Greenhouses Getting Connected

Tucked between the rolling Virginia hills, Glenhaven Greenhouses offers customers quality plants and mulch and a place come to enjoy the friendly atmosphere of the small, family-owned greenhouse. That’s what owners, Glenn and Arlene Reid, strive for in their business. One could say that horticulture runs in the family. All four of their children grew up in the greenhouses and Arlene’s sisters and mother work there as well.

If someone is willing to spend a few hours volunteering at the greenhouse, Arlene will give them something to do. That’s what makes Glenhaven special; all are welcome to shop and be part of the Glenhaven family. It’s not uncommon to see family, friends, and loyal customers eager to get out of the house in the early spring, sitting at the transplanting tables or cleaning up flowers for sale.

From the beginning, the family aspect has been part of Glenhaven’s advertising efforts. Before Facebook was around, the Reid’s used radio, newspaper, and word-of-mouth to reach their customers. Arlene and Glenn quickly found that personally connecting with their customers got the best results. They set up booths at local festivals, farmer’s markets, and events to sell and to keep Glenhaven visible and active in the community and to meet new customers.

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“We wanted to put a face with our name, to show people that Glenhaven is a friendly, family-oriented place. We have stories and we want to share those with the public,” Arlene says.

In the 1990s, the local television station contacted Arlene and asked if she wanted to have a regular monthly spot on their news broadcast. She said yes and began doing a live segment, Your Green Thumb, where she gave demonstrations and tips about gardening and flowers. Arlene regularly meets people who have seen her on television and has been amazed at the distance some customers travel to buy from Glenhaven.

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“Being on TV was never something I thought I would be doing but I love it!” says Arlene. “Those 3 minute segments have helped advertise for Glenhaven more than we ever thought they would.”

Arlene also worked with local radio and television stations to create and run advertisements that featured her speaking about the greenhouse. Glenhaven’s advertisements and articles included their logo, a smiling sunflower, and pictures of Arlene, her sister Mary, Glenn, and their children to further connect with customers.

In 2009, when the economy shifted, the Reid’s made the difficult decision to scale back their operation. This, coupled with the national economic struggles, affected sales. Since Facebook was becoming more popular, Glenn decided to start a Facebook page for the business. It’s now ran by Glenn and his daughters, Deanna and Caroline.

The trio of new-media marketers agree that having several administrators for the Facebook page has presented a few challenges but, overall, it works well to designate someone to create content and others to engage with the audience.

Check out last week’s blog about Deanna Reid and her work with CREE!

This spring, they started posting semi-regular, short videos of Arlene giving simple planting tutorials or tips.

“It’s amazing how many people see the Facebook videos,” Arlene says. “Due to unseasonably warm weather, there are times where I don’t have customers. We put up a short video clip on Facebook announcing we were open and on the next day we saw several people in the store!”

Arlene posts the videos directly to Facebook, instead of linking them to YouTube or housing them on another second-party website. Posting the videos directly helps to increase the relevancy score for Glenhaven Greenhouses based on Facebook’s algorithm for business pages.

The Reid’s find that videos and photos featuring people, especially the owners and employees, are the most effective for reaching current and potential customers.

The Reid’s are amazed at the reach that their Facebook page has. Responding to Facebook comments, questions, and posts helps foster relationships with new customers and keep connections with loyal customers.

Deanna and Glenn are currently working on getting a website published for the business so they can highlight the history of Glenhaven and connect with their customers on another level.

“We have noticed that our customers, no matter their age, are on Facebook and the internet so we feel like we need to be on there with them,” Glenn says.

In all aspects of their business and communication, the Reid’s want to connect personally with their customers.

“We find that direct contact with people is great,” Arlene says. “Answering customers’ questions and referring to others with greater knowledge has helped us bond with consumers and establish an honest, open connection,” says Arlene.

The family marketing team of Glenhaven Greenhouses provides an excellent example of a business that is utilizing new-media marketing to adapt to the challenges running a small business.

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