Mutual Marketing

Mutual Marketing

Putting together a cooperative marketing message for the floriculture industry as a whole has proven to be a challenge over the years. But taken in smaller bites, growers and retailers have seen some real gains by working together on local, regional, and even statewide projects. Here’s a quick look at three new group projects that have been successful so far in 2009.

Local: Passport 2 Plants

Gilson Gardens, Martin’s Nursery, Middle Ridge Gardens and Sabo’s Woodside Nursery & Garden Center are friendly competitors. When a customer shows up looking for a special plant that one of the businesses doesn’t offer, the staff is quick to send them to one of the others that can help. “I don’t look at them as competitors,” says Sabo’s owner Brian Sabo. “I think of them as colleagues.”

In fact, these four Northeast Ohio businesses took that cooperative relationship to the next level this spring, launching a group marketing effort, Passport 2 Plants. The Passport 2 Plants program promoted attendance at all four businesses the weekend following Memorial Day. Customers received a sticker on a “passport” at each stop. Anyone getting all four stickers during the weekend could exchange their passport for a 20 percent discount coupon on a $25 purchase at each retailer, and a chance in a drawing for a $400 gift certificate. As a bonus, anyone who redeems their coupons during the slower months in June or July is eligible for another gift certificate drawing in August.

The results, says Sabo’s garden center manager Cathee Thomas, were even better than expected. “We had 200 people visit all four garden centers that weekend. I want those names for my mailing list. Those are dedicated people,” she says.

The chance for a $400 shopping spree was enticing to customers, obviously, but the prospect of a 20 percent discount was just as important–both for the customers and the retailers. “They make sure they spend that $25,” Thomas says. “They’ll say, ‘Oh, I need to spend $2 more to get the discount? Let me buy these $8 gloves.'”

Those incremental dollars were important for the weekend’s sales, of course, but the bigger benefit for each of the grower-retailers is the potential for bringing back those new customers again and again.

“All four of us had a lot of new people coming in that we hadn’t seen before, which is what we were trying to achieve,” Thomas says. “We were thrilled.”

Regional: Maumee Valley Growers

Considering four small growers were able to entice 200 customers with a collaborative marketing idea, it’s no surprise a bigger group can do even better.

That was the experience for a branding program orchestrated by the Maumee Valley Growers (MVG), a collection of 70 or so Northwest Ohio grower-retailers. The group was founded on the premise people participating in similar businesses can gain far more from working collectively than they can individually.

“We’re proving that to be true,” says Joe Perlaky, program manager for the Maumee Valley Growers. ” We’re able to pool our resources to essentially make 1 + 1 = 3.” And a great example, he says, is the branding program the group launched this spring.

The MVG got 12 of its member growers to invest in a large newspaper ad that ran twice in the Toledo Blade. The ad promoted the staycation concept and featured smaller, business card-sized ads for each of the participating growers, along with a coupon for $5 off a $25 purchase. Results exceeded expectations by a long shot.

“We went in thinking 40 or 50 returns per grower would have been fine, and that was the minimum,” Perlaky says. “Over a 10-day period we had rates ranging from 42 coupons for one grower all the way to 780 for another–3,500 total.”

But even more important, especially considering the significant cost of the ads, the average ticket price was up as well. “Some people were coming in and spending $250 on a $5 coupon. The average was $40 to $45, and we were delighted with that number,” Perlaky says.

And coupon redemption isn’t everything. Just being visible has merit too, he adds. Which is exactly what this collective branding effort did for the participating growers, as well as MVG as a group.

“Working together has provided some great opportunities for our growers,” Perlaky says. “I would encourage everyone to do it.”

Statewide: The Connecticut Garden & Landscape Trail

Money-saving offers are one way to drive traffic, but sometimes an experience is all it takes to pull people in. That was the thinking behind another new program this spring, the Connecticut Garden & Landscape Trail. This joint project of the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association and the Connecticut Nursery and Landscape Association is a public-private partnership. Its goals are to highlight the role of floriculture in the state and bring attention to growers and garden retailers. The groups combined their own resources with a $30,000 USDA grant to create a guide encouraging consumers to visit 72 of the state’s greenhouses, garden centers, and nurseries.

