Reader Reaction: National Promotion Must Attract New Customers

Reader Reaction: National Promotion Must Attract New Customers

Danielle Ernest, public relations and brand development coordinator for Proven Winners, reacts to Laurie Scullin’s November column about national promotion. Danielle supports the idea and stresses the importance of creating a national promotion that attracts new customers–and not just the ones we already have. Directly below are Danielle’s comments to Laurie, and below her comments is Laurie’s response to Danielle.

Laurie,

I enjoyed your article in the November issue of Greenhouse Grower. It sparks many questions I have regarding this type of promotion.

In the article, the “Got Milk?” campaign is mentioned multiple times. I want to reference a recent book I read titled “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR” by Al and Laura Ries. The book directly talks about this campaign.

The authors write: Over the years no advertising campaign has attracted as much attention as the milk mustache ‘Got Milk?’ program run by the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board. If the milk mustache campaign is American’s favorite advertising campaign, why isn’t milk America’s favorite beverage? Per-capita, milk consumption continues to decline, reaching its lowest level ever last year.

Lee Weinblatt, who heads an ad research company, said that while everyone raves about the milk mustache campaign, milk sales keep going down. “The main reason why girls don’t drink milk is they claim it’s fattening. None of the ads address that issue,” Weinblatt says. Hence the creation of the 3-A-Day dairy campaign that tells young women you can actually lose weight from consuming dairy products.

I think our first step should be reaching out to the National Fluid Milk Processor Promotion Board to see if this campaign has helped increase or decrease the sale of dairy products. If the campaign worked, we would be able to obtain case-study information about it to replicate the program, but at a lower budget and over the course of several years. However, if it didn’t help increase sales, I think we should look for a different example to replicate.

Also in the article, you mentioned putting the slogan on all of our plant tags, store signs, delivery trucks, staff T-shirts, etc. My biggest question after reading this was: How is this going to attract new business? If that 20- or 30-year-old isn’t already in the store, how are they going to see this slogan?

Personally, I feel more research needs to be done by speaking to the milk board about its experiences and also creating focus groups of people in this age group to understand what they are thinking and how they view the current look of the promotion. This can now easily be done by the use of social media tools or even getting an industry board of this age group together. Many of us attended the meeting during OFA Short Course and thought it was interesting most of the people talking were not of that age bracket.

I truly believe in the power of PR and feel people would be able to learn about this campaign through publications (i.e. magazines, newspapers, blogs). A public relations plan would need to be in place to make this happen.

Overall, I think it is a wonderful idea. I just feel for it to be extremely successful, research should be done extensively upfront and presented to the industry.

Thanks for listening,

Danielle Ernest
Public relations and brand development coordinator
Proven Winners

Below is Laurie’s response to Danielle’s letter.

Normal 0 false false false MicrosoftInternetExplorer4

Danielle,

Many thanks for thoughtful and researched comments. A few thoughts back for consideration–not in any rank or order.

I agree PR versus “advertising” is our industry’s only hope, as I do not think we would easily raise the $50 million a year required to establish a “Got Milk” campaign.

Regarding references to “Got Milk,” they have been made mostly because that is the one outreach on commodity product our fellow growers understand. We spent some time with Dr. Charlie Hall at Texas A&M on these types of generic programs to better understand their impact. Generally, economists have attached a 5-to-1 ratio to all agriculture market orders–that farmers would expect to see a five-fold increase in revenue for every dollar spent on outreach. Place a big asterisk here, though, because that’s hard to measure. Even revenue is not always used as the good measure–but with Charlie’s blessing we have used the 5-to-1 number in our thoughts.

We have also assumed as an industry we would never be able to run with an enforced market order collecting funds to mimic any program–from Got Milk to the FPO “Alive with Possibilities.” I would love to be proved wrong–and have the industry throw cash into hat for outreach–but outreach will likely have to be PR based.

To your question on how would a slogan attract new business: If it is supported by $50 million of advertising, we should see a 5-to-1 bump. But we cannot afford $50 million outreach and TV, magazine and public relations, so then what? That was the thought that drove us to the grassroots idea. If we can’t mimic top down–can we go bottom up?

If you look at our market today, we have almost zero outreach to consumers with any message that says “use more.”  Our friend Stan Pohmer has written a lot about our industry messaging. We do have messages that say “mine is better than theirs” in regard to plant programs, and the occasional message of “mine is unique,” but I am pressed to think of any serious outreach that says “plants are great, use more.” So our grassroots challenges include coming up with some sort of message (i.e. Life/Plant Life).

To your question about attracting new business: We have always assumed we needed a few things in place to make this work:

1. Broad distribution of the message. I like the idea of including the message on plant tags, sides of trucks, bumper stickers, bouquet wraps in supermarkets, on newspaper ads and websites. To your point, we may not see the message on a plant tag in a garden center, but what about in a supermarket? If the slogan was truly adopted by everyone, we would have more than 1 billion uses of the slogan.

