One of the things I want this blog to do is to provide practical and actionable advice for micro businesses. Therefore, I will run through several specific marketing plans for specific trades and companies.
So, this weekend I had my gardener over to do the spring tidy up, so I saw that as an opportunity to have a look at what I would do if I was a gardener and looking to grow a business.
For any business there are 2 ways you market. Firstly, there is marketing to attract new business and secondly there is remarketing to your current client base. It is much easier to get people to use you again if they were happy with what you have provided before. Getting further revenue from your client bank is actually imperative to growing your business.
We will look at both of these in turn; starting with gaining new clients.
A gardening company or a sole trader gardener provides a service which is actually really screams out comparison photos. Every gardener should be taking before and after photos of every job they can gain client permission from and posting these on to their facebook and Instagram accounts. Gardeners should be show casing their work as often and regularly as possible.
Gardeners should also be requesting feedback from their clients. Again, having a facebook business page is a cheap way to promote your business, and is actually the ‘cost of entry’ to marketing a business in 2018. Once the page is up and running you can request feedback from your clients, and reviews. These will not only appear on your page for future visitors to see but will appear on the feed of the clients who have reviewed your service and company. The real power of this is people like to take recommendations. They will see their friends and family have endorsed you, and if they are in need of your service are much more likely to contact you.
Running a facebook page is easy, free, and imperative.
A gardening service is typically something which is local. I know of very few national gardeners who would come around and cut the lawn and do domestic work. The national companies typically take national level maintenance contracts for large open spaces. Therefore, making sure you are listed on google maps as a business. If I was searching for a gardener I would search google for “Gardener X Town”. Getting google reviews will also help you to appear better in the map listings and closer to the top as google sees you as more relevant to the search.
A really good way of getting new clients as a gardener is to ask your existing clients for recommendations. Setting up a referral scheme of sorts would work well. Introduce 3 friends who need their lawns cut 2 times a month, and get your lawn cut for a month for free. Something along those lines would work very well. Typically, people who have gardeners do so for a couple of reasons. Physical inability to conduct the work themselves, or lack of time. These people, especially in the latter category will no doubt have a social circle who are of the same standing that they can introduce you to.
Referrals can work exceptionally well. Organisations such as BNI work very well for gardeners for the above reasons. You can put yourself within a chapter of approx. 20-40 other business owners who will actively look for work for you- whilst of course you need to reciprocate and do the same for them.
Once we have these clients we need to maximise the work we get from them. We need to be able to reactivate clients who maybe do sporadic, or one off jobs, and turn them in to regularly billed clients. To do this you will need to run a database of clients. Depending on your geography when reading this you will need to check regulations regarding holding client’s data, and how you process this.
As a gardener I feel you need to know the following basic info- plus some very specific details to remarket to.
More specifically you would want to gather the following:
Size of garden – you can categorise these specific to your own assessment but Small, medium, large
Types of trees, and flowers present in customers garden
By holding the specific data it allows you to remarket to your client bank specific to themselves. Stick with me here I will explain.
So, I would set up an email list, manually created with someone like Getresponse. I would then create marketing lists based on the types of flowers, plants, trees the client’s have. You can categorise the lists in to seasons, or flowers types [although there are many variants], or months. You can then add the clients to as many or few of these lists as needed.
Whilst of course you would send out very generic information to your clients about the garden, and your subject matter, you would then directly market to them based on what they actually have in their garden.
Now some may say email has had its day somewhat. We scroll through our phone, and delete a lot of emails without opening them. However, if there has been a relationship built up I feel you are much more likely to open an email from someone- especially if you have met that person in person and had them at your home. This is why the emails you send must be personable, and in your own voice.
If you’re a gardener reading this please excuse my ignorance of horticulture and gardening in this explanation. How this might work. Let’s say roses need cutting back for winter in October. You have your list for people who have roses in their garden. In early September you will construct an email to those people on the list explaining a bit about the season, and why they need to be planning to cut their roses. What benefits this has, and how it should be done. Explain the possible pitfalls of doing it wrong.
Now here’s the thing. Some people are going to take your advice and do it themselves. The great news with this is if it is good advice then you have just gone up in their estimations, and when they do need hep they are much more likely to contact you. Other people are going to think – We definitely need to get that done, we will call out your company. Now if you are sending a monthly email specific to that person’s garden, they are likely to be much more engaged with opening that email. Over time your relationship with these clients will grow, and they will start to use your more. Or they might not. But if anyone ever asks them for a gardener to use, they might refer them to you.
The reason I mentioned get response above is for the tech savvy gardener there is also the possibility of running webinars with the subscription. Basically, these would allow you to invite clients from specific lists to join you for a live or pre-recorded webinar about a specific aspect of gardening which would be relevant to them. This is again a great way to educate and engage with clients, and potential clients. An alternative to a webinar is using the facebook or youtube live functions, and then sharing the video created with your client bank.
The internet and technology today make it possible for us to engage with clients much easier, and maintain relevant channels of communication specific to an individual. A gardener who embraces the above plan over time I believe will stand out in a market with a relatively low point of entry. The gardener who invests heavily in their education around plants, and horticulture will actually be much better placed to utilise the marketing plan above.
If you know someone who would benefit from reading this, please pass it on!