If you’re a small business or just starting out, you probably don't have extra money to spend on expensive advertising. And this can be a problem. Especially when...
Landscaping can benefit from year-round professional marketing. As a seasonal business, some times of the year you will market more. But don’t be fooled into thinking that marketing only happens during top landscaping season, and don't be fooled into thinking that success just happens on it's own.
Landscapers often work off of word-of-mouth. Some people hire by asking their neighbors who did their lawn, and we all know referrals are great. But the companies that are really successful use those easy wins when they can and build upon that. They understand that they need their phone to ring, or their email to be full of job inquiries to ensure growth and success, and they know that for that to happen people need to know who you are, what you do, and why they should trust you.
A landscaping company has many things going for it that makes marketing actually much easier than many industries. Think about this...You provide your services in the community on a regular basis and you have showcase opportunities with every single customer you work with. You are able to show your work with each job you get, and it's many times put right in prime positions to show off. Very few industries have those advantages, and luckily it only takes a few things to capitalize on this advantage and set yourself up for success.
1. Create/Update Your Website
Your website will be your first interaction with most of the people that you work with, as well as those you lose. A bad experience can ruin your chances of ever even having the chance to win the business. According to Stanford research 75% of users admit to making judgments about a company’s credibility based on their website’s design. You have to ask, what do they think about you?
There are many options out there for creating great websites. We recommend working with a professional web designer, but that is sometimes out of the reach of smaller companies. We still recommend at least talking to a web designer though, so you at least can make an informed decision and get a few pointers.
If you are looking for a solution that is very low cost and specifically for home service professionals, we recommend checking out HomeProsWeb. You can get a free website started there that will allow you to grow into a bigger/better version.
2. Get on Social Media
Social media is very powerful. People spend tons of time trying to connect over the internet. Best of all for businesses like yours, social media offers opportunity after opportunity to show your work and connect. It is also very simple for most people to use. (If that's not you that's fine! You can either have a social media company help you out, or many times just have someone on your team jump on there for you)
Social media is one of the quickest ways to spread the word about your business. All it takes is one good post that strikes at the right time and with the right message and all of a sudden an entire community can be discussing you and your work.
IMPORTANT POINT: These conversations will happen with or without you so we highly recommend that you ensure you make yourself part of the conversation. Much like your website, you should ensure that your profiles are set up, have a professional presence, and most importantly have good contact information. With all of this it's important that you listen as well. Some of the best things you can do on social media is listen and provide helpful resources and responses.
To many companies use social media to stand on a box and shout at others. Don't do this!
Use a good DSLR camera to take pictures if you can. If not though, don't use it as an excuse. Today's phone cameras are just as good as many DSLR's, especially in the hands of someone who's not a professional photographer. If you don't know what shutter speed, ISO, or Aperture are you are probably better off with a newer model phone honestly. Here are some tips for taking killer iPhone pictures (most of these work on Androids too).
3. Use Reviews
Online reviews are just like a word-of-mouth referral. It’s tough getting an accurate representation of your business just from reviews. But you need them. Much like your website, people will make a judgment of your business based on these, and may decide to not work with you without ever talking with you. This is another channel of marketing that will happen with or without your involvement, so we highly recommend you at least are part of the conversation.
Give the best customer service you can if you want great online reviews. Thank customers for giving you reviews and reply when given the opportunity. Also, and possibly more importantly respond to negative reviews professionally and offer to fix the negative situation. Bad things happen and people mess up, how you handle it is more important than ensuring you don't ever get any negative review. This is the optimal way to build your online reputation.
4. Work Your Local Events
Trade shows, farmer’s markets, and other events draw large crowds. This is a great way to take your marketing offline. It’s fun to showcase your participation on social media, too. So you get some online marketing points if you do this.
But the real bonus is in letting people see your smiling face in person. You’re offering a service rather than a digital good, so your persona is important. But remember many people are going to leave there and go right to your website to get other information. It all ties together.
This is a chance to talk to people about what kinds of services you offer, gather leads and build out your marketing database. You might be able to find out what people are looking for that you don’t offer as well. If you offer a small token of appreciation for people giving you their email address you then have the opportunity to continue your conversations and gain a customer in the future.
5. Make a Video
Video advertising is a great way to get attention. It appeals to all of the senses and allows you to present a message in a short organized fashion. It also allows you to have a piece of marketing collateral that can be used on many different marketing channels.
