Saturday, May 2, 2009

My answer to a start up landscaping business owner - how to handle competition

Date: 4/28/2009 8:32:57 PM

I'm a young guy (26) who just recently moved back home, a small county in Va. I opened up a landscape/hardscape business and have a wonderful skills aquired in this area, that were developed in a rather ritzy city in the midwest. I'm very proud of what I know and can do.. But here's the scoop, when I moved back and opened the business, a "good ole' boy" down the road saw what I was doing and started the same type of business and has really got a corner (literally) on the market for advertizing.. more and more people are starting to use him and he has never planted a plant in his life much less designed anything! I know I have him by light years in regards to knowledge, work quality, and the such.. but he has the whole "being local" thing going for him. How do I get the corner market in this case besides just doing great work??

And my answer to him:


In order for any small business to succeed (whether landscaping or carpentry or chiropractic), you first need to plan. Researching and writing a business plan is so crucial that those who fail to plan essentially plan to fail, so the saying goes.

This competitor of yours is leveraging his network against you. In normal business planning, you would develop what is called a SWOT analysis, which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. You would write up a description of your own strengths, the opportunities in the local marketplace to service clients who are not already being serviced by others, your own weaknesses, and any threats against your businesses, whether those threats are direct competitors, indirect competitors, bad weather, economic decline, etc.

And, you would also do a SWOT from all of your competitors positions. You would determine what weaknesses of each of your competitors (in this case, the good ol' boy who is opportunistic but incompetent) you could leverage against them.

In this case, based on the little that you've already told me, you would recognize that this competitor's clients will soon realize that he is not very good (assuming that they have a point of reference to compare his work to). If he charges the same that you do, and he does inferior work, his clients will quickly notice this and, if you are in front of them as an option, either in person or through marketing collateral (brochures, fliers, post cards, business cards, ads, etc) they know that you could be a better option and will contact you.

So, if his weakness is incompetence, and if he may even have a character flaw of a lack of integrity (knowing he is not qualified but still selling his friends his services), then your marketing message must leverage this against him, without specifically mentioning his company. How would you do this?

First, you'd tell a story of a very satisfied client. Marketing messages that actually capture people's attention are often story driven. You explain someone's problem and show how you solved it, thus directly showing how you'd solve your prospective client's problem. You'd tell the story that SHOWCASES your education, training, certification, and how landscapers without this background would not have solved it. You could even explain the story with your client describing the "MESS" created by "the other guy in town" who truly didn't know what they were doing. You explain to the prospective client the "DANGERS" of hiring someone who doesn't have integrity, essentially teaching them HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT LANDSCAPER.

I am a small business marketing specialist, having helped over 1,600 small business owners from around the world identify what is stopping them from making more money in their particular business, in their particular market, and in their particular economy. The principles and "best practices" are the same, but, the application of them is unique to each situation.

You see, becoming a successful landscaper has only partly to do with being good at your craft. You are not really in the business of landscaping. Sounds funny, doesn't it?! You are in the business of marketing landscaping services. So, you'll need to first become a good marketer and sales person and then you'll never have a problem growing your business... Your clients will see that you deliver on your promised (unlike your competition) and you'll dominate your local market.

Essentially, I can help you avoid the wasted time, wasted money, intense frustration, & hopeless confusion you experience when you ineffectively market your small business. For many years I have been helping over 1,600 small business owners understand the psychology of their ideal client: why your ideal client will buy what you are offering

I can review your current business plan (if you have one) and/or help you research and write your plan. With a thorough & accurate profile of your ideal client guiding your strategy, all of your marketing campaigns will produce a significantly higher ROI. After working with me, you'll be able to make marketing & sales process decisions with confidence and clarity, knowing exactly how to send the right message to the right people in the right way. Marketing is simple, it's just not that easy. Why is it not easy?

Simply put, most people don't take the time to do their homework, thus they feel confused and start guessing as to how to advertise and grow their client base. They try everything, and very little works. So, frustration is inevitable. If you spend your initial time and money instead on a marketing consultant/coach, you'll then start thinking like a marketer and eventually you'll become the expert at marketing landscaping services and you would only need someone like me for more advanced strategies.

I’m is also a professional copy writer. I can help you develop your marketing campaigns to make sure your overall design, images, and words will motivate your prospects to take the action you request.

