Don't underestimate the power of marketing

By Kristin Smith-Ely

In April I read with amusement the story of a lawn care company that came up with a rather unique marketing strategy. Unfortunately, the intended target was not so amused.

The Dallas-based company decided it would place a sign in the yard of the house next door to one of its clients. The sign read, “Your lawn was not treated today. Your neighbor’s was.” It also had the phone number of the lawn care company and an offer to “Call within 48 hours and save over $320.”

Sounds like a great idea, right? Well, it’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Apparently, the homeowner did not find it very funny, albeit he readily admitted his yard was in need of some TLC. So what did he do? He did what many other people do these days — he aired his grievances on social media. The homeowner posted a picture of the sign on Reddit, a news discussion site, and the post went viral.

The homeowner accused the lawn care company of “lawn shaming.” The story got so much traction that “USA Today” even did a story on it.

I’m sure the lawn care company never anticipated the consequences of putting such a sign out. What was supposed to be a clever way to get new business turned into a major blunder.

It’s stories like this that serve as a reminder that marketing is a specialty. It needs to be handled in the right way or you could risk some public embarrassment. It may not go as far as the Dallas lawn care company, but a dated website or a bad Google review could be putting your company in a negative light. I’m not sure which is worse, though — a bad marketing plan or no marketing plan. You won’t get noticed if you don’t invest in some kind of marketing.

There is a reason marketing is its own profession. Not everyone has the skill set required to be a good marketer. Certainly, you didn’t become a landscape contractor because you had a knack for website development. Similarly, a marketing specialist isn’t the person out there trimming a client’s shrubs.

The goal of this marketing supplement is to give you some tools and to help you develop skills to promote your business. A great landscape will only get you so far. A great marketing plan can take you further.