Words of Wilson features a rotating panel of consultants from Bruce Wilson & Company, a landscape consulting firm.

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How do you get people excited about what your landscape company has to offer? As one of the savviest PR minds in history, Phineas Taylor Barnum knew how to drum up business. He understood that the secret to influencing others was believing first and foremost in your product; that people were looking for what you were selling even if they didn’t know it yet.

PR and influencer marketing has come a long way since the 1800s. But Barnum’s lesson – that people buy on emotion and justify with logic – still drives messaging success. When it comes to your company’s fundamental pitch, selling from the heart matters most.

Tell your story in the right way, at the right time, to the right people, using the right channel.

1. Increase story value with authenticity.

Customers want value for their money, but they also want a relationship with a business that has character. One of the best ways to connect authentically with customers is to build your CEO’s or founder’s story into your current communication program. Whether it’s rags-to-riches, a lucky detour or a vivid moment when inspiration struck, a compelling origin story can make your brand relatable in a way nothing else can.

2. Build confidence in your niche.

Extend your brand with subject matter expertise, a unique passion or a talent. If, for example, your company’s founder or co-owner is a triathlete or cyclist, sponsor a community sporting or field turf event. Or, if they’re a health nut or foodie, sponsor a farmer’s market. Bring your business team and leverage your leader’s interest in health and fitness or organically grown edibles to become known as a landscape company that advocates for healthy living.

3. Build your fluency.

Use your business literacy to communicate with decision-makers in your market to learn about their goals and what drives what they buy. By speaking the same language as your customer – whether they’re a Class A executive or homeowner – you are perceived to be more knowledgeable and more strategically in tune with their goals. As the end-user experience becomes a high service priority for landscape companies, meeting customers where they are and addressing issues from their point of view, rather than the other way around, is not only a competitive advantage but a great way to build and retain trust.

4. Share what you know.

PR is more than a news release and some good talking points. Communicating with the public and being consistently on message can boost reputation and sales, and create a bond between your company and your customers. Choose the right platform, identify a unique theme on which to hang your content strategy, and start building relationships with your local industry and multi-channel publications.

5. Get involved and give back.

The greater good is good for business. Contribute pro bono landscape services to nonprofits, sponsor or mentor young people starting out, support worthwhile causes or adopt a signature project in your community and drive its success. More importantly, create purposeful PR programs that support your value-based culture and demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning: environmental education, employee tuition programs, scholarships for promising kids, industry endowments or milestone gifts for events like a company anniversary.

6. Consider the public forum.

In an internet world where being reckless can come back to haunt you, be careful about the words you use and the image you project. Develop a comprehensive social media policy that includes guidelines for online behavior across all platforms, and best practices and training tips for employees to keep your messages consistent with your organizational values, brand standards and strategic messaging goals. Landscape company owners, like Barnum’s ringmaster, juggle a lot of acts. As internal operations become more diverse and communications more technologically complex, knowing which pieces of the marketing puzzle to do in house and what to outsource can save you countless hours and help you build a good brand platform over the long run.

Contact Cheryl Steelberg at bwilson@giemedia.com