My Number One Lawn Care Marketing Tip

Watch this video to learn Jonathan’s number one lawn care marketing tip.

When I’m asked to critique a door hanger, postcard, website, some type of marketing piece, the most common thing that I see is that piece is trying to do too much. It’s trying to say too much. It’s trying to be too much. When I say it’s trying to say too much, I don’t mean that it’s too wordy because I often find that a lot of copy and text works well when combined with the right imagery.

What I mean by trying to say too much is, it’s possibly trying to give so much information that it’s trying to go straight for the sell. It’s trying to give price, all the benefits, five different ways to get a hold of you, and what’s being imagined when that piece was created is how can I get them to sign up for my service?

Really, the way you want to think about it, and so this is a really important tip in whatever marketing piece you create, what is the next action that you want them to take? The final outcome, the goal is to sell. You want them to sign up but you have to move them, this prospect, forward in baby steps. You’ve got to make it effortless, so the reality is that when they receive your door hanger on their door or a postcard in their mailbox, all you really want them to do is to pick up the phone and call you, visit your website and fill out an estimate form or, send you an email. It’s probably one of those three things.

The real purpose of your marketing piece is to get them to do that. It’s not to go for the sale. That’s why it’s not always necessary to put pricing material onto your marketing piece. You don’t need them to know the pricing yet because you’re not going to make the sale yet. All I need them to do, all you need them to do is contact you. When they contact you, you can give them the next set of selling points that they need to hear. You can tell them about the benefits. You can answer their objections.

Then you can give them price because yes, they do need price eventually to make that buying decision, but they may not need it initially. That’s why in most of my marketing pieces I never run the price. It’s not necessary. The only thing I need them to do is contact me. Then the sales team will take the next step, or if they’re sending in a request for an estimate, then our sales team and our estimators or whomever will take that next step. But, all that marketing piece is supposed to do is get them to contact you.

When you think about it that way, that can allow you to mentally focus on that one task, and you can get all the unnecessary language and copy and text off of that marketing piece and focus just on that one mission. If you think about it that way, it will simplify the process that you have to go through to create a marketing piece. It’ll tell you mentally exactly what you’re trying to accomplish and how to go about that, and then you’ll find that your marketing is more successful.

How can I create immediate income in my lawn care business?

Question: “I’m just getting started. How can I create immediate income in my lawn care business?

One of the great things about the landscape industry is that you really can create immediate income.

You can go out and get work versus waiting for it to come to you.  As a result it is possible to find work quickly.

All you have to do is walk down the street, knock on doors, introduce yourself and tell the story of your company.  It takes a small bit of courage, but it works!

If you are selling commercial, you walk in the door and ask for the business.  You ask to bid the property.

If they don’t need you now (most won’t), find out when their existing agreement expires or when the contract will go out for bid.  Put that date on your calendar and follow up months in advance to ensure you have an opportunity to participate in the bidding process.

Don’t forget to ask for the name of the person who will make the decision.

These are the three fastest ways to get immediate income:

1) Knock on doors.

2) Put out door hangers. If you don’t have money, pass them out yourself.

3) Build a high quality website and run PPC ads. Google the term Adwords to learn more.

Let’s assume during the start up phase you are in the field 40% of the week. You don’t have enough work to fill up an entire week.  So, the other 60% of the week you need to spend your time prospecting for new business.

Regarding price…

I’ve heard many say when you are starting out, price low. Then, once you earn some business and your customers trust you, raise your prices.

I disagree.

Start out pricing yourself near the middle of the market or higher.

If you price too low, as you start growing, you will not have any money to hire help.  You won’t have money to buy good eqiupment.  You won’t have money to advertise your business.

You will get trapped in the field if you don’t have money.

Long term, the only way to make a lot of money is to get yourself out of the field and pay others to do all of the field work.

As you grow you will have less and less time to focus on sales and marketing.  You MUST constantly replace yourself in the field by hiring help.

Doing so frees up more of your time to seek out new business.

If you stop marketing and selling, your revenue stream will dry up.

Each time you replace yourself in the field, resume exactly what made you successful in the first place…knocking on doors, distributing door hangers, online marketing, asking for referrals, etc.

As you hire ‘guys’ to help, demand hard work and quality. Don’t accept poor or slow work. If you look at an employee and realize that you could do that job in 30% the time it takes them, you’ve hired the wrong person.

There are plenty of great guys. A lot of those guys will surprise you by out-working you.

Don’t settle for mediocre people.  It will kill your business and burn you out.

Once you hire your first foreman and have successfully replaced yourself with a self-operating crew, you have accomplished a major milestone.

Repeat this several times, price correctly, and you will find you have the money to hire an operations person to help you run the business.

Once you reach this point you are well on your way.

You will be ahead of most of your peers in the industry.

Go make your first sell.  Not next month.  Now.



Lawn Care Door Hanger Critique

Listen to this lawn care door hanger critique to optimize your marketing and get more customers.

I am critiquing this door hanger, and giving feedback. Originally there was a phone number at the top left, in the center there was a logo, and at the right there was a web address. Down below it said “call today”. It had a phone number, it said “visit us” and it had a web address. I’ve removed the identifying information, and I’m critiquing this door hanger for an individual. You can listen to my feedback. This is in no specific order and I’m not going from notes. I’m just going to go down through here and give some pointers.

On this door hanger there’s no door hanger hole and I personally think that is ideal. I don’t believe you want a door hanger hole, so I think that’s good. In certain markets you may feel that you need one, but generally I don’t see most door hanger companies using the hole to hang the door hanger on the doorknob. That’s good that gives you more space. In your email you mentioned that on the other side of this door hanger you were going to use some pretty pictures and some imagery. My suggestion would be that you use some imagery on both sides, and also that both sides have some compelling information.