There are proven formats that consistently yield the highest ROI, and I can show you how to implement those principles. I take the time to stay on top of all the latest traditional marketing & internet marketing strategies that are producing the best results for small businesses. When you partner with me, you get results. Period.

My specialties are:

Start ups, business model feasibility studies, target marketing, sales process strategy, psychological profile of ideal customer/client & catering the marketing message & sales process to fit that customer's natural tendencies. Focusing your marketing campaign only to ideal clients results in a decrease in marketing costs and an increase in ROI. I am quite adept at understanding "why people buy" and I have a history of successfully developing marketing strategies that allow those who are most likely to buy hear your messages—and converting more prospect with follow up sales strategies that are most effective at closing the sale.

How I Can Help You Grow Your Profits:


There are numerous common marketing mistakes that I can help you avoid. The average marketing mistake costs a small business owner $15,000. I will work with you, one-on-one, developing both an initial diagnostic and later, if you choose, a thorough review of your marketing history and current strategies. You will know what is wrong and why it has been stopping you from attracting your ideal clients. You will know with certainty which marketing strategies for your particular business are most likely to produce the greatest net profit in the shortest amount of time. No more guess work. No more wasted time and money on marketing efforts.

I can help you Master the Psychology of Consumer Behavior:

I am adept at helping business owners understand why their ideal client will buy. I will guide you through a step-by-step process to get inside the mind of your ideal client and reach them with a message that is so appealing that they choose to start a relationship with you.

I deliver STRONG ROI for marketing campaigns:

After working with me, you'll be able to make marketing and sales process decisions with confidence & clarity, knowing exactly how to send the right message to the right people in the right way.

My Ad Copy Writing Converts Readers to Buyers:

As I’ve said before, I’m a professional ad copy writer. Copy is simply an industry term for the all the words in your marketing materials, including your sales letters, your advertisements, your website, post cards, business cards, and your elevator pitch when you introduce yourself. There are proven formats that consistently yield the highest ROI, and I can show you how to implement those principles, working with you to write effective copy.


I take the time to stay on top of all the latest innovative marketing and cost-effective internet marketing strategies that are producing the best results for small business owners. My clients leave my office with confident smiles & deeper pockets.

I can help you make more money in your small business for a lot less investment than most small business coaches. Again, I've helped literally thousands small business owners from around the world make more money through improving their marketing strategies and execution of their marketing campaigns.

The greatest resource of the entrepreneur that is also his or her most scarce resource is not money. The scarcest resource you have is your time. If you are willing to invest and hour or two of your time I will be willing to do the same. Then, we can agree to either continue on a regular basis or not.

Often it takes an objective third party to diagnose what's really going on in your business.

Given our tough economic times, as a start up, you'll have to overcome a lot of resistance from clients as to price. There is a method to make price a lot less important, even during a recession, to your clients. You need to attract your ideal clients to you, which is something I specialize in helping you do.

During your diagnostic session, I don't hold anything back. I give you my best, with the hopes that you and I might eventually develop a relationship in which I work with you regularly on a contingency contract.

There are typically two areas that most small business owners neglect.

First, most small business owners neglect optimizing their own mindset. Developing prosperity consciousness is the first and foremost responsibility of the business owner. I will make available to you for free hundreds of files, including pdfs, audio, and video, that can help you develop a mindset for business success.

Second, most small business owners, and I mean 99 out of 100, never take the time to develop a psychological profile of their business' IDEAL client. Without knowing how your ideal client makes decisions you will not know how to most effectively market and sell to your ideal clients. Not knowing who your ideal client is will make its much more difficult to grow your net profits as you will service clients who are not ideal.

In general an ideal client is one who is easy to find, easy to reach with a message, responds to that message, takes action, is easy to sell to, buys more than your average clients, does business regularly would you, and refers all of his or her family, friends, and associates to you.

Applying the 80/20 principle, we know that 20% of your revenue comes from 80% of your clients and 80% of the revenue comes from 20% of your clients. Wouldn't you like to replace the 80% of your less than ideal clients with the 20% of ideal clients less quadrupling your income, basically making more money in less time. This is the power of developing an ideal client psychological profile otherwise known as psychographics.

Demographics are the first step and also the easiest step in developing a marketing campaign. Too often small business owners stop at a demographic profile, then buy a list from a list broker, and send off thousands of postcard or flyer or brochure. They then sit and wait for the phone to ring, and unfortunately, little to nothing happens. Have you ever found yourself in that situation?

