Marketing 101 for landscaping businesses

This guide provides an overview for many of the landscape marketing strategies that landscape business owners should be working on and paying attention to for their landscaping business. The best form of growth will come from word of mouth referrals if you are doing quality work, but in today's world your competition will beat you if you don't pay attention to physical and digital marketing resources at your disposal.

Importance of treating clients as family

Before jumping in we must understand why it is critical to build relationships with your new clients and treat them as family not just another number in your contacts

Let's look an example landscape business that generated 100 new customers in their service area for lawn care service last season.

  • Each customer spent on average $850 with the business (some lots less and some lots more)
  • The average customer will stay with you (if you're doing a good job) for 5+ years (let's assume 5)
  • The lifetime value of a customer (5 years x $850/year) is $4,250 or future lifetime value (if have been with you for 1 year) is (4 years x $850/year) is $3,400
  • Therefore 100 new customers are worth $340,000 in future income (100 customers x $3,400 future value)

As you read through this guide, remember the importance of not only closing the first job with a customer, but how critical the customer experience is. In today's competitive age it is no longer just who does quality work, but also who makes the customer feel like a priority.

Before you can get focusing on how to grow your business, you must first have the foundation in place. You wouldn't try to build a house on top of a swamp without any foundation. That's what it's like to try to grow your business with designs you tried to draw yourself. Let's face it 99.9% of us landscapers are great in the field and not in branding design.

Where to get started: branding and set up

The top 4 things you can do to build a reputable brand:

1. Pick a professional name

99% of customers aren't going to pick you because you have a funny name. Your buddies may think it's funny, but customers are looking for a company that looks professional.

What to do:

  • Include the word landscaping or lawn services or hardscaping in the name
  • If you can, try to include a local town name (only if you aren't expanding beyond)
  • Do a quick search for competitor landscaping businesses in your town and make sure your name isn't too similar

Example names not to pick:

  • Kiss My Grass
  • Mo Betta
  • Mo Town

2. Get an attractive logo professionally designed

A logo that is professionally designed not only builds trust but also will add to your brand recognition.

What to do / Tools to use:

  • Utilize a logo service like 99designs (a base package should cost ~$300)

3. Paint or wrap your vehicles

Your vehicles will be one of your primary marketing assets! It's like a billboard you already paid for!

What to do: Make sure to include

  • Company name, phone number and website
  • Company colors
  • Something that makes you stand out and be memorable

Example wraps not to pick (even if they are funny):

4. Get swag for your team

Not only will this make your team happy, but it will make your crews look professional and help be "free" marketing for you.

What to do / tools to use:

  • Use a custom swag company to get tshirt or other merchandize - CustomInk

Good old fashion physical marketing tactics

According to the Data & Marketing association, 56% of consumers trust print marketing more than other marketing mediums. Additionally according to Marketing Sherpa, 76% of people trust ads they receive in the mail.  In a digital age consumers are frustrated with scams just like landscapers are! Most scams are not through print ads so many consumers trust them. Additionally, the average individual is cluttered with 121 emails per day on average so standing out in physical form.

Lawn Signs, Flyers and Door Hangers

What to do:

  • Ensure your website URL and phone number are listed (for Door Hangers you can put a QR code for your website)
  • Ask customers you are the closest with if they would be willing to put a sign in their yard. You can offer a discount in exchange - ask enough and some will take you up on it!
  • Create a schedule for your lawn care business to post the signs, flyers and door hangers

Tools to use:

  • Hire a freelance designer on UpWork
  • Utilize a free tool like Canva - watch an overview tutorial here
  • Get your documents printed - VistaPrint

Direct Mail

While you may assume that direct mail campaigns are a thing of the past, they can be effective if targeted and designed correctly. It is important to note that a direct mail campaign can cost between 30 cents and $10 dollars per recipient. These costs can fluctuate depending on the medium, design costs, distribution, and so on. An example from Inkit, a direct mail campaign sending postcards to 1,000 recipients can cost about $1,150 ($1.15 per recipient).

What to do:

  • Ensure that your graphic has a consumer benefit to drive interest, have an illustration that allows the homeowner to quickly identify your service and to have broad based offers.
  • Align your campaigns to the right times of the year. It is helpful to advertise during the off-season, but do it close to the start of business and not in the dead of the winter.

Tools to use:

  • Hire a freelance designer on UpWork
  • Utilize a free tool like Canva - watch an overview tutorial here
  • Utilize Every Door Direct Mail from USPS - USPS EDDM
  • Use a full service tool like - postcardmania

Example:

Photo credit: Money Mailer

Word of mouth and referral marketing is your best friend

Word of mouth growth is not only "free" but also a sign that customers love the service you are providing. According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers trust referrals from people that they know. However, you should not just sit back and wait for referrals to happen. if you want referrals, you need to ask for them and make it easy for the customer to do.