2. Use of new media. We have talked about a central website to help talk generically about why plants are great and to inspire with images and social media content. If the millions of impressions are driving some back to an inspirational site, we believe that will lead to more. Should the industry have a social network site that allows like-minded gardening homeowners a place to exchange ideas with each other and all of us?

3. New media PR. We need to reach out to new homeowners, and that means driving non-traditional PR. We envision heavy use of many new media tools, from postings on blogs to engaging YouTube video to … it is almost endless.  And many new consumers–both young and old–would be targets of outreach.

4. The non-20 year olds. What if we can inspire our current customer base to plant a little more? We think we are losing some relevance in the sustainability war. Our core audience would benefit from a “plants-are-great, plant-more” message. And to your point about how to add units, I suggest this is our biggest opportunity in the near term.

Finally to your point about extensive research upfront: At this point, our fractured little industry has no funding mechanism to pay for anything–market research, PR, advertising. We are suggesting we should consider a bottom-up approach, in which we need little or no money to get the right folks in a room and come up with a slogan and start “plant more” outreach. We assume there would be a team of folks like you and I  who have enough experience in plant marketing to avoid any major pitfalls, that doing something is better than doing nothing. Based on comments this past year from breeders, brokers and growers, we really should start something soon.

To go all the way with a real new media PR campaign and a consumer-friendly Web environment will cost real dollars–but way less than just a few years ago. We can do a lot with volunteers–and little or no infrastructure. Compared to a $50 million “Got Milk” campaign, we could do a lot for a fraction of the investment. 

Please come back with more questions/comments. This is what we need to do if we are to truly reach out to others.

Laurie Scullin
Relevance in Hort
New Product Group

Leave a Reply

4 comments on “Reader Reaction: National Promotion Must Attract New Customers

  1. I am a mid30s mother of 4, I am a grower, and I have always had a flower garden (many of them). I feel I need to be a billboard for our industry if I want everyone I know to be excited about spending their dollars on my product. However, as an industry we have failed ourselves by not having a national promotion to make people want our products. Where does someone like me begin?

  2. I agree with you Laurie. And one other element is some regular contact with interested consumers to keep driving them back to the website. As most of us know, simply building a website is just the first step. Getting people to keep coming back to it and having new stuff on it are key. Anyone know how those contest offers on the bottom of cash register receipts which encourage consumers to websites are working for the big box stores?

  3. I am a mid30s mother of 4, I am a grower, and I have always had a flower garden (many of them). I feel I need to be a billboard for our industry if I want everyone I know to be excited about spending their dollars on my product. However, as an industry we have failed ourselves by not having a national promotion to make people want our products. Where does someone like me begin?

  4. I agree with you Laurie. And one other element is some regular contact with interested consumers to keep driving them back to the website. As most of us know, simply building a website is just the first step. Getting people to keep coming back to it and having new stuff on it are key. Anyone know how those contest offers on the bottom of cash register receipts which encourage consumers to websites are working for the big box stores?

More From Grow Initiative...
crider-rd2-internal_Rough-Brothers_featured

July 1, 2015

Rough Brothers Is Acquired By Gibraltar Industries

RBI Solar Inc., Rough Brothers Manufacturing Inc. and affiliates have been acquired by Gibraltar Industries, a manufacturer and distributor of products for residential and industrial markets, for $130 million. Capitalizing on its 80 years of design-build experience and leadership as the largest greenhouse manufacturer in North America, Ohio-based RBI has established itself during the past five years as North America’s fastest-growing provider of photovoltaic (PV) solar racking solutions. The transaction will enable Gibraltar to leverage its expertise in structural metals manufacturing and materials sourcing to meet global demand for solar racking solutions. The company also announced that it anticipates its second-quarter 2015 financial results will be in line with its previous expectations. “Acquiring RBI is an important step in the transformation of Gibraltar into a company with a higher rate of growth and best-in-class financial metrics,” says Gibraltar CEO Frank Heard. “This acquisition directly aligns with key end markets and product platforms […]

Read More

June 30, 2015

Opportunities Abound For Women In Horticulture, Says Dosatron International’s Lela Kelly

My love for horticulture goes back to my grandparents who were farmers in upstate New York. My family’s involvement in agriculture left a lasting impression that has spanned decades, and still drives my passion for our industry today. I started my career in horticulture when I owned a greenhouse, nursery and garden center in Sayville, Long Island, N.Y. We specialized in ground cover production, later branching out to producing perennials and bedding plants.     I then went onto wholesale hard goods distribution. In the 1980s, I was the first woman salesperson on Long Island. What an eye opener that was! New York is a very special place, different from anywhere else in the country. You cannot imagine how difficult it was walking into greenhouses and nurseries as a woman, in a man’s world. Luckily, I grew up in New York City in an Italian family, who taught me great […]

Read More
Medal of Excellence Award

June 30, 2015

Get To Know The 9 Variety Finalists For Editor’s Choice And Industry’s Choice Awards

