The lawn care business is notoriously competitive and frustratingly crowded. Though there’s a surplus of good marketing information out there, not a lot of it is focused at lawn care and landscaping businesses. This means there’s a ton of opportunity for lawn care companies to get ahead. Today, we’re both blessed and cursed by the myriad of marketing options out there, both online and offline. I say cursed, because all of this information breeds confusion, and thus, mistakes. We’ve learned a lot by mowing lawns in Northern Virginia, as well as expanding to offering lawn mowing in Orlando and other areas. We’re definitely big believers in leveraging technology, even offering free lawn care software, and through that, we’ve also learned our fair share about lawn care marketing. Here are 5 mistakes you’ll want to avoid when marketing your lawn care business:
1. Bad social media marketing
Though social media marketing has become ubiquitous with small business marketing, it’s actually misunderstood by many people. We’ve seen far too many hollow profiles with bland marketing copy. There are, however, many ways to benefit from social media marketing. According to a recent study, “8 out of 10 SMBs use social media for their business to drive growth,” and “3 in 5 SMBs say they’ve gained new customers by using social media.” Common practices include looking for and sharing industry specific news and finding and showcasing customer testimonials and reviews. Though in the lawn care industry, it may not be necessary to have a million “Likes,” you could certainly use social media channels to better communicate deals with customers. You can also drive social transmission, or sharing, to gather new leads. Don’t ignore reviews and testimonials, either. Google Local, Yelp, and Facebook reviews will all affect the way people perceive your company, and may impact their decision on whether on not to pick up the phone and call you.
2. No mailing list
A little while ago, we penned an article about why your business should be ’email first.’ The benefits of this are numerous. You’ll inspire a new standard of customer service with your client base. You’ll set the necessary expectations to save you both time and stress during the day. Finally, you can easily enact an email-based marketing system. In Permission Marketing, Seth Godin wrote about the importance of relevant, timely and engaging communications. You can do all of this by collecting customers email addresses, and sending out periodic newsletters. Of course, there’s an art to this. You don’t want to appear too spammy. So make it personal, anecdotal, interesting, and useful to the customer. Ask yourself, “why is this important to the customer?” You can also use email to offer deals to drive sales.
3. Neglected website
Tony Bass, successful lawn care entrepreneur and founder of Tony Bass Consulting, says lawn care companies are not adapting to technology as quickly as they should be. There are outliers and early adopters, of course, but most companies are falling behind on the times. In fact, Bass conducted a study where he looked at 200 lawn care companies and analyzed their website, looking for 5 crucial indicators of success. He found that 80% of them lacked at least 4 of the 5 crucial aspects. Let’s not be pessimistic, though; this offers a huge arena of opportunity. If your company can be the one that gets it right, you’ll be miles ahead of the competition. Make sure you’re mobile optimized. Have a clear call to action on your page. Don’t ignore clean web design (there are plenty of cheap and great services to do this.) Your website is an area where a little bit of effort can go a long way in getting traffic and conversions. “If your company doesn’t have a website with at least some level of an automatic sales process, you’re at a disadvantage,” says Bass.
4. Not gathering customer feedback
Make no mistake, good customer service is indicative of a good overall approach to marketing. This goes beyond common courtesy and reliability, but that doesn’t mean it’s difficult to do. It’s simple: talk to your customers. Regular surveys of satisfaction can drastically improve your customer retention as well as word of mouth referrals, according to Bass. It also give you, the business owner, a first hand look at what’s working and what you need to change. “The best way to retain customers is to increase the frequency of communication,” says Bass. “Talk to your client base as well as the leads you’ve confirmed from the past.”
Technology has made this easy (and fun) to do. Simply pop onto surveymonkey.com and draw up a couple of questions. What do you want to find out? Make the survey concise, so it doesn’t waste your customers’ time, but long enough to get some solid information. You can also do this with a paper and a pen, over email, or even over the phone or in person at your next service. Sometimes, the old fashioned (read: in person) way is the best, because it is personal and says that you care.
5. Ignoring agronomics and specific knowledge
Though it’s not usually under the umbrella term of ‘marketing,’ many companies stop learning more about their trade. They figure that their current point of knowledge is sufficient, while other lawn care companies and entrepreneurs may be brushing up their understanding, or even better, hiring University students that studied Turfgrass Management. As Jeff Ascough, founder of Shore Green Landscape & Design, says, “Anyone can cut lawns.” he says. Clint Waltz, Turfgrass Extension Specialist at The University of Georgia, goes on to say that “poor agronomic knowledge is a big problem.”
In a world of constant and cluttered information, being the company with the voice of assured professionalism will make your brand stand out. It will inspire trust. It will bring you customers.
We’re currently looking for reliable lawn care companies to join the LawnStarter fleet. What does this entail? More customers, automated payments, and increased up-sell ability. Learn more at https://www.lawnstarter.com/why-join.