Contributed by Guest Blogger: Martin McGuane, owner and operator of McGuanes Landscaping and Tree Service, Enfield CT
One of the most important projects we do over the winter is put together our marketing strategy for the upcoming spring season. As we have mentioned in previous posts, timing in the landscaping business is very important. Many marketing projects require a fair amount of time to prepare. This winter we focused on eight marketing initiatives:
- Direct mail
- Landscaper network
- Our website
- Letters to existing customers
- Truck signs
- Leave behinds
- Church bulletins/Community news
- Social media
We have using direct mail advertising as long as we have been in business. When we started, we worked with our local printer to create a nice advertising piece which we hand delivered door-to-door. It wasn't long before we realized that we could reach more households and target our potential customers with a company that specializes in direct mail. This is one of the more expensive approaches we have taken, but it is a good way to reach a large amount of potential customers that meet certain key demographics. We have been able to rely on this approach to bring in a predictable number of new customers year after year.
You can’t be in the landscaping business very long without getting to know other people in the industry. Everyone knows one company simply can’t "do it all". Some of us offer hardscaping, some chemical controls, while some businesses are strictly mowing. What we have done over the years is build relationships with other landscapers so that we can refer clients to each other. We take advantage of the slower winter months to reach out to our network of landscapers to remind them of the services we offer and to see what they can do for us.
Take the time to update your website and keep it current. You may have to update the crew page to include any new hires, and make sure all your services/products/plans are clearly explained. This is the time to consider any enhancements to your site, such as additional photos of your work or “explainer videos.”
Letters to Existing Customers
Send letters to existing customers to promote additional services that thy may need (yet have not signed up for). For example, longtime clients may not be aware of recently added or other services that may help them reach their maintenance goals.
We have always made sure that all of our trucks have nice looking magnetic signs with large, easy to read print with our name and number on them. Some of our newer trucks have been professionally lettered on all four sides; they are truly rolling billboards.
Whenever we apply a treatment to our customer's property we will leave a written explanation of what was we did. This is a leave behind, a great advertising piece. When we spray Dormant Oil we remind our customers that we can also fertilize their trees. When we fertilize the lawn in the fall, our leave behind will offer aeration and slicer seeding. When we winterize the lawn we sell winter tree work. Over the years our leave behinds have generated a tremendous amount of revenue. One our recent projects involved consulting with an outside vendor to redesign all of our leave behinds.
Community Newspapers & Church Bulletins
We do a small amount of advertising in the local community newspaper and church bulletins. Although we're not reaching large amounts of people, those that we do reach are very loyal.
We have only recently started to build our social media presence in the last year or so. While maintaining our presence across our various social media channels like Facebook is a daily activity, we use the winter months to build out our communication plan. We use this down time to think about key communications we would like to send out next season: What services do we want to push next season and when? Do we want to attract a new type of customer? Are there certain channels (such as Instagram) that we should put a greater focus on?
Finding and building relationships is a main goal of our social media strategy. This effort expands beyond reaching potential customers to other landscaping companies and even vendors that we use and recommend, like Sprayer Depot. By creating networking opportunities with others in the landscaping industry we’re positioning ourselves as experts within our industry.
I hope that you found these eight strategies helpful and that you take away a few ideas to help you prepare for the coming season.
About the Author:
Martin McGuane is the owner and operator of McGuanes Landscaping and Tree Service Inc, www.mcguanes.com which has been servicing Central Connecticut and Western Massachusetts since 1987. Martin is a 1981 graduate of the University of Connecticut's School of Agriculture. He is a Connecticut licensed arborist and has a Custom Ground Supervisor license in both Connecticut and Massachusetts. He also holds a CT Irrigation License.