Marketing Your Garden Center Online: Who Has Time for it All?

By Dr. Cheryl Boyer

Talk about “overwhelm.” The world of websites, online marketing, digital “that” and social media “this” is a lot to take in for the average nursery or garden center operator. How do they cope? The truth is, most of them don’t. Many don’t have a website; others don’t keep theirs updated.

Let’s face it, plant folks got into the business of plants because they like plants! They’re good at plants. They enjoy knowing about all the different species, where they grow best and how to care for them. They like to grow plants. They like to sell plants. Talk about them. Live, eat and breathe “PLANTS!”

New media marketing is one of the last things on most of their lists. They know it’s important, but who has the time to not only sift through the information fire hose that is the internet, but learn new skills and apply them in their businesses? They could spend that time doing what they’ve always done and getting on the sales floor or in the greenhouse. They like that, it’s comfortable, it’s easy and has a relatively immediate return on resource investment.

Trouble is, it’s getting harder and harder to get new folks in those doors. Especially if you’re not in a large population center where it’s more likely that new customers will “happen” across your physical store. More and more, people are looking online to find businesses, learn if it’s worth their time to travel to it, who they will meet, and what they will find for sale there (e-commerce is an entirely different, but important game). If you don’t have a good online hub—or an online hub at all—you simply don’t exist for younger customers.

We started the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement to help business owners navigate and master new media technology for their businesses. We’re starting with nurseries and garden centers because this is an underserved audience with limited time and, frankly, low interest in figuring this “stuff” out. Because rural America is the heart of our country and we want people to stay and thrive in their communities. Because we can help navigate these new challenges to help nurseries and garden centers be successful in manageable ways.

And also because I’m the K-State Research and Extension Specialist for ornamental nursery crops and garden centers. I’m passionate about nurseries and the people that run them. I want to help them grow their businesses in sustainable ways. I see this work—the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement—as a way to meet my growers and garden center operators where they feel most overwhelmed and guide them through it. Together we will figure new media marketing out—and get more folks in our garden center doors. Join us on our new adventure, won’t you?  Add us to your bookmarks or plug us into your RSS Reader. We’ll curate relevant content and translate it for you as well as conduct original research and provide resources at every level of “overwhelm.” Join our new community, won’t you?

About Dr. Cheryl R. Boyer

Associate Professor and Extension Specialist, Ornamental Nursery Crops and Garden Centers at Kansas State University [K-State Research and Extension] Manhattan, Kansas

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