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Industry Insights

Landscapers: Dig Deep!

Marketing was a hot topic at Landscape Ontario’s Congress again this year. Aside from the presentations focused on specific marketing strategies and techniques, the issue of how to attract quality leads also crept into the presentations on eliminating waste, effective sales and the “Secret Sauce.”

TBG’s founder & CEO Mark Bradley stressed that super profits don’t come from high pricing or superhero performance but rather from eliminating ALL waste, starting with marketing. Too many dollars get wasted, Bradley says, on non-strategic initiatives or in generating leads from the wrong people. Want to be more profitable? Reduce your cost of sale! Don’t waste time with people who are not your ideal customers.

Andrew Wall repeated this idea in his presentation suggesting that success in sales also depends on getting in front of the right customers and knowing who your ideal customer is in the first place. Want to improve sales and profits? Only spend time with qualified leads.

Boundless Productions CEO Jason Wilton talked about the Holy Grail of marketing: positioning – that one thing that sets you apart. It’s only after you define your difference and understand your audience, says Wilton, that you can tell stories that connect, engage and persuade with a more profitable clientele. Positioning is what attracts qualified leads and allows brands to charge more for their products or services.

“All these comments remind me of a quote we like to cite here at our office. “Advertising is the tax you pay for unremarkable thinking.” –– Rob Stephens”

Let’s recap:

  1. Refine your positioning – that thing that sets you apart from all the others.
  2. Be strategic with your storytelling and with how you spend your marketing dollars.
  3. Respond only to qualified leads, which are far more likely to convert into sales.

All this sets you up for more profits.

For the most part I agree with all of what was said. But WHY do it? While Congress offered a lot of content on “What” and “How,” the conference was a little light on “Why?”

The most honest answer to that question came from Andrew Wall who unabashedly stated that the only reason he is in business is to make money. But I have to say, I strongly doubt it.

Business is an intellectual sport. It’s complicated. Many, many things need to be managed on a daily basis. It takes intelligence, creativity and a ton of hard work to stay in business… Is profit a sustainable motivation for all that? Not likely.

“I’d like you to consider that you’re not in business to make profit.”

Profit is absolutely necessary for growth but never the reason to grow.

Profit is a result not a goal.

Profit is a key indicator that you are doing a lot of things right in the goal of accomplishing your mission but it should never be the mission itself.

Profit is how the marketplace rewards you and equips you to do more of what it is that you do.

Profit isn’t the starting point. It’s not the end point either. It’s somewhere in the middle.

So why do we do what we do every day? I hope for you it’s about more than making money. Money is a means, not an end. Anyone who has spent more than 20 minutes with Landscape Ontario’s Tony DiGiovanni will have heard him talk about “Enhancing people’s lives.” Now that’s a purpose worth getting out of bed for: enhancing people’s lives. Those who attended Darren Bosch’s talk would have heard him describe the Secret Sauce in good design as Love. Deep concern for your fellow man is also worth getting out of bed for.

It’s not like the landscaping industry doesn’t get this. Several initiatives gaining traction within the industry prove they do. Come Alive Outside has human health at the heart of its mission. The Highway of Heroes Tribute marking the Toronto–Trenton route seeks to honour those who gave their life for this country. Turf System’s Alan White has a vision of healthy lawns for cleaner air, happier people and stronger communities. He urges one and all to “Turn on your lawn.”

Society is facing some serious challenges as a result of its disconnect with the natural world. And who is better positioned than those in the landscape profession to lead us as a society into a better relationship with our surroundings?

I challenge this industry to dig deep. To consider your own deeply held beliefs. To reflect on what it is that we’re doing here. Decide what is most important to you. Ask yourself, “What’s possible?” “How am I uniquely gifted or positioned to address the things most important to us?” Then tell people about it!

Sharing your “Why?”

  1. Attracts team players who believe what you believe.
  2. Attracts customers who believe in and value what you do.
  3. Inspires meaningful design, products and processes.
  4. Allows you to manage all your activities effectively and efficiently so that you can increase your capacity to do more of your brand of good.

Purpose, not profit, is the starting point of your organization’s story. And we want to hear that story. Not some marketing gobbledygook designed to lure us to your website. Your honest to goodness story!! Why? Because when it comes to the companies that we, the public, will patronize, we’re looking for something more meaningful than a continual lust for profits.

Written by Jason Bouwman, RGD

January 25, 2016