How to Switch Your Advertising From Garbage to Gold

Adverts generally fit into one of these categories:• Institutional or Image advertisements (I call this garbage)
• Direct-response advertisements (I call this gold, if used correctly it’s worth more than gold.)What Are Institutional Advertisements?Institutional or image advertisements make up 90% of most publications. These adverts generally emphasise the business name in big letters across the top. They provide a list of the products and services that they sell. Occasionally they’ll provide prices on a product and often they will have an image or a photo. The address and phone number are usually at the bottom.This is just a generalized version, there are many different layouts. Basically this form of ad is passive and does not persuade the reader to buy. In essence it just says “this is me, this is what I do and this is how to contact me”.Most small businesses use this format because they don’t know any different. They have been led to believe that this is the ‘right’ way to advertise. This form of advertising focuses on the business, not the customer, selling is only a by-product.Graphic designers and advertising sales representatives love these ads. They are fast and easy to create and their performance can’t be measured.Although I call these types of ads garbage, they do have their place in the advertising world. Institutional ads are fine for the big corporations with their multi-million dollar advertising budgets.Institutional advertising is very good at ‘image’ creation. The problem with these advertisements is although they can be good at ‘selling’ a corporate image – they aren’t good at selling products and services.What Are Direct Response Advertisements?Direct response advertising originated through mail-order companies. Mail-order companies basically can only survive if their ads generate orders – they have to get it right or lose money. Because of all the measuring and testing carried out by these companies over the last century, the results generated have proved without doubt what works in direct response advertising.In relation to institutionalized ads, readers respond to direct-response ads in significantly greater numbers. Institutionalized ads require the prospect to be actively looking for your product in order to generate an inquiry, whereas direct response advertising makes them act regardless if they are actively looking for the product or not.One of the things that make direct response advertising so effective is that each component of the ad is tested. This allows things to be changed and altered to see the best response; nothing is included unless it proves to increase responses.Direct response advertising has proven itself to be an effective method throughout businesses in all countries. The fundamentals of direct response are adaptable to any type of business in any type of media. Even though I primarily focus on print marketing, these concepts can be carried over to the web, television or radio too.If it’s not already obvious, here’s the difference.Institutionalized Vs Direct Response It’s not rocket science to work out which of these ads are going to pull more sales, but most people are oblivious to the fact that they even use institutionalized ads. They don’t know that there’s an alternative.With institutional ads, you just say who you are, what you do and how to get in touch. There is nothing special or unique about your ad. If you’re lucky the reader sees your ad, but they see it as a just another business advertisement. They are just like every other institutionalized ad – which essentially only says “This is my business, this is what I sell and this is how to get in contact with me”With direct-response ads, you are actually advertising a specific offer, with a straight forward, compelling and detailed message that answers the reader’s favorite question “what’s in it for me?” A direct response advert not only attracts the reader to the offer, it actually motivates the reader to order now or to fill in the coupon or give you a call. This is what is often referred to as a “call to action”. You actually ask your prospect what to do.Direct Response Breakdown An effective direct response ad can be broken down into two main parts:• The Offer
• The CompositionIn order for an ad to succeed, it must be solid in both these areas.If you have an amazing offer and a weak composition – very few people will notice, let alone read your ad and learn about the great offer. Alternatively, an ad that is composed according to the successful principles of direct response marketing, but only has an average offer will get read, but the readers won’t have sufficient reason to respond because of your weak offer.You need to have an advertisement with a good offer. It needs to have value to the reader. As long as the ad is composed using the following components, you will see amazing response rates.
There is a step by step sequence that has been proven to work time and time again for the past 100 years:• You make a specific promise and/or offer
• You present your features and benefits
• You prove that you can deliver using social proof
• You remove risk using a guarantee
• You appeal to their emotions
• And you ask for an action.That is essentially all there is to it. These response-generating, money-making strategies have proved themselves to be more efficient than any other method of advertising. When you apply these strategies to your ads, you will notice a dramatic increase in responses.The beauty is that you do not have to spend a cent more on advertising. All you’ll do it use your current budget and change your current institutionalized ads into direct response ads. You’ll see an amazing change in the effectiveness of your advertising.

