Landscape gardening is a highly rewarding industry to be in. You can make a huge impact on your individual customers. There is the potential to bring them a wonderful home or work environment. It can improve their physical and mental health. However, there are many professionals in this line of work. Therefore, getting jobs and differentiating yourself from others can be a challenge. How do you compete with other established businesses and get customers using you? It can feel like an uphill struggle.
There are many things you can do to promote yourself. Many marketing strategies are quite small and easy to implement. However, the impact they can make is quite substantial. Take a look at our approach to developing your marketing. Many are low-cost and can have a deep impact on your work. Just taking up one or two can make an improvement to the work you are asked to do. Get your new season of jobs, working for you.
It sounds strange, but planning your marketing is the most important thing you can do. Taking the time to plan your marketing over the year will be time well spent. You might want to try 4 or 5 things over the year. You say to yourself you will sort those out later and other things just get in the way. This keeps happening and you forget to do them. The thing is with marketing, it feels like an optional extra. A nice thing to do if you can. However, it can truly mean the success or failure of your business. If you are relying on new customers to give you enough work, you cannot afford not to.
Have a robust plan in place for marketing to ensure you complete it. Work through as a month by month and set aside a half day in your calendar to do it. Plan different activities across the year. Have a variety, with fewer in the very busy summer months. Create your plan and then measure new enquiries each month. This will help you to see what works for your specific business. Things that were particularly good, you might consider doing again.
2. Your brand identity
You need to build a specific identity for your brand. This will help to differentiate your work from that of others. Make a logo, classic with a little color and so that the business name is easily recognisable. It is well worth having clothing with your logo on too. Firstly, it makes you look smart when doing your job. Secondly it shows a certain pride in your work. Thirdly it gives a professional look and feel. T-shirts and jackets are a good place to start. Extend this to a vehicle graphic if you have the funds available. It will build a positive reputation wherever you go.
Building a brand identity is not necessarily something easy. Unless you are doing very big jobs, it can be difficult to get someone identifying your style. Certainly not just from sight anyhow. Have some yard signs made up. These should be in a range of sizes to suit different sized jobs. You can then stick them into the ground near areas you have worked. This links the good work your have done with your specific brand. When you make an agreement with a customer, ask if you can add this. It might just be for a couple of weeks, but it can have a great impact.
3. Market Before Busy Season
So, in this business, what is the best time of year to market yourself? Do not make the mistake of thinking it is in the summer months. Yes, this is the busiest time, there is no doubt. However, everyone has already decided what to do by then. Start thinking about marketing yourself long before the busy season. Think about late winter into early spring, when potential customers are considering landscaping. This way they can enjoy it for all of the warm months of the year. Then you can get new customers who will stay with you all season long.
If you have customers that used you last year, contact them again in late winter or early spring. If they would like to use you again, ask them about referrals. Could they suggest any friends or neighbors that need some gardening help? If they give you a couple of names and addresses, you can drop round. If you are handing out a leaflet, pop the current customer’s name on it. This differentiates your leaflet from all the others they will get through the door.
4. Build a Great Website
A website gives you an added dimension to your business. Every serious business owner has a web presence these days. Use the same colors and style as your logo to build up your brand identity. Your website does not need to have a thousand pages, but it should be comprehensive. It needs to give potential customers all the relevant information about you. A list of your services is a must for checking you are the right person for their job. Add to this your contact details. While different options such as phone and email are best, choose what you respond quickest to.
The landscape gardening business has a huge visual focus and rightly too. It is all about something looking good and looking better than it did before. There is one easy way to demonstrate this to potential customers. Turn your website into a portfolio site which shows off what you can do. It should have before and after shots of your work. Unkempt lawns, bushes and hedges always look unattractive. Your before and after photos are bound to look great. Choose a high quality camera and upload them in pairs for the maximum effect.
5. Make Social Media Work for You
Social media can be a very difficult thing to accomplish. Firstly, there are many sites, all with a different focus. It can be hard to decide which ones to use. Trying to do them all can be a mistake as you only have limited time. With social media, try and do one or two things really well, rather than everything badly. As landscape gardening is so visual, you might want to focus on those that rely on images. You can then pair this with your website. This will help you to build your brand’s identity and awareness.
Facebook is the most obviously social media site to use. As it relies on friendships, it can sometimes be possible to reach the friends of a previous customer. However, this has declined in recent years and free marketing on Facebook has suffered recently. This is presumably due to their paid for advertising. However, it can still be worth doing. Have your own friends and current customers ‘like’ your page and it give some exposure. Just do not expect it to reach everyone these days.
6. Paid for Online Advertising
There are so many types of paid for advertising. Some is going to be really good value for you. Others will be poor value for you. It may be that you do not know which works for you, without giving some a try. You might want to try business listings where you pay to be included. Sites like Angies’ List and Yelp can be great for reaching new people. These sites involve the power of reviews and they can be a strong force for new work.
