I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that when it comes to advertising tree care services most companies cannot see the forest for the trees or have been barking up the wrong tree for years. Trying to figure out the perfect recipe for growing your tree care service is often met with paralysis of analysis and well-intentioned failures.
You may know the perfect tactics to manage Magnolia menaces or properly prune a prized Prunus, but when it comes to finding the best advertising for tree service offerings, you’re just plain down stumped.
That’s okay. Being a business owner or even a sales and marketing manager for a tree care company is busy work. There are dozens of projects to manage, people to supervise, and customers to contact. It’s completely understandable that you may not know what advertising gives you the best ROI. You might not have the faintest idea of whether to invest in Google ads, radio spots, blogging, sending your kids out with sandwich board signs, or hijacking a blimp.
Good news. This article is packed full of helpful tips on tree care advertising. In a previous article, I went over Our Best Marketing Ideas for Tree Service Companies. We covered an array of methods to grow your shriveled marketing plan and some of those tips talked about how to advertise tree services online. I’d like to pick up there and go more in detail with some of our best online tips.
Some Tree Care Advertising Groundwork
Advertising is a component of marketing, which is the overall strategy. Marketing can include advertising, but also includes things like networking, loyalty and referral programs, social media, and content marketing.
The word “advertising” is often used interchangeably with “marketing”, but actually refers to specific mediums you use to grow your tree care company.
In the previous article, we talked some about buyer personas, the semi-fictional representations of your ideal customers. Understanding who buys your tree care services and what is important to them will help you craft your messages successfully. Try to see your tree care advertising messages through the buyer’s eyes. It may look differently than you have been presenting it.
Most of your success in advertising tree care services hinges on understanding your buyer personas and where they are at on their buyer’s journey. A very common mistake by tree services is to assume people buy for 1-2 reasons and that potential customers react similarly to your marketing regardless of their interest level.
The fundamental marketing truth I’ll keep coming back to in this article focuses on where your potential customers are at on their buyer’s journey. You’ll see how this shapes the recommendations on how to advertise tree care services in an online world.
Consumer Habits & the Online World
People are busy and are annoyed with traditional advertising. Much like that low hanging tree branch that pokes them in the face when they are trying to crawl into their car in the morning, they are ready to grab them, snap them, and throw them in the garbage. They are tired of being shouted at and sold to. They’re sick of door hangers littering their lawn like a million fall leaves.
They want to buy on their terms. They change the station when commercials come on, buy premium subscriptions to avoid them entirely, and kill several trees a year, throwing away countless tons of flyers, newsletters, and offers. When they have a problem, they will go looking for a solution. Otherwise, leave them alone!
These changing behaviors have been the impetus of why successful tree companies have turned their advertising efforts to Inbound Marketing vs. traditional broadcast methods.
Methods of Advertising Tree Service Online
I was a marketing manager for a tree care service for many years. I know you get bombarded with the latest and greatest opportunities.
I’ll tell you what I’ve seen and then explain afterwards how it relates to where your customers are at on their Buyer’s Journey and WHY some of these methods work and some DO NOT.
Here are some of the main, common online strategies:
- Social Media: Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and others are free to build online profiles. Unfortunately, these tree care advertising methods have become pay-to-play. Unless you’re ready to spend at least a few hundred dollars a month on carefully built, targeted ads, it’s like planting a specimen tree behind a shed. No one will see it unless they walk over there deliberately.
- Lead Generation Sites: Sites like HomeAdvisor, Angie’s List, Thumbtack, and countless new ones will allow you to pay for leads for tree spraying, fertilizing, or pruning. These come at a hefty premium of $10-$35 per lead and are given to several other competitors as well. If you can’t respond immediately, there is a very good chance that you’re throwing your money away. In my experience, almost half of these people won’t even call you back even if you call them within 3 minutes. Most of them are just starting to research and they aren’t inclined to be contacted yet.
- Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising: These paid ads show up at the top and bottom of search engine results. There are multiple advertisers, each selecting specific keyword phrases they want to show up for. Search engines will rotate them if there are more players than there are paid ad positions. Each advertiser selects a daily budget and when they exhaust their clicks, their ads are nowhere to be seen. Just because you pay for the click, doesn’t mean you’ll get a prospect to contact you, nor get any of their information (especially if your website is terrible and they bounce). This is an expensive way to advertise tree services online. The overwhelming majority of people skip entirely over these paid ads.
- Retargeting & Display Ads: These relatively low cost ads show up on websites around the internet. Display ads typically target specific geographic areas and sites based on interests, while Retargeting ads will follow your website’s visitors around after they were on your website and went elsewhere. These can work, but require someone that is very gifted in this type of work to set them up successfully. It also doesn’t necessarily mean those searchers are ready to buy or that they will click on the ads. According to an online advertising study, 50% of these clicks are accidental, even with less than a 1% click-through rate. Not a good place to start with advertising tree services online.
