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View Full Version : Where do your advertising dollars go?


fool32696
01-07-2009, 08:01 PM
I'm trying to put together an advertising budget and marketing campaign for 2009. I've never done Yellow Page advertising and have spent the better part of today researching it. Do you advertise big in the main book in your area or spread money around the different Yellow Pages? I rarely use print advertising myself when looking for a number, but I'm guessing that a lot of older people still rely on it.

Do any of you guys use online directories that show up in Google when your keywords are entered? (dexonline, superpages, etc.)

How about local lifestyle magazines?

For you guys that track it, where does the best Return on Investment come from. I posted this here because I know most of you are installers that are selling jobs in the $1k plus range.

JRSlawn
01-07-2009, 08:29 PM
I have only herd negative things about the Yellow Pages. We have done the home and garden show in the past but this year I don't think we will do it. I am going to advertise in a local leasure mag community paper some direct mail and possibly a tv commercial

Fiano Landscapes
01-07-2009, 09:00 PM
We have tried alot of different things to market our company. One of the forms of advertising was at the local movie theater. We had lots of people that we know tell us that they seen our ad, but I don't think we landed a enough work to make it worth the money that was spent. I had 3 slides that were shown before the movie starts it cost me $4500. For our advertising I like to receive a 10X return on our investment. We also had advertising on the shopping carts at this high end hometown market. Similar situation didn't have much luck. We always do some form of advertising in the yellowbook. Some of the books we're in just a small add so our customers can find us if they need our number. Some of the books in the high end markets we advertise halfpage ad in to be more competitive for the high end client. We typically invest about $5,000-$8,000 with yellowbook. It's definately trial & error most of the time start small. I always look through old books to see what my main competition is doing. If they have run an ad for the past three years it's probably worth a try. If you see that they have high turnover every year probably not working that well. Most of our advertising dollars though go to a local show we're part of. We invest some serious dollars in this show, but our returns are tremendous. We last year we made hundreds of thousands of dollars from this show. Our best form of advertising though is one that pays off the most of all. It's simply doing excellent work for our customers, and them referring us to more people. We try to track this as much as possible, and I tracked this one job we did three years ago. So far the jobs we have received form this one job total up to more than $450K. Hope this helps!

Bru75
01-08-2009, 12:17 AM
It's been my experience that the yellow pages are extremely over rated and over priced. I tracked leads and sales last year and discovered that after quite a few leads from the phone book I ended up with one job. I have drastically cut what I spend on the yellow pages.
The vast majority of my work was from repeat customers and referals.
The biggest return on investment I have recieved has been from my local newspaper, both regular and special editions.
As of now my marketing plan consists of newspaper ads, signage (truck and lawn signs), a small yellow pages ad, and keeping in touch with previous customers.

fool32696
01-08-2009, 12:37 AM
Very good advice. Please keep it coming. I am planning a home show in the spring. I've never done one, any advice and do's/don'ts and the setup/displays that you used.

Fiano Landscapes
01-08-2009, 12:51 PM
Really depends on what you have at you disposal to use. Your a hardscaper right? Is there gas hookup? How much electric do you have access to at the show? How much space do you have?

fool32696
01-08-2009, 02:07 PM
I don't really consider myself a hardscaper, I do decorative concrete. I consider the business to be very similar as far as advertising and target clientele though. I would imagine I'll have access to a few wall outlets. I was thinking about setting up a slide show on my computer to put on a 32" flat screen. Of course I'm planning on bringing a lot of 18"x18" sample boards. I may have a prints shop blow up some project photos. I will have color and texture samples. Also thinking about having a print shop print out some product attributes really large to use in a backdrop. Lastly I want to get my 22 yr old sister and my 23 yr old (cute) girlfriend in company shirts to talk up the pool companies and builders that I'm expecting to be there. I know you experienced guys can come up with some additions to that small list.