“A lot of our facilities are beautiful unto themselves. There are probably thousands of people out there for whom going from garden center to garden center or greenhouse to greenhouse is as much fun as going to a theme park,” says Bob Heffernan, executive director of the Connecticut Greenhouse Growers Association. The hope is that many of the visitors also will open their wallets and take home a few of the plants they’ve seen.

The program launched in February with a slick 48-page brochure showcasing the many beautiful stops up and down the Garden & Landscape Trail. Growers and retailers paid for listings or display ads, and each business invested in signage to alert visitors it was a stop on the Trail. Phase two of the program placed 16,000 of the brochures at 250 hotel and visitor attractions around the state to keep traffic flowing throughout the summer.

Since the program isn’t tied to a coupon, Heffernan says it’s hard to get a read on the results of the Trail so far. But he has anecdotal evidence that’s encouraging.

“The other day, a guy from New Britain came up to me and said, ‘You know, I was on your Trail last week and my wife spent $100 at one of your stops.’ That’s exactly what we’re hoping for,” he says.

Leave a Reply

More From Finance/Operations...

March 26, 2015

10 Greenhouse Products For First-Rate Growing Environments

From coverings to fork-lifts, greenhouse suppliers offer a variety of products to make growing easier. Check out the slideshow to learn more about these, plus several other products that can offer you value, versatility and durability.

Read More
Rose rosette on Knockout rose, April 2012. Photo credit: Alan Windham, University of Tennessee

March 25, 2015

$58 Million In APHIS Farm Bill Funding Will Support Horticulture Priorities

Nearly $58 million as been allocated by the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to support the industry's Plant Pest and Disease Management and Disaster Prevention Program, under Farm Bill Section 10007. The program will support mitigation efforts for specialty crops, including providing research and other funding to address plant pest and disease priorities for the specialty crop industry, including floriculture and nursery crops.

Read More
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadlines Approaching

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More
Latest Stories
AFE scholarship_Ryan Dickson

March 25, 2015

AFE Educational Grant And Scholarship Application Deadl…

Apply now for American Floral Endowment (AFE) scholarships or educational grants. Applications can be found online. For educational grants for 2015-2016, applications must be submitted no later than June 1. Scholarship applications are due May 1. AFE will award $40,000 in scholarships for 2015.

Read More

March 23, 2015

UF/IFAS Appoints Joseph Albano As Director Of Mid-Flori…

The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (UF/IFAS) has a new directors for its Mid-Florida Research and Education Center (REC) on Apopka, Fla. The role has been filled by Joseph Albano, a research horticulturist from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with more than 25 years of experience.

Read More

March 17, 2015

Pike Nurseries Implements Employee Stock Ownership Plan

Independent garden retailer Pike Nurseries has announced it will become an employee-owned company. Pike Nurseries management has combined with its sister corporation in California, Armstrong Garden Centers, to operate under an established Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

Read More
GrowIt! App Wins Gold At Design100 2014 US Mobile & App Design Awards

March 10, 2015

GrowIt! Mobile App Now Available For Android

The mobile app GrowIt! Garden Socially can now be used by gardeners with Android-based smartphones. Now available on the Google Play Market, GrowIt! helps users find plants to fit their lifestyle and connect them with other local gardeners.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Second Annual GreenhouseConnect Will Bring Growers and …

Following a successful inaugural event in Tampa last fall, Greenhouse Grower has announced the dates of its second annual GreenhouseConnect: October 26-29, 2015. Representatives of an expected two dozen leading greenhouse operations from across the U.S. will join senior-level suppliers at Rancho Bernardo Inn in San Diego for several days of one-on-one strategic meetings, a growers-only roundtable, informational sessions and a variety of networking events.

Read More

March 4, 2015

Maryland Green Industry Associations Unite

The Maryland Nursery and Landscape Association recently announced that it is expanding its reach to include the greenhouse industry, meaning it has become The Maryland Nursery, Landscape and Greenhouse Association (MNLGA). The change comes as a result of the planned dissolution of the former Maryland Greenhouse Growers Association and the invitation for those members to join the existing and renamed association.

