I have been mowing a few yards on the side for 3 years now for people that i know but now i was to go big, i have 5,000 business cards and dont know what to do with them, what is the best way to get my name out there......
Since you have business cards and not door hangers I would suggest that you go to some local stores and see if you can leave some there for potential customers. With the rest of the cards I think you should go door to door and sell customers that way. You should pick an area of your town and just keep plugging away until you feel you have enough lawns. Just remember some people will be rude to you for coming to their door but that is just part of the game. I also don't know how much money you're willing to spend but I would invest in a few thousand door hangers to send out also and I would run and ad in the paper year round so that people see your name every week and will think I will try this guy because I have seen his name before vs the companies that run ads for one or two weeks and vanish till next year. Good luck building up your company.
People love coupons. Try to give something away--with a free estimate of course. Place door hangers. Suppose you can give away a coupon for a free mower sharpening. Get a mower shop to cooperate with you--naturally they may want to get the coupons limited to the February, March slow season. And with a little luck and salesmanship--the mower shop may be able to talk persons into a full lawn mower tuneup. A coupon for a free pH soil test. Or free grub-test coupon. Gives you a good excuse to be at their property and quote your price. Freebie with estimate: free "amazing grow-anywhere" seed for 10 sqft. Free packet of amazing new red merrigold seed. Free zinnia seed. Free (with estimate) plastic rain gauge. Free seeds for mole-chasing plants. Free pinwheels for moles.
You have to spend money to make money. You will grow according to what you spend. The business cards left at businesses wont do much. Door hangers or mailbox stuffers work well if you canvas several neighborhoods. Dont ditch the cards though. People will ask if you have a card. Professional cards go a long way. I give my customers some periodically because when they have company and the lawn comes up they are great advertisers for you. Other than the door/mail hangers, Advertise in the local phone directories. Here I have had lots better success out of The real yellowpages vs Yellow Book. Yellowpages is more expensive but yeilded much better results. FACEBOOK!! Ads in local papers. Always wear a t-shirt with your business. And . . LETTER your TRUCK! That moving billboard cost you NOTHING! Good luck!
I think the best advertising for the cost and effort comes from having good magnetic signs on the side of a pickup truck with your business name, phone number, and a design that tells people what you do. The truck needs to look like it is a professional landscaper's truck. A beater will not make the impression you need. Then, have some handouts and business cards ready to give to people who express interest at Home Depot, the grocery store, wherever the truck and sign draws attention.
Lots of guys like to hang flyers on doorknobs, but I think most people view that like spam, and walking the neighborhoods is just too time consuming.