Whether the door hanger has a hole, or you rubber band it to the door, what you don’t know is which direction this will hang on the door or which side will face out. You can imagine that the individual grabs the mail off their door and they walk it to their trashcan in the kitchen. You don’t know which direction your door hanger will be facing as they’re holding that and walking your door hanger to the trash. For that reason I recommend that your door hanger has a headline and something compelling at the top on both sides.

My first thought on this is at the top you have a phone number, your logo, your web address, and so it could be that that’s the first thing I see. But, nothing about that communicates to me what’s in it for me. So, you have just a couple minutes to catch my attention. Your main hope with this piece is that I am in need of lawn care, and when I see this I think to myself, “Well, lawn care’s exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’ll call these guys.” You’re banking on lawn care, and the words “landscape” and “lawn care” to resonate with me because I have immediate need. But, that’s the only way you’d grab me at this moment with this piece.

My suggestion would be that at the top, you have some type of a headline that grabs my attention, and states a benefit to me. That headline could be what you’re going to do for me, what problem you’re going to solve, or some type of promotional benefit of what I’m going to get. Such as, if I sign up for lawn service, I’m going to get a free iPod shuffle or something along those lines to catch my attention. But, you’ve only got a couple seconds to do it, and it needs to be at the top. I’d recommend that same statement to be on both sides because you don’t know which side I’ll be looking at as I walk your door hanger into the house to the trashcan. That’s point number one.

You need to think about what your client’s number one, two, and three wants are, what their top one, two or three fears are, and you need to answer those in the headline. Give them some reason that they should contact you versus anyone else. If I’m your competitor and my door hanger’s on the door with yours, why is yours going to get their attention over mine? You need to have some type of headline that pulls them in, gets them to read, and continue reading this door hanger.

If for your services you have lawn maintenance, landscapes, snow removal, and then you have some additional services down here. I think that is important to call out the specific services that you offer. You don’t have a price on here, anything like that and I think that’s perfectly okay. What you’re doing here is you’re calling out the key services so that if I have a need, I see these and I think, “Oh this might be for me”, and I continue reading. Good job with that. I would continue that. You might try a slightly different design. Let me come back to that, let me mention design.

If you’re going to print ten thousand of these and you’re going to distribute them, you’re going to have some cost. I would recommend spending one or two hundred dollars, or some amount of money, and get somebody to quickly put together the design for you. I know you’re running out of time here, but it could make all the difference in your results. By spending a couple hundred dollars you could potentially double your response rate. I would absolutely have somebody help you with the design of this. The cost could be all over the board. They could lay it out in Photoshop or Illustrator or professional software and they could get it laid out in font. They could use all the same font types and they could make it look really nice for you and bring in some imagery and your logo and make it look like you’re a large operation.
This is not doing justice in appearance to your business. In terms of what you actually are as a business, this doesn’t look nearly as professional as you are or nearly as professional as your website. Your website looks really professional, but this doesn’t communicate that same message. I would recommend having a designer try to bring that same level of look and feel and professionalism to this, so that when I see this I get immediate confidence that this is a professional company. I would spend the money on that. I’ll just focus on copy from here on out.

The reason I said all that is, within that design I would probably somehow bullet point or call out the services here. It’s maybe not the first focus point. The first focus point, the biggest copy, the thing that my eye falls on, should be the headline. Then this would be another focus point, but not the primary one, somewhere on here where all the services that you offer are grouped together. That would be one thing I’d do.

The direction you’re going with an interesting fact, that’s a good one. Your thought process, in my opinion, is good. I hope you don’t take offense to anything I say here in terms of critiquing this. I would go a different direction based on what I’ve learned. I don’t know your market, so it may be different. My hunch is that you’re not trying to convince the guy that doesn’t have his lawn mowed to suddenly start hiring a company to mow his law, or provide whatever service you’re trying to sell. Rather, your buyer is most likely someone that already has lawn care company, has already decide that it’s worth spending the money, and doesn’t need to be convinced; they’re your easiest sell. I would market to them.

For example, if I was competing against you in your market and you gave me 20 home owners that don’t buy lawn care and haven’t in the last three years, or you gave me a list of 20 home owners that buy lawn care and have been buying lawn care for the last 5 years, I would only market to those people and I’d ignore the 20 that don’t buy lawn care. There are a small number of them that will convert and most that do convert may not stay with it long term. I don’t even want to focus my energy on them. You don’t know who those individuals are when you’re putting out your door hangers, so you need to at least craft your message to your most likely buyer and your most likely buyer already has a lawn service.

The direction here is good. An alternative would be to speak directly to that individual that has lawn service now. What is their concern going to be? Their concern is going to be that my gates are not being closed, that the last lawn care company that I had, the one that I’m looking to replace, doesn’t show up consistently, that the company I have now when there are weather delays or problems they don’t tell me what they’re doing or when I can expect them. They just show up, they don’t answer their phone when I call, I never get my invoicing on time, it’s always a different individual at my home and the work is never consistent. You could go down the list of the complaints you’ve heard from your potential clients about the companies they’ve been working with and that’s why they’re calling you. Answer those objections here.
What you’re doing with the interesting fact, great idea, but how could you tell me some of the benefits that I’m going to get. Bullet pointed lists work well on this stuff; it’s easy to read. It’s easier to read a bullet point list and it’s easier for the mind to quickly sort it out then it is to have to read several paragraphs. It might be that you bullet point out some differences and why we’re your best solution.

That’s another point. I would use more of “you” in this. This is about “you” as in the client. When you’re talking, make sure you’re using a lot of words like “you” instead of words like, “we”, “our”, “us”. Try to shift the writing just a little bit so you’re focused on the person that’s reading it, because it’s about them. You might make your headline something like, “You will receive this”, “you will get this”. Something, again, about them, that’ll be part of the headline. Then, make your bullet points, again, something about them. “You will experience this.” “You will get this if you use our company.” List out the ways you’re different than everyone they’ve used in the past. Tell them what the services are that you offer, and then give them a reason to take action with you.