- Inbound Marketing: Ding, ding, ding! We have a winner. Why? Because Inbound Marketing comes from the approach of not interrupting buyers, but having information available to buyers at any place on their buyer’s journey on their terms, to answer their questions without shoving a message down their throat.
Why the Buyer’s Journey Matters
The concept of the buyer’s journey is absolutely critical for you to understand whether a business owner, marketing manager, or sales person.
The greater the grasp on this concept, the better tree care advertising decisions you can make and the easier it will be for you to sell tree care services to your potential customers.
This is where tree care companies should focus a good portion of their attention. I’m a Certified Arborist. I sprayed trees, diagnosed problems, and estimated pruning and removal for many years. You could literally be standing next to the worst Woolly Adelgid population you’ve ever seen, and the homeowner will say, “Huh, I never noticed that before. I thought it was just bird poop.”
You could have an Oak in a prospect's backyard that looks like a creature from a Harry Potter movie, and the homeowner thinks it’s perfectly fine. They just have no clue. They are UNAWARE of their need.
However, there WILL come a time when they realize that something doesn’t look right. There’s dropping foliage, insects chewing, sticky substances dripping, limbs on the roof, and all sorts of clues. Their tree isn’t looking so hot. When they realize they have a problem, they will start to consider their options.
They want to know what method is best to take care of their problem and they are going to start researching. Have content ready to teach them (we’ll talk more about this in a moment).
They’re aware of their problem and have done research to validate their concerns and are looking at options to solve their problem. However, they need to spend time weighing their options and get to the point where they feel educated and informed about a specific decision. They need to know how to compare alternatives of both tree care methods and figure out which tree care company is best for them.
Inbound Marketing is about making your tree company’s website the best solution to meet your prospective customers when they are aware of their problems, consider their options, and make a decision to choose you over your competitors. This can happen in minutes, days or months depending upon the prospective customer.
How Inbound Marketing Works Better Than Other Tree Care Advertising Methods
You may be saying, “Ok, well that’s all well and good in theory, but how exactly does it work?” Great question. First look at this diagram and I’ll explain.
We all know that people research problems, solutions, and tree care companies online. Statistics have shown that people directly search asking questions both in full sentences and in phrases.
Research also shows that people will often skip over a paid ad at the top of the search to click on an organic result that specifically addresses the question they asked. These results can come from ANY page on your website, including each blog article, landing page, or offer that search engines determine are the most relevant to a user in a specific location.
(RELATED READING: The Number of Pages on Your Website Matters! Here’s Why)
Awareness Stage: The user just became aware that something isn’t right about their tree. They go online and start to type in specific phrases or questions. Results on the first page of their search reveal links to:
- A tipsheet on proper pruning
- An eBook on how to diagnose common tree problems
- A blog article that is practically word-for-word the question they searched
Consideration Stage: The user knows exactly what their problem is after reading one of the pages or articles on your website and at the bottom, they see a place to click to download a case study about how this problem was solved for someone else.
Decision Stage: The prospective customer now knows the problem they face, the recommendations to solve it, and now needs to figure out which tree care company is best for them. They get a follow-up email from you after they downloaded the guide and viewed a few pages on your website. The email offers yet another resource, a Hiring Guide which outlines how to compare tree care companies objectively.
If you notice, nowhere on here did I say that they searched on social media. It’s too hard to find topical information on demand there and most people don’t use these platforms in that manner.
Likewise, potential customers are dizzy from the complicated forms they fine on a Lead Generation site that ask them to immediately surrender all of their information to have several contractors calling them for weeks.
They skip right over ads for “Tree Services Yourtown” ad at the top. They look for answers first, not a provider.
If they research, they keep looking until they find the right information. They aren’t likely to finally become your customer after being pestered with an ad following them around weeks later.
They asked, you answered. This is why Inbound Marketing works. People search online for answers and if your tree care company isn’t answering their questions on your website, they will find someone else who does.
Putting Together the Pieces of Advertising Tree Services Online
The conceptual strategy may sound simple, but creating an effective Inbound Marketing plan for your tree service requires research and specific, tested, proven methods. You may finally get it, but bringing the pieces together can still seem like a big project.
We would love for you to see how our clients are pulling this off and getting quality leads through their website to generate sales for their businesses.
Here at Landscape Leadership we get the tree care industry. We only specialize in marketing for tree services, lawn care providers, and landscaping companies. We believe in this approach so passionately, it’s how we conduct our own marketing efforts.
Awareness Stage: If you’re just realizing something is broken with your online advertising plan, we’ve got plenty of resources for you to read. There’s hundreds of articles that you won’t even need to give us your information to take advantage of. Or, you can subscribe to our blog and you’ll get the newest article when they post.
Consideration Stage: If you know your specific problems and want to understand what solutions are out there, take a look at some of the great resources you can download throughout our site. We may send you a few other pieces we feel you’d like, but we won’t harass you.
Decision Stage: When you’re ready to talk, you won’t have to start at step one when teaching us about the unique challenges that tree services face. We can just get down to talking strategy and explaining what our plan would look like for YOUR company. Feel free to contact us whenever you’re good and ready.