Fiano Landscapes
01-08-2009, 11:18 PM
Ther is a smaller show around her that has a similar setup. The show we are in we wil have full blown displays. Pergolas, gas firepits/fireplaces, water features, columns, landscape lighting the whole thing. I have never do just a small outer booth so I don't know the turnaround on it. Always when doing a show remember LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION. If your way in the corner you target audience will have aching feet from walking around before you ever have a chance to reel them in. At our show there is a main isle that runs the length of the building. It is full of huge feature gardens. Try to get as close to the main attractions as possible.

loupiscopolandscaping
01-09-2009, 09:36 AM
supercoups, valpak and some door hangers. i dont really have the time to pass out 10,000 door hangers lol

Bru75
01-09-2009, 06:12 PM
What do you guys think of door hangers? Anybody had good results? I haven't used them because it seems to me to be almost an invasion of privacy.

sgallaher
01-10-2009, 12:08 AM
About 5 years ago we spent about $800 on a Yellow Pages ad. The return result = 0 calls from the ad. We mostly do mailers to target areas. This has yeilded us the best return for our dollar spent. I will never do another phone book ad.

DVS Hardscaper
01-10-2009, 10:27 AM
Those of you that are downing yellow pages are way way off!

I have had EXCELLENT results from yellow page advertising.

First of all, we need to establish there is a difference between what is called a "listing", and what is called an "ad".

A listing will not yield results.

A nice, 4-color, ad WILL yield results. And yes....it WILL cost you a chunk of change. One thing I have never done, and that is let the phone directory people design my ads. I have a friend that is a graphic artists, and I have ALWAYS paid him to do the graphic art work. Also, after 10 years of placing ads in the yellow pages I have found that configuring a display ad a certain way works best. Like I always say, there is a psychology to marketing. Alson, think about it, most scapers are ignorant when it comes to graphic work. A homeowner with money is lookin for the best. Place the best ad in the directory from the start - and you're going to stand out!

Also, you need to place an ad in the most popular phone directory in your area. I probably get 4 different phone directories a year at my home. The only one we keep is Idearc's directory, formerly the Verizon Yellow Pages. All the others go straight intoo the trash without being ever being opened.

Phone directories are becoming a thing of the past. I do all mo shopping and researching online. I seldom open a phone directory. OK.......however, there are still people that are not internet savy, and there are still people that DO utilize the yellow page directories.

Here's the beauty of the fact that yellow page directories will soon be extinct: Our directory used to have at least 4 pages full of colorful landscaper display ads! The new directory just came out and there are only 4 ads!!!! This means you will NOW get better exposure!!!

I no longer advertise in the yellow pages. Although, we have had GREAT results! I have found other ways to market for far less money. But for those that are new to the marketing game, get a good graphic artist and place a yellow page ad that has PICTURES.


Below is what is called a "dollar bill size ad". I do not mean to osound arrogant, but it's my opinion that we always had the best display ads and had there been a contest for best of show, we would have won:

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y212/ScapeItWS6360CJ7/ygpE853.jpg



.

DVS Hardscaper
01-10-2009, 10:43 AM
About 5 years ago we spent about $800 on a Yellow Pages ad. The return result = 0 calls from the ad. We mostly do mailers to target areas. This has yeilded us the best return for our dollar spent. I will never do another phone book ad.


A nice ad, such as the one displayed above will cost $500 to $600 A MONTH!

DVS Hardscaper
01-10-2009, 10:53 AM
What do you guys think of door hangers? Anybody had good results? I haven't used them because it seems to me to be almost an invasion of privacy.



We do door hangers. Until the economic slow down - the phone would start ringing for estimates before we left the neighborhoods!

When we hang door hangers we typically :
a) hang them on rainy days
b) hang them the first day we begin a new job in a neighborhood
c) there is another time when we strategically hang hangers....but I ain't gonna say it on the WWW :cool2:



Everything in life is what you make of it. The glass is either half full or it's half empty. When it comes to marketing - you need to have an open mind. If you don't get your name out to the public - they have no way of knowing your existance!

Any manner that you get your name out is positive. I have never heard of door hangers as being an invasion of privacy :)




.

DVS Hardscaper
01-10-2009, 11:01 AM
Yard signs with brochure boxes filled with 4-color brochures work.



On our 26,000 GVW dump truck, on the back gates, I have 2, BIG, Yellow, aluminum signs with a list of our services, our name, web address, and phone #.

I INTENTIONALLY went with the BRIGHEST yellow available.