Read More
IPPS Sharing Plant Production Knowledge Globally Logo

February 25, 2015

International Plant Propagators Western Region Sets Ann…

The annual meet for the International Plant Propagators' Society (IPPS) Western Region has been set for this September. It will take place September 23 to 26 in Modesto, Calif., and will include learning sessions, tours to local nurseries, a research poster display and poster presentations, various networking opportunities and an awards banquet to close the event.

Read More
myers industries Lawn and Garden Logo

February 24, 2015

Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn And Garden Business Sold, N…

The management of Myers Lawn and Garden Group, along with Wingate Partners V, L.P. have recently acquired the Myers Industries, Inc. Lawn and Garden business. The new company is named The HC Companies, and will continue as a North American leading provider of horticulture containers supplying the greenhouse, nursery and retail markets.

Read More

February 17, 2015

AmericanHort Announces New Board Members

AmericanHort recently announced the election of new officers and members to the board of directors. Each will assume their positions on the board during Cultivate’15, July 11 to 14 in Columbus, Ohio.

Read More
All American Selections

February 17, 2015

All-America Selections Elects New Officers, Names New J…

While meeting during the Flower and Vegetable Seed Conference in Tampa, Fla., hosted by the American Seed Trade Association, All-America Selections elected new officers for a two-year term. Read on to learn about the new officers, as well as all of the new judges that were added in 2014.

Read More
Greenhouse on your desktop, on your phone, on your tablet

February 11, 2015 Relaunches With Responsive Design …

Greenhouse Grower magazine, the nation’s leader in profits, production and education for greenhouse growers, announces the launch of its completely redesigned website, The new design is the product of direct user feedback and analytics, and includes responsive design for ease of mobile use.

Read More
Andy Higgins

February 3, 2015

MasterTag Names Andy Higgins As Its New President

Former CEO and president of Ecke Ranch, Andy Higgins, joins MasterTag as its new president. He brings more than two decades of industry experience to the position.

Read More
Syngenta Bioline Hires Ronald Valentin For Technical Lead Role

January 28, 2015

Syngenta Bioline Hires Ronald Valentin For Technical Le…

Ronald Valentin has been appointed technical lead for Syngenta Bioline, effective January 2015. He will be responsible for technical support of Bioline biological control agents and will be instrumental in helping growers develop integrated pest management (IPM) solutions.

Read More

January 27, 2015

Give Equal Time To The Number Crunchers

Before investing in a new business opportunity, check in with the financial gurus of your organization to make certain you have the cash flow to back up your efforts.

Read More
Plant Introductions, Inc. partners Mark Griffith, Dr. Michael Dirr and Jeff Beasley and Bailey Nurseries President Terri McEnaney.

January 20, 2015

Bailey Nurseries’ Purchase Of Plant Introductions Inc. …

When Bailey Nurseries purchased its long-time breeding partner, Plant Introductions, Inc. (PII), in early January 2015, it freed the PII team to concentrate on what they do best: develop new plants. Bailey Nurseries will take on the business management side of the partnership, but otherwise the relationship it has enjoyed with PII for years will be largely unchanged.

Read More
Plant Introductions, Inc. partners Mark Griffith, Dr. Michael Dirr and Jeff Beasley and Bailey Nurseries President Terri McEnaney.

January 13, 2015

Bailey Nurseries Acquires Plant Introductions

Bailey Nurseries has acquired Plant Introductions, Inc. (PII), effective January 1, 2015. PII has developed numerous innovative new varieties that have been marketed worldwide, many introduced by Bailey Nurseries.

Read More

January 7, 2015

How Inflation Affects Your Business And Why You Can’t I…

Awareness of the true increase in costs after inflation is a necessary part of good financial management for greenhouse operations.

Read More

December 4, 2014

New Developments In Shipping/Logistics Software

Improved shipping and logistics software from Picas Software and MapMechanics makes it easier for growers to plan loads efficiently and automate day-to-day distribution planning.

Read More