“Spring is right around the corner. We are now booking our lawn mowing accounts for the year. So call today.” My critique here would be yes, you’re reminding them that spring is right around the corner. Again, I hope you don’t think I’m being too harsh. Where I’m going with this is I don’t know if “Spring is right around the corner” is necessary to say. They know it. The reason I say that is, one thing I’ve learned, and I don’t necessarily do a good job at this, is I’ve heard that great writing is about editing out every unnecessary word. I tend to be a wordy person and so I don’t think I’m necessarily good at that. I’m thinking that maybe this doesn’t help sell anything. I would probably edit those words out and focus on just power words and bigger things that you need to communicate because you have limited space.

Where I felt like you were going, “We are now booking our lawn mowing accounts for the year.” You could go a couple directions with this. One, maybe you are trying to say that “We serve your neighborhood and I’ve got one crew available. We can accept 14 more accounts in your market, in your area, in your zip code, in your city, and then we’re filled up for the year.” Maybe there is some angle like that where you can tell me, “You need to respond right away if you want to do business with our company.” At the top you lay out in the headline the benefits of why I should use you. In the middle, you tell me what you can do for me and why my experience with you is going to be different. Why are you better than all your competitors? Then, at the bottom give me a reason to take action immediately. One could be that it’s limited, in some way there’s a limitation. If I don’t take immediate action I’ll miss out, there’s scarcity. That could be that we only have one crew in your market and there are only this many slots left on that crew and we won’t have availability until next year.

Then can you give me something? If I sign up and I become your client, could I get something from you? You have to imagine what those things might be that you could give away, that you’re comfortable giving away. I don’t tend to like things like $5 off, or the second mowing free. People do that and I think it works, but I think you can come up with something little bit more powerful. What is an account worth to you? What could you potentially give them that would be of value to them? You want to work maybe those two things in. Can you create some scarcity? They need to call you right now or they’re going to miss out. Then, what do they get if they call you over the other door hanger?

If I’m looking at these two door hangers and they both look about the same, the companies feel about the same and appear to be pretty good, then why is it that you’re going to get the call over the other one? What can you give them to get them to call you? Maybe it’s as simple as promising you answer the phone and you’ll get them an estimate the day of. That’s pretty difficult to do in spring. Think about that and those points.

I would put your headline and such at the top. At the bottom, that’s where I think our logo, your name, phone number and email address or web address is most important. I would make the top a headline versus your logo and your name. Again, it’s all about them. They don’t really care who you are until after they start working with you and like you. Right now your logo means nothing to them. My logo at CitiTurf means nothing to anybody, nobody cares. What they care about is what they’re going to get and how they’re going to benefit. I make it all about them at the top and then have your stuff more towards the bottom.

Continuing on with your second piece, just a different version. I again, would say that make sure you use both sides. You have room to put copy on both sides of this piece. On both sides you want to have your headline, and on both sides you want to have your web address, your phone number, potentially your logo. Then you could vary the copy in the middle. I’m picturing a headline at the top, phone number, web address, things of that sort at the bottom on both sides, and then the middle could change.

I would like to see, in my opinion, some imagery on both sides. It doesn’t have to be a lot, maybe a nice use of color, things of that sort. I’ve violated what I’m about to say with success, but I tend to prefer black copy not white reverse copy. Not a black door hanger with white copy. It tends to be a little more difficult to read.

Continuing on here. The nice thing about this is that lawn maintenance, landscapes, snow removal, are right at the top. I immediately know what you do. That’s important. Your headline should probably include lawn care or something like that in it, that way I immediately know what you do as I’m walking your piece to the trash. It might make me pause and think, “Actually, I’m looking for a lawn care company. Maybe I should read this.”

A couple things I’d like to see you do on this…105% lawn mowing guarantee, what does that mean to me? What does it mean exactly? It would be nice if you made that guarantee a bit more powerful and said, “It’s 105% money back guarantee!” meaning that if you are dissatisfied with our service and for any reason we can’t make it right, then we will pay you back the full amount of that service that you paid us for, plus 5%. Maybe even with your picture next to it to make it a bit more of a powerful guarantee.

GT Lawns loves cutting grass and it shows. I would say on this one, this is more about you then it is about me. How could you re-position this line to make this to my benefit? Right there you’re talking about yourself, 33 years, that’s okay in my mind because you’re building credibility. Again, this “still having fun” is a little bit about you. Not that it’s bad, it’s just how could you maybe reword this to make it about me and what I get out of this? I get to work with a company that has 33 years of experience, I get to work with a company that has a strong reputation taking care of high profile properties in my local market. What are those big benefits that you can communicate to me and word in such a way that it’s about me and not so much about you? That’s definitely something I’ve learned over time, is make it about them.

I think that talking about your people, your training is valuable. I think that it’s worth mentioning that. I think sometimes we have to be a little more clear on what that means to them. For example, why do I care that you train your people? That’s definitely something I’ve learned. We spend all our time in this business so a lot of times when we picture what we’re saying … for example, we have a visual picture that goes with the words we’re saying such as, where was it, “detail is in the people”. You have a mental picture in your mind of what that means because you’ve been doing this business for so long. But, Mrs. Smith hasn’t the faintest idea what you’re doing and actually thinks what you’re doing is very easy and doesn’t put value into how hard what you do is. The “detail is in the people” might mean nothing to her. Who knows what that picture in her head will be.

Sometimes when you say something like “we train our people”, it’s not so much “we train”, it needs to be repositioned as a statement of benefit, such as “we background check our people” . I would not say it this way but, “We background check our people to protect your family” or something along that line. Background check is the word you want to use but what does that mean to me? What that means to me is that you’re not going to put anybody on my property that you haven’t checked out and you’re not 100% certain that I do not have any concerns about them being around my home, my belongings, or my family.

When it comes to training, what does that mean to me? That means that you’re going to actually close my gates, that I’m going to get a consistently well mowed lawn every single week, there’s not going to be route marks, there’s not going to be debris left in the yard, that the edging is going to be good. What does that training mean to me? You’ve got to almost paint the picture of what that means. State that as a benefit.

