Optimize the advertising plan for your landscape business.
As the owner of a Wakefield, RI-based landscaping company for 20 years—and with a passion for marketing and technology—I’ve spent a great deal of my time and energy exploring and experimenting with different types of marketing for my business. In the past three years, I’ve also been providing other landscape businesses with marketing and automation services through my consulting company, Ready Business Systems.
Through personal experience with my company and indirect experience through my consulting work, I’ve noticed certain things lawn care and landscape business owners are doing wrong. In this article, I will be sharing the areas where landscaping companies can improve their marketing — as well as what can be done NOW to improve your landscaping company for the 2022 season.
Mistake #1: No Strong Online Presence
I emphasize this point because EVERYTHING is online—a situation that has only been enhanced by Covid. For all practical purposes, “finding your business online” means “finding your business on Google,” since Google is responsible for around 92% of all online searches.
No matter where your customers see your name, ultimately they are going through Google to get your information. If they search on Google and don’t find your business, they are going to call your competition. In fact, many businesses’ marketing campaigns include targeting YOUR business name so they can steal your would-be customers.
At a bare minimum, business owners need to have a Google My Business page, with a completed profile; this means photos, contact information, and online reviews. Getting online reviews is critical for your reputation and Google’s search algorithms. In addition to a Google My Business page, a profile on websites like Yelp, Angie’s List, and Facebook helps customers find you and increase your credibility.
Beyond using the profiles mentioned above, having your own website increases your online visibility and lead conversions. Your website should be where all marketing efforts are funneled. Whether your customer sees your door hanger, postcard, or truck, your website should be the clear call to action.
By the time a potential customer calls your business or requests an estimate, they should already be well educated and ready to buy due to solid, informative content on your website. Make sure to update your website regularly with blog posts. This serves two purposes. It helps your existing customers stay engaged and is a significant contributing factor for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which helps potential new customers find you.
For the most part, the things I’ve mentioned above can be done for free. However, there are many other methods to grow your exposure online if you’re willing to make an investment. There are huge opportunities to buy traffic to your website through Google Adwords, Facebook Marketing, and SEO. (If you don’t know much about these options, there is much more information on the Ready Business Systems website.) I do not recommend purchasing ads on Yelp or other pay-per-lead services. They are sending these leads to multiple companies at the same time and these types of customers are usually price-shopping, so it’s a race to the bottom.
Mistake #2: Not Tracking ROI
How much should you budget for marketing? I would answer this question by posing other questions you should think about first: How much growth can you handle? How much money do you want to make?
But before you spend money on marketing, you need to consider your return on investment (ROI). Let me explain: If you know that, on average, a lead costs you $100 to acquire, and you convert one out of every three leads to a customer, your cost per client is $300. If your average client spends $1500 per year and stays an average of three years, s/he generates $4500 of total revenue. If your profit margin is 20%, an average client earns you $900 (not to mention overhead recovery, like your salary). So what if I said I would trade you $300 for $900? Now how much would you spend on marketing?
If you track your ROI, you will find that some channels perform better than others. For example, a client from a direct mail campaign may cost you $250, a client from Google Adwords might cost you $75, and a client from Facebook may cost you $100. This does not mean you should only spend on the channels with the best ROI. However, in this example I would certainly make sure I maximize my spend on Google Adwords before I start spending money on direct mail.
Mistake #3: Not Dedicating Enough Resources
Once you have numbers nailed down and are confident your marketing is generating more business profit, revisit your marketing channels. Marketing works as a synergy. It has been said that a client needs to see your name seven times before they call you. So what marketing channels are you missing out on?
In addition to all the online marketing mentioned above (website, Adwords, Facebook, and SEO), there are many other ways a customer is going to find you. These can include:
- Decaled vehicles. Trucks are a huge lead source
- Uniformed employees
- Yards signs
- Door hangers
- Direct mail
- Call campaigns/automated voicemails
- Email marketing campaigns
These marketing tactics work best in coordination, since different clients will respond to different approaches. For example, one client told me he doesn’t ever look at our marketing emails. However, he still gets our postcards and sees our other forms of media.
Yard signs, door hangers, uniforms, and email marketing are generally more cost effective channels. Depending on the resources you have, some can be done for free by yourself (like email marketing) or you can outsource a company to do these things for you.
Direct mail and call campaigns are generally some of the most expensive marketing channels and take time to build up your response rate. However, when combined with other marketing tactics, they will increase your response rates on all your other approaches.
Decaling your trucks is a one-time expense and one of the best bangs for your buck. I always shake my head when I drive by a landscaper with a plain, white trailer.
What can you do now to generate more business in 2022? The first thing I would recommend is to start planning now. Put together your budget. How much money do you want to dedicate towards marketing? What marketing tasks can you handle internally and which tasks do you need to outsource? Get quotes now and put them into your overhead budget for 2022.
Once you have your budget, how should you spend it? If you have already identified your lead sources with the lowest Cost Per Conversion (CPC), you should maximize your budget on these lead sources first, then move down the list. For example, if Google Adwords costs $75 per client and Facebook costs $200, first make sure you are getting enough exposure on Google Adwords before moving on to Facebook marketing.
Re-marketing to existing clients and your leads base is almost always going to be cheaper than acquiring new customers. This can be achieved through email marketing campaigns, postcards, and call campaigns. It can also be accomplished through facebook ads and Google Adwords remarketing campaigns. Online remarketing ads are those little annoying ads that follow you around the internet and onto social media once you visit a website. But they work, don’t they?
Another thing you can do to prepare for 2022 is to generate your marketing material now. Let’s be real, you have way more time in the winter than when your phone is ringing off the hook on May 15th. So build out your marketing now. There are a lot of things can be set into place so you won’t have to deal with it—maybe at all—during the peak season. You can pre-write and schedule monthly newsletters to go out, or weekly marketing emails. Ready Business Systems has over 50 pre-written emails that can be customized and scheduled to send on behalf of your business.
Another thing you can do now is have postcards designed and scheduled to send, yard signs ordered and in hand (think one easy-to-read yard sign targeting a specific service for each season), and trucks decaled.
I hope this has been helpful and given you some insight on advertising and marketing strategies for 2022. I wish you luck and hope you crush the coming season!
Woodford is the Founder of 855-RILAWNS in North Kingstown, RI. He’s also the Founder of consulting company, Ready Business Systems, which specializes in helping service businesses in the US and Canada to free time and increase profits through expert Marketing, System Building, and Automation. Services include software set up, training, and optimization to help organizations operate efficiently.
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