Whether you’re new to the trade or you feel like you live your whole life in the air, knowing how to properly market a tree service business is instrumental for success. Without proactive marketing efforts, client bases can stall out and slowly deteriorate. Marketing is important for ensuring that businesses continue to add customers, allowing them to expand their operations.
Promoting an arborist business requires flexing a different set of muscles than is needed for tree pruning. The process entails a certain amount of sales and outreach savvy, but it’s something that anybody can learn over time.
First Steps: Survey the Terrain
To start with, take an assessment of the competitive landscape. Arborists who don’t already know which businesses in their area offer similar services should conduct online searches and ask around.
Not only will they learn how their product offerings, customer service and identity differ from other businesses, but they’ll also discover which marketing techniques other businesses are already using. Additionally, and perhaps even more importantly, they’ll find out which channels their competitors are not leveraging. This information can be useful when developing a strategy for marketing a tree service business.
After a tree service business leader conducts some fact-finding about their competitors’ tactics, it’s time to take stock of their own brand identity. This is a foundational practice for marketers because every element of the tree business’s collateral, whether published in print or digital formats, will need to carry a consistent message.
Existing businesses may be able to refine their current branding for greater differentiation from competitors and consistency across channels. New companies will need to develop their brand identity from scratch.
Email marketing automation company Mailchimp pointed out that the basics of branding start with identifying your company’s:
- Brand idea.
As arborists brainstorm around these topics, they should be sure to use distinct language, not just industry buzzwords. It can help to lean into characteristics, concepts and ideals that aren’t present in the competition.
The brand identity should then be made visible in every customer-facing part of the tree service company. This includes the business’s color palette as well as its logo, the word choice used in email newsletters and even in employee interactions.
Beginning To Market an Arborist Business: It’s All About the Leads
With the competitive landscape and the company’s unique brand identity in mind, let’s get a sense of the overall marketing journey for arborist businesses.
Essentially, marketing is all about leads. Specifically, marketing for arborists entails:
- Generating tree business leads.
- Nurturing those tree business leads.
- Converting those tree business leads into sales.
These three stages also overlap with the sales cycle. From a marketing perspective, it’s most important to keep in mind that leads have to come from somewhere, that it will take time to convert some of these initial leads into closed sales and that some of them will never convert. This is OK. It’s all part of the process of acquiring new tree service customers.
Segment the Tree Service Audience
Once an arborist has a good understanding of who they are, as well as who their competitors are and the overall process for generating and converting leads, there’s one more element to consider before embarking on the marketing process. In order to get more tree work, businesses have to develop an understanding of who might hire them. Otherwise, an arborist will have no idea where to look for new leads or how to guide those leads through the marketing and sales process. Marketing flows, from beginning to end, have to be tailor-made for specific personas.
Developing Buyer Personas for Tree Service Companies
Creating unique buyer personas is a technique that’s frequently used in marketing to help craft messages that resonate with potential customers.
Social media marketing platform Hootsuite outlined a simple process for developing buyer personas. This system could be used for marketing an arborist business.
Essentially, in addition to completing a competitor analysis, Hootsuite recommended examining the demographics and attributes of current customers. Then, businesses should combine that research with figures drawn from data analytics.
A tree service company’s current marketing website and social media profiles will serve as good inspiration here, even before new marketing strategies are rolled out. Once new techniques are implemented, the company will hopefully generate more tree business leads from among the initial target demographic and learn about potential customers they might not have focused on otherwise.
Next, the tree service company should identify these customers’ pain points and goals. The business will then match those objectives to specific benefits provided by the company’s offerings.
After all of this research, the company will have enough information to craft individual personas. Essentially, a buyer persona is a distinct character with a name, age, occupation, personality and other unique attributes.
An arborist might start the process of developing buyer personas with the knowledge that they want to target customers in two different categories:
- Municipal departments.
After conducting further research, the tree service business may identify who the decision-makers or influencers are in the municipal department. Influencers, who have input on a purchasing decision, and decision-makers, who have the final say, may have distinct personas. The final draft of the persona will include the target customer’s title, agency, age range and other attributes.
For the homeowner category, the persona may be refined to include the individual’s neighborhood, income range, family composition and more.
Promote Arborist Businesses Using Content for All Buyer Personas at Each Stage in the Sales Life Cycle
The final piece of the puzzle before implementing new initiatives to market a tree service business is to understand life cycle stages for buyer personas.
Inbound marketing platform HubSpot identified this process, along with exploring buyer personas, as an essential component for creating content maps. Essentially, life cycle stages represent milestones along the persona’s journey toward a purchasing decision for a tree service company.
