What consumers want

May 6, 2013 -  By

Green Industry marketing experts translate the results of PLANET/Harris Interactive’s  consumer survey.

In December, Harris Interactive conducted an online survey on behalf of the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET) to discern homeowners’ landscape priorities. The study was conducted among more than 2,800 U.S. adults.

To learn how some of the study’s results can be used by landscape professionals to improve their messaging, we tapped three Green Industry marketing pros to give us their take. Here’s how they broke it down.

About the chart titled, How they find you, the expert says:How they find you chart

“These survey results are consistent with others that suggest the two most trusted sources of information for making buying decisions are the web (online search and reviews equal 44 percent) and recommendations of friends (referrals at 53 percent).

While the recommendations of trusted influencers will always be powerful, the truth is people make choices based upon a number of criteria. We have access to data and opinions like never before, and we use that information from signage, print media, traditional websites and now social media to make better decisions.

So, whether one first goes to a friend for a referral or starts by doing research online, the truth is people will use one to validate the other. Therefore, if your business has a thin online presence, the likelihood of those personal referrals holding up is nearly cut in half, according to the data from this survey.

Professional landscape services are a significant investment, and consumers will seek businesses that measure up in multiple categories: trusted by friends, professional in their online appearance and, of course, active in their local communities, which is another measure of trust.

If the majority of consumers make their buying decisions based upon recommendations and online search, it stands to reason landscape professionals should focus on two things: Do good work to earn referrals and learn to use social media and other forms of online marketing to amplify that.”

Jeff Korhan, Author of Built-In Social: Essential Social Marketing Practices for Every Small Business

About the charts titled, What they think of you, the expert says:What they think of you chart

“Research is one of the most valuable tools in business when designed, analyzed and leveraged correctly. Looking at this research, you see that price and quality of work are rated No. 1 and No. 2 for both questions. Therefore, in order to be successful you’ll need to market and sell value and risk, not price, since value is defined as benefits divided by price.

What you want to communicate to customers is everything they’d lose by not buying from you (risk), and, conversely, everything they’ll gain by hiring you. You must clearly identify all of the benefits they’ll gain by using your products, services and team. Things that go a long way in communicating value and validating price include credentials, warranties and guarantees, sustainable practices and/or innovative payment plans. Sell opportunity not price.

Quality of work issues can be handled by the presence of a reputable list of references, strong warranties, a checklist of daily site activities performed, a map or personal tour of completed work and/or by providing product samples. All employees should be in uniforms with your company name clearly visible. Also consider having an English-speaking account manager with 24/7 accessibility, regularly scheduled walk-throughs and an easy-to-use feedback mechanism.

Don’t forget, these value and risk proof points need to embedded into all of your communications—everywhere you connect with your customers and prospects.”

Judy Guido,  Guido & Associates

About the charts titled, What they value about their landscape, the expert says:What they value charts

“Looking at your communications, are you targeting these themes (homeowner pride, property values and relaxation) when you market? If not, it’s time to make adjustments to your messaging. Think about your elevator speech and ensure your wording paints a clear picture of your work to a prospect. For example, ‘The gardens my team and I create complement our clients’ beautiful homes, enriching their lifestyles and giving them more time to relax with family and friends.’

In reviewing images for future materials, which ones speak to pride, relaxation and property values while mirroring your sales messaging? Clients often don’t know what they want, but they do know what they don’t want. Plan your marketing well and help them make educated decisions.”

Lara Moffat, ASLA, LM Creative Consulting





Marisa Palmieri

About the Author:

Marisa Palmieri is an experienced Green Industry editor who's won numerous awards for her coverage of the landscape and golf course markets from the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association (TOCA), the Press Club of Cleveland and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2007, ASBPE named her a Young Leader. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, cum laude, from Ohio University’s Scripps School of Journalism.

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