You should consider making one if you can. These are a bit of work, so it’s worth putting some thought into your project. You’ll want something that will be worth the time and possible monetary investment. But, that being said, don't think that we are saying you need to spend a fortune to get a crew, top of the line equipment, and a hollywood director. Know your audience and their expectations for production quality. In your market your audience and platform may be completely ok with a smartphone made video that is carefully edited, other may require you to upgrade your equipment and create a more "produced" video. Talk with a digital marketing expert if you have questions about what works best for your company.
6. Go Old School
Home services are an industry that traditional marketing methods still work pretty well. With the improvements in digital marketing it also is now very easy to measure your return by creating a hybrid campaigns and call and web tracking.
Your budget will dictate your ability to utilize these methods for your marketing. Some standard examples of marketing channels that fall under this are TV, Radio, Print, Flyers, Mailers, and other promotional items. Some of the most common methods in Landscaping is flyer's and mailers. But don't be afraid to invest and test.
7. Use The Odd Man Out Strategy
You and your employees are literally physically in your target market providing their services. There are other prospects up and down the street they are working on (unless the entire neighborhood is your customer, which great job if that's the case!).
During unloading or loading have one of your crew go down the street and drop off something to all of the neighbors with your information on it and a call to action. Sure, flyers work and I would do that the first time, but the next time you go out switch it up with other promotional materials if you have them and the economics work out. I can't count the number of times I've used a home services based on the fact that it was a pen that I had sitting in my junk drawer when a problem or need arose. Imagine having an entire neighborhood on one route on one day, sure makes planning routes much easier.
This works best when everyone is dressed as well as they can be. Landscaping is always a messy job. But it also provides you an opportunity to stand out with relatively little work. Nobody expects a three piece suit (and we really wouldn't recommend it), but a polo, branded t-shirts or something similar can go a long way.
8. Register with Business Directories, Especially Local Ones
Business directories are online these days, although registering in a paper one won’t hurt, either. These directories are localized, so you’ll get some SEO points when you register as well. Basic SEO is good for many landscapers starting out provided that it is coming from a credible SEO expert and it not going against Webmaster Guidelines.
Here are some directories Landscaping companies should be in:
- Google My Business
- Bing Places
- HomeProsWeb Directory
- Any Local Directories In Your Area
9. Build Your Reputation for Service
People can be competitive about their landscaping. But there is another element of your business besides quality, and that is service. People want to feel comfortable with who is in their yard.
Great service matters a lot. You could invest in some customer service training for your workers, for example. Or you could just make a point to hire very personable landscapers. But don’t stop there. Team training and meetings go a long way when it comes to getting everyone on board. This is one of the best things you can do for your company in the long term. It makes all of the other things so much easier to accomplish, and also makes it so you have a better time running your business. It's also one of the things that you can't outsource. This needs to come from the top and go throughout the business.
Bonus Tip: Think about doing some free work
Some people recommend doing some pro bono work in order to build your reputation. This might not be something to take too far, but it could certainly help if you volunteer for the right person or organization. Think about the people that are involved and/or support organizations and make sure they are your target market. You want to ensure this is a chance to showcase your work to people that could potentially be buyers. Some good examples of this can be churches or schools, but sometimes it can even be individuals in a target neighborhood.
Quick Note: This is different than doing charity free work and we are specifically talking about ways to build business leads. If your intention is strictly charity then these shouldn't factor in and you should make the best impact in the best organization that aligns with your values and community needs.
Get Started Right with Professional Marketing
Using these tips can grow your business and allow you to focus on providing a great service to your customers and communities. There are many people spending quite a bit of time at their homes nowadays (as I write this we are in the middle of lockdown orders due to the Covid pandemic) and there are many people that would greatly benefit from your services even outside of that.
Getting all of these points right can be difficult and ultimately there is a reason that Digital Marketing Agencies seem to be everywhere. Although the tips are helpful they can also be both overwhelming and difficult to PROPERLY implement. That said a digital marketing expert can also launch and optimize a campaign much faster than the average business owner using tools that are not available to many businesses owners. The same as your company when you have professional tools, experience, and the infrastructure to do your job quickly and much better than many homeowners could do on their own.
Our recommendation, let the marketing experts here help you and you provide the best services that you are able to. Through great partnerships and strategic investments your landscaping business can be larger than you ever imagines.
Book a time to talk to our Marketing Experts and see how we can help you today.