Growing a tree service business isn’t easy. In the US, many markets already have one or two established tree care companies with big budgets and a big head start. If you try to rely on standard tree care business marketing and advertising tactics, they can simply outspend you.
So is all hope lost? Far from it.
The fact is, since most tree service companies rely on the same marketing tactics, making a name for yourself comes down to picking the right battles. Armed with this advice, you’ll be able to start generating new business for your tree care business almost immediately, without clearing out your bank account.
1. Use Facebook to grow & leverage word of mouth
Many marketing companies that specialize in tree care companies will tell you to avoid Facebook. They say it doesn’t have a great value proposition, and that it makes for a poor return on investment.
Their loss is your gain.
Making your Facebook page a priority can give you several new opportunities:
- It’s the easiest way to keep in touch with happy customers
- It’s the easiest way for happy customers to spread the word
- It’s the easiest way to build your brand (the values & promises that go beyond a logo)
- It’s one of the easiest & cheapest ways to run your own ads
Advertising campaigns for larger tree service companies tend to focus on immediate returns and immediately measurable results.
The problem with this approach is that it can undervalue social media marketing.
If someone sees one of your Facebook posts, clicks through to your site, and then calls, many companies would say that your website did all the work. Likewise, posting fun and information content won’t immediately get you many calls, but it will help expand your network, put your best reviews on display, and help your biggest fans be heard by more people.
If you don’t think that’s a win, maybe you should stick with flipping burgers.
2. Set up and optimize your Google my Business profile the right way
A Google My Business listing is free to set up, and it only takes a couple of minutes. Once you have one, your company will be eligible to show up in the local listings when someone searches for “tree care near me,” “local tree trimmer,” and literally hundreds of other variations.
While most tree care companies do have Google my Business listings, there are several places where they will try to cut corners or play games. Here’s how to do things a little better:
- Use your business’s actual name. Don’t try to add extra keywords to the end, such as “Dave’s Tree Service of Houston 24 Hours.” Fake names are easy to correct, and businesses that try to use them will be harder to find in the long term.
- User your business’s actual phone number. Don’t try to use a tracking phone number because Google will check it against whatever other data they can find—which is a lot. With Google, inconsistent data usually means less visibility for your business.
- Use your business’s actual address. A lot of businesses try to use P.O. boxes or virtual offices, but that can cause real damage to your visibility once you’re caught, which is becoming much more frequent. Instead, use your real address, even if it’s your home address. You can always hide it from searchers so they’ll only see your service area.
- Include all categories that make sense for your business. If you also offer landscaping and lawn care, be sure to include them, even if you would rather stick with tree care. Once you’re established for tree care and can afford to be picky, there’s nothing wrong with getting rid of those other services.
- Add some photos of your work, equipment, and employees. Businesses with lots of photos tend to be shown more often in Google searches. Renaming the image file names before uploading to include specific cities, neighborhoods, or services can also give you an edge.
- Include your entire service area, not just your ideal service area. Once again, you can always constrict your service area later, once you can afford to be picky.
- Include your hours of operation. This is just one more data point that Google can use to decide which companies to show. If you offer even a few hours that competitors do not, that can make all the difference.
Lastly, be sure that any other online profiles you create for your business share the same name, address, and phone number. Google hates showing inaccurate data to shoppers, because anyone who dials a dead number or calls a fake business is much less likely to trust Google’s search results in the future.
3. Offer a Referral Fee
Word of mouth has long been the most powerful form of marketing for one important reason:
People trust their friends more than they trust you.
So, why not leverage that?
The next time you earn a happy customer, try offering them a referral fee. If they can refer you a new client who spends at least $500 on a job, you’ll send them a $50 gift card. All of a sudden, they’ll go from “I’ll keep you in mind the next time someone needs tree care” to “let me go call Janet.”
If you try this approach, which you absolutely should, be sure to avoid the common mistakes:
- Don’t be cheap. No one is going to call Janet if she needs to spend $1,000 before they earn $10.
- Pick an offer and stick to it. You don’t want to remember who has the $50 for $500 deal and who has the $25 for $400 deal.
- Make sure you give five star service to the client who was referred. No one recommends a flaky company twice.
- Be careful who you give this offer to. Some referral sources, such as real estate agents, could send you hundreds of clients over the life of your business. You might not want to pay for each one of those.
- Remember that this is a one-time referral fee, so it’s okay if it cuts into profits—the first time. If you do a good job, they will eventually call you again for full price service.
4. Offer & market less competitive services
Competing directly for “tree care” in your market might be impossible for a new business, but that’s not your only option.
If you also do landscaping, chances are good that you offer several other services with just a fraction of the competition, such as:
- In-ground fire pit construction
- Fish pond installation
- Custom pizza ovens
- Sprinkler repair
- Drip irrigation installation
- Sod and turf installation
With that in mind, try to come up with a few unique services that are a good fit for you. Once you have one, post photos of it on Facebook and complement it with a good call to action, like “custom pizza ovens made to order. Call 555… for a free bid.” Then, spend just $5-10 to “boost” the post to “people who like my page and their friends.”
Why pay to boost the post?
Because chances are good that your Facebook followers don’t even know that you offer those services, and promoting to your own followers (and friends) is much cheaper and more effective than promoting to a brand new audience. It’s also a great way to turn friends of followers into followers.
Once you have a few unique services, you can also include them on brochures, on your website, or in other marketing materials while receiving the same benefits.
5. Partner with a nonprofit
No matter how many five star reviews you earn, you’ll never be as popular as a nonprofit.
If you really want to put your business on the map in record time, find a local nonprofit that shares your values, or is doing something amazing in your community. The important part is that they’re big enough to have a local presence, but small enough to value your help.
Find out who’s in charge, and give them an offer:
In the month of May, 5% of everything we make will go straight to your charity. In exchange, we want you to help us promote that.
You’ll find that many small charities will jump at the opportunity, and you’ll be able to benefit from their good name. Just be sure to define their contributions to the project: don’t just assume they will put your offer on their home page, or on their Facebook, or in their newsletter. Work with the charity to take stock of your promotional options, and then explore them together.
And that’s just the beginning
Building a successful tree care business isn’t an easy job, but now that you’ve read through our tips, you’re now more prepared than the competition.
Of course, these aren’t the only marketing ideas you should consider for your tree care business. SEO is still one of the best ways to market a tree care business, but it’s not for startups. It takes a lot to get an SEO campaign right, and hiring a cheap SEO company is a really, really, really bad idea.
But when you are ready to invest in SEO for your tree care company, you know where to find us.