In a hyper-competitive industry like landscaping, marketing your business is critical. Even if you think you have enough customers now, people move all the time — more than 35 million people move every year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau — and they take their business with them.
To keep a steady flow of new customers calling, you need to make marketing your landscaping or lawn-care service as routine as maintaining your equipment.
Here’s the good news: It doesn’t have to be difficult — or expensive. Some of the most effective marketing tools out there are free.
To help jumpstart your marketing, here are five of the most common mistakes I see landscaping and lawn-care businesses make — and how to fix them:
1. You lose customers by only marketing during busy season.
By the time spring comes around, your prospects are probably ready to call a lawn care company and get quotes. If you want that number to be yours, you need to start getting your message out well before then. If you aren’t, how do you expect to be the first company they call?
Yes, you want to market your business more just before and during the busy season — but if you go completely dormant during the off-season, you’ll lose out to competitors who keep up with their marketing year-round. Keeping in contact with your customers and prospects throughout the year will keep your business top of mind when they need your services.
If you have a complementary business during off season like snow removal or holiday decorating, that’s the service you’ll promote during those months, of course.
One of our clients did a fall campaign promoting their leaf-removal services and picked up 17 new customers, a snow plow contract for a homeowner association and a landscaping contract for three apartment complexes.
2. Not building relationships with your clients could cost you 630 percent of your potential revenue.
You have probably heard that it costs 6 times as much, to acquire a new customer than to keep a current one, according to the Huffington Post — that’s why I always say to create relationships, not sales.
Let’s look at it in terms of the landscaping business I just mentioned, who generated 17 new customers with his fall landscaping campaign:
- Each one of those customers spends $960 with him per season
- The average customer stays with him for 7.3 years
- So the lifetime value of each customer is $7,008
- 17 new clients generated from that campaign = $119,136 in overall revenue
Without excellent customer service and relationship building, that repeat business potentially goes away, taking a potential $102,816 in income with it.
Make sure your customers can reach you easily when they have problems or questions, and be quick to respond when they do. And send them special offers a couple of times a year to show them you appreciate their business.
A blog or email newsletter can help you keep communication lines open – not just with current customers, but future ones, too. Send out seasonal tips or recipes, share personal or company news – become a trusted source in your community.
Don’t hoard your expertise. Sharing your knowledge won’t jeopardize your business – most of your customers simply don’t have the time (or patience) to maintain their lawns. If anything, it will make them trust you even more.
3. Neglecting your website will get 75 percent of visitors to hit that back button – lead gone.
Having a quality website is no longer optional in any business. Most prospects will check you out online before they call you — it’s just a fact. And according to a Stanford University study, 75 percent of people judge the credibility of a company based on the design of its website.
Your website doesn’t need to have a thousand pages or a bunch of bells and whistles, but it does need to represent you and your business well.
That means your website needs to function properly, since 40 percent of people will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load, according to a Kissmetrics blog. Be sure to include an “About Us” page with information about your business and photos of your staff. This builds trust – something consumers value when it comes to letting people into their backyards when they’re gone.
You also want to include pictures of your work. Let me repeat those last two words: your work.
People know when they’re looking at stock photos. Make sure any photos you use on your website are of jobs that you have personally done. Otherwise, prospects think you’re trying to fool them – and nobody likes that.
4. You’re missing lead-capture forms on your website (and 96 percent of potential customers).
While your website should showcase your work and build trust, it needs to do more than just that. Your website is a marketing tool that should be helping you grow your landscaping business.
Here’s the facts:
If someone visits your webpage, whether they typed in your URL or found you via a search, they have some level of interest. That person is a lead that represents potential income.
Don’t let them slip away – include a lead-capture form on your home page (heck, on every page)!
Offer visitors something of value – a free estimate, gardening tips, a subscription to your newsletter – in exchange for their name, email address and phone number. Then you can follow up with them until they become a customer.
Tip: The button on this form should not say “submit.” Nobody likes to “submit” anything. It sends us the wrong message subliminally. Instead, emphasize what a prospect is getting when they click the button (what you’re offering!), like “Get my free quote!” or “Get great gardening tips.”
5. You lose potential customers by failing to ask for reviews and referrals.
The best way to get new business is the old-fashioned way: referrals and word-of-mouth. Especially for small businesses with tight budgets.
But don’t just sit back and wait for this to happen. If you really want referrals, you need to ask for them.
Start a referral program: offer clients a discounted service for each referral. Give them a few business cards to make it easy on them.
What’s even easier, though, and nearly as effective, is leaving an online review.
While 83 percent of people say they trust the recommendations of friends and family, 66 percent say they also trust consumer opinions posted online.
Include a request for Google reviews on your website, newsletter and invoices (with a link to do so). The simpler you make the task, the more likely they are to do it.
All you have to do is ask.
Joy Gendusa is the Founder/CEO of PostcardMania, a marketing company in Clearwater, Florida, specializing in the lead generation and direct mail.