Tips on Lawn Care Business Advertising Methods

In this article we will discuss advertising methods most commonly used in commercial lawn care businesses. Though this is just a partial list as the possibilities are almost limitless, we will try to touch on the most common methods of advertising used by new lawn care business start-ups.YELLOW PAGES | PHONE BOOK ADVERTISING:We will discuss advertising in the yellow pages first, as I consider this to be the biggest return on investment when it comes to advertising, as well as the most costly. Even with the internet age, the phone book is still the place were the majority of individuals turn to first when looking for a local business. Having your company listed in the phone books yellow pages is by far the best return on initial investment in my opinion. With the cost of advertising in the yellow pages increasing each year, most phone book publishers have begun offering monthly payments as a means of paying for your company’s ad. With prices ranging from a couple of hundred dollars annually to several thousand dollars depending on the size and location of your ad.When we first started out, we basically had a small display ad (the smallest they offered), instead of running just a text listing. Display ads capture a potential customer’s attention easier and it offers a quick way of letting your potential customer know of the services that you offer. Though you can create your own yellow page ad yourself if you are adept with software such as Adobe Photo Shop. Most phone book publishers have graphic artist on staff that can create your ad based on your company’s criteria.Text ads, though cheaper to purchase, may not be the most cost effective if your rate of return off the ad doesn’t justify the initial publication cost. Try to remember the last time you looked up a company in the yellow pages. If you knew the business name that you were searching for, you probably quickly scanned down the text listings till you found the one that you were hunting for. More than likely though, if you did not know the name of an individual business, and were just looking for say a plumbing business, the display ads probably caught your eye first. Text ads do serve a purpose though, and will help an individual find your business phone number when looking for your name, as well as those individuals who are looking for just a random lawn care company.
Considerably cheaper to purchase, having your company listed only by a text ad is definitely better than not have your company listed at all. I would recommend though that if your finances will only allow you to invest in a text ad that you try to at least spend the money and have the listing in bold. This will help in making your text ad stand out from the others somewhat. Most larger cities now days have more than one phone book available. Check with each one regarding pricing and distribution to determine which book will offer you the biggest bang for your buck.FLYERS:As we have discussed above what I consider to be the biggest return on your advertising investment, flyers would fall into my least return on initial investment and effort scale.
Though you may read on the many different forums on the internet regarding the use of flyers as a means of advertising, the rate of return is generally less than 2%. That means for every 1,000 flyers that you stuff under someone’s windshield wiper blade, or hand out as they are coming out of a grocery store, you will get roughly 20 phone calls requesting quotes. This may seem like a good deal of business on the surface, but let’s put a few numbers to it.First off most copy businesses charge generally a minimum of $.05 per sheet for copy service. At a 1,000 copies, you’ve already spent $50.00. Then you must calculate in at least a day to walk around and pass out the flyers. I remember when I first started out I put a dollar value on my time of $35.00 per hour. Not knowing any better, I estimated this is what it would take to pay myself a decent salary as well as pay for my equipment. This figure was low, but we will discuss that in another section. But just to have something to work with, we will use the $35.00 per hour fee that I estimated my time to be valued at.Well if you consider it will take a good portion of a day to pass out a 1,000 flyers to individuals, at $35.00 per hour that comes to $280.00 for an 8 hour day. Combine that with the $50.00 you spent at the copy center, and your now into your CHEAP method of advertising to the tune of $330.00. That is close to what you would have spent for a text ad in the local telephone book yellow pages.Yes, as we have discussed, you stand the potential of getting 20 new customers so let’s put some numbers to it. When first starting out, and unless the properties are extremely small, you will probably average somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 cuttings a day for residential. Less than that if they are larger properties, or less than that if you short cut and do sub standard work. At 6 yards a day, it will take you roughly 3.3 days to finish mowing your 20 new customers. But to keep the math simple, let’s just assume that you can complete mowing the 20 properties in an even 3 days working 8 hour days. At your $35.00 an hour rate in an 8 hour day, minus the cost of printing and handing out the flyers, you’ve made $370.00.Now if you divide the $370.00 into 3 eight hour days, you’ve actually earned only $15.41 per hour. I can tell you from experience that isn’t enough to pay for your equipment, much less your salary. Now I am not totally against the use of flyers as a means of advertising, as I feel they do serve a purpose and can be a quick way to pick up some new clients. I would not advise stepping off into the green industry business with the idea that all you have to do is go pass out some flyers in order to strike it rich. Also please note, just as a reminder, placing flyers inside a homeowner’s mail box is illegal. Federal Law prohibits an individual from tampering with the mail,and although your only placing a flyer inside a mail box it is still considered a felony.FREE CLASSIFIEDS | PENNY RECORDSJust about any time you enter a convenience store, you’re bound to see a rack with free local classified ads. Though generally nothing fancy, as they are usually in a news paper style format, they do offer a way to promote your business for a reasonable amount. For generally $30 – $40 you can have your business ad run for several days or weeks. These free classifieds newspapers reach a very large audience, and though probably not the first place someone would look to in searching for a lawn care company, you can pick up the occasional individual who might not have been actually looking for a lawn maintenance company but after seeing your ad remembered that their own yard needed to be mowed.LOCAL INTERNET CLASSIFIEDSIf you happen to live in an area that is lucky enough to have a local online classifieds website, this can be used as another source of affordable advertising. Having done both print and internet advertising, you seem to pick up a different class of customer through internet advertising than you do print advertising. Not to try and stereotype anyone, in my experience the customers we have picked up from internet advertising tend to be a little better off financially, a little more up to date on landscaping trends, but generally will not be as tolerant of sub standard work.DOOR HANGERSI really like door hangers, although I have not personally gone door to door hanging them on homeowner’s door knobs. Our technique was that we had door hangers printed up which stated that we were in their neighborhood servicing their neighbors yard and would like to extend our services to their home as well. Our flyers also stated that we had briefly looked at their yard and could offer our services for $xx.xx dollars per cut. The bottom of the door hanger was a detachable business card that they could remove and keep with them. We had our door hangers custom printed by online printing company for around $80.00.MAGNETIC SIGNS | YARD SIGNSI really like this particular lawn care advertising method personally. Having good magnetic signs on the sides of your truck is an invaluable method of free advertising. Not only are you advertising your company as you drive around town from job to job, but it also makes it easy for individuals to see who it is servicing their neighbors lawn. A good set of magnetic door signs will run you around $100.00 for a set, but it ranks second on my list of must dos. Yard signs are also excellent when it comes to prime advertising. Though you will spend probably $150.00 on a set of signs, these can be placed in customer’s yards (with their prior approval), making it again easy for neighbors to see who it is servicing the lawn.In ClosingRegardless of the landscape advertising method you choose to promote your company, a good marketing scheme is critical as word of mouth advertising will only reach so many individuals.
I understand that at first your advertising budget will be extremely limited, which is why I have attempted to list several of the most common forms of advertising methods above. To try and sum up the above though, in my personal opinion, I believe the two most valuable forms of advertising a new start up lawn maintenance company can do is:

Yellow Page Advertising (display ad)
Magnetic Truck Signs – Yard Signs

I recommend budgeting the most you can afford towards good quality advertising, perform quality work, and watch your business grow!