When it comes to services, I even like to state the service as a benefit. You can say lawn care, but maybe you want to say something along the line of “beautiful weed free healthy lawn” or “we make your flowers brilliant”, I don’t know, that’s not a good word. How could you state even flower installation in a different way? How could you state flower installation in a different way? Let me add this…you do lawn care, what’s the result of lawn care? You’ll end up with a well manicured, healthy lawn. What’s the benefit of snow removal? It will ensure you can get out of your driveway and eliminate the risk that you slip and fall. Or, however you want to say that. Tell me what the benefit is. You can work the benefit and the word snow removal into one sentence and outline what you can do for me.

I would go back through this, work on some headlines, work on maybe restating some of these services into bullet points. Then I would also think about why you are better than all of your competitors and tell me what those reasons are. Why should I do business with you? Just lay it out for me and then give me a reason. Here you’re making an attempt, our schedule fills up in April, you’re making an attempt to tell me that I better hurry up or you’re going to be full in April. You’re creating some scarcity and reasons for me to take action. Maybe you could define that just a little bit better and make it a little bit more clear to me why your schedule filling up in April matters. Such as, my example I used earlier, you have one truck in my neighborhood this year or you’ve got 14 spots available, do I want one? Historically they’re filled by April 17 every year, or something like that. Tell me why I should take action.

I hope that helps. Thanks a lot.

Timing Tips: When To Distribute Door Hangers

 Watch this video to learn the best time to distribute door hangers.

This question comes from David and it has to do with the timing of placing door hangers and marketing on homes. He has been waiting until the “perfect” time to put out his door hangers but has noticed that competitors have already taken over some of the properties in the neighborhoods that he wants to target. He wonders if he should continue to wait and follow his schedule or if he should go ahead and get his marketing out there.

If I’m targeting, and aggressively going after a neighborhood, then I would think in terms of putting out door hangers, and other marketing, more than once.

The ideal time generally, to market lawn mowing, is when the grass is just starting to grow, the weeds are just started to pop up, and the weather is just starting to warm up. It feels like suddenly the birds are chirping and spring is happening and the grass is going to go from dormant to a little bit of green in the next week or two. Right there, at that moment, is the ideal time.

Now, if you’re doing fertilization and weed control, then you back up. There is an earlier time point that makes sense because weeds have already started to pop through the dormant grass and so homeowners and commercial properties are already thinking about this. If it’s pest control, or irrigation it’s different and so on.

Let’s just use a simple example of mowing. There is an opportune time. If you have a budget and all you can do is put out one or two blocks of door hangers or letters, then you wait till the time that will give you the highest probability of selling the most work.

Who cares that you’re going to lose a job here or there? Who cares? You want to go after the most. You will lose the work on the early movers. You’ll lose the late movers as well. So be it. But, you need to put your door hangers out at the time when the greatest number of people are going to be receptive, and so you don’t want to panic. Don’t worry about the early movers.

Now, the ideal scenario is that you have enough door hangers or enough letters to put them out more than once. David mentioned that he was putting out letters.

When I hear letters, I generally think of something you could produce on your own or at very low cost. Also when I hear, it’s a neighborhood across the street, I think, if you’re just starting out, you could put those out yourself and could do it 7 times if you had to. If that’s the scenario, then don’t wait. Get your letters out now, and then get them out again in 2 weeks, and then get them out again in 2 weeks. I mean own it. Pound that neighborhood. If it’s a good one, then it’s one you want to own.

The answer to your question David, comes down to your budget. If you have virtually no money, and for whatever reason you can’t print more of these things, then you wait until the absolute best moment when the greatest number of people are potential buyers and you don’t worry about those that are moving a little more quickly.

If you have a little bit of money and you can afford it, then you go out and you put them out multiple times. That’s going to give you the highest chance of success. You start a little bit early and you put them out several times. That’s the winning formula. Good luck.

#1 Lawn Care Marketing Door Hanger Mistake

Lawn Care Marketing - Door Hangers

Are Your Lawn Care Door Hangers Delivering Big Results? If not, watch this video and learn how to fix your lawn care marketing.

This video is about why most marketing does not work.  I’m giving just one tip, focusing on one thing, in this example.  Before I talk about door hangers, let me tell you a quick story.  This morning my oldest son, he plays select soccer which is higher level soccer, and we were at a big soccer tournament. As we walked out of the tournament there was a business card on my car.  The business card actually turned out to be from his coach.  Apparently he had somebody pass out these business cards and put them all over the cars.  Basically, the business card just said something like, “Soccer Academy,” and had his phone number.  That’s it.  There was an address or something else on there.

I have absolutely no idea what the point of that card was.  I know that we were all there playing in a soccer tournament, and I know that it said “Soccer Academy,” and it has a phone number.  What does that mean?  Does it mean he’s trying to recruit other kids on to my son’s soccer team?  Does it means he holds a soccer academy?  Does it mean there’s a soccer tournament, or academy, or 3-by-3, or some event coming up soon that he wants to get some kids to participate in?  Does it mean he wants to do some one-on-one teaching?  What in the world does it mean?  It didn’t say anything.  It didn’t tell me anything.  It didn’t give me any benefit.  What am I supposed to do with it?  Am I really going to put it in my wallet and someday call this guy and say, “Hey.  I got this card on my car.  It says Soccer Academy.  Tell me about that.”

It was pointless.  Whoever he paid to put those out, and the printing costs, he might as well have just donated the money to charity.  It was a complete and total waste.  That’s what I think most marketing is.  It’s a complete and total waste.  Yeah, you might get a few clients off of it, but for the most part, you blew your money because it didn’t say anything.

Look at the door hanger on my screen.  As best as you can, imagine that you’re a homeowner.  Get out of the mindset of knowing so much about the lawn care business, and knowing what you do, and knowing why your customers need it. Think about how you, living in a house or an apartment or whatever, would receive a door hanger that says, “Painting.  It’s all about pretty walls” and it’s got a picture of a guy with a paint brush.