It does NOT match our company colors.

It does NOT match the truck.

And that was my intent!

All for under $150!

Folks, you can see these freakin yellow signs from a mile away! They STAND OUT like a sore thumb!




.

Bru75
01-10-2009, 11:34 AM
Those of you that are downing yellow pages are way way off!

I have had EXCELLENT results from yellow page advertising.





.

Glad it worked for you, It has just been my experience that it wasn't worth the cost.
I had a large full color ad, only one other company with an ad, and still ended up with only one job from the yellow pages for the year. I did recieve lots of calls from tire kickers, and people asking about things that were not in the ad (Bathroom repair, drywall, mowing, handyman work).
My one job = $3,100. Minus yellow pages -$1,740. Equalls $1,360 for material and labor. Not worth it for me.

DVS Hardscaper
01-10-2009, 12:25 PM
Luray is a very different market. I would presume that the demand for hardscape services is not that strong? Yet, I'm sure there are older, retired people there with stashes of money waiting to be spent. These are the people you need to reach out to.

Everything is market dependant.

In the bigger metro markets - most of the folk are well educated, and most of them have office jobs. Studies have shown that such people do everything online.

Venture away from the cities, where people are less educated and work mostly blue collar jobs, and studies have shown that such people are more likely to open a telephone directory.

Hokie84
01-10-2009, 02:20 PM
Fool32696, thanks for starting this thread.
As I put together this year's marketing plan, I too have been wondering where other hardscapers are getting the biggest return on their advertising dollars.
My experience with the yellow pages has been surprisingly positive. There have not been many calls, but the few I get are from older couples with definate plans and money to spend on their projects. This experience does confirm some of DVS's thoughts on the demographics of yellow page users.
To date, I have not done a very good job with marketing, and am wondering what other hardscapers have found effective. I started advertising in our county's upscale life stlye magazine, but have not yet recieved any calls. My efforts in dierct mailings and door hangers have been mostly unsuccessful. Last spring's Homeshow yielded the most leads, but I did a poor job prescreening them, and spent a great deal of resourses on proposals for people with insufficient budgets.
What has worked or not worked for others?

Bru75
01-10-2009, 03:37 PM
DVS you are correct, the demand is ok here but there are still a lot of poeple around here who dont understand how strong interlocking pavement and srw's are. My biggest competition is plain ol' poured concrete. My best customers are mostly "imports" from N. Va. who retire here or have a second home. Are you in a urban market?
I still keep a small ad in the yellow pages, It's just not the best use of my money.
Like Hokie84 said above, I too have a problem with pre-screening. I haven't yet worked out the best way to go about it. Usually after the first face to face meeting I have a pretty good idea if somebody is serious, but by then I've already wasted my time.
I'm not telling anybody what to do, just what has worked or not for me.

mrusk
01-10-2009, 04:29 PM
Those of you that are downing yellow pages are way way off!

I have had EXCELLENT results from yellow page advertising.

First of all, we need to establish there is a difference between what is called a "listing", and what is called an "ad".

A listing will not yield results.

A nice, 4-color, ad WILL yield results. And yes....it WILL cost you a chunk of change. One thing I have never done, and that is let the phone directory people design my ads. I have a friend that is a graphic artists, and I have ALWAYS paid him to do the graphic art work. Also, after 10 years of placing ads in the yellow pages I have found that configuring a display ad a certain way works best. Like I always say, there is a psychology to marketing. Alson, think about it, most scapers are ignorant when it comes to graphic work. A homeowner with money is lookin for the best. Place the best ad in the directory from the start - and you're going to stand out!

Also, you need to place an ad in the most popular phone directory in your area. I probably get 4 different phone directories a year at my home. The only one we keep is Idearc's directory, formerly the Verizon Yellow Pages. All the others go straight intoo the trash without being ever being opened.

Phone directories are becoming a thing of the past. I do all mo shopping and researching online. I seldom open a phone directory. OK.......however, there are still people that are not internet savy, and there are still people that DO utilize the yellow page directories.

Here's the beauty of the fact that yellow page directories will soon be extinct: Our directory used to have at least 4 pages full of colorful landscaper display ads! The new directory just came out and there are only 4 ads!!!! This means you will NOW get better exposure!!!