By producing a grid that plots individual buyer personas on one axis and life cycle stages on the other, it’s possible to develop a system called a content map. Using this map, marketers can begin to envision the kinds of strategies they need to use to motivate each potential customer on every step of their journey.
For an example of how to market an arborist business, let’s think about the homeowner persona again:
- The earliest life cycle stage for this persona might prompt the marketer to share with the potential customer how a pain point they’re experiencing is related to a tree maintenance issue.
- During the persona’s next life cycle stage, the marketer might provide a list of potential remedies.
- In the final stage, the marketer could share information about why one particular arborist business is the right choice for the potential customer.
HubSpot has content map templates that can be used for generating content ideas. These schematics can also be useful for thinking about other strategies, in addition to content, that can motivate different buyer personas at certain stages.
Traditional Techniques for Marketing a Tree Service Business
Tried-and-true techniques are invaluable for generating tree business leads. Traditional methods that display a unique brand identity are still indispensable for creating interest and getting the word out that there’s a tree service expert available in the neighborhood.
Here are some traditional techniques that are effective in promoting arborist businesses. When combined with digital methods and integrated into a holistic marketing strategy that targets specific buyer personas at each stage in the buying process, these practices can be especially effective.
Solicit Referrals From Current Tree Service Customers
Word of mouth has always been one of the best ways for arborists to get more tree work. Once a tree service company performs work for a customer, that client’s neighbors, family members and friends may be interested in finding out who did the job. If the customer tells people about how great the service was, that personal testimonial will go a long way toward generating trust.
Some arborist businesses actively seek out referrals from their existing clients by offering nominal discounts or gift cards. Providing a little extra incentive can encourage happy customers to become brand evangelists for tree service companies.
Promote the Arborist Business With an Eye-Catching Truck
A service truck emblazoned with a distinct and memorable logo is practically a fee-free billboard. When workers are in the field, passersby who are interested in the work being done will take note of the company’s name. Arborist businesses should make sure that their contact information, including their email address, website and phone number, are easy to find. A direct call to action, like “Call us today for a free quote,” can help potential leads take the first step and reach out.
As a bonus, ensuring that trucks, trailers and other field equipment are clearly labeled and branded can help prevent theft.
Market the Arborist Business Using Branded Print Collateral
If potential customers in different life cycle stages need an additional nudge, print collateral can help support marketing efforts for a tree service company.
Here are some of the custom-made materials that can be helpful for promoting an arborist business:
- Business cards.
- Door hangers.
- Yard signs.
- Door-to-door flyers.
Many of these items can aid in generating tree business leads and encouraging potential customers to take action during the earliest life cycle stages. Essentially, these items help generate basic brand awareness. Potential customers who receive a visit from a door-to-door canvasser may get an additional push if the representative who visits them can flag potential pain points related to trees on the property.
Going Digital To Market a Tree Service Business
In recent years, digital marketing has become increasingly important for generating, nurturing and converting leads, both in the e-commerce world and for more traditional businesses. This is notable for a couple of reasons.
First of all, when most people want to solve a problem or find a company that provides a specific kind of product or service, they turn to the internet. Businesses that are discoverable will win every time.
Second, there are numerous potential touch points online that allow businesses to cost-effectively maintain contact with their customers. By doing this, the business can continue to provide value and keep their brand in the spotlight. A prospective customer might lose a business card, but if that person follows the business on social media, they’ll continue to think about the company.
Prioritize Local Search To Promote Arborist Businesses
Most customers want to hire a local tree service company. They prefer to work with arborists who know the area’s terrain, weather conditions and hazards. It doesn’t hurt that local companies will arrive on the job site more quickly.
Arborist businesses can’t afford to skip local search. A partner-authored article published by the Tree Care Industry Association recommended:
- Starting with Google My Business.
- Optimizing for local search.
- Soliciting positive online reviews from satisfied customers.
- Updating information for other websites like Yelp.
Invest in Tree Service Content and Email Marketing
A holistic content strategy is all about adding value for each buyer persona at every stage of the sales life cycle. The benefits of this strategy are twofold:
- First, it will help potential customers find the tree service company through organic search.
- Second, distributing useful blogs, e-books, white papers and other content through email newsletters and nurture campaigns can maintain brand awareness or help leads move up to the next life cycle stage in their sales journey.
Market a Tree Service Business Over Social Media
Social media accounts for arborist businesses don’t necessarily need to engage in the latest viral fads, nor do they have to leverage every platform from LinkedIn to TikTok. It’s all about finding a match for the tree company’s buyer personas and providing useful content.
Companies can share their own materials or collateral published by other stakeholders in the field, like trade organizations. Social media presents another opportunity to participate in a wide variety of relevant conversations, securing a place for the business’s brand identity at the forefront of the dialogue.