Out of the Box Marketing

Yesterday I had the opportunity to do some consulting for a local landscaping company. Their business is growing but they felt they could do more. They’re a relatively small operation and don’t have a lot of money to spend so we needed to work on ideas that cost very little if anything at all. I worked with them to come up with some simple, inexpensive ways to generate quality leads. These are specific to the landscaping industry but can be tweaked for all sorts of companies. Here’s what we came up with.

6 Cheap ‘n Easy Steps to Grow Your Clientbase

  1. Start weaning themselves of phone book advertising. Phone book ads can cost several thousand dollars every month and aren’t as targeted as they could be. (You’re thinking, “But people the landscaping ad when they look up landscapers so it’s targeted.” But consider that you’re paying for your ad to appear in the books of thousands of people who will never look up “landscaping”.) Instead, they’ll start investing their marketing dollars into online advertising (Google ads, Yahoo ads, etc.). The benefits are twofold.
    1. That their ad will only appear for people who are explicitly looking for their services.
    2. They still only pay when someone actually clicks on their ad, showing real interest in their service.
  2. Add a photo gallery to their website. Now that they’ll be sending people to their website, they want to make sure the site is ready for visitors. Imagine hearing about a huge furniture sale only to arrive at the showroom and find out they don’t have anything for you to see. Who’s going to pay for a handiwork type service before they know if you’re any good?
  3. Publish a periodic communication. This could be in the form of an email, a newsfeed, a (news)letter, it really doesn’t matter what medium it’s in (right now) – just do something to get your name if front of your target audience’s faces.
  4. Post a small, modest sign in the yards of current clients that says something to the effect of, “Another Landscape Masterpiece by (Your Company) – 555.1212.” Ok, some of your customers may not want you to put a sign in their yard, and that’s understandable. Entice them by telling them they’ll get a free month of service for every person they refer who becomes a customer.
  5. Advertise to people who’ve actually seen your work. Instead of trying to convince people that you do quality work, just find the people who have already seen what you do and remind them that it was you. For example: every time you finish a job, leave door-knob hangars on the nearest 40 houses (10 in each direction, both sides of the street). Something like, “You may have noticed how great you’re neighbor’s yard looks these days…” ought to do the trick.
  6. Partner with a similar company. Typically, the kinds of people who buy landscaping services, also buy: satellite tv, security systems, etc. Partner with these kinds of companies for mutual growth. If they don’t want to share customer lists with you, give them a coupon that they can give to their new subscribers. This adds value to their offering, (“We’ll give you free installation AND one free month of landscaping service,”) and gets you in front of just the right kind of customer. Offer to do the same for their company and soon you’ll be raking in the leads.

Try these out. Tell me what you think. What works? Doesn’t work? What other ideas do you have?

The Hundred Dollar Business

For those of you haven’t heard of the Hundred Dollar Business, it’s an experiment by my friend Carolynn to establish a successful business for $100 and grow it using sound, proven business principles. They’ve done some amazing things so far and are gaining momentum daily.

It’s just another example of how implementing good, simple theory, (things like a Mission Statement, Objectives, Tactics, SWOT analysis, etc.,) can yield incredible results time and time again.

Try not to rely too much on trendy new strategies popularized by famous, charismatic CEOs. Focus more on tried and true principles and you’ll get results.

A New Day

Okay, so I’m going to try something new. It’s called “blogging”. I’ve been running this blog for quite a while now but haven’t posted to it as diligently as I should. I think its because I’ve tried to hard to carefully sculpt each posting and make it perfect.

Forget that.

From now on, I’m going to add smaller gems of marketing wisdom more often. In fact, here’s one for you now…

I can’t lie, I didn’t come up with this on my own but JibberJobber posted some great ideas yesterday about Blogging Without Blogging. Basically what it comes down to is this:

The Problem
- Everyone knows that blogging can really improve your site’s traffic, your image, etc.
- But many people (business owners) still don’t blog. They just don’t have the time to put into another big, long-term project. (Committment issues?)
- Therefore, they don’t reap any of the benefits.

The Solution?
Read other relevant blogs and add comments to them. Make sure to include a link to your own domain name in them. Make sure your comments add value and are not just “comment spam”. This way, you reap some of the benefits of blogging without the committment issues.

Give it a try and tell me what you think.