In addition, there are Facebook Ads, Google AdWords and promoted tweets on Twitter. These are all services you will undoubtedly pay dearly for. However, you will reach some people you may not have otherwise. For Facebook Ads, these meet a demographic that you choose. For Google AdWords, these are people searching for what you are offering. For promoted Tweets, these reach people and businesses that follow you. Work out which might be best for you and give it a try, but stick to a formal budget.
7. Attend Events
Most areas, whether the smaller nearby area or wider area, have local shows. These may be quite small affairs, or they can be large-scale events. Some are specific to outdoor pursuits such as gardening, although many encompass different activities. You can take up a stand at one of these events. It might be just an information stands with direct marketing and handing out leaflets. It might be one where you can sell plants or sign up people for jobs. It could be one where you make bird feeders with kids. There are different opportunities, but they are a great local resource.
Sponsoring an event can be expensive. However, it can give you plenty of exposure to new customers. People will see your information that have never heard of you before. It can be something big that impresses. It can just be something small though. It could be just supplying plants for a community herb garden. You can add your yard sign and it can stay up all year. Every time someone uses it, they can see how you supported it. It is good for the community and good for you too.
8. Show off Your Work
You can ask your current customers to help you in another way too. If there are sites that have user reviews, ask them to post a review. Explain how this will help other customers to make the decision on whether to use your services. They might be the type of customer that is not so keen on the internet. If this is the case, then you could ask them to provide a testimonial for your website. This is a couple of lines saying why they found you good. As you put this on the site yourself, they need not be involved with the technology.
Consider offering some high-profile people a free landscaping job. This could be someone whose garden is in a prominent local position. It could be someone who is well known throughout the local area, such as the mayor. It could be an organisation that has a lot of members and their local building needs some maintenance. In return for the free work, they would agree to display a large lawn sign. That would alert everyone that the work was done by you. It would very much show off your work in a positive way.
9. Focus on Your Customers
Have you considered asking your current customers for some feedback? Ask what they like best about the work that you do. Ask whether there are additional services they would like you to offer. Ask about pricing and whether they would like to be offered any deals. Ask them to rate the importance of certain factors such as being tidy or arriving on time. Learn what your customers value the most and do more of it. They will appreciate the fact that you asked them.
Consider asking customers whether they would like to prepay for a bonus. This might be buying 5 lawn care and getting 1 free if they pay upfront. Equally it could be to buy 5 and save 15%. By pre-paying, especially at the beginning of the season, you have more money when it is less busy. There are many different ways to benefit your customer. It could be providing $50 of free plants or more mature bushes than expected. These things might cost you half the retail price, in reality. Giving customers a bonus could get you a great review and a referral, so it is worth it.
10. Choose Ideal Customer and Target Them
What is your ideal customer? You could consider the customers you most enjoy working for. Alternatively think of the ones that bring the biggest profit. Perhaps you prefer the untidy garden than needs some TLC or maybe property for sale, to add value. Alternatively, is it the elderly person who obviously had a beautiful garden but needs help maintaining it. Maybe it is those with kids and no time for gardening? Thinking of an ideal customer can very much help you with potential marketing.
Once you have your ideal customer in mind, target them. Write on your leaflets ‘specialising in creating beautiful and practical family gardens’. Or perhaps ‘restoring exceptional gardens to their former glory’. Or maybe even ‘helping your property sell for more and be attractive to buyers’. It is a simple concept, but most people would rather use someone who understands their situation. If someone understands us, we feel they are much more likely to be able to help us. By focusing in on a specific group, you can learn their needs very quickly. This allows you to give them excellent service.
There are many other types of properties that need support. Historic buildings, cemeteries, business grounds and gardens all require maintenance and landscaping. Take a similar approach in this line of work. If you would rather work business to business, then connect on Twitter and contact them direct. Although the contracts will be worth more overall, they will probably negotiate a good price for them. It can be best to mix residential and commercial work for this reason. It is good to get a good balance.
It is the same with the types of work customers are giving you too. Try to mix one-off and regular work in your customer group. Seeking new work for one-off annual jobs is definitely hard work. It challenges you to always find more and more. Although this is the norm in work like carpet fitting, it need not be in landscaping. Try to choose a customer group that can give you regular worth. Even if this is monthly pruning or tidying up. Having some guaranteed custom is a definite bonus to this business. Keep customers going, especially those that are extremely proud of their outside space.
The landscape gardening business is most definitely booming. It is growing and improving all the time and building up. Where people have excess funds, they are often happy to spend them. If this is creating a lovely space to work or live then that makes sense. Having lovely surroundings is a good aim for general wellbeing. Make the most out of this in your landscaping business by being there when they need you. People often like their outdoor space looking good; show them why you are well-placed to do this.
Ensure you have different activities included in your marketing plan. It is something you can work on over time. Planning to do everything at once is going to lead to disappointment. You will not have the time or inclination after a short time. Planning in a regular few hours or half day each month will be more successful. This allows you to build work over time and ensures you have the time to complete it too. It is a good strategy for getting the most out of your marketing. Balance cost and time for the best effects and remember to make it visual for the highest impact.