What would that mean to you?  Let’s say this is the only thing you get on your door.  Would you think, “Oh.  Thank goodness I got this!  I have to go get my house painted today and this is the company.”  What’s it tell you?  Does it tell you they’re good? And, if it did say, “House painting.  We’re good.” What’s that mean?  Who cares?  You said you’re good.  I don’t believe you.  Everybody says they’re good.  What if it says, “House painting.  Satisfaction guaranteed.”?  Are you like, “Oh.  Wow.  Great.  Satisfaction guaranteed.  I need to call these guys.  I mean these guys, they’re something unusual here.”?  It means nothing.  Everybody says it.  Nobody cares.  It’s pointless.

Really, really think about it from the perspective of this painting concept because you’re not in the painting business I’m assuming. What is it that I would have to say if I put a door hanger on your door, house or apartment, that was trying to sell painting.  What is it that I would have to say to get you to buy?  First thing that comes to mind, if you live in an apartment and I put a house painting door hanger on your door, number 1, it doesn’t matter what I say you are not buying house painting.  You don’t care.  Number 2, if you just had your house painted 2 months ago, and I put a house painting door hanger on your door, you’re not a buyer.  You don’t care.  If number 3, you live in a neighborhood where you can tell nobody hires house painters, and if they do paint their house it’s because they got a citation from the city and they’re going to do it themselves, the door hanger is wasted. Do you really think it’s going to work?

Let’s say you are putting your house painting door hanger on a door of somebody who could legitimately buy house painting.  They’re in a really affluent area.  What is it that you’ve got to say to get them to take action.  I am 100% certain it’s not saying, “House painting.  Satisfaction guaranteed.”

Now, put 2 door hangers on the door. One says, “House painting.  Satisfaction guaranteed” and the other one says, “We can paint your house in one day for 65%  of the price of everybody else in the marketplace. And, when we paint your house, it will not smell.  You won’t even know that we were in your house.  All you’ll experience is an incredibly, beautifully painted house.”

Now, if you could make that statement which is impossible, but how different would that be? Who would they call?  It’s all about what’s in it for me.  Nobody cares about you.  Nobody cares about me.  You don’t care about me recording videos and I don’t expect you to.  You don’t really give a flip about what I’m going to do tonight, or what I did 5 years ago.  You don’t really care.  It’s not going to change your life.  You do care about the stuff I’m saying if it resonates with you…if it’s of value to you, if it can make some difference in your business, if it can change your business and therefore allow you to make changes in your life, then you care about that.

If I was selling this information to you and not just giving it to you, I’d probably have to sell it to you under the idea that if you do what I’m saying, then you’ll get to go to Hawaii next year. And, if you don’t do what I’m saying, I’m pretty positive that you’ll rack up another $25,000 on your credit cards and your line of credit. I’d have to give you something that you feel pain to not buy my product.

I’m being overly dramatic and I’m exaggerating my point, but I’d have to sell you on this thing you want.  I need to get in your head and know what means something to you.  For one person, it could be going to Hawaii.  For another person, it might be taking care of their disabled parent who’s in a retirement home.  If I knew that intimate thing that you wanted and needed so badly, and I could put that on a door hanger and guarantee you were going to get that with no risk, I’d have the ultimate chance of selling you something.  You can’t get in my head at that level.  You can’t get in your customers head at that level, but you can do way better then just, “House painting.  Satisfaction guaranteed,” or “Green Lawns.  It’s all about curb appeal.”

That doesn’t say anything to your customer about what they’re going to get and why you’re different.  How is this going to be good for them?  How is this going to help them brag to their friends about this great deal that they got?  That’s the concept.  We’ve got to get inside our clients head.  We’ve got to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?”

If you’re stuff isn’t answering that, you might be getting some results, but it’s for the most part luck.  You happen to show up at the right time and you were probably the only person on their door and they happen to need you at exactly this moment.  If there’s no other options and they’re too lazy to go get on the Internet and do a Google search, this door hanger might work.  Short of that, this is not going to work.

I’ll add one thing to it.  If you answer the question of what’s in it for them, and you put it on their door at the wrong time, how do you get them to keep it?  What do you have to say, what offer do you have to make that would actually get them to hang it on their fridge, or put it on their kitchen counter, or put it somewhere so that when they need you, they remember you?  That is a little bit more challenging, but it’s doable.  Think about that.  What’s in it for me?  Answer that.  You’ll greatly increase your response rate and your close rate, and as a result, you’ll greatly increase your profit.

Why Most Door Hanger Templates Don’t Work


This video is about door hangers, so take a look at my screen and tell me which door hanger jumps out at you.

The point I’m about to make is how I started in the business and why things didn’t work for me.

If you look at this, doesn’t every door hanger on here sort of look the same? I don’t know what jumps out to you, but for me there’s really one exception on this page and that exception is right here on the right. It’s this white one with a lot of text.

Otherwise, for the most part just about every other door hanger on here looks just about the same. They’re very comparable. They’re all basically green with maybe a little bit of yellow. They don’t have many words and they’ve got some picture related to lawn mowing, probably a dog or maybe a baby.

I’m not knocking any of that stuff. I’m not saying a dog or a baby or green and yellow or whatever is bad, because I think I’ve pretty much used all those things. My point is that everybody looks exactly the same. That’s the big problem.

As you create your door hangers, direct mail pieces,  and your marketing pieces, the thing that you need to be really aware of is how do you stand out.

For example, the typical homeowner doesn’t receive all of these door hangers in their mailbox at one time, where flipping through them you just totally blend in. But, if you think about what’s going onto the door if you’re putting out door hangers, or if you think about what’s arriving in the mailbox, how do you stand out? How do you get noticed in a stack of mail? How do you get noticed when there’s four other door hangers on the door?

