There is a whole lot of advertising noise and commotion buzzing around and lawn mowing businesses have a tough time getting attention.
Think about it. With tons of advertising messages shooting across the path of your potential customers, how can they distinguish your marketing message from others? Can you really compete against the big dogs in your area with vaults of marketing money at their disposal?
The answer: Yes but it’s not going to be easy.
The fact is advertising is harder than ever to compete in. Smaller lawn businesses have less to lose than some of the bigger lawn companies out there so to get attention, some owners exaggerate their claims, making promises they can’t deliver on.
Since hype seems to be the only way to get your prospects looking at your lawn mowing business, you probably figure you need to follow in the footsteps of those who have walked outside the lines of truth.
Is this the right thing to do?
As I have talked about before, it bears repeating here again…you’ll probably get away with it in the short term but not in the long term.
Let me explain…
Here are 3 reasons why avoiding false promises and staying truthful is the way to go.
1. You Have To Be Able To Prove It
The first reason is obvious. You must be able to back up any lawn mowing business advertising claims you make with actual and factual proof. It’s legally termed making a “substantiated” claim, and the FTC gets particularly picky when it comes to claims that come close to challenging this rule.
Let’s say you run an ad saying, “One out of 10 people in Anywhere County, USA use No Name Mowing.” You’d better be able to show a reputable survey that clearly reveals those results. If you carried out the survey yourself, you have to prove it was organized and executed in good faith, conducted by an impartial third party, and that it genuinely represents the views and opinions of the group of people you are talking about.
But following this rule doesn’t start and stop with just you. All claims also apply to anyone who works for you – employees, Web designers, subcontractors, etc. If your representatives inaccurately describe your lawn mowing business, you’re in trouble.
Don’t worry there is a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card. It’s called “puffery” and you may want to do some due diligence about it and how you can use it in your lawn mowing business marketing.
For example, No Name Mowing claims its home-made organic lawn care fertilizer is “made from the best stuff on earth.” Nobody will actually believe that claim because it’s “puffery”.
However, if No Name Mowing said its fertilizers were “made with fresh organic ingredients” that becomes a claim that must be proven. No Name Mowing would need to substantiate it. When any “reasonable” person would assume that your lawn mowing business ad’s promise is so over the top that it is mere “puffery,” you’re no longer required to have to prove it.
2. It’s Against The Law To Lie
As I eluded to in the first reason above, federal law blatantly states that you must tell the truth in ads you create for your lawn mowing business services. Section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act (passed in 1914 and amended in 1996) says it’s illegal to deceive or mislead your customers and prospects. You cannot make fraudulent claims or insincere offers about your lawn care services. The FTC also
specifically highlights claims that mislead by omission so you’re not out of the woods yet. If you leave out relevant lawn care information or facts, or if your marketing claim hints at results that you can not deliver, you’ll be on the hook.
Perhaps you’re wondering…what happens if the law comes down on your lawn mowing business?
Well, if your inaccurate claims influence a customer’s decisions, behavior, or compel them to buy, you could be in violation of FTC guidelines. The range of penalties go from massive fines to “cease and desist” orders to corrective advertising to even some jail time.
Of course, like most legal matters, what is constituted as “false” and/or “misleading” is always open to interpretation. A lawn mowing business advertising a claim that walks the fine line is a risk you may decide to take. Legally, that risk rides on who defines “misleading.” Do your due diligence and get advice from a lawyer to help you make the right decision.
Remember that customers are not dummies. Most people can quickly pick up when a lawn mowing business is advertising a false claim.
3. Your Competitors Can Bite Back
The battle for market share is fierce so many lawn mowing businesses have turned to comparing competitors in their marketing. Lawn care services are launched with little preparation and training and don’t necessarily meet meaningful customer needs just so company B can compete with company A. As a result, lawn care ads often dwell on some minutely different edge that offers a little bit better advantage than the competition but doing so creates the opportunity for your competition to bite back. Your competitors may decide your lawn care claim is untrue or inaccurate and force you to prove it. Let’s face it, having a lawn care competitor register a complaint with the FTC and possibly take you to court doesn’t exactly help your bank account.
Remember, if you claim your lawn mowing business is better than another, you must be prepared to support that with undeniable proof.
Today, customers have little tolerance for lawn mowing business marketers that promise and do not deliver. To develop advertising that attracts customers, use these 4 ingredients to stay on the side of marketing legally:
1. Don’t Talk About Yourself
Turn to legitimate descriptive testimonials from current customers to talk about why you’re the lawn mowing business of choice.
2. Be Real
Most people are down-to-earth and don’t expect incredible results that lawn care services can’t deliver. Promise what you can deliver.
3. Stick With The Benefits
Market how customers benefit if they go with your lawn care services. Always answer the question, “What’s in it for them?”.
4. Lower Risk
Offer money back guarantees if a customer is not satisfied. When you lower the risk, your prospect is more receptive to your marketing.
Here’s to your lawn mowing business success!