There's a simple solution that unfortunately most small business owners don't know. In order for even an ideal client to respond to a marketing message they need to hear a similar message in various formats from 10 to 12 times before they will take action and contact you. This means that if you send out 5000 postcards you don't send them to 5000 people once.

Instead, you send to 500 people 10 postcards with a similar branding theme, similar marketing message, yet different stories or themes. You'll have a similar cost, as postage is by far the greatest expense in such a campaign. And you will have a far greater response rate and a much greater return on your investment in the end. In fact, I seen up to 400% ROIs in direct mail campaigns.

The other crucial principle most small business owners neglect to apply correctly is generically termed relationship marketing. Roughly 85% of all small businesses in the United States are service based. Even if you are also selling products they're typically is a decision-making process that requires a live person to interact with the buyer. The sales process typically looks like this:

awareness --> like --> trust --> buy --> repeat buy --> refer

So, in the beginning of the relationship you are simply making your prospect aware of your offer. Your next step is essentially to get them to like you. People do business with those that they like, just like people choose to associate with friends for which they have some affinity.

Once you begin to like someone, notice that they care about your welfare, and notice that they are competence in their particular industry, you can begin to trust them and consider doing business with them.

This is where the Philanthropic Entrepreneur concept comes into play. A philanthropist is literally a lover of people, like a philosopher is a lover of wisdom. If you treat your prospective clients like a brother or sister, literally focusing on truly helping them, truly being of service, they will choose to do business with you, because they see your transparency, your honesty, your integrity, and that you truly care about them. Only once they feel your truly care will your prospecting success increase dramatically. And, you can’t fake this. You truly need to be a philanthropist. Then, at the point you’ve developed this trust, then and only then do you as the seller of your services begin to talk about the benefits of doing business with you versus other people, and the various advantages and features of your product or service.

Most sales processes (or marketing messages) start out backwards, neglecting the emotions of the prospective client. And, it is the emotions that govern decision making processes. People buy from you because it feels right, because they like you and trust you. They trust that the benefits you promise you will deliver. It has little to do with price or the features of your product or service. Remember, benefits sell, features and advantages seldom do.

Unfortunately, most people sell in face-to-face interactions or create written or video recorded promotions that focus on price, discounts, features, and forgot to establish an awareness, affinity, and trust in the relationship. This is why many advertisements and other direct mail or e-mail campaigns simply do not produce a significant return and often even no return... in fact it is often poor marketing strategy and field campaigns that is the direct cause of small businesses going out of business.

You may have heard from the Small Business Administration how well over two thirds of all small businesses failed in the first four years. And even greater numbers fail in subsequent years. Without effective marketing producing strong returns on your investment of money and time and the sales process that is engineered specifically to cater to your ideal clients preferences, wants, and hot buttons, you're more likely to fail than to succeed in building your small business.

As I said earlier, growing your landscaping business can be simple, but, it's simply not that easy. If you work with a business coach who can help you develop prosperity consciousness as well as the psychological profile of your ideal clients your likelihood of succeeding in your business venture increases exponentially.

I you are looking for clarity and confidence in your marketing strategy and campaign execution, your best strategy is to find a business coach who will act like a partner. They will grow with you over the next few years, helping you make key decisions and review everything with you every step of the way.

When you hire a business coach who works with you on marketing and sales process strategies, you'll avoid all the common mistakes, saving you a lot of wasted time and money. And, most importantly, you start making a strong RETURN ON YOUR INVESTMENT of time and money.

Sometimes he can happen quickly. Sometimes it may take a few months.

In uncertain economic times business owners who will survive will take much more calculated risks. They will do their homework in order to make decisions with clarity and confidence. A business coach who can walk you through a proven small business marketing system that has enabled literally thousands of small business owners to achieve strong ROIs in various industries in numerous cultures and economic conditions around the world is hands down one of the best partners a business owner would want to have.

We can do a full diagnostic of your business, for one hour or until you feel we've addressed everything. At the end of the conversation you and I will both make a decision to move onto the next step or not.

Once we are talking on the phone, I can tell you about website profiles where clients have written testimonials about how I've helped them ( And, you can even contact those clients directly to verify. I'm a legit marketing specialist, as you'll learn when we first talk. I'm looking for long term relationships and lots of referrals. Once I help you make more money in your landscaping business, it is natural for you to refer your contacts to me, right?

I hope this helps.

Andrew Barden

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