AI Content Marketing: Crap Trap or Opportunity?

ai content marketing crap trap - lawn care and landscaping

When I was your age (aspiring old man rant), selling landscaping and lawn care meant using design blueprints and measuring wheels. Throughout my twenties and into my thirties, we found tools to improve speed and accuracy. This made me passionate about emerging sales and marketing technologies. 

Those of us who wanted to be better salespeople and insightful experts realized that technology saved time. The goal of these innovations was to spend our time more wisely.

Instead of taking 3-4x the time to measure a lawn, satellite mapping gave us more time for rapport-building, up-sells, and follow-up calls.

Instead of hand-drawn, marker-stained hands, CAD programs freed up time for innovation within our designs. It allowed us to passionately connect with prospective clients. It also meant we now had more time to invest in our crews on-site.

To the successful, technology is a catalyst for increasing quality. To the careless, technology is a way to merely increase production. 

And here we find ourselves again. The age of Generative AI is upon us (and moving quickly). It’s no wonder I hear questions like, “Should we use AI to create 20 blog posts a day and post them to our website?” and “Can I just use ChatGPT instead of paying a writer?” 

ai content marketing lawn care landscaping

I get it. You’re asking these questions because you want your lawn, landscaping, or tree service company to be found more easily in search results. You want more website traffic and leads. But be cautious. You may not get what you’re hoping for.

In today’s article, I’ll share some insights for you to consider when implementing AI into your content marketing process. 

Feeding the Content Crap Trap

I’m a big fan of Tom Fishburne’s Marketoonist comics. He nailed some essential points in his recent article, “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like AI-Generated Content”.

naughty list ai content - cartoon -marketoonist

In his article, Tom cites a few experts such as Procter & Gamble Chief Brand Officer Marc Pritchard. In the pre-ChatGPT era of 2016, Marc shared the conclusion that “Advertising has a bad reputation as a content crap trap.” 

To further illustrate this point, Fishburne quotes Ian Whitworth’s view that AI-generated content is “infinite words nobody wants.” 

In the spring of 2023, Landscape Leadership’s founder, Chris Heiler shared, “Some Early Thoughts on AI’s Role in Marketing Your Lawn Care and Landscaping Services”. 

He reinforced the critical concept that content marketing’s goal should be to create “thoughtful” not “thoughtless” or “though-ish” content. His main points were:

  • Thoughtful content includes personal insight or opinion, stirs emotions, and offers a truly unique viewpoint.
  • Use AI as a tool to enhance your process, not a crutch.
  • AI can help you to get moving in the creative process.
  • AI can help you to expand on points.
  • You should be reluctant to replace your writer with AI.


History Will Repeat Itself (and Get Worse)

I’ve been blogging since 2011. One of the first articles I wrote as a marketing director at a lawn and landscape company held a #1 national result and drove hundreds of thousands of views for years.

It was easy to win at blogging in 2011. I could count on one hand the number of lawn and landscaping companies that I knew that invested in content marketing at that time. 

Then everyone else (including content farms) jumped on the blogging train, creating typical drivel. Today, you can find over 490 million search results on this same topic. 

lawn care landscaping content marketing ai

The content crap trap is overflowing. And AI-generated content is making it easier to shit out thoughtless and thought-ish articles about lawn care, tree care, and landscaping.

Winning at content marketing will become more difficult because most people will use AI to increase productivity vs. quality. 


Using AI to Improve Content Marketing Quality

Hear me clearly. I am not saying you should ignore AI or demonize it. It’s a tool like others we’ve so easily adopted in the lawn and landscape industry. The devil is in the details and all comes down to how we use the tool and when we choose to not use it. 

As Tom Fishburne said, “AI tools are often presented and marketed as a magic wand: type a few words, tap a button, and ‘automagically’ generate a post, an ad, an article, an image, whatever.” 

The end goal isn’t to produce more content. The goal is to produce better-quality content. That’s the only way we can forge deep connections, generate quality leads, and be seen as a true thought leader. 

We can’t expect to smell like a rose when we’re pumping out crap. 

crap with rose growing out of it

Even Google experts agree. Tom cites in his article, “Ex-Google product manager Pedro Dias observed in the context of SEO results saying, ‘Your site didn’t get penalized because you used AI for your content. Your site got penalized because the way you used AI, and the output of your AI, was crap’”.

I have observed that lawn and landscape companies are using AI at the bottom of their content marketing initiatives, and ignoring how this tool can enhance the higher-level strategic and creative direction of written content.

Here are the ways I believe lawn and landscape companies should practically use AI in content marketing:

  • Better defining your target audience’s needs and wants (vs. just spewing out facts)
  • Planning a more comprehensive content strategy (vs. just throttling out disconnected articles)
  • Exploring content ideas (vs. picking the most obvious ones)
  • Creating interview questions for your sources (vs. just asking them what they want to talk about)
  • Outlining articles for your writers (vs. allowing them to shoot from the hip)
  • Creating alternatives for engaging titles (vs. repeating the same themes)
  • Feeding emotionally-driven creative ideas for introductions and analogies (vs. just logical discussions)
  • Enhancing/expanding upon human-created content (vs. just pushing out though-ish or thoughtless AI blog articles)

landscaping lawn care ai content marketing

Averting Disaster & Frustration With AI Content Marketing

Using new technology and tools well is a bit of an art. Think about the first time you hopped on a Z-sprayer, skid steer, marketing platform, or sales software. 

You didn’t blindly just open these tools full-throttle. No, to become successful, you adopt a wiser, broader perspective that considers all of the implications. You become a student of the tool. You learn from others. You respect the tool’s limitations and your own. 

And ultimately, you never lose sight of what’s truly the most important—your customer. If the technology means speeding up one area, figure out how to deliver deeper value in another. It’s the same principle here. 

Don’t just do what is easy. Do what has a more meaningful impact. 

If you’d like to learn more about creating a winning content marketing strategy for your lawn care, landscaping, or tree service company, subscribe to our blog. We don’t push out a bunch of garbage content there ;) And if you’re ready to make a wise investment in an overall strategy that helps your company grow, request a consultation

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About Chad Diller

Chad is the President of Landscape Leadership. Prior to joining our team he served as a marketing manager for one of the Top 150 Companies in the Green Industry. In addition to his vast marketing experience, he also has held certifications such as an ISA Certified Arborist and Landscape Industry Certified Technician. He currently resides in beautiful Lancaster County, PA.

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