Then, deeper than that, when there’s a lawn care door hanger or a business card on the door every three days, how is it that your piece happens to grab their attention? That it happens to stand out?

I would encourage you that as you’re designing your door hanger, as you’re thinking about door hangers, go out to Google and do a search on door hangers and look at the images. You might already do this to get ideas. The problem is that with that approach, which does not work, is you’re copying other ideas that don’t work. This is kind of what got me into marketing in a big way back in 2005, 2006.

When I started my business, I looked at all the door hangers I was getting on my door and I looked all over for ideas on putting together door hangers. I then had a designer create me something that looked really nice. Then, I sent out a lot of door hangers and postcards and it didn’t really work that great. I got business, but it wasn’t that great. I didn’t get a great result. It was going to cost a lot of money to build the business that way.

I started researching marketing because I had experience selling and growing the business through sales, but not really through marketing. So I started to study and learn marketing and got really interested in it. The point there is that it’s really key that we don’t just, look at these door hangers and copy what somebody else did because most of this stuff does not work. A lot of this stuff is produced by companies that sell door hangers. More importantly, sell printing.

Have they tested it? Does it really work? Yeah, it might work a little bit, but does it work as good as it can? This stuff can work really, really well if done right. Copying what everybody else is doing won’t work. The take away on this video is, how do you look different? How do you stand out? This is a world that we have to stand out.

I think it’s a combination of words, selling and telling the client exactly what the value is that they’ll get, what the problem is and what their fears and frustrations are that you will solve. Give them a compelling offer, why they need to do business with you right now. Create risk reversal so that they don’t have risk in doing business with you. There’s a bunch of other component parts to that. You have to have all of that wording. You have to have the right message. You have to tell the right story. You have to convey all of that.

Then you also use imagery. If you think about Pinterest and Facebook, that stuff is heavily driven off of imagery. So, there’s an imagery element to this as well. Whatever piece it is that you put together, think strongly about your imagery.

Interestingly here, look, this house right here and that house right there. They’re so close it could be that house right there. They are very similar.

Then, there’s a lawnmower that’s used, it’s like a red push mower that everybody uses. There’s all these images that everybody’s using over and over. Therefore, the results are less effective, less exciting.

I wanted to make the point that if you look around and pay close attention to what everybody else is doing, what is coming in the mailbox, and how to make yourself stand out, that’s the key to making this stuff work.


Mistakes To Avoid: Advice on Buying Equipment & Lawn Care Marketing

02:14 – Lawn Care Equipment Advice
03:05 – Remember: You are In the Business of Selling Time
04:20 – Marketing Campaign / Direct Mail Advice – Tips to consider
08:50 – How To Know when you absolutely should not buy a new piece of lawn care equipment
13:32 – Snow Plowing Business Advice (should I be in the snow business?)

Video Transcript

This question is from Matt.  It’s a long question.  I’m going to read it, it’s about five questions in one and then I’m going to break it down.  The gist of it is, he’s new in business, he’s about to do his very first marketing campaign, marketing mailer, he has small mowers but he’s thinking about buying some bigger equipment so that he can mow some bigger properties and he’s also asking about snow plowing.

Let me read the question and then I’m going to break it down.  I started a lawn care business in July of 2013, by the way, I’m recording this in January of ’14, I have 22 inch Toro self propelled and love it.  I took your advice, I have five or so properties, not very big.  A fellow landscaper friend has a 31 inch mower for $300, he’s going to sell it to me.

However, I got Dan Kennedy’s magnetic marketing and from that I have got a first of three letters written and I have contacted a mailing list agent and they are charging $150 for 3,000 names.  I’m going to mail 100, maybe 200 out on February 12th.

My friend who owns a two acre lot said he would like it if I took care of him. I can’t take care of him with the mowers I have, the guy who has the 31 inch mower said I should stay away from small lawns now.  Excuse me, stay with small lawns now.

If I got a bunch of great properties that would be financially to get the bigger mower, the 48 inch mower, but really not until then.  I have someone that would help me financially, however 7,000 or more for a new mower seems steep.

Jonathon, I’m really excited about the upcoming season, I want to take advantage of the beginning of the season rush, do you know anything about snow plowing with you living in Texas, I would think not.  It’s snowing like crazy here and I wish I had a four wheel drive with a plow, maybe next year.

I would appreciate any information you can send my way.  Matt.

2:00:00  –  All right, so I wanted to read the question so you got gist, this video is going to be just a bit longer but I want to break this down into pieces, moving from the top to the bottom.  Matt says he’s got five properties, he’s using small equipment and he’s got a friend that will sell him a 31 inch mower for $300.  I can’t really comment on that, $300 is not much money so assuming that that piece of equipment isn’t going to constantly breakdown on you then go with it.

I’ll say this to you that with our small equipment, this is something we’ve done as we’ve become a bigger company.  With our small equipment, we sell it off every single year and just buy brand new equipment because the real cost is in the breakdowns and the loss of productivity.

Your biggest expense in your business because keep in mind you’re selling time, is your labor, the people you’re paying or if it’s you by yourself, it’s your time.  You’ve got to value your time, it’s worth a lot.  Because with your time, you’re going to build your business.  If you eat up all your time doing dumb, small little things, you aren’t going to grow your business because you’re not going to have any time.

Think about production, you’re selling time.  Every dollar, every minute, every hour you lose.  Let me say that again, every minute or every hour you lose is money you’re losing.  You can buy a $300 mower, that’s cheap today.

Tomorrow, next week when it breaks down, you’ve got the repair bills, you’ve got the parts.  You’ve got the time that was lost, you have the client that you made unhappy that now might not recommend you to someone else.  There’s all kinds of invisible little things that happen downstream.

The game is we’re selling time.  You want to maximize the amount of time you can sell, so you have minimize downtime.  I’m not saying that a $300 mower for 31 inches is short sighted, I have absolutely no idea.  I’m just saying make sure it’s one that will hold up, it will last.  Otherwise, you’re better saving your money and buying something better or buy it, use it just as long as need while you’re building money.  Sell it and then buy a better piece of equipment.

