The Green Industry Community is Building Momentum Online
As a driving force behind the rise of the Green Industry & Equipment Expo (GIE) Rally over the last three years, Jobber asked Naylor for his thoughts on the role of content and events in creating strong working bonds between entrepreneurs and brands. Here’s what he had to say.
How did you go from starting your own lawn care business to starting a YouTube channel?
In 2013, I started going full time with my own business, Clean Cut Lawn Care Services. It was important to me to be as professional as possible, so I did a lot of research early on to learn how to fine-tune my skills, how much to charge and things like that. There were a lot of books to choose from but what caught my attention was the handful of videos that I found on YouTube. They were pretty cool, but it was mostly just the same people over and over. I could see that there was community forming around the content, so I started getting active there, posting my own content as The Lawn Care Rookie, sharing things I’d learned, or sometimes just something from my daily life. I wanted it to be like watching a show.
What was the reception like once you started posting?
I started getting followed and drawing comments in pretty quickly and realized that I had something to say. My experience as a rookie going through the whole process of learning a new business through trial and error meant I had something to say that other people who were just starting out seemed interested in.
I’d do little videos showing off new equipment I had bought, or just walk a client’s property to illustrate some point, or share the results of work I had done. Eventually, that became an open dialogue with my own little community. With time, that grew, I started to get to know people a bit more through the channel and connecting elsewhere online and that just naturally led to wanting to connect with people in other ways.
Other things like your getting involved with the GIE Expo. How did that happen?
I got started by helping to promote the event, the purpose of which was just to gather people who were mostly communicating through social together to meet face to face and network. That’s how the rally started. Initially, it was just 20 or 30 people getting together at a pizza place.
When one of the founding fathers walked, I was concerned that the community we’d started to build might fall apart, so I decided to take on a leadership role and work to keep it going. I’m good at connecting to people—when I was in management I was always the people person—so I just did what I do and naturally turned to social first as a tool because I was comfortable there and by then the online community had grown significantly.
What did you do to rally people around the rally?
I created the Facebook group as a sort of ‘Road to the GIE event’ to keep people informed and pumped about the event. I think the first year we did that, 40 people on Facebook said they were interested in the rally, but about 150 showed up. The place was so packed there were people standing in the sidewalk getting rained on but it didn’t matter because they were there to meet influencers and ask questions.
After that, I knew we needed to go out and find sponsorship to get a bigger venue the following year and grow the event, so I created LCR media to focus on doing that through networking and influencer marketing. The October 2017 rally ended up drawing more than 300 people and we had a terrific venue in the Louisville mega caverns, with lots of sponsors and some terrific feedback on the event.
Tell us about the experiences you’ve had online and off with people you could consider your ‘competitors.’
Over the years I have expanded my network of influencers who have become friends and even family, through social media. Together we help foster growth within the community. Because of my online presence, I have connected with so many local companies that follow me online or just came across my info online. A lot of these guys I would not have gotten to know more than just a head nod or wave as we pass by each other driving through town. Now we “talk shop” when we see each other in the same neighborhood or local dealer and even catch up over breakfast or lunch. We don’t see each other as competition but as brothers in this industry.
That’s the end game for me! How do I spread that brotherhood and sense of community through the whole industry? That’s the answer that I’m searching for!
Well, everybody is hopping on the bandwagon now, which is creating a lot of links between both people and different social forums. Live content is certainly becoming a big focus. There were live broadcasts from the expo this year—here’s what’s new in the John Deere line, or streaming of an information session.
I think the main thing is that there is much more of that open dialogue and exchange of ideas now between the different parties. It opens a new set of doors and provides a way to rally and expand the community, which is really exciting to me.