I would think a lot of that depends on the geographic area you live in. The lco's in Texas will definatly be mowing before the snow finishes melting here in SLC, so they would start their marketing campaign well before mine.
I actually wrote a nice letter and put about 300 of them out Saturday night, no calls yet, hmmm. But anyway, it was nice to out there getting a jump on the comp, lol. The only problem I had was the amount of snow in some of the paper tubes!!!
When the snow shows signs of melting and a real lawn estimate is possible and not covered and out of view. I just got back for the printers today and we will begin our letters we are sending out 5000 of them hopefully by the end of this month weather permitting.
I'm in the process of having my door hangers made up and will be placing them in target areas by the 15th of FEB. Also at that time an ad will be taken out in the service directory of the local paper and a local shopper paper. Early March the new phone book will be here with my color ad. I have sponsored a friends horse racing which is another way to get my name out there this year. This is the time of year around southern utah that the weather will be getting warmer and people will be thinking again about there yards.
Just a little info on my plan of attack and wish you the best in yours.
"I dont know that it is ever too early. I stated the running ads in the paper a week or two ago mostly just to get the name in front of people, but have received a few calls for bids."
Since you mentioned a "marketing program" in your question, here is a great quote from this post that looks more in-depth into marketing.
"Marketing is anything you do in order to get potential customers to contact you to cause a sale. Marketing is one of the most complicated areas of business. There are many marketing strategies, methods and vehicles to market your business. There are so many marketing methods even some business professionals have a hard time figuring out a cost effective marketing strategy. Good marketing strategies need to change as the industry your business is in changes. Good marketing plans take advantage of new marketing trends and new marketing methods that will enhance your marketing plan. Your marketing plan needs to change to adapt with ever changing customer-buying habits. Usually a combination of marketing methods is needed to assure your success.
Creativity, Consistency & Continuity are the keys to sustained marketing success.
Your company's marketing strategy needs to begin with marketing research. In order to have a responsive cost efficient marketing campaign, you need to do specific market research. Market research begins with knowing who your customers are and where they are located. You must now how to identify and qualify your potential customers and know why they buy your products and services. You also need to analyze your competition and determine where your products and services fit into the market in relation to theirs. You need to know everything about the industry including trends and growth. If your research is not accurate your entire marketing strategy and marketing plan will not be correct and your marketing campaign will not be effective. This will certainly have an adverse effect on your bottom line.
A good marketing plan is crucial. Your marketing plan will show you what needs to be done in order to achieve your sales objectives and goals.
Almost everything in your business relates to marketing, including customer service. Marketing also includes public relations as well as media relations.
Business cards are by far the oldest and one of the most effective means of marketing.
Direct marketing includes direct mail, telemarketing, newsletters as well as door hangers.
Newsletters can be an effective marketing method if used correctly with the proper content.
Creating your website is just the beginning of internet marketing. Having a great website that no one can find does you little good. Internet marketing also includes email marketing, emarketing, online advertising (such as web banners), internet directories, website marketing, search engine marketing and many other online marketing methods. Newsgroups and chat rooms can also be used for marketing. Permission based marketing is another useful online marketing method. In order for you to have an effective internet marketing campaign you need to be familiar with terms such as CTR (click through rate), CPA (cost per action), CPC (cost per click), banner ads, website usability, unique visitors, stickiness, sponsorship, reciprocal links, RON (run of network), ROS (run of site), PPL (pay per lead), PPS (pay per sale), pop up ads, link popularity, keyword marketing, frequency cap, and linking strategies.
Marketing includes all kinds of advertising including radio, TV, newspaper and magazine ads & billboards. Advertising also includes building and vehicle signage. One of the newer forms of advertising is paying for ads on ezines (online magazines)
Seminars can be used to market your products and services.
Your marketing strategy, marketing plan and implementation plan need to be precise in order to reach your target market and increase your sales.
You need to be aware of the latest marketing trends in order to increase your marketing results.
The types of marketing methods continue to grow. Viral marketing, Affiliate marketing, Association marketing, Event marketing, Entertainment marketing, Sports marketing, Behavioral marketing, Cause related marketing, Network marketing, Survey marketing, and even more.
The infamous MLM (multilevel marketing) method seems to take on a life of it's own, even though it is usually short lived and is fraught with legal difficulties.
There are so many types of marketing; it is no surprise that finding the best combination to suit your needs is difficult and requires the skill and experience of a marketing specialist.
You should always be aware of your customer acquisition cost.
Guerilla marketing has been around for a long time without the fancy name. Guerilla marketing is simply finding ways to market your business with very little marketing money. Small business is faced with this dilemma almost all the time.
Product and service promotions are a common marketing approach. Marketing can be achieved by giving something away using a free drawing (sweepstakes marketing). Coupons, rebates and discount books are all effective marketing tools.
Marketing can be as simple as putting a marketing message on your telephone "On hold" system, or as complicated as writing a book (book marketing).
Press releases are a reasonably inexpensive marketing method.
Marketing can be more cost effective using partnerships if you can find partners that are a good match."
Here is one more thing I found that may be helpful when you are planning out your advertising. The quote is taken from this article.
" * Relationship building leads to loyal client base
Lerner's opinion about advertising is that the self-promotional aspect of advertising alone is not optimal. It's better to make others talk positively about you than for you to talk about you. Lerner's marketing emphasis is keeping customers happy enough to generate referrals.
Commercial maintenance is so competitive, and there's no loyalty. As soon as property management changes, it's out to bid again, observes Dickerson. Like Lerner, Dickerson's major emphasis to supervisors is to establish relationships with customers. Get out and get to know them. It's hard for your client to fire someone he or she is on a first-name basis with.
Adds Lerner, the key is establishing client loyalty built on enduring personal relationships and doing what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it.
* Building value in your expertise
Anyone can sell on price, but to advance your business away from competing on price, you must identify yourself as a specialist. Present yourself as an expert in a particular area. Develop a specialty a hook, a branded identity, says Lerner. This identity helps distinguish you and your business from the masses. It's what will set you apart. In grounds maintenance, it's easy to surface as cream by defining a specialty.
What other marketing techniques help communicate your expertise? Lerner recommends taking advantage of speaking and presentation opportunities. The key is to teach others: It showcases you as a professional and an expert. He frequently addresses garden clubs, public gardens and continuing education programs. Talk to similar organizations in your community to get on their speaker lists."