There’s several strategies here, but just remember the business you’re in.  You’re selling time, production is everything and downtime is a killer.  That’s called unbillable or unproductive time, it will ruin a business, sucks all the profits out of the business.

You bought Dan Kennedy’s magnetic marketing system, that’s great.  That was something that Dan built back years and years ago and it’s all still applicable.  A great little lesson there.  Some of the stuff that’s 20 years old, I’ve gone back and read marketing books from the early 1900’s and I’m amazed that they read very similar to the marketing books that I’ve read that were written two years ago.

Guys are regurgitating information.  People are still people.  All the same selling techniques to some degree work, it’s all still based on psychology so on and so forth.  Don’t ever discount the fact that something’s older, such as Dan Kennedy’s  magnetic marketing, I don’t know how old it is, maybe 20 years but great system.

Also recommend you buy all of his books on Amazon, especially all the ones that say “The Ultimate something” or “No BS”.  When you look on Amazon, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

You’ve built your first three letter campaign, you’ve never done this before so you’re probably not going to do a very good job at it.  No shot against you, you went through Dan’s stuff, you’re writing your first series of letters.  They may or may not work.

A couple of points here on this one.  You’re going to mail 100 to 200 of these on February 12th.  First thing I think of, February 12th so what does your letters say.  All right, so does your letters say, “I’d like to mow your lawn.”  Let’s just assume it does.

On February 12th, is the grass growing?  Are there any weeds popping up?  Is anybody sitting inside their home watching the Super Bowl thinking, “Man, I need to get out there and mow my grass” because if they’re not, don’t send those letters yet.  They will work best when your prospective client has pain.

When he gets up in the morning, goes out, gets in his car, pulls out of the driveway and looks at his yard and says, “I’ve got to do something about this today or my wife’s going to be all over me” or whatever the case might be.  He’s got pain, that’s when you want  your letter or your door hanger or your whatever to show up in his mailbox, on his front door, whatever.

Make sure for maximum results that you get this piece to him when he has pain.  No sooner, no later.  Timing is a challenge in direct mail but that’s the key.

You’re also starting out, doing your very first campaign.  If you mail too early, mail too late, mail to the wrong people, it doesn’t work, you might think, “You know what, this marketing thing doesn’t really work for me.  Jonathon, his company, they’re just getting lucky over there.  They’re Texas market, that’s different.  Not as much competition, plenty of employees”, who knows what you might imagine.  You’ll be wrong.

Everybody makes this mistake or most people do.  They think that because it doesn’t work for them, somebody else is lucky.  It works and I’m not saying that you’re thinking this way at all.  I just want to give you a little encouragement here, especially starting out.  Right now, it is critical, critical that you get some wins and you get some success that will build your confidence and you’ll keep plowing money into it and you’ll keep going.

I want you to be super successful with this.  Mail it when they have pain.  If that means you can’t time these at first then walk to 200 doors and put them on the door.  Get them out at the right time.  Two hundred is a very small number.  Two hundred could potentially yield you zero results.  I know that’s not exciting to hear but when you’re mailing, there’s so many factors in play.

Are the people that you’re sending these to really buyers?  Are you sure that these are people that buy lawn care service?  Of the 200, you’re mailing might 150 not really even be buyers, only 50 really hire out your service.  That’s critical because if you mail 200 and only 50 are really buyers then you only have an opportunity to sell at best case, 50 of these people and of those 50, only so many even need you right now or are even thinking about it or are even unhappy with their current company.

You’ve got to be really careful in this area.  Make sure the timing is right, make sure it’s going to the right people that are potential buyers and make sure that you’re saying the right thing.  You don’t know if you’re saying the right thing and you won’t know that until you try a few things.  I like that you’re doing a small amount, a couple of hundred but then you want to tweak it maybe a bit and do a couple hundred more.

Focus first on your headline, but you’ve learned a lot of that from Dan Kennedy, I’m sure.  Keep that education going, buy the rest of his books.

Then you go on to say that I have a friend who owns a two acre lot, he said that he could take care of me or I could take care of his property.  The problem is you need a 48 inch mower, I know very little about the situation here but my first thought is do not do that.  Bad idea.

Your advice that you got from another landscaper that says focus on the small properties.  I don’t know your market, I think he’s right.  It is by far the best, best, best, best scenario is to focus.  I’ve been incredibly guilty of not focusing in the past and what I’ve learned in every business system, the more you are focused, the more money you make.

The less focused you are, the less money you make.  Happens 100% of the time.  I believe it without question.  I’ve gone down the wrong road to know so focus is everything.  In my market, I’m 5,000 clients and my market, I have everything.  I have acre properties, two acres properties, huge commercial, small commercial, big residential, small residential, you name it, we’ve got it.  We’ve got a lot of it.

We’ve got a million competitors but we have decided to focus on very specific residential properties under a certain size and ignore everybody else and I am a bigger company.  Focus is still absolutely critical to my business.  Imagine how critical it is to your business, you have five clients.  You’re just getting started.

When you have 100 or 200 then think about maybe going to a different market.  I call a different market, bigger properties, different type of clientèle.  It’s not a totally a different business but it’s quite different.

Here’s the dilemma.  You’re going to go out and drop thousands of dollars on a piece of equipment to mow one lawn.  Let’s say that one lawn pays you $150 a week and that’s probably being generous.  How long is it going to take you mowing that one lawn to get back your 7,000.  Hypothetically, 7,000 because you mentioned that in the message.

Now that 7,000 could have been put to all kinds of other use.  It could have bought you a couple more small mowers, it could have when your truck breaks down get you out of a bind so you can keep the truck, the company running.  It could have done a bunch of marketing.

