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Physical marketing tools will help increase awareness of your lawn maintenance brand in your community.
Most of the marketing advice for small businesses is focused on social media and digital advertising. Digital marketing isn’t bad, but before you spend a dime on digital or social media advertising for your lawn care business, there are six physical marketing tools that need to be done first. Don’t get me wrong, digital marketing and advertising are powerful tools to grow your business. Still, they are only part of the over-growth strategy and arguably not the first step. Physical marketing tools will help increase awareness of your lawn maintenance brand in your community. Increased brand awareness will improve your click-through rates on your digital ads because folks tend to respond better to advertisements from companies they recognize.
Just a fair warning, all of the below marketing strategies will cost some money for materials. If you don’t feel like you can spend money on marketing materials, it is probably because you need more clients. Unfortunately, you aren’t going to get many more clients without putting time and money into marketing. It’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem, but it’s worth the investment to get your name out there!
The downside of physical marketing and advertising is that it is hard to know if it worked. Let’s say you decide to do all 6 things on this list below. You will start to see an uptick in business or get more calls for bids. How will you know which one is working or not? If something is working, you’ll want to do more of it. Conversely, no one wants to waste money on marketing efforts that aren’t bringing in business.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to solve this problem. Since this article is about physical marketing, I’ll leave the physical to digital automated tracking tools for a different blog. Using deals and offers is a purely analog way to track physical marketing for your lawn care business. I recommend incorporating a separate deal or offer for each one on all of the following tools. That way, you know precisely which marketing tool brought in the lead. For example, your door hanger might be offering a discount on spring cleaning, but your lawn sign has an offer for 20% off a client's second month. When a lead calls you asking about a specific offer, you know it came from a particular marketing tool. This way, you know which marketing device is the most successful, and you can increase spending in that area.
Also, by putting different offers or deals on all of your marketing materials, you can increase your conversions by including a “Call to Action.” A call to action is essentially an instruction from you to your potential customer on what to do next. It may seem silly, but a flyer that says “Call 555-5555 today to get this deal” will get you more calls than a flyer with only your phone number.
With these tips in mind, let’s get down to business and talk about the six marketing ideas you can use to grow your lawn care business.
Door Hangers can be a great way to market your business because of how targeted the advertising is. With this method, you get to pick which houses the door hanger goes on. They are also relatively affordable, making them one of the first choices that many new lawn maintenance owners use to drum up business. However, door hangers should not just be used by new business owners. This is a tool for everyone!
There are two different ways that you can hang these flyers. The first is to canvas an entire neighborhood, hitting every house with a door hanger. This is labor-intensive and expensive, with a low return per flyer hung. However, it is an excellent strategy if you want to focus your efforts intensively on a small area. The second method is to hang the fliers on the houses around an existing client which will help you build route density (decreasing drive time between clients in order to increase revenue). This works by taking a few minutes after finishing a yard and putting up door hangers. You can even put something on the door hanger, like, “Hey, we were in the neighborhood helping your neighbor's yard look fantastic…”. A potential client is more likely to hire you if their neighbor trusts you.
Another great way to use door hangers is to promote seasonal offerings that your lawn service business might have. I’ve used them effectively to market fall or spring cleanups. It's easy to regularly change up those door hangers so you can routinely hang them on the identical houses throughout the year with various seasonal deals or offerings.
Lastly, I’ve seen people in discussion groups ask if they should only put door hangers on houses that need their yards cut. I would argue that this is a poor strategy. If someone’s yard badly needs to be mowed, there’s a pretty good chance that the owner doesn’t value the upkeep of their lawn. However, an owner already paying for a service might be willing to switch companies if they aren’t entirely happy with the current provider. So don’t base your decision on what the current state of the yard looks like.
OK, I’ll be honest. I put off branding my lawn maintenance truck and trailer for too long. It seemed expensive, but once I did it, I was sorry I hadn’t done it sooner. I would receive calls from potential clients saying, “Hey, I saw your truck in the neighborhood. Can you come by and give me a quote?” If the people in the neighborhood trust a current client, they will be more willing to trust your lawn care company. I knew it was the right decision when an acquaintance asked me, “How many trucks do you have? I keep seeing your trailers all over the city.” I had one truck and trailer at the time. He saw me driving all over town regularly and assumed I had multiples. This is an example of brand awareness.
