Greenhouse Canada

Features Business Marketing
How to Create a Successful Promotional Event

March 6, 2008  By Anja Sonnenberg

The key to remaining competitive in today’s market depends on how you
promote your garden centre.  In marketing, sales promotions are meant
to have an immediate impact on sales.

For the fourth year running Shelmerdine Garden Centre in Winnipeg is presenting their 'Annual Orchid & Bonsai Festival.'

The key to remaining competitive in today’s market depends on how you promote your garden centre.  In marketing, sales promotions are meant to have an immediate impact on sales.  Promotional events are an excellent way to differentiate yourself from your garden centre and big box store competitors.  Any promotional event that draws attention can be effective. The trick is how to promote and execute these events.

Brainstorm for Ideas
Create a folder that includes all your past promotions and ideas for any future endeavours.  Keep notes on what worked and want didn’t to avoid making those same mistakes again.  You might have had an excellent idea, but held it at the wrong time of day or year.  If you don’t keep notes, you won’t be able to remember why those events didn’t fly.  Promotional events need to be fresh and exciting, otherwise people won’t come.

Promotional Event Ideas for Your Garden Centre:
• Open House (Christmas, Easter, Spring, Fall; the possibilities are endless)
• Garden Contests
• Garden Sidewalk Sale
• Family Days
• Ladies Night
• Kids’ Clubs
• Weekly Happy Hour Specials
• How-to Clinics
• Customer Appreciation Days
• Pumpkin Festivals

Talk to Your Staff
Your employees can be an excellent source of creative ideas and suggestions.  They may have hobbies and skills that you don’t even know about.  Perhaps someone plays the guitar or does tarot readings or juggles.  If your employees are willing, you could incorporate their talents into a promotional event.

Develop Your Plan
Once you have the idea for your promotional event, you need to decide when to have it. The timing of the event is as important as the idea.  Consider the market you’re catering to and when it would be suitable.  Obviously you don’t want to have a daytime event when everyone is at work and won’t be able to attend.  Planning is vital for success.

Start Advertising
This must be done well in advance of the event.  Advertise the event as widely as your budget will allow.   Promote your events with in-store signage, fliers, websites, newsletters, and anything else you can think of.  You may also want to consider contacting your local newspapers. The more creative your event is, the more likely you’ll get coverage.  If you promote it, your customers will come.

Show Time
Staff members should be assigned specific duties to ensure everything runs smoothly. Make sure your customer washrooms are clean, your aisles tidy, and your shelves stocked with products.  Pay special attention to your displays.  You’re trying to entice people to come back, and if they see something they like, they’ll be motivated to visit again.  And don’t forget to keep in touch with your new customers afterwards.  Let them know about upcoming events by sending them special announcements by e-mail or mail.

Special events can be an excellent way to boost foot traffic, but they also help to keep customers coming back again and again.  Things may be cheaper at the box store down the street, but if your customers know they can come to your garden centre for a girls-night-out or a family day on the weekend, then chances are they’ll do their shopping while they’re there.

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