This article was originally published in Turf Magazine, where Chad writes a monthly column about sales and marketing tips for landscaping and lawn care companies.
As the keystone business principle states, “You gotta’ spend money to make money.” Savvy business owners of lawn care and landscaping companies plan ahead and make sure a portion of their annual revenue gets allocated to their marketing budget.
Aggressive budgeting along with smart initiatives that can be measured are common traits you’ll find when looking to our industry’s leaders.
But what happens when you “gotta spend money”, and don’t “gotta” lot to work with? Some marketing initiatives come at a premium price and you have to be careful not to waste those dollars you and your team works so hard to bring in.
Here’s some of the most effective marketing tactics that can cost you the least and give you the best ROI:
1. Proactive Property Visits
Besides the benefit of building a deeper relationship with your customers, visiting your properties a couple times during the year opens warm sales opportunities for growing an existing account. These visits could include opportunities such as:
- Suggesting landscape maintenance to recent design/build customers
- Offering free inspections of trees and shrubs to point out potential problems and suggest plant health care solutions
- Free risk assessments of trees on properties that may lead to tree pruning work
- Summer inspections of lawn areas and recommendations on best cultural practices
- Irrigation inspections and consultations
2. Email Marketing
Alec Baldwin may have said, “A-B-C...Always Be Closing” in his obnoxious regional sales manager role in the 1992 Glengarry Glen Ross film, but email marketing replaces old, obnoxious tactics with a new phrase, “A-B-H...Always Be Helping”. Email marketing is just one of the ways you can help your customers.
Helpful and timely information versus sales-y messaging will generate increase your chances of additional sales opportunities with your active customers and also help to re-engage prospects and inactive accounts. Email marketing software is fairly inexpensive, and setting up a campaign takes little time once you have a plan in place.
3. Cloverleafing Adjacent Properties
Every time you’re servicing a customer is a great time to find new ones nearby. Take a few minutes to walk over to the neighbor sweating over his pile of pulled weeds in his mulch beds. Introduce yourself and you may be surprised at how many times they ask for an estimate.
If neighbors aren’t home, hang some literature on four nearby neighbors (hence the name cloverleafing). Make sure you mention that you take care of that gorgeous property they envy each day when they come home.
4. Posting Job Signs
Small lawn care flags can be purchased for less than a dollar, and 18” x 24” corrugated plastic yard signs for less than $10 when ordered in bulk. This signage will often stay in your customer’s lawn for days, or even weeks. It’s a great way to get exposure in neighborhoods in which you’d love to grow your customer base.
5. Customer Referral Programs
Happy customers are the best source to find new ones. Referral leads close higher than any other marketing source and often are more easily retained for the long haul.
Create a formal, and generous referral bonus for your customers if you close their referrals. Boldly ask for referrals and make sure you frequently remind them of their opportunity for the reward, and your desire to grow your business.
6. Promotional Inserts
Thanks to today’s digital printing presses, creating promotional flyers and inserts is very affordable. Stuff a promotion alongside the invoice you mail out or leave at a customer’s property. It’s a great way to keep your customer’s aware of all the services you offer. Make sure your offer is compelling and generous.
7. Coworker Lead Programs
As I mentioned in #1 and #3 above, your team has multiple opportunities each day to help you grow your business. Give them some financial incentive for generating new business opportunities with a formal lead program.
8. Vehicle Graphics
Whether going as simple as a few hundred bucks for logos on your truck’s doors, or as bold as a full-wrap on a box truck, people will mention they saw your trucks in their neighborhood.
Wrapping landscaping and lawn care trucks, trailers and equipment offers a tremendous ROI and is a great way to get hundreds, if not thousands of advertising impressions each day.
This cost-effective marketing could run you anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a few thousand, depending upon how big of a statement you're trying to make.
9. Serving on Committees
Volunteering on local committees or boards is a great way to meet influential people and business owners in your community. Just go about it with the purpose to help the organization. Make sure to get involved and stay at it. It can take a little time to earn the trust of strangers, but it works.
10. Content Marketing
I saved my favorite for last. Content marketing – typically in the form of blogging – will cost you more time than money but has proven to be an effective (and measurable) way to drive visitors to your website, generate qualified leads, provide helpful information to include in email marketing and answer questions that people constantly search for online.
Just stay consistent, be helpful versus sales-y, and learn a little about how to write in the manner that search engines like.
A single article can generate many qualified leads for years and years after it is published to your website.
Not having a big marketing budget is no longer an excuse for not positioning your landscaping or lawn care service for growth. Use what resources you have, make a plan and stick to it, and soon you’ll be on your way to success!