I no longer advertise in the yellow pages. Although, we have had GREAT results! I have found other ways to market for far less money. But for those that are new to the marketing game, get a good graphic artist and place a yellow page ad that has PICTURES.


Below is what is called a "dollar bill size ad". I do not mean to osound arrogant, but it's my opinion that we always had the best display ads and had there been a contest for best of show, we would have won:

http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y212/ScapeItWS6360CJ7/ygpE853.jpg



.



DVS thast add sucks. It looks like 99% of the other adds in the phone book in every section. Seriously, its exactly like any other add.

DVS Hardscaper
01-10-2009, 04:55 PM
DVS thast add sucks. It looks like 99% of the other adds in the phone book in every section. Seriously, its exactly like any other add.


Matt, LOL - no it doesn't. I will never make claim online that I can't back up. Get out some of your local directories and look real hard at the configurations. Rememeber what I said Matt, there is a psychology :) It may "LOOK" the same.....but they"re not *CONFIGURED* the same :)

Take a close look at the CONFIGURATION, Matt. Look real hard. And while you're doing that, I'm gonna go watch Three's Company.

stuvecorp
01-11-2009, 04:16 AM
DVS thast add sucks. It looks like 99% of the other adds in the phone book in every section. Seriously, its exactly like any other add.

Lets see what you do mrusk?

fool32696
01-11-2009, 12:28 PM
Sounds fair, let's see it.

mrusk
01-11-2009, 01:14 PM
I don't advertise in the Yellow Pages period. So I cant show you my yellow page ad.

DVS Hardscaper
01-11-2009, 01:30 PM
Gotta Love Mr. Rusk, The Lawn Jockey, Turned Pool Builder, Turned The Garth Brooks of Hardscapes!

When I used to advertise in the yellow pages, I was the first to have a full color ad with a nice photo. The following year another contractor tried to add a pic, but his didnt compare. Somebody musta sent Mr. Rusk a copy of the phone book from here, from back then,, for him to be able to form such a conclusion!!!!

Magazines that are published for county specific is one way I have advertised. And I have received very little results. I'm not sure which mag you're lookin to advertise in Hokie, if it's the one I'm thinkin of, thats the one I tried. For it to pay off, you have to do it repetitively. I think I only did 2, maybe 3 months, which experts say thats not nearly enough. The small amount of profit I made off of the sales I did make from the ad, barely even paid for the ad.

mrusk
01-11-2009, 01:32 PM
Gotta Love Mr. Rusk!

When I used to advertise in the yellow pages, I was the first to have a full color ad with a nice photo. The following year another contractor tried to add a pic, but his didnt compare.

Somebody musta sent Mr. Rusk a copy of the phone book from here, from back then,, for him to be able to form such a conclusion!!!!

Magazines that are published for county specific is one way I have advertised. And I have received very little results. I'm not sure which mag you're lookin to advertise in Hokie, if it's the one I'm thinkin of, thats the one I tried. For it to pay off, you have to do it repetitively. I think I only did 2, maybe 3 months, which experts say thats not nearly enough.

I'll snap a picture of the ads in my phone book later and post it.

stuvecorp
01-11-2009, 03:07 PM
I don't advertise in the Yellow Pages period. So I cant show you my yellow page ad.

So, what's your secret to getting work?

Fiano Landscapes
01-11-2009, 03:46 PM
Here is one of our ads we publish. We seem to get great results now, but it takes time to learn your market. We have waisted plenty of dollars on yellowbook. Now we have narrowed it down to a couple markets.

kootoomootoo
01-11-2009, 04:02 PM
Garth Brooks>?

Garth doesn't have a website or a yellow pages ad....how does he do it.

mrusk
01-11-2009, 06:15 PM
I just use postcards. Half the front is my logo the other half is my face. On the back I list my heigh/weight, hobbies, favorite songs, etc.


Women all over the place call me for dates. Then I sell them landscaping.

