Maximizing Your Marketing Budget: Effective Lead Generation Strategies for Smaller Lawn and Landscape Businesses - The Edge from the National Association of Landscape Professionals

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Maximizing Your Marketing Budget: Effective Lead Generation Strategies for Smaller Lawn and Landscape Businesses

Generating leads is a critical aspect for any lawn and landscape company. As you progress through different phases of the business life cycle, the best method for generating these leads will evolve as well.

In your startup phase, typically the first two years of the business, you are best served by networking and establishing your social media presence.

“Once you have enough work where you feel like you can’t invest in sales, like trying to go out and find new leads, or it’s getting to the point where you’re hiring people and you need to be consistent, as long as you can afford around $2,000 a month, then that’s the perfect time to start investing in paid advertising,” says George Copeland, co-founder and chief innovation officer for Gozango, a lead-generating marketing platform.

John Marin, co-founder and CMO of Gozango, notes that that if you’re one person in a truck, it doesn’t make sense to be running paid ads and have a constant flow of new leads if you don’t have the staff to execute the work.

“If you don’t have your infrastructure set up, if you don’t have someone to answer the phone to take the sales calls, there are some prerequisites to having paid ads to be worth it to you,” Copeland says.

If you’re still on the smaller side, Marin suggests doing some low cost or complimentary work in exchange for a review on your Google Business Profile.

“There’s a few of those key free listing profiles that absolutely you should have,” Marin says. “There’s no reason not to. That’s your Google Business Profile, your Bing Places profile, your free Yelp profile, and your Facebook business profile.”

Types of Paid Ads

Copeland says the biggest difference between some of the paid ad options is intent versus interest. Paid search ads focus on intent, while paid social ads deal with leads’ interests.

“Interest is more about the signals that all the platforms are collecting on us all to determine what we’re actually liking and we’re actively interested in, and then we’re going have to disrupt them with ads,” Copeland says. “Intent is they’ve already got that intent or at least we can identify their intent is to research something.”

Marin says that interest-based paid ads are worth the effort if you have enough funds and have built up your company’s branding. He explains that paid social media ads are higher in the sales funnel. Paid search ads are farther along in the sales funnel, but there is more competition for these leads.

“When it comes to social, it’s a different market,” Copeland says. “You’re going to get a different type of conversion. You have to use irresistible offers to convince people. The irresistible offer is going to be a high percentage off or something so good that they just can’t say no to, because if they’re not actively searching, then they’re most likely not interested in that moment in buying, so you have to give them a reason.”

Avoiding Paid Ad Pitfalls

The first mistake when it comes to using paid ads is not budgeting for it properly. Depending on the services the homeowner is seeking, the cost of those leads will vary. Marin explains that hardscaping leads will cost more than general landscaping leads as there is more competition for these customers.

Copeland says with paid ads, it’s all about conserving your dollars for only the valuable opportunities. You want to be hyper-specific, so the leads you’re receiving are more likely to be ones that convert. He says location is one of the keys to ensuring the paid leads are relevant to your business.

“You can say Google just show anything relative to this keyword and it’s up to Google to decide,” Copeland says. “Typically, you’re going to get a lot of bad stuff back and every one of those pieces of junk seems to be super expensive these days.”

Sometimes one click could spend your entire daily budget on a bad lead.

Another misstep is going the DIY route with your paid ads.

“If you don’t know what you’re doing, none of them are going to probably be worth it,” Marin says. “Sometimes people just trust Google or trust Facebook and they automate whatever. You’re just turning your account on autopilot to blow money.”

It’s not impossible to create your own paid ads. However, it does call for significant work. Marin says Google Local Service ads can be worth trying if you don’t have a third party to help manage your paid ad campaigns. He cautions even this option can have pre-selected settings, like paying for your own branding searches, that result in wasted ad dollars.

Marin says it’s similar to when a homeowner assumes they can build a patio based on one YouTube video. Three months later, they have to call a professional because the patio is sinking in areas and not up to code.

“It might seem attractive and easy on the surface, but it’s actually unbelievably complicated to do it where you’re not just blowing money and don’t even understand why you’re getting nothing or a bunch of junk,” Marin says.

Even if you hire a marketing firm or work with certain platforms, make sure you are aware of the agency fee versus the actual lead budget. Marin says you should clarify whether the leads provided are shared.

“You’re going, ‘Oh, that looks like a really good cost per lead compared to some of the things I’m looking at out there,’ and then you find out the same homeowner gets sent to me plus five of my competitors at the same time,” Marin says.

Marin encourages landscape company owners to find out what sort of payment model the firm is offering, such as cost per lead or pay per impression.

“There’s stuff like that where it seems too good to be true,” Marin says. “Ask some questions to clarify some things because you want to make sure your leads are exclusive. Get an understanding of what that cost per lead is supposed to look like, not cost per click or cost per impression, but cost per lead. Is there a contract? Is there a term length there? Those things you can get really hung up on really easily.”

Jill Odom

Jill Odom is the senior content manager for NALP.