Let’s just focus on marketing.  What if your 200 mailers you sent out work but you went and bought a 48 inch mower to mow the one property you’ve got and now you have no money to send out 200 more mailers.  Now that’s a bad plan.  You just screwed up your whole season.  You really want to focus on optimal use of your money, which is how you’re thinking about this and the recommendation you’ve got from your friend was dead on.

Focus on the small stuff that way you can keep your equipment small, you can keep your costs down.  You can really learn how to do those properties just right.  You can learn how to exactly bid them, you learn all the new onsets, you know what those kind of clients care about, what they worry about, what they want and you can talk their language and you can get in and get out fast on those jobs because you know them.  Instead of being all over the board.

Get a bunch of those and then one day you say, “You know what, I’m so confident in my marketing and I’ve got a base of money that’s coming in that’s financing my business.  Now I’m going to get into the bigger stuff and I’m so confident in my marketing and my ability that I know that I can go get a bunch of big stuff to keep this $7,000 piece of equipment I bought running all the time”.

There’s nothing worse than buying a $7,000 piece of equipment to run it for two hours a week.  That is a horrible use of money.  You want that piece of equipment running eight hours a day, 10 hours a day, every day of the week.  At least five days of the week.  That way you’re totally utilizing your asset, your piece of equipment.

If you’re not utilizing it, you’re burning money, you’ve wasted money.  You might as well go rent that thing once a week somewhere and mow that property and then turn it back in because that would be a better use of $7,000.  Think about it that way.  I’m saying don’t do it, focus on the little stuff, go crazy with that.  Market to those clients, blow that business up then think about diversifying.

Moving on.  I’m looking at your notes here.

I made the point use your money to grow.  I think that’s a big, big point.  Anytime you can avoid spending the money, delaying the spend on the money, putting it off into the future that gives you flexibility, that gives you freedom and that’s what you’re trying to buy because you’ve limited capital.  Keep your money free because you never know what opportunity might show up.

If you put that money into a $7,000 piece of equipment unnecessarily, tomorrow a big opportunity shows up maybe a guy wants out of the business and he’ll sell his accounts for $30 an account, you can’t buy them, you have no money.  You want to always be liquid enough with your money that you can take action on opportunity and so delay expenditures to the last minute.

It’s easy to run down the street and buy a piece of equipment.  You can buy it in an hour so hold that money to the last minute.  That gives you the most opportunity.

Your last question, snow plowing.  You’re totally right.  I know virtually nothing about snow plowing.  However because of service autopilot, we have a lot of clients that plow snow.  I’ve spent a lot of time talking to them, even have been to Chicago and flew … Or brought a bunch of companies in, flew in some clients, put them up in hotels, spent a weekend with them and learned about the snow business so that we can build snow portion of our software.

I’ve learned about snow but I’m in no way a snow expert.  What I’ve learned, it’s a hard business.  Most everybody I talked to hates the business but it makes them money.  Almost everybody I’ve talked to would love to not be in the business but it provides consistency throughout the year.

You have your mowing season then you have your dip, snow provides consistency.  Huge value but a hard business.  I would say to this one, it’s the same answer to everything I said before, focus as long as you can.  When you start building employees, you’re going to have to find something to keep them busy so you can retain them.  Snow might be that thing.

If you’re going to have to go out and buy a bunch of equipment, four wheel drive truck, a plow.  How many accounts can you realistically sell?  If you can’t sell a bunch then don’t do it.  Here’s what else could happen to you.  You could go out and spend all this money on this truck and this equipment, you can only sell a few of your own accounts so then you subcontract to somebody else to keep yourself busy and then you start living on that income that you’re getting as a contractor.

You start depending on it and then the next thing you know, you are practically an employee because they keep you so busy, you don’t have time to build your own business that’s a trap.  Be careful on that one but you should probably put off the snow for a bit, a period of time.  Focus on the lawn side and then diversify into snow when you’ve got some capital and you’re ready.

Hope that helps you out and I will also send you my ebook on how to start a business, a lawn care company.  I think that will give you some more clues here on what you might want to do.

Thanks Matt, good luck.

Lawn Care Door Hanger Advice & Tips


How do I strategically put out my door hangers?


Start distributing them next season right about the first week weeds start to show and the grass is about to start growing / greening up.

There might be some early winter weeds – I’m not so much referring to them.

About the time it feels like the lawns are about to start growing and the weeds are about to take off.

You want to time your marketing to the moment all of the homeowners look out their window and realize “i’ve got to mow my lawn this weekend” or “i’ve got to find a new lawn company” or i’ve got to call my lawn guy”.

To early and results will be mediocre.

A few weeks too late and results will be mediocre.

With door hangers consider only putting them out on sunny days.  If the weather is bad don’t distribute them.  People don’t think about their lawn as much when its cloudy and over cast.  This is not a theory — our numbers prove that cloudy days result in significantly lower close rates.

Also, rather than putting out all of your door hangers at once — put them out 3 times.

All summer if you can afford it.

Response will peak during the spring and dwindle during the summer – but it might still be worth it.  You’ve got to test it in your area to know.

If I had 30,000 door hangers they would not go on 30,000 doors.  They would go on 10,000 doors 3 times.  About 10 to 15 days apart.

Where you distribute your door hangers matters.  I recommend neighborhoods full of homeowners that buy a lot of lawn care services and already have a lot of competitors.

And I don’t recommend neighborhoods with million dollar homes (not that they are bad – just not necessary).  You are looking for neighborhoods made up of families with two incomes and plenty of disposable income.

Where you put your door hangers (and mail your postcards) is your most important consideration.  The next most important consideration is when you distribute them.

After that — it is the message on the marketing piece.

And my favorite massive mistake of all — answer the phone or don’t bother spending a lot of money on marketing.  You can still get results but your results will be a fraction of what they could be if the phone was answered live every time.

This is one of the biggest mistakes I see being made.

Lots of money spent on marketing so that your prospect can get a voice mail message when they call.

That’s not a great first impression.

Comment on this post if you have ideas I didn’t mention.  I will respond.