EagleLandscape
01-11-2009, 06:48 PM
this year will be the first year I dont drop several thousand dollars on advertising. i dont think i will this year.

we're as busy as i can afford to be. i cant afford to buy anymore equipment, and banks are getting tight. so adding an additional installation and additional maintenance crew and several irrigation trucks this year will be my limit.

i would like to add 2 landscape maint crews a year, and 1-2 irrigation trucks from here on out.

mrusk
01-11-2009, 07:10 PM
this year will be the first year I dont drop several thousand dollars on advertising. i dont think i will this year.

we're as busy as i can afford to be. i cant afford to buy anymore equipment, and banks are getting tight. so adding an additional installation and additional maintenance crew and several irrigation trucks this year will be my limit.

i would like to add 2 landscape maint crews a year, and 1-2 irrigation trucks from here on out.

I think its smart in your case to not go crazy with advertising this year. People are not going to spend alot of money this year.

If I did lawns/small landscape projects I wouldn't do any advertising in 09. But since I do large projects i need to advertise. Some of the clients we are going to do projects far this spring first contacted us fall 2007/spring 2008. It seems to take a long time to sign these large projects.

I need to advertising to get good leads for 10'.

fool32696
01-11-2009, 08:25 PM
Well John, obviously your business is growing very fast. Where have you spent advertising dollars in the past? What got you the biggest return on investment?

EagleLandscape
01-11-2009, 11:24 PM
for residential landscape maintenance I would print flier that is 1/3 the size of a regular page (3 fliers per 8x11) (saves money)

I would hire a company to distribute between 20,000 and 30,000 a year. It is a good practice to pick up residential maintenance customers, and I've landed maybe 50k in small jobs(2k-5k bangers). Landed 2 nice 20k jobs last year too.

My best investment this year was the purchase of two existing irrigation repair companies. I am not going to divulge the price I paid for either, but I will tell you that we acquired 8000+ customers that cycle through every 1-3 years for irrigation repair. I am eying another one for 30 days from now if I can sell a spec house in College Station that I built a few months ago and intended to hold on to. I would rather sell it and cash out, because banks arent lending money for the things that I want to do.

This 3rd company has about 3k customers. After that, I will have 11k+ customers (that have been customers for years if not decades, very loyal) to market residential landscape maintenance to.

I got into commercial landscape maintenance 1.5 years ago, and have worked very hard to get 400k in commercial maint contracts signed for 2009.

kootoomootoo
01-12-2009, 12:49 AM
John....how did you get $400k pa in a year and a half.

It can be done if you aggressively bid low.

sgallaher
01-12-2009, 04:44 AM
A nice ad, such as the one displayed above will cost $500 to $600 A MONTH!

Yeah our ad was not in full color but it was about that same size with a picture too. I can't remember, it may have been $1600, two payments of $800 I think I recall now. But anyway it seemed to be placed pretty good and we didn't get any jobs from it. A sales rep came out and talked with we several time before I placed the final order. I guess every area is different.

EagleLandscape
01-12-2009, 08:17 AM
John....how did you get $400k pa in a year and a half.

It can be done if you aggressively bid low.

Secured a 2 acre factory, did really good work. got referred the hoa that the ceo lives in, secured that 6 months later. the same month we started a small townhome job for a friends dad where I went to college, knocked that out in 3 days. 3 months later took over the maintenance at a large townhome complex that my friends dad built, 5 months later the property management company was so impressed the cancelled their landscaper who did all of their other properties and gave them to me.
we also do alot of banks, 2 walmarts, super target, and residential.

it adds up. I've been in business for 5 years, but didnt get into commercial until recently.

i lose more bids than I win, I don't low ball. On smaller maintenance jobs I'm normally 25% more if they do end up going with a low-baller.

we do several hoa/townhome complexes, and those contracts avg 50k a piece. get a few of those and it increases your gross sales obviously.

irrigation is another story, we just do repair, and alot of it.

TreePro
01-12-2009, 11:39 AM
We use the yellow pages quite a bit still. This will be the last year more than likely. However, what do you think about the following ad?

kootoomootoo
01-12-2009, 12:48 PM
I could have had a couple of $50,000 maintenance accounts this fall but I bid $60,000 ...here if you aint the lowest you aint getting it.

Do you work for US Maintenance.






