By Jake Hundley
As 2018 winds down and we move into the new year, it’s time to start thinking about taxes, winter services, new equipment upgrades… oh yeah, and marketing your lawn care business for the spring.
If you’re in a downward swing of services and income in the winter, it’s no doubt you’re probably getting amped up for March and April services. And you most likely want a big season opener after feeling like you’ve been skimping by the last and first parts of the year.
Whether you have a marketing budget set aside or are using this time to think about advertising ideas when the time comes, marketing your lawn care business for the spring starts right now! You want to be at the top of your customers’ minds at the start of the new season both traditionally and digitally.
Here are nine ways to accomplish that goal:
1. Get A Website
If you don’t have a website, you should seriously consider getting one. It can take anywhere between 2 and 6 months to start ranking well for certain keywords in your area on a new site, so now is the most crucial time to get a good site built that’s search engine optimized.
Without a website, you won’t appear in search engines, at least, not on the first page of results. This is because competitor websites, no matter how bad, tend to rank much better than social media pages. So if you’ve been relying solely on your Facebook page, it’s time to get your own website if you want to capitalize on the 74% of people using Google and Bing to research lawn care services in your area.
If you’ve thought about getting a website for awhile and haven’t yet justified it, here’s an article on 13 different reasons why you should have a website for your lawn care and landscaping business.
There are a lot of inexpensive options for getting a website that cost less than $20/month where you can DIY it like Wix, SquareSpace, or Weebly that are really easy to use. However, if you’re looking to build a site that attracts quality leads through search engines, I suggest having one built by a professional.
2. Start Advertising For Spring Services
The earlier you can go to market at the beginning of the year the better, because if you’re not getting in front of your customers early on, your competitors are. The good news is advertising traffic during the slower winter months is down due to the lack of initiative most green industry business owners without a marketing plan have. That means there is less to compete for in the advertising space!
So if you’re running pay-per-click (PPC) or paid social media campaigns, your costs-per-click (CPC) tend to be less and your impression share trends higher. That translates to more exposure for less money!
The trick is advertising with a sense of urgency, which means market services that are time sensitive based on seasonality. Not only do these services tend to have a higher ROI (aeration, fertilization, spring cleanup, etc.), but the time to have them done in the spring is limited and so are the amount of hours you have in a week.
When running your spring service ads on Facebook or even on door hangers, stress a sense of urgency. For example:
Grow a thick, healthy lawn this year with spring Aeration and Fertilization
Call now before our schedule fills up!
There are actually four elements to this ad copy:
- Intent: I stated the service and what the ad was for.
- Offer: I provided an appealing incentive with 10% off.
- Relate: The ad copy related to the customer’s need or want for a healthy lawn.
- Urgency: The importance of taking action now incentivizes the customer to call now.
All four elements are needed for the most effective sales ad, but urgency is the most important. The urgency aspect of the ad copy is what prevents your customer from forgetting about you by putting you off. It also prevents your competitors from getting in front of your customers before they call you or take action.
3. Create Spring Related Website Content
If you already have a website, it would serve you well to optimize some pages on your website for spring related services. For instance, if you have a “Services” page but no service pages for each individual service, start by creating pages for those services that can be performed in the spring, like the above mentioned aeration and fertilization.
Having individual pages for your services, especially utilizing localized keywords, is sure to give you the extra boost in search engine rankings when the start of the season rolls around.
Already have optimized service pages for these? Start writing a blog based on high profile keywords in your area. People in your area might be using Google to research things like, “When to lay grass seed in the spring?” If this is the case, it would be an excellent opportunity to write a blog post on your site about the different considerations for laying grass seed, such as how compacted the soil is and how you can ensure strong growth with fertilization throughout the spring and summer.
Creating posts like this based on searched questions and queries attracts customers who may want to hire a professional after understanding what goes into growing the lawn they want.
The best part is, you don’t have to just write a post and only capture search engine traffic, you can also utilize it as content on social media and share to potential customers who may want that perfect lawn, but haven’t thought about the steps they should take to get there.
If you’re not sure where to start with keyword ideas, you can utilize the Keyword Planner in Google Ads, Google Search Console, or Bing Webmasters Tools.
You can even spy on what your competitors are ranking for in your area and outdo them with freemium tools like SpyFu or SEMrush!
4. Join Local Trade Associations And Groups
There’s almost no better networking for a local business than to join local trade associations. All you have to do is a quick Google search and see what kind of entrepreneurial or trade groups are in your area that you can join.
For instance, your local Chamber of Commerce is a given. Not only is it an opportunity to engage with other business owners in your area, you can also get a link and citation to your website (which improves SEO).
