I asked our esteemed editor, Mr. Chuck Bowen, to give me a page in our final issue of 2012 so I could introduce myself to you and the 73,000 others who receive this publication every month. Given that Chuck and his team are tasked with producing nearly a thousand pages of original content every year, he seemed quite happy that the new guy was willing to take one off his hands.
First, I really am honored to be the new publisher of Lawn & Landscape, the industry’s flagship publication for business success. What exactly does a publisher do? Well, in my case, the job description is simple: Don’t screw up a good thing.
I’m not being flip when I say that. Lawn & Landscape has been the top publication in this market for decades. We have been number one in advertising sales since the Reagan administration. Year after year, we have the highest readership among the many magazines that serve this business. We have walls full of national writing and design awards. We created the Top 100 concept, the State of the Industry Report and the Benchmarking Your Business study. We launched the first media website in the market in 1996 and we have been the first to offer other digital innovations like e-zines, content-rich e-newsletters and mobile apps.
In short, Lawn & Landscape is an institution in this community and we will continue to lead, grow and innovate because that’s what you demand.
I’m new to Lawn & Landscape, but I’ve been in the green industry for four decades. My primary focus has always been golf (I also serve as publisher and editorial director of our sister publication Golf Course Industry), but my involvement in the turf business has helped me understand just enough about the world of lawn care, landscape contracting and the related disciplines to be dangerous. Now, as I learn more about your world and shortly after returning from a great week at GIE+EXPO, I have a few observations:
1. As a friend of mine who has one of the keenest minds in the golf business said recently, “This has been a great recession – let’s not waste it.” I’m impressed by the number of contractors who saw opportunity in the downturn to get leaner, meaner and grow their businesses. Rather than bemoaning the economy or damning the lowballers, they acted to expand their businesses by outworking and outmarketing less-committed competitors. Just track our Top 100 and see who’s moved up. Those are the companies that made the most of a bad thing.
2. Some years ago, I had the opportunity to squire the business guru Tom Peters around a trade show. I introduced him to an executive from an industry company who, when describing his management philosophy, cheerfully said: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Peters physically cringed when the hapless suit said that and promptly told him that he was doomed if he stuck with it. The folks who’ve grown through tough times were the ones who changed, innovated, invested and did not stick to business as usual or simply cut costs.
3. Information – good, reliable data – is gold in this business. The up-and-comers in this market are those who are mining information for prospects, profiling likely customers and doing more than just relying on word of mouth to grow their businesses.
On that last point, I’m pleased to announce that Lawn & Landscape – which has always been the industry’s leading source of reliable data and research – will expand that commitment in 2013 with a landmark study of consumer attitudes about professional landscaping and lawn care. We’re partnering with a leading consumer research firm, Trone Brand Energy, to ask thousands of homeowners why they do or don’t use professional services, which services they would value most and, most importantly, what messages would make them more likely to hire you.
The findings from this study will give you – our readers – new tools to grow your business.
And, finally, we’ve always prided ourselves on being at the forefront of technology. One example: we offer the only mobile media app in the industry. More than 30,000 of you have downloaded it to your phones and iPads and the feedback has been awesome.
Well, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Next month, we’re going to release Version 2 of our mobile app, and I humbly suggest that it will blow your mind. Get ready, because your favorite publication is about to come to life before your eyes.
So here’s to 2013! May it be as prosperous and exciting for you as we think it will be for Lawn & Landscape.