Did your geospatial marketing strategy pass or fail 2020’s never-ending curveballs? Geospatial marketing guru Elaine Ball shares a few quick hacks from her Geospatial Marketing Academy to start your survey firm on the right foot in the new year.  

Year 2020 has been one weird year, don’t you think? Definitely unnerving, even a bit scary! Everything turned upside-down and inside out. If you want to keep your business right side up in 2021, you’ll need a great geospatial marketing strategy. With a little preparation, these five quick marketing hacks will show you how.

Spring-Clean Your Marketing

By reflecting on what worked and what didn’t work, you can literally spring-clean your marketing and go into 2021 with laser precision! Spending some quality time reflecting on your marketing goals will give you a huge boost for 2021. Start by asking yourself these questions:

  • What went well in 2020? And most importantly, what hasn’t – and why?
  • What have you learnt about your, your geospatial business and brand, and what you need to change in 2021?
  • Where is your time best spent? Can you outsource some areas of your business where you’re a little weaker? Like marketing or finance?
  • Do you know what you must do differently in 2021? What would make or break you?
  • How much do you really understand your clients?  
  • Is your business in a good position to take on new opportunities in 2021?
  • What does success look like for you?

The business strategies for most land surveyors tend to be vague and obvious, as simple as “to grow sales in the construction market.” That doesn’t offer your team a path to follow or show them what the end goal looks like.

The solution is to focus on short- and long-term goals. Next, set out a clear purpose statement of what you do, why you do it and what impact your survey work hopes to achieve. This will lend clarity and focus to you, your team and your customers.

Review Your Brand Touchpoints

“What on earth do you mean by ‘brand touchpoints’, Elaine?” Well, think about all the times and places when people come into contact with your brand. Whether that’s clients or potential clients, suppliers, partners, the general public… anyone. Anything from a personal meeting to your website to your LinkedIn posts to seeing your product or service in action.

Are these touchpoints positive? Are they effective? Where are they? Are they working? How do you KNOW – is it your opinion, or do you get real feedback?

Write down where your touchpoints are, which are the most effective (and which need a little TLC) and how you can deliver that TLC in 2021.

Doing this will give you a better focus on what you might be missing, and what you need to do differently. As my friend Albert Einstein says: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Use the table below to keep it simple.

Touch points Are they effective? What to do
Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn etc) Are you getting engagements, contacts or messages (DMs) from your target audience? Figure out your customers’ pain points and address them individually and directly. Focus on problem-solving tips. Use relevant hashtags.
Blog Are you getting quality, multiple backlinks from other sites? This brings people to your site but also helps massively with your search engine rankings. Blog (on your own site, on LinkedIn and as a guest blogger on other sites) and always add/ask for backlinks to relevant pages on your website.
Press releases Are your stories getting packed up? Have journalists started calling you to ask for comments for stories? List all the different online & print media relevant to you. Write short, clear, punchy releases. Plan to release news, stories and case studies throughout the year.
Face to face Do some staff need extra training to deal with clients in meetings and negotiations? Or in account management? Keep training up to date. Make sure all sales staff use a consistent brand message. Measure through customer feedback.
Podcast Are you doing them, and if so what are people saying? Get on more podcasts (eg The Geoholics) to raise your profile and prove your thought leadership.
Vehicle livery (signs on trucks!) Is it visually attractive? Is it clear what you offer? Is it too small to read? Stay on-brand, be clear. Give people a reason to remember you and look you up later.
ZOOM meetings and webinars Is attendance good? Do clients engage? Ask close clients for feedback on how to improve, and check out conference-call ‘how to’ articles online.


You’re very focused on what your product (or service) brings to the table. You communicate what you offer, like “we do utility surveys” or “We sell ground-penetrating radar systems.”

Well, so what? So do lots of other land survey companies!

Your customer doesn’t care what you do. They care about solving their problem. You need to turn your offer around and make it about them, not you.

The solution is to build a content strategy that addresses your customers’ frustrations. If your customer has a headache, give them a painkiller. Develop a series of problem-solving messages (sentences) based on frustrations your target audiences suffer from. That will grab their attention. The product then is the weapon to eliminating their frustration!

HOW will you solve their problem? WHAT do you offer on top, that no one else does? WHY are you better? WHEN can you deliver the solution – are you faster? 

Start out by identifying the problem that is keeping your customer up at night. No accurate as-built information about utilities is a popular one. Potential conflicts resulting in utility strikes and possible re-designs are another.

Reflect on your understanding of their problem. Build your web copy, adverts, content articles and social media posts around their frustration, to show you understand, and frame your product as the solution to their problems. Build trust by showcasing proof of your solution, perhaps with user testimonials and case studies. Finally, leave them wanting more and give a call to action so they can get it.

Do Market Research

Stop hoping and guessing – instead, find out what your target market really thinks of your brand! Discover where you’re weak, where you could improve, and what really does work.

Also, explore where your market hangs out, what they read, and how many people are in their buying journey and how it works. This will help you focus your marketing on the right people and places, and boost your business in 2021.

To get your data, use apps such as SurveyMonkey or conduct polls on Facebook or Instagram. And don’t ignore one-on-one calls with your best AND your most challenging customers (yes!) to really get into the nitty gritty. And make sure you always know why you lost a sale. Feed your findings back to your team, and put in some actions to improve your brand.

