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Broke Newbie Advertising

Discussion in 'Starting a Lawn Care Business' started by 2006Silverado, Jul 22, 2007.

  1. 2006Silverado

    2006Silverado LawnSite Member
    from GA
    Posts: 117

    Ok, I've searched the archives, etc. etc. Just not finding what I'm needing advice on.

    I'm just getting started, mainly marketing Lawn Maintenance, have a decent setup thus far. I'm taking lots of Landscaping courses/seminars. Mainly so, I can eventually get heavy into that, but also so when things like 'could you put in a simple patio for me?', 'I would love a set up lights running up my driveway', etc., I will know enough to bid and do the job if within my skillset, or at least bid it and sub it out.

    I have some money to spend, but of course, just like anybody else getting started, every dime I spend and don't see in return soon, is one dime closer to not making it in the long haul. I'm looking maybe a $1,000 at the most, at least until I get a few more customers/jobs. I can spend a few grand more, if A. It is really really really going to be worth it, B. Things are starting to really pick up.

    So, I'm REALLY REALLY needing to get the advertising going strong. Suggestions...I know this is a really bad time of year to get started, should I wait to really hit it hard or spend money? So far I went door-to-door flyering. I was thinking maybe best to do it when the people are home, that way I can get face time with more, but wife doesn't think that's a good idea, she thinks just tape to door and walk away.

    Also, direct mailing, some people are swearing by it, others said it was a waste of money. I know every area is different. If I did mailing, what's the best, cheapest way? Make postcards with a design program then print them off on the HP and slap a stamp on them and start mailing? Or will I end up wasting more than if I just spent the money to a mailing company? Have them printed then mail myself? Design myself have a company mail them?

    Networking, any suggestions for that? For this type of service what are some good groups to focus on getting in with? I had some plans for marketing real estate agents, and HOA's heavily, but everything I've read, everybody seems to think those both are lousy for getting business.

    Word of mouth isn't going to do much at this point. Most of my good friends live too far from here they're not in my service areas (I'm near Atlanta, 30 miles is like 120 miles), everybody I know here are just neighbors and they aren't any help.

    Like I said, I'm learning everything I can, am attending seminars/training for lighting installation(have electronics background already), paving stone installation, irrigation, and plan to sell Holiday decoration/lighting installation. Should I maybe start selling this right now to help draw in business?

    Right now I have nothing but time on my hands, so I have no problem pounding the pavement 14hrs/day/7days a week, if that will help. But like everything, even though I'm making my own flyers, I'm going through ink like nothing else, and even that cost adds up. Hate to think I spend $500 on ink and paper putting out 10,000 flyers for nothing, and just to hear 'oh putting out flyers is a waste of time'.

    Any advice, pointers, direction, is mucho appreciated. Hopefully, anybody that's familiar with Atlanta area/Georgia, can give me any pointers on what works/doesn't work here in their experience!
  2. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,988

    I looked at direct mail. I think it's a viable option, but you have to do it repeatedly. I don't think one or two mailings is going to do much. My opinion is that 80% of the cards will see the trash without a customer even looking at them. If it's something you can afford to do repeatedly, I think the results will be better.

    You can also try ads in local towns' newspapers. Example, I pay 49/week for a 2x4 inch ad with my logo, number and a short list of my services. I have recieved limited results but keep in mind that I first started running the ad the first part of june. Ideally, late winter/early spring seems to be the best time to hit the advertising hard. I received a large number of calls and e-mails in early spring, and now it has tapered off a lot. Of course, in GA I am not sure what the season is like, you guys might have a much shorter winter season if any at all...

    I'd say that getting a LOT of flyers out will help you. I'm talking thousands, and do it once a quarter. Get your company name and info in front of the same people over and over. Otherwise, they'll forget you. So far flyers have produced the best results for me. Once you start to get a client base, word of mouth will kick in as well. I have recieved several referrals this season, some have ended up in work, some have not.

    Sometimes it seems to be "luck of the draw" with advertising, but you have to keep at it. Half the battle is getting potential customers to know you exist in the first place.
  3. privatelawn

    privatelawn LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 301

    I do direct mail and door hangers, both work great for me but I stopped doing door hangers because its too much walking.

    I get over 1% new customers from both but I have worked so much on the ads that not many will just throw them away without looking at them (atleast I think...)

    id say over 50% read my postcard (again atleast I think...) because its colorful, simple, funny... first glance at it makes you wonder what its about.

    1% new customers pays itself in a week or 2 and worth every penny of the 26 pennies a postcard stamp cost, I print my own on my color laser printer.

    1% of 1000 = 10 new customers, say at $100 a month = $1k billed first month, stamps cost $260 so in 1 week its covered

    I spent half my life making ads for my last business... I dont make boring ads that dont get read like most lco's, I have yet to see one that can compare
  4. 2006Silverado

    2006Silverado LawnSite Member
    from GA
    Posts: 117

    Ok, thanks fo rthe suggestions. I think I will continue to flyer. I hit a goldmine with my county tax assessors website. You can search using pricing, street, etc. So I can search for 1/2 mil. homes and mail directly to them, and hit those neighborhoods with flyers.

    For direct mailing, what is the best way? Print the postcards on the home cpu, slap a stamp on them? I see 26 cents a stamp, is that a bulk rate? I remember reading somewhere somebody said for what you spend to get bulk rate, and making the postcards yourself, you would spend the same or less going through a direct mailing service....Confused???
  5. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,988

    I'm trying to remember what the salesman told me earlier this year...

    I THINK it was 20,000 postcards. The cost per mailing was about 1400.00 which would come to 14.3 cents per card. Any design/graphic work was included in that price.

    It might have been 30K but I'm pretty sure the number he gave me was 20K.

    So you do save quite a bit of money by having someone do it, but it's a pretty good size cost upfront, and you save yourself a ton of office work not to mention printer and paper supplies.
  6. badassgrass

    badassgrass LawnSite Member
    Posts: 42

    Also, if you are looking at a direct mailing company don't act real interested and tell them if they have any last minute space or cancelled you might be able to do it. Usually it will be 40% discount on what they told you. BUT act like you can leave it if it isn't a great deal. They usually get 1%. Also ask about the mailing list.
  7. 2006Silverado

    2006Silverado LawnSite Member
    from GA
    Posts: 117

    Ok so I think I'm getting this now...So if I'm going to do a major mass mailing, like 20,000, then it would probably end up being cheaper...But if I sent say 500-a couple thousand, then it would probably be cheaper sending myself???
  8. taaz

    taaz LawnSite Member
    Posts: 2

    2006Silverado -- can you PM me, or email me?
  9. agr682

    agr682 LawnSite Member
    Posts: 51

    There is no replacement for face time with a prospective client. You are basically selling yourself. If the time allows it I would recommend door to door in your target neighborhoods or at least talk to the neighbors of your current properties. They may need service while on vacation or smaller projects to at least get your foot in the door. good luck
  10. 2006Silverado

    2006Silverado LawnSite Member
    from GA
    Posts: 117

    Tried to but it said you won't accept private messages???

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