Growing Your Garden Center Business with Social Media
Growing Your Garden Center
Business with Social Media
Dr. Cheryl R. Boyer
Dept. of Horticulture, Forestry and Recreation Resources
Dr. Lauri M. Baker
Dept. of Communications
Dr. Hikaru H. Peterson
Dept. of Agricultural Economics
Significance to Industry
• Small family enterprises
are important parts of the
• Small customer base.
• How to stay profitable?
Significance to Industry
• Social media marketing is free/low cost
• Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs, etc.
• Gain new customers?
• Bring in business all year.
• Build Community by partnering with other businesses.
Nature of Work
• Determine how successful
garden centers and
nurseries use social media
to grow their businesses.
• Teach these techniques to
• Determine if and how
existing customers of a
garden center use
• Can you bring 2 businesses
together and increase
customers for both?
Who Are They?
• 2/3 of online adults (66%) use social media platforms
• Improve connections with family members and
• 14% connect around a shared hobby
• Middle-aged and older adults
How do we bring new
How do we keep them
coming back all year?
• Garden Center
• Photography Event
• Advertise only on Facebook
• Do not interfere with
• Early December
• Intercept surveys
• Employee interviews
that this was
their first visit
Why Were They Here?
Under $10 $10 to $24 $25 to $49 $50 to $74
18 to 24
25 to 34
55 to 64
35 to 44
45 to 54
70% said they would visit
the nursery again within
the next 6 months
13% said maybe
• Gain trust and approval from “Gatekeepers”
• Access to sensitive information
• Staff attitude toward social media
• Maintain positive relationships
• Don’t disrupt normal business operations
• Provide good reports on the study
Significance to the Industry
• Social media training for garden center staff will help
cultivate a positive relationship with consumers.
• Partnering with another local business can bring new
business in during the “slow” season.
• Social media marketing can bring new audiences into
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA
MARKETING IN RETAIL GARDEN CENTERS
Here’s The Deal:
Social Media is Here to Stay
This is how we get our information…
• Friends, family, media
Who are we more likely to trust?
• We’re educated buyers (research first)
• We’re more heavily marketed to (can you say Proven
• The brands have social media
• Consumers are now coming to the store looking
for plants they saw in a magazine or
online…regardless of how they perform.
How Do We Compete?
The Future IS NOW.
3 Ideas to Change the Nursery Industry
1. Play to our strengths. Lay the groundwork for a massive influx
of “personal garden coaches” by creating a national
certification program. This would increase diversity and
distribute the power and control, but in a way that could allow
for common marketing messages.
Get creative(s). Encourage and guide all green-industry firms to
hire creative individuals from outside the industry, and then put
them to work.
Tell stories. Donate $20 to produce 2 pilot “Why I Garden”
What do I do?
• BE YOU!
• Put a face with the
• Pick one platform you
feel most comfortable
Social Media is the
Modern Village Square
“Social media is the electronic village square. What do I talk about? Whatever you
would have said to the butcher, baker, or candlestick maker in the old village
square. People want to connect, not be sold a bill of goods. Pick one of the social
media platforms and work with it for awhile. Like Twitter? Stick with it for a
time, and if you decide to try another platform you will feel more
comfortable. You don’t have to do all of them at first. You wouldn’t go running
into the village square and start yelling at the top of your lungs at everyone. Start
slow and get known by the other villagers. Ask how their day is going. Ask that
bakery when they are making more of those delicious muffins. Mention the stuff
your grandkids are doing. Just don’t go running through the village square yelling
about your “buy 2 get the third free” sale. Nobody like’s to be yelled at. By just
getting to know people you show you care about the community. They know
you’re the “village nursery person”. When the time comes for them to get
gardening stuff they will remember you, and the fact that you weren’t always
trying to sell them something.”
Trey Pitsenburger, The Blogging Nurseryman (January 31st, 2011)
• What do I say?
• Make it mostly informative and conversational
• Infrequent calls to action
• Ideas for using products and services
• Pictures of the store or office
• Sales or events
• What’s going on at the store
• New shipments of plants or other material
• Client landscape site looking good
• New landscape installations (before and after)
• Seasonal Alerts--Warnings to cover plants in the cold or
water in the heat
• Share resources (blog posts or news articles)
• Ask questions (so you can LISTEN!)
• Who has tried ___?
• Can you guess what ____ is?
• Who has their Christmas tree up? What kind did you
• What is your favorite fruit/flower/leaf this season?
You are Building
• Know your audience, then mold your content
• Educate them on your industry and products
• Inform them about new trends and industry updates
• Find out what needs they have
• Find solutions to their problems
• BE A CREDIBLE, TRUSTED PRESENCE
Watch Content Rules, But Common Sense Rocks on Vimeo! http://vimeo.com/32379277
• How often?
• Don’t be annoying!
• Over/Under sharing
• Facebook: 3-4 times weekly
• Twitter: 25-30 times weekly
• Blog: 7 times monthly
• Don’t forget this is a 3-way conversation—others are
• Fit into the rhythm of your follower’s day
• Not in the middle of the night
• Blog: Start the day with updates before 10:00 am
• Facebook: midmorning, midafternoon and evening
(when people are taking breaks from their work)
• Tweets: Throughout the day, when you see articles
and content that can be re-tweeted
• You can schedule it! [HootSuite, TweetDeck]