How do you get more referrals:

  • Keep up with past customers and thank them for their business. Think of occasions that you can reach back out such as the holidays or change in the seasons.
  • Start a referral program: offer clients a discounted service for each referral or give them a few business cards that they can hand out
  • Do some jobs for free to high value customers (e.g., local town organizations or road associations)
  • Stay on top of customer reviews in your google searches. Include a link on your website to leave online reviews, send a link a couple weeks after a job saying "Hi, checking back in to see if you were happy with the work I did with you. If you have any questions please let me know." If they are happy send the referral link. It helps to screen the homeowner first to minimize bad reviews.
  • Make sure to respond to poor reviews online telling the customer that you apologize for the incident and that you will follow up with them to make sure they are happy.

Partnerships as a landscaping company

It may be strange to read about partnerships for a landscaping business, but the great thing is that there are plenty of other trades that you are not directly competitive with that know homeowners. If you know other home service pros it doesn't hurt to give them your business card or ask if they can make any introductions for you?

What to do to get home service referrals:

The list goes on, but think if you know anyone in: pest control, home inspection companies, plumbers, electricians, pool companies, garden shops, HVAC professionals, hardware stores, real estate agents or community organizers

Online Marketing Tactics

Online marketing is becoming more and more important but also is becoming more and more complicated. The overview below is meant to get you started, but does not go into advanced strategies for online marketing. Doing the items below will be a great way to kickstart your online presence.

Organic traffic generation

Organic traffic is any customer visibility that your business gains without paid promotions. There are a few things you can do to start for free.

What to do:

Create a modern website!

  • According to a Stanford University study, 75% of people judge the credibility of a company based on the design of its website
  • Tips for the landscaping website:
  • Have a contact us form, but people don't trust that these forms are checked enough so make sure to have a phone number (and email) that the customer can reach you at
  • Avoid the words "submit" on a form as it send the wrong message subliminally. Try to emphasize what a prospect is getting when they click the button, like "Get my free quote"
  • Tools to create a website: ProPhone offers a free website creation tool

Create a Google My Business Listing

  • You will need to make sure the following information is up to date
  • Your actual business name for your google business listing
  • Address (Google will verify it and this process can take a few weeks)
  • Phone number
  • Hours of operation
  • Category of your business
  • Create a profile page on Yelp
  • Similar to google you will need to ensure your proper business information is listed
  • There is an option to pay Yelp for certain profile features and advertising, but simply having a free profile is better than nothing
  • Create a Facebook Business Page
  • You will need a personal Facebook profile to start and then can create a business Facebook page under the create tag on the home page
  • Make sure to input your business details, upload a profile and cover photo (best if these are real and not stock images), update your 'about' section, and include an online booking CTA to collect leads
  • The CTA will be possible by "Adding Button" on your home page and the best option is to use "Book with you"

Paid traffic generation

If you have capacity to increase your traffic and have tapped out the free options for growth paid marketing is a great option if you pay attention to the ROI (Return on Investment) for your online marketing.

What to do:

  • Google Local Service Ads (under Lawn Care Professionals)
  • Google Local Service Ads appear above organic search results and even Google pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
  • Local Services ads are only available for certain regions in the U.S. and Canada. To check if your region is eligible, visit the Google LSA signup page.
  • With Google LSA, you pay per lead, not per click (CPC) like you would if you were bidding on keywords. You won't pay whenever someone clicks on your ad in search results like you would with Google Ads. You only pay when you have a legitimate phone call from a qualified lead.
  • Google Guarantee - this is like a vote of confidence from google that provides customers a money back guarantee up to $2,000 if they aren't happy in the quality of work.
  • The cost per lead from google service ads can range from $5-$100+ but on average should be around $20

What about lead generation services

Given the intense feeling over lead generation services, there is not a recommendation for or against using some of the online lead generation tools. If you do chose to use a lead generation tool make sure you treat each phone bill like a $50-$150 bill because that's what some leads can cost. You are best set up to utilize a lead generation service if you have capacity to handle in incoming calls and be immediately responsive to closing on the leads.

And of course, it's only customary to include a Home Advisor meme:

What about everything else?!

What about pricing, competing with competitor landscaping services, customer service and all the additional aspects of marketing?

We will cover these in future guides and know that anyone reading this blog has their own methodology to pricing and experience with customer service. Hopefully you can get the ball rolling with the marketing strategies that you think are best suited to your business!

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