Building Excitement for Spring 2016

Garden centers around the country are gearing up for their spring opening celebrations, some of them as early as this weekend (!). In our neck of the woods it will probably be another month so I thought I’d do a roundup of what other folks are doing to build up customer excitement for the Spring 2016 season. Let the pep rally commence!

Promoting sales and events with Facebook event pages

the growing power of social media

Many garden centers have started adding and using these on their Facebook pages. Don’t just create it, though, make sure to keep posting teaser photos and special incentives on the event page that aren’t available on your regular page. Make your customers feel special for indicating that they’ll come. Consider a paid targeted post for specific zip codes in your area.

Posting teaser photos

Screenshot 2016-03-04 09.27.19

Post alerts and photos of the trucks arriving from production facilities or freshly updated displays. Another great idea is to create a video-walk through of the garden center. Show customers what they will see when the arrive–entice them with great ideas and lovely product. Nick’s Garden Center in Aurora, CO has a wonderful video walk-through of their store from around Valentine’s Day. You’ll have to scroll down a bit on their facebook page to see it, but while you’re at it, check out more videos on their YouTube channel. I was mesmerized. Literally. They flocked Christmas trees in K-State purple!

Sharing process photos and videos

Video Credit: Van Wingerden Home & Garden

Dedicated customers love to see “how things are made” (that show is popular for a reason). Show them your employees potting up plants, unloading products, preparing displays, helping customers, preparing equipment for the coming season. Anything that is “behind the scenes” will make them feel like they’re part of the business.

Answering questions

Answering Questions

Many garden centers are offering workshops or seminars as well as answering questions via social media, phone and in-person queries. Use local Extension Master Gardeners (contact your local county Extension office), local or state experts or specialists and feature your own employees.

Recruiting new employees and introducing existing ones

Answering Questions (2)

Now’s a great time to turn dedicated customers into brand-ambassador employees. Recruit them with testimonials from current or former employees and feature your great benefit package. Introduce current employees. Make customers feel like they know the people watering plants on the greenhouse benches so that they feel more comfortable asking questions. Sure it feels odd for a stranger to call you by name, but that familiarity will engender loyalty.

Promoting plan-ahead Mother’s Day sales.

Mother's Day Marketing Garden Center

Anything that gets kids involved is a good bet. If you can get them to “make” something for Mom, even better. Especially if customers can get that task taken care of before May arrives and they panic about not having something special for Mom. Along those lines, potting parties or pre-ordering baskets is a fantastic way to guarantee sales and specialize a product. Debbie Cacka Foisy of Deb’s Greenhouse and U-Pick Raspberry has been featured in industry e-newsletters several times recently for her hanging basket pre-order website. She was able to create the website herself with wix.com. You can do a lot with the tools available for free or low cost online. That’s what we’re here for at the Center for Rural Enterprise Engagement–to help you find, navigate and evaluate these tools for your business.

One last bonus, Proven Winners has put out it’s last call for Shrub Madness Brackets. Promote this with your garden center customers to see if you have a local winner and then celebrate them. In fact, if you contact PW now, they will send you prizes to give away to local winners. Woohoo!

2016_shrub_madness_bracket

Alright now, the pep rally is over–get out there and play your best spring garden center game! And don’t forget to have fun and enjoy this work–we wouldn’t be in it if we didn’t love it, right?! In the comments, please share what you’re planning to do this spring and then report back later to let us know what worked best.

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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