Three methods to get your branding on your truck are magnets, vinyl decals, and whole truck or trailer wraps. Magnets are great for just getting started, and vinyl decals are essential if you have an enclosed aluminum-sided trailer. Whole truck wraps are expensive but can make your setup stand out. One mistake that I see people make regularly is to buy stickers or magnets that are just too small. Instead, buy the biggest ones that you can fit on your vehicle. Use a big simple font, and don’t include too much information on it. Remember, folks need to be able to read the information on the side of your truck as you drive by and when you’re sitting in their neighborhood.
In the same way that a stickered and branded lawn maintenance truck sitting out in front of a client's yard helps draw attention to your brand, so do yard signs. The advantage of yard signs is that they advertise to the neighborhood even when you're gone. Frequently your client’s neighbors won’t be home when you are working nearby and won’t even know that you were there.
Most clients won’t want your sign in their yard all the time, so try to think strategically about when the best time to have one would be. For example, some great times would be to put yard signs out at the beginning of the cutting season or after you have finished a spring or fall clean-up, and their yard is the best looking on the block.
Ask your customer first before putting a yard sign, and don’t leave it there for more than a week or two. I’ve found that most folks are willing to let you put a sign out for a short time. Of course, you can always tell them that you’re trying to get more customers nearby to keep your travel costs down.
Business cards are a staple in business marketing and are especially effective for a lawn care business. We’ve written an entire blog article on general business card usage here. So for this article, I’m just going to focus on the marketing potential for business cards.
Business cards should be your first marketing investment purely because of their inexpensive cost and versatility. For less than $20, you can purchase 50 business cards for your company. Then, you can post them on coffee shop cork boards, give them to clients’ neighbors, or give a few to each of your customers for them to pass out. If you don’t feel ready to invest in door hangers, you can also punch holes in your business cards, pop in a rubber band, and use them just like you would door hangers.
When handing out business cards, a fundamental technique to remember is to always, always ask for the other person’s contact information in return. Do not simply hand them out and hope you get a phone call. It is your business, and you are responsible for its growth. Instead, take charge by leading the sales conversation. If you have their phone number, you can call to try and set an appointment instead of waiting around for them to contact you.
The short answer, in my opinion, is yes. Here is why. Everyone I run into could be a new client when I’m at a gas station or a restaurant for lunch. My uniform lets them know that I cut grass for a living, and in my experience, folks will ask for you to give them a bid. You may invest $100 or so on a set of shirts and hats for yourself or an employee. All it takes is one new client who found out about you through your uniform, and you’ve paid for them.
Anyone who runs a lawn maintenance business knows how powerful referrals are. There’s nothing better than walking into a bid meeting knowing that a current client referred you. Close rates on those bid visits are substantially higher, up to 4 times higher, than in a competitive bidding situation. So how do you increase these types of referrals? Well, the simple answer is that you need to incentivize your current clients to tell their friends and neighbors about you.
You can incentivize your customers in one of two ways. First, you can give them a discount on your services. For example, you could discount your next visit if a client’s referral leads to a new customer. Just make sure that the discount amount is big enough to actually make your client want to tell others about you (hint: $20 ain’t gonna cut it!). The second option would be to gift them with something. For example, I like to give out free flats of flowers when a client refers me, and I close the sale. One spring, I planted 4 trays/72 flowers for a client because her referrals led to 4 new jobs! She was pleased, and I was definitely happy.
I know firsthand how difficult it is to balance the responsibilities of running a lawn care business. Trying to fit in marketing was always a chore and often fell by the wayside. However, looking back, I wish I had spent more time and money on it. Don’t make the same mistakes I made! Get your marketing going now by following some of these examples above. If you have any questions or comments about this article or have ideas for articles you’d like us to write, please reach out to us at checkU@hellocheck.co.