That’s the million-dollar question? Someone asks me that question almost every day.
Attracting new customers is a common problem, but it doesn’t have a simple, one-size-fits-all answer. Every business is unique and the best answer depends on quite a lot of details.
- Is your company a brand-new start up, or have you been around a while but your business needs to grow to the next level?
- Do you have some money to fund your growth, or are you on a shoestring budget?
- Who are your customers? Where are they and what are their primary concerns and needs?
- What are your bread-and-butter services? What are your loss-leader services and what are your high-margin services?
Those are a few of the common details that need to be considered, but there are certainly dozens of other variables that can affect the answer.
No matter what the specifics are for any given company, getting new customers and growing your business always starts in one place.
Your Marketing Plan
Effectively marketing a business takes time and effort, and costs money. If you don’t want to spend much money, you might be able to make it work with a lot more effort. Either way, you’ll have to be organized and have a good marketing plan.
To get started on your marketing plan, someone on your team needs to have at least a basic understanding of marketing. You either need to (1) understand/learn marketing yourself, (2) hire someone who understands marketing, or (3) team up with someone who understands marketing <cough> Driven Landscapes </cough>.
Creating a marketing plan is a really big job. While I can’t help to create a whole marketing plan in this one blog post, I can give you a quick overview.
We already talked a little bit about the when in a blog post about the The Two Best Times to Acquire New Customers.
So, let’s talk a little bit about the major pieces of a marketing plan.
The Basics of Marketing Your Landscaping Business
At the very most basic level, marketing involves five things.
1. Getting to know your audience
Decide if you are mainly going after residential or commercial customers, and then learn as much as you can about those people in your area.
2. Telling your audience about your services and benefits
You need to let them know what you can do for them and how it will make their lives better.
3. Making an Offer
This is the part where you essentially tell people you’ll do some work in exchange for their money. If you have any special promotion to persuade people – a coupon, a one-time discount, etc. – that would also be part of your Offer.
4. Creating a Call to Action
In marketing, a Call to Action is the part where you ask a potential customer to do something. You’re essentially telling them the ball is in their court and you’re hoping they’ll take the next step.
Your call to action might be as direct as asking for the sale. It might be as simple as asking prospects to sign up for a mailing list. Or it might be something in between, like asking them to contact you to request a free quote.
5. Close Sales, Learn, Adjust, Repeat
Once you have people responding to your Call to Action, it’s time to close the sale and collect your money.
But, part of your ongoing process should involve learning what worked and what didn’t, and then making adjustments. Take what you’ve learned and update your messages, your offer, and your call to action. Then do it all over again, but better!
How Much will it Cost?
Many experts recommend budgeting somewhere between 5% and 15% of revenue (actual or projected) for marketing.
If your business is well established and you’re happy with a slow, controlled growth, you’ll probably be safe spending closer to the 5% range. If you’re a brand-new business or in a phase of aggressive growth, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to budget 15% of projected revenue. For many businesses, the sweet spot is in the 7%-10% range.
If you’re on a tight budget and you’re hoping for substantial growth while spending less on marketing, you will have to replace some of that money by being extra clever and putting in some extra work. Otherwise, you’re just not going to find enough new customers.
For a landscaping business that’s just starting (or one that’s been around for a couple years but needs a jump-start), let’s figure a marketing budget of 10% of projected revenue.
If you’re projecting $200,000 in revenue for the year, spending $20,000 on marketing would be normal.
How to Reach Your Audience with Your Marketing Message
There is no silver bullet. There’s no single, perfect way to reach new clients. A proper marketing plan should make use of many tools to communicate with both returning customers and potential new customers.
Some of the tools that are available to you include:
- traditional print advertising
- web/internet advertising on other people’s web sites
- search engine pay-per-click (PPC) advertising
- social media advertising
- your own web site
- your social media page(s)
- search engine optimization (SEO) for organic search results
- email marketing
- Anything printed with your name, logo, and contact information could fall into this category. Business cards, brochures, flyers, door hangers, etc.
- These items can get to people in a variety of ways – handing it to them, direct mail, leaving at their door, etc.
Signs and Displays
- If you’re not working out of your home, you should have signs at your business location(s).
- At a minimum, your trucks and trailers should have signs/decals.
- This is the closest to “word-of-mouth,” but generally you will offer something in return for the referral rather than waiting for people to do it on their own.
- You can offer existing customers incentives to share your information and give you referrals.
- You can partner with other businesses to trade referrals.
Those are just some of the most common channels for marketing your landscaping business. There are literally dozens of other places you can do your marketing, and hundreds of ways you can do it.
The trick is to find a mix that works best for your business.
At Driven Landscapes, we’ve spent a lot of time and money testing different marketing channels, different timing, and different messages. And we’ll continue to tweak things, testing new messages and offers so that we can both keep up with the evolving market and continue to improve.
You need to do the same thing. You need to think about your specific audience, your services, your prices, your promotional offers, your marketing budget, and your business goals. And then you need to start putting it all together into a comprehensive marketing plan.
Again, it takes time and money, but it’s a process that all businesses must go through in order to grow and to sustain growth.
One Final Thought
It is possible to successfully market your business while spending less money. But, you need to be very creative and you need to have a good understanding of marketing and advertising.
The most important thing about your marketing is that you need to make your business look professional and trustworthy.
If you cut corners and your marketing materials look amateurish, it makes your whole company look amateurish.
You need to reach out to your potential customers and make yourself look good!
What Do You Think?
As I’ve warned a couple times, marketing is a big and complex topic. There are dozens of topics we could explore further.
What are your questions? What are your ideas? What’s your favorite method for marketing your business?
If you are interested in learning how the Driven Brand could help you grow and scale your business, Contact Us today!