Secured a 2 acre factory, did really good work. got referred the hoa that the ceo lives in, secured that 6 months later. the same month we started a small townhome job for a friends dad where I went to college, knocked that out in 3 days. 3 months later took over the maintenance at a large townhome complex that my friends dad built, 5 months later the property management company was so impressed the cancelled their landscaper who did all of their other properties and gave them to me.
we also do alot of banks, 2 walmarts, super target, and residential.

it adds up. I've been in business for 5 years, but didnt get into commercial until recently.

i lose more bids than I win, I don't low ball. On smaller maintenance jobs I'm normally 25% more if they do end up going with a low-baller.

we do several hoa/townhome complexes, and those contracts avg 50k a piece. get a few of those and it increases your gross sales obviously.

irrigation is another story, we just do repair, and alot of it.

fool32696
01-12-2009, 03:22 PM
TreePro, the ad looks pretty good. I do prefer a cleaner, less cluttered look. I'd have just put treework and landscape and left out the list of specifics. The picture that you used is awesome though.

TreePro
01-12-2009, 04:41 PM
TreePro, the ad looks pretty good. I do prefer a cleaner, less cluttered look. I'd have just put treework and landscape and left out the list of specifics. The picture that you used is awesome though.

I do agree, it is a little cluttered looking. Might have to edit it, but I wanted some specifics b/c we always get, "Oh, I didn't know you all did landscape too" or something to that equivalent. And our logo even says "treework & landscape"! :hammerhead:

EagleLandscape
01-12-2009, 08:32 PM
I could have had a couple of $50,000 maintenance accounts this fall but I bid $60,000 ...here if you aint the lowest you aint getting it.

Do you work for US Maintenance.

I have like 13-15 banks from USM. the walmarts and target and stuff is from Mirror Lawn. They are out of TN i believe. Burlingcoat coat factory is from USM too.

USM can be a great company to work with, as long as the account manager is a decent person. my new BOA account mgr is great. she mentioned that she might turn over 40-45 boa branches to me this spring.

that would be great if it happened, i think there is a possibility too.

rnd
01-13-2009, 04:22 PM
Go to RNDSIGNS.COM. Request a FREE marketing handbook for ideas on how to grow your business. Also check out all of the print layout ideas and industry specific photographs to enhance your image and increase sales. All online and very economical.

EliteScapes
02-21-2009, 01:03 PM
I utilize both the internet and printed sources for my advertisting.


*******************
Renovation Experts
superpages.com
GOOGLE.. I come up very high on the list when searching in my area.
I could show you how to do this.. Little trick that works wonders.
4 to 5 FULL PAGE ads in local magazines that reach 50,000 people per month.


Some Post Cards and Door Hangers to particular homes..

EliteScapes
02-21-2009, 01:09 PM
I'm sorry but i'm going to have to agree..

I have ads that are nicer and designed by the magazine company..

PatriotLandscape
02-21-2009, 06:38 PM
Some good ideas on here can you tell me more about us maintenance how did/do you get in on the work from them?

RhinoL&L
02-22-2009, 09:28 AM
I utilize both the internet and printed sources for my advertisting.


*******************
Renovation Experts
superpages.com
GOOGLE.. I come up very high on the list when searching in my area.
I could show you how to do this.. Little trick that works wonders.
4 to 5 FULL PAGE ads in local magazines that reach 50,000 people per month.


Some Post Cards and Door Hangers to particular homes..

So cn you tell us the trick that gets you ranked near the top on google???

EliteScapes
02-22-2009, 11:24 AM
PM me for info..

vtscaper
02-22-2009, 01:30 PM
Personally I think U.S Maintenance is a pain in the ass. Especially for lower dollar contracts. Too much calling in and paperwork, checking with managers etc etc...

B & B Yardscape
02-25-2009, 07:11 PM
Business card size ad in yellow pages. Listing on yellow pages.com. Web page, truck signage, business cards, post cards, very little radio, little league sponsorship, etc.

Have to have a yellow pages ad of some sorts. People just don't write your number down when they see the truck. They look for it afterward.

I wouldn't say word of mouth, but I would say networking yeilds the best results. "Its not what you know, it who you know." Go to your suppliers, friends, church, school, etc. Talk to people and see if you can do something for them.

Good Luck