What’s my line?

By Gary Horton

Like in that old game show, our clients really want to know what makes us so special for their job.

“What’s My Line?” was a panel game show that ran in the United States on CBS from 1950 to 1967. The show used celebrity panelists to guess the occupation, or “line” (of work) of the contestants. Key to success of the show is the public’s innate curiosity of learning interesting things about people’s lines of work.

We all want to learn the fun stuff that differentiates us from one another and makes us special. What’s unique? What’s exciting? Why is it beneficial to know us?

“What’s My Line?” was a TV game show for entertainment and fun. But your business isn’t for your entertainment, and it certainly isn’t just for fun. Your landscape company is your life’s work and is likely the key component to your well-being. It’s not for giggles and you’ve got to get known, get work and get the job done.

We’d all rather sell on something other than price alone. “Low bid gets it” is is OK, but it is far better when we sell on our positive differentiators. How are we more efficient, safer, better, faster? What makes us the right choice? What hooks our clients on our company?

Like in that old game show, our clients really want to know what makes us so special for their job.

Many businesses effectively use taglines along with their company name to get their unique attributes across. When a tagline rings true — when it aligns with the company mission and reality of the company — customers remember the tagline and the company for a long time. Sales indeed are made on good taglines alone. Think about the effectiveness of these taglines.

  • Nike: Just do it
  • Apple: Think different
  • California Milk Board: Got milk?
  • BMW: The ultimate driving machine
  • McDonalds: I’m lovin it!
  • M&Ms: Melts in your mouth, not in your hand

One of the best taglines I’d ever seen in our industry was the old ValleyCrest’s “The workforce of nature.” There it was, on the back of every one of their thousands of red trucks. I loved and hated that tagline because at the time, it was true, well-understood and well-respected. ValleyCrest was the biggest and the best, and indeed, by sheer size they were the workforce of nature.

My favorite landscape industry tagline today is our own — Landscape Development Inc.’s “Peace of mind.” Just our simple flower logo and three short, but very powerful, words underneath.

Everyone wants peace of mind, but what does that have to do with landscaping, you ask? The answer is in our type of clients. Our typical clients are project managers for large developers and property managers. They’re extremely busy; they report to many people, and they are always juggling dozens of problems at once. We give them peace of mind that they don’t have to worry about anything involving landscaping. That’s our mission, our goal, our purpose, and we work as hard as we can to deliver landscape peace of mind, for real, every time.

Yes, we install plants and trees and irrigation systems, but we sell — and deliver — peace of mind.Our particular clients want and need it. Peace of mind — is our “line.”

What’s your line? What makes you different? Figure it out and sell it like crazy. Here are some key pointers: Make it memorable and catchy, infer a key benefit and differentiate yourself from others, and make it feel positive to your clients.

Now that you know about taglines, “Just do it.” But, “Think different.” And become the ultimate landscape machine.

Gary Horton, MBA, is CEO of Landscape Development Inc., a green industry leader for over 35 years with offices throughout California and Nevada. He can be reached at ghorton@landscapedevelopment.com.