We're kicking off a new series of blog posts in which we're going to tackle many of the frequently asked questions we receive from landscaping and lawn care companies just like you. We'll try to keep our answers simple and practical. If you have questions you want answered here, feel free to leave your question in the comments section below and we'll add it to our list. Onward...
Here's a question and topic we see thrown around a lot: How much should a landscaping or lawn care business spend on marketing each year?
You may have heard 10% of revenue as a rule of thumb. I've heard 5% and 15%. A lot has changed in how we market our services in the past five to ten years, but I still think 5-10% of total revenue is a good range for a landscape company's marketing budget.
Marketing budgets will vary depending on factors such as:
- Are you a start up or an established business with a long track record?
- Is your marketing handled in-house or do you outsource it? Or a combination of the two?
- Where and how are you marketing your services? Online or offline? Or both?
- How aggressive are your growth goals? How much are you willing to spend per lead and to acquire each new customer?
A start up lawn care operator with no existing market share and the goal of aggressively growing their new sales will need to spend a higher percentage of their revenue on marketing compared to an established lawn care operator with modest goals for new sales and more focus on client retention.
Don't fall into the trap of thinking that your landscaping or lawn care business can get by on a shoestring marketing budget now that there are so many inexpensive, and even free, ways to market your services. You still need to spend some dough. And you need to factor in time spent -- like those 12 hours you spent on Facebook last month -- into your marketing costs. Yes, Facebook is free to use, but it does come with a cost to your business in time spent.
What we recommend for marketing a landscaping or lawn care business is to take a balanced approach. We believe it's important to market your services both online and offline to reach the widest audience. We also believe in opening up your wallet and spending some money while at the same time taking advantage of the free resources and platforms available to you.
At Landscape Leadership blogging plays a huge role in how we market our business and services online. Blogging is time consuming but has very little material cost. That said, it is even more important for us to get offline and attend green industry conferences on a regular basis. This can be very costly.
Neave Group Outdoor Solutions (client) is an example of a landscaping company who takes a balanced approach to marketing their services. As it relates specifically to social media, they take advantage of Facebook's free platform to maintain an engaging Facebook Page where they interact and share updates with their followers. Yet, at certain times during the year, they will also utilize Facebook's advertising platform to reach an even broader audience. This has proven to be very effective for them.
Here's a simple sketch I put together a few years ago illustrating the need for a diverse marketing strategy spanning online and offline, including both free and paid marketing channels. Your marketing strategy should include tactics from each of the four quadrants if possible.