We had a great conversation on the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum that I wanted to share with you. Feel free to jump on it and offer your views as well.
Luna joined up on the forum and wrote “Hello! Just joined here and was looking to get opinions on a couple of truck magnets I designed for my significant other’s lawn care business. I pretty much handle his marketing/advertising and recently noticed some local business putting out specials/adverts using the down economy angle. My boyfriend is currently/interchangeably displaying one on the back of his tailgate above his website address and opposite his regular business magnet.
The concern is that he’s a little worried the magnets may seem a little political/controversial. Personally, I think they will draw attention to the business/website because everyone can relate in this current economic climate and the text doesn’t force an opinion per se (but I could be wrong). We didn’t vote for Obama (but didn’t promote our vote/politics on his truck with a McCain/Palin sticker).
I am aiming for potential conservative, liberal and indifferent customers appreciating the magnets in a (hopefully) neutral and humorous way. I want to increase the website traffic while being more noticed and seen as distinctly different amongst the current competition around town. He just started the business in May 2008 after a layoff and is 30 accounts strong right now just by himself. We’ve babystepped everything, pretty much in a methodical/grassroots/DIY level from the beginning.
I have attached the magnet layouts. Both can also be seen on the website’s Main and Promo/Specials page. I’d love to hear what you think.”
Steve: “I can totally understand his point but you know, to me that’s what marketing is all about. It’s all about being different. If it can be controversial, even better. You want people to be talking about your marketing and if it isn’t different, if it doesn’t stand out, then you aren’t going to get attention.
One of the things that I have been amazed with is that it takes soooo much energy to get a business started and running and you have to really be different from the average person to even attempt it. But why do the same people who are the adventurers, the crazy ones, those with enough energy to start a business then decide they have to keep things tame in their marketing? Why do they not want to stand out? What makes people so afraid to stand out? To be different? To gain attention? Especially when that attention can get you more work?
Take for instance, Richard Branson, owner of the Virgin empire, such as Virgin airways. Here he is promoting his airline dressed in drag. Guess what. He got media attention and here we are talking about it.
If you don’t do something different, you can only at best expect the same results everyone else gets.
So for all this, I applaud you for being creative!”
Luna: “Thanks for your comments! Regarding the Obama marketing magnet angle, my boyfriend was uncomfortable with it on his truck and removed it about a week ago. I kept the picture of it on the website, however, but with the lead-in tag line above it that says:
DON’T COUNT ON BIG GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE YOU WITH ECONOMIC STIMULUS,
SAVE MORE GREEN SO YOU CAN SPEND MORE GREEN WITH BLADEMASTER MOWING!
I think I will create a new magnet along those lines, but without the Obama pic. Next time around, perhaps with dollars signs swirling about and/or superimposed in the background.
As far as the Bail-Out special and 10% off on prepays 3 or more months, more people have utilized the 10% off prepay promotion so far. Although we just recently created the Bail-Out special. I think by next month’s billing cycle we will know if our monthly customers will be taking advantage of the 5% discount. We don’t advertise/push promotions yet to existing customers by emailing or snail-mailing them notifications. Although they are always encouraged to check the website for updated promotions and specials when they sign up and we note the Refer-A-Friend savings prominently on their invoices. Right now it a customer’s responsibility to check our website on their own. Our plan, sometime this year, is to send periodic postcards/emails to existing customers (quarterly or so) to remind them of updated/new specials and offer them (suggestive upsell) tips. We could do monthly tip, etc. emailing, but it would be annoying and spam-like in my opinion.
We currently have about 6-7 solid prepaid accounts. It was a bit hard to do prepays in the beginning due to it not generating regular cash flow. However, the couple of ones that we had in the beginning did help to fund some start-up equipment purchases. Once we established over 20 accounts (and we hit 35 officially this week!), prepays have been a nice chunk of change when the payments comes due. A prepayment on a new account today just helped us purchase a new Echo backpack blower!
I am definitely all about interrupting the mind with different types of marketing a la Mr. Branson. I am actually thinking about investing in a flourescent green bear mascot suit in time and holding a very prominent/succint advertising sign for the business (with the website, of course) and dancing a VERY animated jig on the side of major roads just to see what kind of response it gets. It’s also a bit of a sideline experiment to see if I can make it work for the lawn business and launch my own side gig for other businesses. No kidding here.
Anyhow, when my boyfriend goes out on an estimate call and meets with customers he often tells me about the positive feedback he gets regarding our doorhangers and website, most especially. We offer a lot on our promotions and specials page, all things we will honor in a heartbeat, but not as many people take advantage as you’d think (so we’re not losing our butts per se). The general consensus seems to be people do NOTICE our marketing attempts/specials and do respond positively without being prompted. My speculation is that they feel that they seem to be getting ‘more’ with BladeMaster Mowing versus with the general competition and consider us a more value-added option, if only ‘psychologically’.
Again, thank you so much for your comments! I love this website! I’ll keep posting on successes and misses.”
Steve: “Why not prompt them though?
For instance, why not come up with a special say spring flowers planted in your yard for $X9.95, but hurry and contact us by XX/XX/XX date. We need to get your order into our supplier to be able to offer you that discounted price.
Then a week before the date, send one last reminder email maybe upping the ante. Offer some additional option if they call you by that date.
The world goes by pretty fast and I like getting updates on sales when it’s something I am interested in. I think others do as well. Do you?”
Luna: “I like, and can see, your point about using more direct and active ‘prompting’ with the way you presented that Spring flower special example. I just may try something like that and perhaps show a sample before and after picture pre/post-flowers, tree trimming or mulching via email or postcard to add a nice visual. Thanks for opening me up to the possibilities!
Delivering more than a customer will normally expect and providing a great first impression is more the guide for my ’speculation’. Be it onsite, online, in advertising or on the phone, etc. it translates to more bang and service for the buck, which they definitely get in reality.”
So keep all this in mind when you are experimenting with your lawn care business marketing and join in on the discussions at the Gopher Lawn Care Business Forum.
Watch this on the GopherHaul Lawn Care Business Show.