Inside View: Shout it from the hilltops
February 6, 2024 By Gary Jones
Well, I know you’re not reading this until February (earliest!), but as I’m writing, the Christmas and New Year festivities are just fading into the rear-view mirror. The sun is shining, and the daffodils and crocus are already poking their first foliage up full of Spring promise.
Yet, watching the evening news on the TV, it would appear that for most people this time of year would mean only one thing – those high street sales! (Personally, I’d rather not be in the mall, but out enjoying a hike near the mountains, but that’s another story.) All the commercial breaks in this prime-time slot seem to be in-your-face, shouting loud deals that you’d just be crazy to miss. I don’t know how it started, (perhaps someone can enlighten me), but Boxing Day and New year are now the ‘traditional’ time of those High Street ‘sales’, with retailers doing all they can to get people to spend. (As if we didn’t all spend enough already before Christmas.)
But marketing these days is very diverse and takes many options. Not just the immediate screaming ads style, offering you the opportunity to ‘buy now, pay (much) later’ that works our built-in need to avoid ‘F.O.M.O.’, and makes us act. Of course, there are the blitzes of community mail that comes through the mailbox. (Community mail, not junk mail, unless you want to upset your Canada Post mail carrier.) You might send out your own flyers, with special offers to get folks to your garden centre. Posters, billboards, roadside signs. Perhaps if you’re creative, those funny phrase boards to make passers-by think. You know, things like “You can’t plant spring flowers if you haven’t botany”. (Not mine). Pictures/marketing material on the side/back of transit buses maybe. Perhaps you also use your own newsletters (paper or digital) for your regular customers, keeping them up to date as to what to do this month or to prepare for in the coming season. (Realtors are often telling clients how to increase the value of their real estate, and this often includes pieces on your home’s front yard curb-appeal – is there a partnership there ready for taking?)
No doubt you have some really cool point-of-sale information and encouragements for customers to buy. Presumably your company’s loyalty cards (I bet you have several from your local coffee shops?) or ‘points’/’rewards’ schemes. Of course, there are always ‘seasonal sales’, and the ‘Buy 3, Get a 4th free’ kind of promotions (be careful – as we’ve seen in this magazine in the past, that the economics of discounting are not as straightforward as you may think). Putting on special customer appreciation events or workshops are other ways to build customer loyalty.
And of course, there are lots of online or digital options. You might want to do some webinars or other educational sessions. Our very own Editor Amy had news of Greenhouse Canada’s ideas for these in her December Editorial. Or use social media outlets for spreading the word about your products, business, or services. Maybe direct e-mails to customer lists.
The possibilities are extensive (not quite endless…). You’re probably applying many of these options already. Which is great. But I was thinking that building long-term customer relationships and connecting people to your products, is ultimately about simply connecting with people. Making them feel special. We have some amazing products in our industry. Just look at the crazy amount of choice for new poinsettia varieties this year, or Mel Sawaya’s trials reviews that take not just a couple of pages in Greenhouse Canada, but multiple parts over several issues. We’re certainly not short of some incredible, eye-catching, value-for-money materials for marketing.
Of course, there’s something to be said for the old style ‘produce a quality product and encourage word-of-mouth, personal touch’. Your customers are still one of your best marketing tools. But these days, our industry has so much top-notch quality product and competition, that we should use all the options available to us. As we’re at the start of a new season, what is it that you need to step out into to market your products?
Gary Jones sits on several greenhouse industry committees in BC and welcomes comments at email@example.com.
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