Finding other local entrepreneur or business networking events is as simple as heading over to meetup.com and searching for entrepreneur related topics. People are always looking to connect face-to-face. Use your slower business time in the winter to join these groups, network, and stay active for both getting your foot in the door for commercial accounts and working your way up to those high-profile accounts.
5. Reach Out To Local Businesses
Speaking of commercial accounts, the end of the year is usually when businesses address their next year budgets. Late fall and early winter is prime time for reaching out to local businesses. Here’s the problem though: you can’t expect a local business to reach out to you. If they are having their lawn maintenanced already, there is no need for them to research new lawn care companies. This is when you need to do the legwork and reach out to these businesses.
If you’ve been doing your networking throughout the year, then this is the time to inquire and pitch a new year contract with that commercial account you’ve been trying to get.
But remember to be confident and professional in your approach.
Now that you know this is the timing, you may want to check out more ways to gain commercial clients.
6. Optimize Your Social Media Pages
Have you been neglecting your social media pages this season? It’s easy to do when you’re out in the field and running your business. Finding the time for proper marketing, branding, and maintaining a professional, online appearance is difficult.
Whether most of your customers come from social media or not, people are looking for your brand not only through search engines like Google or Bing, but also through social media. They’re looking at your community presence, your brand personality, the quality of your work, and most importantly your reviews on multiple platforms.
Residential customers are looking at your Facebook profile while commercial clients are taking a look at your professional appearance on LinkedIn.
Take the time this winter to give your social media pages a professional makeover. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at this guide on how to optimize your Facebook page.
7. Door Hangers
Spring time yields a huge influx of customer calls and website form fills which means you’ll likely have an uptick in customer property visits and new clients. Take this opportunity to have door hangers on hand to do quick 9-bys (or however many houses you want to canvas) and place door hangers nine houses in both directions and on both sides of the street.
If done according to the formula above, you’ll have canvassed 36 houses around one customer’s house.
Now obviously this takes time, so stick to customers in nicer neighborhoods where routine lawn maintenance is in the majority of their budget. Targeting neighborhoods that don’t meet this requirement is a waste of your time.
Keep in mind, the industry standard call rate on door hangers is 1% or less. So in theory, you have to deliver 100 to get one call back, and that’s not a guaranteed sale. However, it doesn’t have to be that. Having a professionally designed door hanger that’s engaging with a good call-to-action (CTA) can prompt a lot more prospective customers to call.
If you’re looking for a professional design, Joe from The Small Business Store does excellent work.
8. Wrap Your Truck (Or Get Magnets)
A nice truck wrap goes a long way in getting you noticed. Everytime you go quote a yard or service a lawn, you’re driving a mobile billboard. If you have the funds or capital to invest in a full body truck wrap, it will make you stand out from your competition. However, wraps tend to be a bit more expensive than stickers or magnets.
You could be spending anywhere between $1,500 to $4,000 in a quality truck wrap with the design included, but winter is the perfect time to do it since your vehicle may be out of commission during the wrapping process. However, if you live in an area that is prone to ice and snow, make sure you keep salt buildup off your new wrap to keep from damaging your investment.
Now think about doing those 9-bys with your door hangers with the newly wrapped, eye-popping truck. While you’re walking up and down the street delivering door hangers, your branded truck is acting as a large billboard that entire time, increasing your exposure and ultimately, hopefully, your door hanger response rate.
9. Professionally Designed Business Cards
Take the opportunity to really get professionally designed business cards instead of the VistaPrint ones you likely designed yourself. A professional business card can be the deciding factor on whether or not you get that commercial account callback.
It reminds me of an exercise a few years ago at a sales meeting. All of us formed a circle in the room and took out our business cards. Each of us then passed our business card to the person to the left. The person to the left had two options for the business card:
- Do nothing with it
- Tear it in half
If the person to the left tore the business card you handed them, it was because it was not “impressive or engaging.”
When you watch someone tear up your own business card in front of you, it changes the way you look at your brand appearance in the smallest details.
Do you think someone would tear your business card?
Spring Marketing Starts Now
The jobs may be slowing down, but your marketing should start to pick up in the winter in order for you to get a head start in the spring. Use the slower time at the end of this year to really focus on your company position in the new year and dominate market share both offline and online when the spring service calls begin to come in!
Jake Hundley is the CEO of EverGrow Marketing, a digital marketing agency that caters to the landscaping and lawn care industry. They create digital marketing strategies utilizing SEO, SEM, Social Media, Website Development, and UX optimization to deliver high quality leads with a measurable and positive ROI.