Q: I need ideas on how to implement a marketing plan for my landscaping business. I want to pursue builders, homeowners and property managers. My projections show we'll do about $500,000 in sales this year. I want to grow to $750,000.
A: Based on the target audiences you've identified, you'll need to implement two types of marketing programs. Builders and property managers are business-to-business prospects, while homeowners fall under the banner of consumer marketing. Many entrepreneurs market to both businesses and consumers with great success, though the effort can be somewhat more costly and time consuming than just focusing on one of those markets.
Since you'll need quality marketing materials for meetings with all three target audiences, create a printed folder with individual inserts tailored to the specific needs of each prospect group. That way, when you meet with property managers, for example, you can provide them with customized materials that focus strictly on the benefits and services they want most.
Your business-to-business marketing program should include a combination of interpersonal interaction and ongoing marketing efforts, such as advertising and public relations. The typical contact sequence for business-to-business prospects is call, mail, call. So you should develop a list of property managers and builders you'll call first then meet with or mail to. Follow up with a series of contacts until sales are closed. Set up a database using contact management software to track your contacts with prospects and their responses, and to keep scheduled follow up from falling through the cracks.
Initial contact with consumers, on the other hand, is usually made through marketing communications. Create a simple one or two sentence target audience profile-that's a description of your targeted homeowners based on their demographics and other qualifying criteria, such as whether they own their homes and their specific ZIP codes. Look for advertising opportunities and direct-mail lists that most closely match your target audience profile. Set up an advertising, public relations or direct-mail program to produce leads from homeowners then follow up by phone and in person just as you would with business-to-business prospects. And don't overlook referrals from current consumer customers. Regularly distribute customer satisfaction postcards by mail or at the end of each job that include a request for referrals.