garden center marketing to jumpstart the season

lisamannJanuary 30, 2008

I'm looking for ideas that will help bring customers into a garden center early in the season ( like March). What have you done ( or have you seen done) that gets customers to think about the warm weatehr before that first sunny saturday when everyone comes in?

Any suggestions?


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I hate cliche's like 'avoid the rush', but I start talking about stuff now so people have 'Spring' in their minds already. the biggest struggle is getting people to do a little advance planning. I keep thinking that if I can get people to book early then I won't go crazy with spring planting and fielding calls from everyone who seemed to forget that warm weather was going to arrive again, like it does every year. But most people don't want to think about Spring while it's still winter. The early birds get the worm though, and my best clients--the advance planners--get booked in first. I try to let people know that: if they wait until the last minute, I'll already be booked several weeks out. I wonder if that can somehow be transferred to the retail business--does your selection diminish rapidly after that first sunny day? People also like freebies and specials, so maybe you could have a march madness sale. or something to do with being green and st patrick's day. celebrate the vernal equinox by planting a tree. I mean, you don't need a sale in April, but maybe run different specials in March would help bring people in. Mix it up, to keep them coming back (20% off on Tuesdays, buy-one-get-one Wednesdays, etc.).

Last spring here was really wet and warm and the weeds seemed to go crazy overnight. I got a lot of calls from people who were suddenly overwhelmed and scared at how much nature just retook their yards. mulching early, or a pre-emergent weed killer would have helped most of them. a reminder about how doing a little work will save a bundle of time later might entice some people to do their spring chores early.

I get a lot of mail about the marketing that Proven Winners does, and I suppose the logical conclusion would be to use that to your advantage and simply let your customers know that you are "carrying the Proven Winners Spring Magic collection, as seen in /as recommended by P Allen Smith". If they wonder what "spring magic" is and look it up, they'll see all the wonderful plants they can buy in the spring--more than just pansies.

I had one more idea, but now I don't remember what it is. will post later if it comes to me. hope there was something useful in there!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 4:22PM
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oh yes, i remembered what it was ... a florist in my networking group did this thing at christmas: if you were in the store when 'santa's bell' rang you got 10% off your purchases right then. It encourages people to come in, but also to linger and browse, with the hopes they'll be there when the bell rings. and because it's "10% off right then", they may have been in the middle of shopping, so will continue shopping at full price after they've made their discounted purchase. I can't think of a way to correlate santa's bell to something spring-like. did santa even have a bell in the first place?!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2008 at 5:18PM
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gonativegal(zone 5a)

I'm on several mailing lists for various garden centers that I deal with.

Two of them provide a series of short workshops - Past examples have included: composting, houseplant care, designing with perennials, cooking with flowers, etc.

My latest postcard outlined a couple of these how to seminars - I've been to a few and they do draw the crowds. How much they buy? Not sure - but at least it's exposure.

If you have an established customer list - I'd suggest something like this. There's the cost of a flyer or postcard, postage. Since you're in the hort business already I'm sure many of the seminars you could produce yourself without having to pay someone.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2008 at 6:43PM
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You sort of don't give us a lot of ammunition if you don't let us know what zone at least you are in. I am usually turning people away in march, unless it's for Easter flowers, or cole crop bedders, because it's not a good time to be sticking anything tender in here. But...........there are those would would try to buy it. I suspect many of them end up at the box stores around here who have tenders out by early April. Their's usually freeze in the outdoor lots, so I suspect whether their customer's do or not is a moot point.

I am pansied to death, and don't even grow those for early sales anymore. There is St. Patty's Day and I used to move shamrocks. If this is a full service garden center, it is tool time/spring clean-up time/seed time. People are antsy to get started, desperate for green. If you do forced bulbs, it's a good display along with some fountains running.....their tongues hang out. LOL.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2008 at 12:24AM
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I have my own small nursery/resale business going into my second year. I already have the "garden itch"! I am formatting a spring newsletter to email to my customers from last year,church members,and friends. I also distribute my business cards at various businesses around town. Also, I will be putting an ad in the local monthly newspaper's April edition.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2008 at 1:31PM
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