The types of advertising that are most effective for lawn service and landscaping companies include social networking, yellowpages.com ads, business cards, fliers, door hangers, brochures, direct mail and word-of-mouth.
This kind of free advertising can have powerful outcomes. You may want to create a YouTube channel that links to your website with homemade short videos offering lawn care tips. Volunteering to give informational presentations to Rotary clubs or on your public radio station can give you notoriety within your community. Look for local and national contests to enter in your field. Joining a meetup group for gardeners will help you meet local residents who value the function and beauty of their yards. Create a Facebook page and provide weekly green tips for your fans. You’ll have to accumulate fans by socially reaching out to Facebook’s audience. Volunteer to teach a class on worm casting, composting or natural fertilizing at your local community center.
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Yellow Pages ads
Looking for a maintenance-free advertising vehicle that never closes? List your business on www.yellowpages.com, now formally known as YP. According to YP, more than 80 million people visit their site and more than 20 million businesses are listed.
Business cards are a great way to advertise at a very low cost. Those little rectangles of paper are not only your calling card --they also remind prospective customers that you’re only a phone call away when they’re ready to commit to hiring you. As a result, you should distribute your cards freely wherever you go, including to anyone who should happen to walk up to you while you’re on a job site with your mower in full throttle or you’re wrestling a tiller through clay substrate.
These little workhorses are really quite inexpensive -- starting at $15 for 1,000 cards at an office supply chain, or as little as $10, delivery included, through online printers like 123 Print or Vistaprint. In addition to your company name and contact information, you should use complimentary adjectives and earned credentials on your card, like “reliable” and “certified.” While people usually expect you to give them an estimate without charge, printing “Free Estimates” on your cards is still a good idea because the word “free” is such a powerful motivator.
Once you have your newly printed cards, it’s time to pound the pavement and get them to the masses. Set aside several hours a week for the distribution effort, and be sure to wear your company shirt or other clean, presentable attire when you canvass the neighborhoods so you look professional and competent. Check your local regulations -- some cities/towns don’t allow house-to-house distribution without a permit. Some of the potentially ripe prospects for your services include homeowners, businesses, real estate brokers, home and garden stores and lawn mower repairpersons.
Simple to create and inexpensive to produce, fliers are probably the second hardest-working weapon in your advertising arsenal. Like business cards, fliers can be distributed widely at a fairly low cost -- as little as 8 cents each when reproduced by a quickie print shop. Fliers are generally one-sided on letter-sized paper, and can be folded and placed under windshield wipers in parking lots, posted on bulletin boards at the mall or supermarket or distributed door to door. To increase the effectiveness of your flier, staple a business card to each one, since people are more apt to file away a business card for future reference than a piece of paper.
You can save money by using a word processing program like Microsoft Word to design the flier. Make it as appealing and easy-to-read as possible by using white space, call-outs like bullets or lists and no more than one or two typefaces. Among the things to stress in your flier are your reliability, your professionalism, the conveniences you offer and the pride customers will have when they see their beautiful yards. It’s not necessary to give prices in your flier. Generate interest by using terms like “reasonable rates,” then give a phone number where you can be reached.
Want to catch homeowners or office owners right where they live? Then try using door hangers, which are tags with a hole cut in the top so they can be hung from any doorknob. The standard size is 4 by 9 inches, and they can be printed in black and white or color. The color versions are more eye-catching (especially important for a lawn and/or landscaping business), and they can be printed on UV light resistant, heavy paper to prevent damage from weather. Typically, door hangers cost about 8 to 10 cents each for 5,000, and many companies have templates you can use to make the design process simple.
Brochures are a great way to advertise your business because they give you more room to talk about your services than, say, a flier or door hanger. Brochures are also versatile. You can hand them out at home and garden shows, mail them in a No. 10 envelope to your hot prospects or put them into a plastic brochure holder so they can be displayed at home and garden shops. Microsoft Word has many templates you can use to design your brochure, but keep in mind that even with a template, design can be tricky, and the result may not be as professional as you would like. If you’d prefer to turn the job over to a professional designer, you can expect to pay $500 or more for a trifold brochure. Unless you have creative writing skills, you may also want to hire a copywriter to write the brochure for you. This will also cost in the range of $500 to $800.
There are a number of online companies that will print your brochure affordably. UPrinting offers low-cost, do-it-yourself brochures and other custom promotional materials, with the option to proof your designs before you purchase. You can either use their online design templates or provide one of your own. For 200, 8.5-by-11-inch, trifold, double-sided, color brochures, including shipping charges, you’ll pay around $115.
Another way to reach potential customers right where they live is with direct mail, which is any promotional piece you send through the mail. This can include everything from brochures to newsletters and coupon books. Your direct-mail piece doesn’t have to be elaborate; a simple letter, postcard or flier with the appropriate hard-hitting sales copy will do. You’ll also want to include a mail-back card or a business card to make it easy for your reader to contact you.
There’s one more type of direct-mail piece that bears mentioning here. That’s marriage mail, which is a package that contains advertising fliers or coupons from a number of different advertisers. (ValPak is the best known in the industry.) The advantage is that this type of package is usually quite cost-effective, since you’re only paying for a percentage of the “ride.” The disadvantage is that your flier will be accompanied by other fliers from nail technicians, chiropractors, dry cleaners and possibly other lawn or landscaping services. But the low cost usually outweighs the disadvantages.
Not only is the price right, but word-of-mouth (WOM) praise is one of the most powerful advertising vehicles at your disposal. One of its major advantages is that you often don’t have to do anything special to garner this kind of freebie publicity. All you do is perform your job to the best of your ability, and people will talk favorably about you and your willingness to do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer.
The key to getting good WOM is influencing what your customers say about you. You can do this in a number of ways. Some lawn service and landscaping business owners call their clients a few weeks into the mowing season or after providing a landscaping service to get feedback and verify their satisfaction. You might also get a referral or two from the satisfied homeowner during the conversation, which you can turn into a WOM opportunity by using their name when you call the person to whom you were referred.
Posting links on your own website to customer review sites on which you’re featured encourages potential customers to read what others say about you. This may also give your regular customers the idea to write their own reviews. Yelp, Angie’s List, and Viewpoints are good examples of how consumers come to rely on one another’s testimonials for choosing products and services.
Another way to use WOM to your advantage is to offer a referral reward program to existing customers. For instance, you could institute a “Refer a Friend” program and award a $20 referral fee to current customers, or give a 10 percent discount off a month’s worth of mowing for referrals made in your service area.