If you own a garden center or plant nursery, you know how to make things grow. You might be part of a family legacy of people who plant, or, if you’re like me, the only green thumb in a family of people who struggle to keep cacti alive. Of course, growing your brand can be a different story. There’s a lot to keep up with in the world of your garden center, and there’s just as much to keep up with in the world of marketing: what exactly is SEO and how does it apply to you? Do you need social media? Won’t a well-placed sign or two bring in just as many customers? (The answers: SEO – search engine optimization -how search engines like Google find your website and display it to searchers, you absolutely need social media, and a sign doesn’t have nearly as much reaching power as a post online!)
So with everything moving so quickly, and with a nursery to run, how can you up your marketing game and reach the right customers for your business? We’ve collected our top five tips for garden center marketing right here.
Learn about your customers.
This might take the form of a customer survey at your counter, or a poll sent out to your email list, or even just making a point to chat with your nursery’s visitors during check out. Keep track of their answers, make your own notes – do your customers skew younger or older? Families, couples, individuals? Do they tend to want more lawn maintenance or tips on growing plants indoors? Do they have questions about making their home more eco-friendly, or want to eat organically and locally? These are the concepts that the rest of your marketing strategy can build upon.
So, let’s say you’ve discovered that your clients tend to be families who want to learn about organic gardening. How do you draw those clients back to your business again and again? One of the best ways to do this is by offering resources to them. Host a monthly class on the different aspects of planting and nurturing organic gardens. Announce the class on your social media accounts, your email list, and your community’s billboards. If you’re sponsoring a community garden, offer classes to the connections you’ve made there as well. Training your customers in how to use your products in ways that are tailored to them is a surefire way to increase their trust in your company, and to come back for any of their lawn and garden needs.
Develop your online presence.
Make sure that your garden center has a website. More and more people are visiting businesses’ websites before they visit the businesses themselves, often to check on whether you carry the products they want, or just to check your open hours and find your address. Most of these potential customers are accessing your website on a mobile device, so make sure that your site is mobile-friendly. Ensure that your business has a presence across the social media channels that work best for you. Garden Center Magazine, in their five steps to boost your brand visibility, recommends that you check with your clients on which social channels they frequent – always choose the social presence that best reaches your customers. Make sure to claim your business pages on sites like Yelp and Google Business, and monitor your online reviews. Quick responses and great online interaction can be the nudge that takes your business from good to great. Mobilize your employees.
Mobilize your employees.
As organic reach on social media becomes harder and harder to achieve, one of the best marketing assets your company can have its employees! Employees who are engaged with your business are more likely to share your posts online and tell their communities about your offerings. If they’re teaching one of your classes, they’ll probably post about it on social media – and give your business a great shout out while they’re at it.
Market to new residents.
New mover marketing programs are a great way to invite new clients into your business! New residents of your community are looking for new places to buy their seeds, fertilizer, and lawn maintenance equipment, and greeting them with a gift in their mailbox is a great way to gain new, loyal customers who’ll return to your business to fill all of their future outdoor needs. (We, of course, recommend the Welcomemat program for new movers!) New movers haven’t yet forged business loyalties and shopping habits in their new community, so by marketing directly to them, you can ensure that you’re their first and last stop.