Perhaps you don’t have a clear focus on what you do and who you’re targeting. For example, your market could be ‘construction’, but that’s pretty huge. And what are you solving for that market, specifically? Your marketing may be spatter-gun and vanilla, resulting in a lack of engagement and leads.  

The solution is to divide your market into groups of clients with common problems. Some of these groups will overlap, and that’s OK. Ask your customers, suppliers and staff what they think you do and what you’re good at (SurveyMonkey can make it easy to collect the results). Then devise a content strategy based on targeting the common groups with your core strengths. Sniper gun, not spatter-gun. Shooting one tin can with one bullet is much cheaper and more effective.

Prove Your Value With Social Media

Build your reputation by sharing real-life stories, experiences and pain-points. Show your market that you understand their problems and you can offer solutions. Plus, you’ll build your social following!

Take a look at survey.inc’s Instagram Stories and see how the brand focuses on end-user frustrations. Instagram Stories is an easy way to showcase real-life stories by focusing on client problems without sharing confidential information – they’re only live for 24 hours, so they’re perfect for building anticipation and eagerness for the next episodes.

David Acosta at Survey Inc does mini-videos too, walking you through the client problem they’re solving. This has meaning for all their other potential clients, so it builds trust in their brand. It also gives the duo immediate feedback as they walk through potential problems through the storytelling process.

“Sharing our stories has helped us to get better at understanding and delivering our true value to our customers,” says Acosta, CSTi. “Also, in the process, we’ve learned to simplify our message and cut out unnecessary noise, so it’s clear how we can make their jobs/lives better.”

Another example is Surveying with Robert on YouTube. He’s a sales manager for NEI, indirectly selling Trimble equipment by focusing on solving his clients’ frustrations about how to use it! Note the difference – Robert is focused on educating the user, not selling the tech. This no-nonsense attitude has boosted his sales and doubled his own income. He demonstrates value right there, by giving a ton of free advice in his videos.

“Our initiative is to do $20 million in 2020 and we are scaring it to death!” says Robert. “My training videos indirectly sell equipment because my focus is on solving the client’s problems! My Facebook account is inundated with surveyors asking questions daily, from all over the world. This is gold for any business.”

Get Kids into Survey (GKiS) addresses the real problem in our industry – the lack of people choosing land surveying as a career. GKiS is headed by my kick-ass partner in crime (and sister) Elly Ball. She promotes our easy-to-follow, fun and creative lesson plans and posters. They’re so good, even surveyors love them!

GKiS’s creative gang boosts value by providing a ton of attractive content that teachers, kids, parents and even surveyors can use to build brand awareness of the industry globally. It covers all kind of things, from ‘what is a surveyor?’ to ‘using a compass’ to looking for the Loch Ness monster! Elly’s use of Stories on Instagram gets folks hooked and excited to hear ‘what’s next!’

GKiS has brand ambassadors (surveyors and geospatialers) who want to ‘do their bit’ at a local level. GKiS supports surveyors who go into schools to talk about surveying as a career by providing valuable, content-rich information. Showcasing these guys on social media helps connect the ambassadors with the community at large.

Partnering up with brand ambassadors, partners and associations, and showcasing the creative content on social media, has proven the real value of their mission to get kids into survey.

You portray ‘you’ as the hero in the story saving the day! But the hero is your customer trying to solve his problems – seeking someone to help them solve their frustrations. If you are the hero, the customer isn’t interested!  He doesn’t care about you and what you have to sell. He cares about getting rid of his headache and needs a solution to do so.

The solution is to flip it and turn your customer into the hero (think young Luke Skywalker), then portray yourself as the trusted guide (Yoda) showing them what amazing product you have to offer that will solve his frustrations — the villain is the frustration in the story.

Talk to Your Clients

Build in human-to-human interaction to boost your brand by introducing live events showcased via webinar, on your website, via your own podcast... heck, even LIVE instagram TV like my own GEO Jabber chat show, which I hold on Instagram every Tuesday at 11:30 EST. It showcases the life of a real surveyor, telling their stories about survey antics and their business and marketing do’s and don’ts. It even invites non-survey talent to inject hot topics like marketing and innovative technologies.

The key with any of this is consistency! To build any brand, you’ve got to keep the flow of content going — consistently and regularly. Look at Kent Groh’s Geoholics Podcast, aired each week.

Kent explains the reasons behind this:

“23K downloads in a little over a year. We knew from the beginning that calling the podcast The Geoholics had the potential to be branding gold. Our tagline – which is also our goal each and every week – is to ‘add value and make friends,’” says Groh. “We accomplish this by being diligent and taking the time to research and really get to know our guests to determine what they’re passionate about. From this information, we build a show script that follows a consistent order, and we develop a list of strategic potential questions to work from.”

You sell utility strike surveys to the construction manager and don’t communicate/network with other individuals in the buying chain. As a result, only one person in the client company sees your value. Different buyers will have different problems so you need to address, and communicate with, different people within the buying journey.

The solution is to identify 4 or 5 key people who will influence the buying journey, from the construction manager overseeing the entire site to the finance person signing off your fees, for example.

These people matter when building trust in your brand, and this stops them buying on price alone! So you need to create content to communicate your message to these different buyers.

Let’s Wrap This Up!

In conclusion, following these marketing strategies will get your geospatial business ready for 2021—or at least close to it. If you’re a land surveyor who owns your own business or a marketing lead at a land surveying firm, these marketing hacks will make for some quick wins for your company. Because everyone deserves a win after surviving 2020.