some level of confidentiality and intentional conversations as you assess your team regarding those areas. However, they are critical pieces of the overall process for you to consider as you continue to create your success plan. When evaluating those last 2 areas, I recommend considering the following criteria:

  • Position vacancy in the next 6-12 months
    • Is the employee on performance management or at risk of losing their job?
    • Are they well placed in their current position?
    • Will the position be vacated by the person being promoted internally?
    • Are they ready for and eligible for a promotion within the company?
    • Is there potential for them to leave the company for another position?
  • Ability, opportunity, and desire to be promoted to the next level
    • Do they want to be promoted?
    • Are they ready to be promoted to the next level?
    • Are they well placed in their current position?
    • Do you foresee them filling the next level position within your company?
    • Is there an opportunity for upward advancement within your company?

Once you have identified these areas for each member of your team, you will start to identify some gaps or opportunities for focus to ensure proper succession planning is in place. This process can take some time to go through, but it is critical as you continue to plan for the strategic sustainability of your team. 

As you identify those opportunity areas, the next step would be to plan how you will address and fill those gaps to ensure sustainability. This can be done through strategic hiring of new employees, creating employee development action plans, and having critical conversations with the team. For suggestions on how to develop these follow up pieces of your plan, I would recommend you reference the following Arborisk Articles I have previously written:

  • “Outlining a Career Path for Your Team”  – January 2022
  • “Building Trust with Intentional and Transparent Communication” – May 2022
  • “Reaching New Heights by Planting a Tree” – September 2022

Creating a succession plan and critically assessing your team and company will help to ensure operational sustainability. This will also strategically prepare you for any upcoming scheduled service disruptions regarding personnel, as well as be flexible and prepared for the unforeseen. The items outlined in this article are provided to help you understand the importance of this process, but I would encourage you to also reach out to the Arborisk Team if you would be interested in discussing succession planning further. 

The Arborisk Thrive program provides helpful information regarding effective hiring, recruiting, on-boarding, leadership development, and succession planning.  Please check out the Risk Management Packages located on the Arborisk Insurance website to learn more. 

If you want your company’s leaders (managers, crew leads, etc.) to grow professional and truly become extraordinary, check out ArboRisk’s Thrive Leadership Development Package! Our experts will work with your leaders one-on-one to build their leadership skills, thereby increasing team loyalty, efficiency, and profitability.


Working with a Recruiting Firm

Working with a REcruiting Firm

Written by Eric Petersen, CIC

I recently used a recruiting firm to hire our latest team member and let me tell you, I was overwhelmed by the ease of the process and the quality of the candidates that we received. I was so impressed that I felt that I should write this weekly tip about working with a recruiting firm to encourage tree care companies to look in this direction for their next hire. 

Historically, I had been closed off to the idea of using a recruiting firm to find new employees as I figured the recruiting firm would have a hefty price tag for finding top talent for me. However, like many tree service owners, as my business has grown so have my responsibilities and the time that I can spend on any one area of the business has shrunk as I’m pulled in so many directions. I’m sure most of you can relate to the feeling of not having enough time to commit to finding great people for your company, but knowing that it should be a priority of yours. This feeling ultimately led me to contact a recruiting firm to inquire about candidates for a new position that we had just created. I still was skeptical but thought I should give it a chance.

Immediately, and I mean immediately, after getting off the phone with the recruiter, I had 12 resumes of very qualified potential employees. They were 12 individuals of varying backgrounds and experience, probably all very capable of doing the job that I didn’t have to go find. All I had to do was tell the recruiter which ones I wanted to interview and they facilitated the conversation. Now, the rush of emotion that came over me was totally different. In a matter of minutes, I was feeling so confident that we were going to find someone to fit our agency that I realized the power that this form of hiring has. 

We ended up doing an initial interview with 5 of the 12, a second interview with 3 of them and a third interview and personality profile assessment with the final 2. The outcome was hiring a fantastic new team member (Hey Liz!) in a matter of weeks as opposed to the process taking months if I had to do it alone. Not to mention the fact that I can almost guarantee our paths would not have crossed if it were not for the recruiting firm.

Though I’ve only had one experience with working with a recruiter, I did learn a few tips that I want to share with you. 

1. Understand the Value of Your Time – The time that it took for me to hire through the recruiting firm was a fraction of the time that it would have taken me and my team to post the job posting, filter through resumes, set up initial interviews, etc. All of that time that I would have spent on those activities was focused back into our business, where it allowed me to make a bigger positive impact for my team than the fee we had to pay the recruiting firm. In our situation, we paid 25% of her first year salary as the fee for the recruiting firm bringing her to us. At first, that seems like a lot of money, but considering how easy it was and how I could focus on what I needed to for the business, this cost was well worth it.

2. Know What You Want – Because recruiting firms have so many candidates to send your way, knowing exactly what you are looking for in an employee is a must before working with a firm. We created a job posting with required experience included so the recruiting firm knew what not to send our way, which is such a tremendous help when trying to hire, I can’t even explain how much that fact helps. We also had internally discussed the role and how this new person was going to integrate with our team. This allowed us to quickly work through the interview to narrow our focus. 

Within the tree care industry there will be some roles that you need to hire for that will work well with a recruiting firm and others that may be difficult. Discuss that with the recruiter so they understand your entire business and staffing needs. You may have heard people talk about only using recruiters for management positions and that is because those positions can be more difficult to hire for and have a larger risk (both positive and negative) to your business due to their responsibilities. 

3. Have Hiring Process Ready – Over the years of working with tree care companies on our Thrive’s Hiring & Recruiting Package as well as hiring employees myself, I’ve learned that having success in hiring starts with having a well defined hiring process. One that is repeatable and consistent from interview to interview, position to position. The consistency is the only way to adequately compare candidates to each other and give everyone a fair shake. Before engaging a recruiting firm, make sure you know how you want your hiring process to go. Will there be multiple interviews with multiple people on your team? Will you have any background check (driving record) or skills test needed? Think about all of the steps that you will want to have the candidates go through so you can tell the recruiter from the start.

4. Give it a Try – My last tip is to actually just give it a try. Don’t stay closed off to this potential avenue of new employees for your team. There are many different recruiting firms that specialize in the green industry that will have some common experience to help in the tree care space. I also have heard of tree care companies looking at recruiting firms that specialize in trucking, because we all know that an arborist is actually a trucker first, then an arborist. 

If you are struggling with finding new employees for your company, reach out to an ArboRisk team member today to discuss our Hiring & Recruiting Thrive Package.