As crucial as ethical business practices are for any company, perhaps no industry benefits more than tree care. However undeservedly, the industry’s reputation sometimes suffers due to the misdeeds of the unprofessional minority. However, firms that place an emphasis on high standards win out, even in a troubled economy.

A closer look at marketing

Business marketing is one of the most vital functions, but possibly the top area that is misunderstood and neglected. In tough economic times, it is often the first thing to be eliminated.

That can be a big mistake. Keeping your name in front of the public can help maintain business during slowdowns and make you one of the first to make a strong recovery.

Marketing is simply all those activities that lead up to a sale. It does not have to be elaborate or expensive. In fact, there are myriad free and low-cost ways to make your tree service firm the first one customers call.

Leap into social media

Busse cited the growing importance of social media. Facebook, Twitter and similar services are the 21st century versions of word of mouth. These online sites are easy to use and do not have fees.

Set up a business page on Facebook, offering meaningful tree care tips and business updates. Post special offers and upcoming events. Are you holding an open house or educational workshop? Spread the word with a Tweet or Facebook status update. You can also set up event pages and invite people to attend. Later, add photos of the great time participants had.

If someone in the company — or a local student who needs an internship — is an Internet devotee, have him start a company blog to tell your story. Document the progress of a big project or cleanup. People love following a well-written, humorous account of saving the town’s oldest tree or battling Dutch elm disease.

Show off your expertise

Another way to showcase your firm is to be the tree care guru in your area. Many groups struggle to find guest presenters at their meetings and would welcome a call, letter or email suggesting topics related to arboriculture. Expand your list beyond Arbor Day celebrations and garden clubs.

Schools, neighborhood associations and civic groups are all potential targets. Share the importance of trees, trivia and best practices for your region. Take a supply of brochures, business cards and discount coupons.

Be newsworthy

Hit the airwaves with your educational campaign. Newspaper, radio and TV reporters all need sources when natural disasters put tree care in the forefront. Although those emergency situations are your busiest times, news operations also have deadlines, so promptly returning calls helps put you on the evening news, rather than your competitor.

Journalists also have their slow times, when they would welcome a news release from you. Weekend newscasts can be especially short on good content.

Email or fax a short, simple release to area media. When you are hosting an event or are sponsoring a community project, inform the media of the facts and your contact information a few days ahead of time. As John D. Rockefeller said, “Next to doing the right thing, the most important thing is to let people know you are doing the right thing.” This free publicity of your company’s good works is a marketing tool that may be more valuable than an advertising campaign.

Just as a fisherman with multiple lines out hauls in a bigger catch, a business that tells the public often, and in varying ways, why its service is superior will be the one that boasts a healthy bottom line.

Read more: Establishing Business Policies Pays Off