Author Topic: The Landscape Hub Winter Work Campaign - Step Three  (Read 2754 times)

Alan Sargent

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The Landscape Hub Winter Work Campaign - Step Three
« on: August 14, 2013, 09:09:31 pm »

I think a good place to start talking about Step Three is to look back and analyse Steps One and Two. Although the title of the campaign is Winter Work, it could just as easily have been Spring Into Action or Summertime Blues. We are really talking about a Marketing Exercise.
I had thought to withhold that comment until much later, and I hope you will all forgive me for the following confession.

It is a fact of life that, despite knowing that you will need to do something about potential shortfalls in work at certain times – winter being  the most obvious for most landscapers and garden contractors – very few people actually make positive efforts to address the problem until it becomes one! Certainly, most of you are concentrating on getting on with too much work at the moment, and do not have the time to think beyond getting the next job finished on time and to make a profit. The very last thing you need now is to worry about problems  in four months’ time!

I have always believed that gardening in general, and landscaping in particular, is perhaps the most campaignable industry in the world. With a whole plethora of famous faces and Shows, it must surely rate as one of the most high profile businesses to be in. And yet, very few Landscape Contractors have a Public Relations and Marketing aspect to their management structure and budget. Even individuals who ‘live by their wits’ in pursuing work and securing contracts do not  identify themselves as having a Marketing Strategy.

The confession? I realised that, despite many contractors talking about the usual shortage of Winter Work, and the enthusiastic response to the Landscape Hub’s initiative in delivering this Campaign series of articles, they would not attract as much attention as their title and contents deserve – bearing in mind this is a progressive series of articles – without a Marketing Campaign all of their own!
(I used the Marketing Campaign Winter Work Slogan Competition to market the Winter Work Marketing Campaign.)

In order to garner as much interest as possible – in the middle of the summer – I ran the Winter Work Slogan Competition in tandem with the first two articles. To prove the power of the slogan competition, compared with the potential interest in the content of Steps One and Two, Step One received (all at the time of writing) 79 visits and no comments. Step Two had received 72 visits and one comment, whilst the Competition has had 780 visits and more than sixty comments! There is an important lesson here, one that will be included in future Steps. (Sorry for being devious!)


Please read and retain the comments in the first two steps, as they will form the basis of the next and future Steps.
Having identified your strengths, available equipment and existing paperwork (certificates etc), and being completely comfortable with your ability to fulfil any offers you may wish to make to potential clients, consider your type of current advertising. By type I mean the whole range of advertising or public awareness. HOW are you known in your marketplace? WHAT are you known for? What is your UNIQUE SELLING POINT? Do you have a USP? Do you have more than one USP?

What is your Market place? (If you live in the middle of a city, what part of the urbanisation do you serve? If you live out in the country (as I do), who do you want to service?
There is absolutely no reason why you cannot have more than one Public Persona. Try hard not to pigeonhole yourself into one slot. I will attach a couple of my adverts to this article. You will note several things about them. One – although I have over sixty RHS medals, 37 as designer and builder, the rest as builder – I make no mention of these awards. Why? Because I know it would frighten people from contacting me. Better by far they find out AFTER I have secured the contract. At this moment, I am trying to lure them in, not scare them off!

The advert for Garden Features does not include any mention of APL/IoH/TGG etc – nothing that identifies me as a Landscaper. Why? Because I am after restoration garden works, not gardening. In other words, I am tailoring my adverts to attract the sort of work I want from that chosen market place. My USP in this case is the highlighted note regarding No VAT. The postcard format is important, as most ‘shop window’ outlets carry only postcard size maximum. Note too, the dark border to make the ad stand out.

The second advert requires me to be more specialised. Hence I now add a few bits about the APL etc, still nothing about Chelsea medals. I do however, introduce some pretty obscure notes about Mazes and Labyrinths! I have secured well over £50,000 worth of work from the Pruning Specialist advert in the past couple of years. These are just two of six adverts I use for different markets and times.
By using different angles to your talents, and not simply listing them all (fencing, turfing, planting etc) which in all honesty, people expect you to do anyway, you can channel your chosen target audience in a finite manner. You will know what they want you for, before you even turn up on site!
This is particularly helpful for larger firms. A small company is like a little boat – easy to manoeuvre and change tack. A large firm cannot so easily change course, but it can still attract different work by styling their advertising.

If you live and work in a rural area, it may pay you to add the word ‘Estate work’ or ‘Equestrian works’ to attract another type of market – or at least act as an inference that you can carry out such works, and be very helpful if you wish to work on National Trust or English Heritage sites. You are not being devious – you are simply opening up a discussion that would not have had if you were simply described as a Garden Contractor or Landscaper.

In Step Four, I will begin to schedule a number of suggestions reference potential works, and how to attract and prepare for them. I propose to end Step Three with a suggestion regarding your EXISTING CUSTOMERS. Going back over the past three years or so, make a list of all those customers you would like to work for again (!) and prepare a postcard sized stiff card, detailing your current contact numbers etc. With the words (your clients, your region, your choice) to convey that you have been so busy over the last couple of winters, helping out people with a variety of problems – storm damage, broken fences, damaged greenhouses etc, that you have decided this year to offer your services ONLY to existing and recent clients, as AN EMERGENCY CONTACT POINT. ‘Please keep this card near your telephone, and we will do our utmost to help. In the meantime, if you would like a Garden/Property Health Check, to help identify any potential issues, we will provide you with a detailed note without charge or obligation’.
If they agree, make a note of the type and make of the fence panels etc, for your office records. If and when they call you, you will be a couple of steps ahead! (A few photographs and notes reference width of access etc are also useful)

NEXT STEP NUMBER FOUR WILL FOLLOW NEXT WEEKEND.  Please address all thoughts and comments through The Hub. Don’t forget the competition goes on until the end of August!

« Last Edit: August 14, 2013, 09:16:19 pm by Alan Sargent »