Greenhouse Grower‘s Evening Of Excellence reception is rapidly approaching. Here, you can learn more about the varieties that are finalists for the Medal Of Excellence Editor’s Choice and Industry’s Choice Breeding Awards. Thank you to the 2015 sponsors of Greenhouse Grower‘s Medal Of Excellence Awards, Landmark Plastic, Nufarm and Stockosorb. Editor’s Choice Asclepias ‘Monarch Promise’ (Hort Couture) Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Salvia Grandstand Series (Green Fuse Botanicals) Scabiosa ‘Kudos Pink’ (Hishtil Nurseries) Industry’s Choice Basil ‘Balsamic Blooms’ (EuroAmerican Propagators) Bidens BeeDance Series (Suntory Flowers) Celosia ‘Dragon’s Breath’ (Sakata Seed) Dianthus Jolt Series (PanAmerican Seed) Lobelia ‘Starship Deep Rose’ (Kieft Seed) Vinca Valiant Series (PanAmerican Seed)     Join us Monday, July 13 in Ballroom 2 at the Columbus Convention Center to find out which varieties will receive the coveted awards. The reception begins at 5:15 p.m. and the ceremony […]

Read More
Latest Stories
LuxFlora logo feature image

June 29, 2015

Luxflora Wants To Create A Lifestyle Movement

A new organization for women in horticulture plans to take on some of the industry’s toughest marketing challenges by promoting the use of flowers and plants in everyday living.

Read More
AmericanHort_HortScholars

June 23, 2015

AmericanHort Announces 2015 HortScholars

AmericanHort has selected six students from across the country to serve as this year’s HortScholars. This rigorous, competitive application process identifies some of the industry’s brightest professionals and helps to launch their careers in horticulture by providing education and networking opportunities. The goal of the HortScholars program is to provide students with an enriching professional development experience that increases their knowledge, industry awareness and career enthusiasm. 2015 HortScholars: • Sarah Leach Smith, University of Delaware • Bobby Nance, Virginia Tech • Madeline Olberg, Purdue University • Nick Sobecki, Ohio University • Emily Teng, University of Hawaii • William Yoho Jr,, Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute HortScholars will be on-site at Cultivate’15 (July 11-14 in Columbus, Ohio) and receive complimentary Cultivate registration, lodging and meals. Additionally, they will receive a complimentary one-year AmericanHort membership. On-site at Cultivate’15, HortScholars will assist the Generation Next Community with events, conduct presentations that share […]

Read More
July 2015_GROW Perspective_Katie Ketelson

June 23, 2015

MegaMashups Take Plants To The People

It’s no secret I love plants. It’s probably not much of a secret that I love beer, too. And in my perfect world, I’d have a permanent beer garden decorated with galvanized containers stuffed full of flowers, high-rising arches of hops and endless rows of hydroponic strawberries for everbearing enjoyment. But all that costs mega money, so I’ve settled (for now) on orchestrating mega mashups focused on my loves mentioned above, striving to reach an audience that doesn’t even know our industry exists. I’ve long preached about how we need to go to the people. Meet them on their turf, so-to-speak. We can’t expect Gen X or the Millennials, or heck, even my parents, to walk into our garden centers on a whimsy. And frankly, why would you want to be so passive? Your customer spends their extra dollars at the coffee shop, at the mall and at the bar. […]

Read More
Michigan State University’s Bailey GREENhouse Sells Produce And Tea To Campus Dining Facilities

June 20, 2015

Michigan State University’s Bailey GREENhouse Sells Pro…

A greenhouse operated primarily by Michigan State University (MSU) students has begun exploring new crops, including herbs, to produce a line of tea. The Bailey GREENhouse, completed in 2012, gives students from MSU’s Residential Initiative for the Study of the Environment (RISE) the opportunity to experience hands-on learning about organic growing methods, composting and the food cycle. The greenhouse, which was built in partnership with Residential and Hospitality Services, the Department of Community Sustainability, RISE and the Student Organic Farm, is a passive solar hoop house intended for the production of certified organic culinary herbs and salad mixes. Students plant, grow and harvest herbs and microgreens using soil from university composts. All of the produce is certified organic, and is sold to MSU dining facilities, including Brody Square, The Gallery at Snyder and Phillips Halls, the McDonel test kitchen and the Kellogg Center Hotel & Conference Center. The new tea line […]

Read More
Sporticulture Offers A Way For Growers To Promote Plants And Football

June 20, 2015

Sporticulture Offers A Way For Growers To Promote Plant…

Cortland Smith, the president of Walnut Springs Nursery in Glenwood, Md., has two passions: plants and sports, specifically football. Earlier this year, he found an opportunity to blend them together in a way he hopes will benefit the entire industry. This past spring, Smith launched a company called Sporticulture, Inc., which provides access to sports licensing and marketing opportunities to growers, retailers and landscape contractors. The company’s first partnership is with the National Football League. Working through Sporticulture, growers will have the ability to produce team color plants in officially licensed NFL containers and tags. “Walnut Springs is a grower first and foremost, and Cort wants a program to benefit growers and give them the opportunity to add profit margins and sell plants at a higher price utilizing the power of the NFL brand,” says Pete Gilmore, director of business development at Sporticulture. “We are encouraging growers to utilize their […]

Read More
Urban Gardens

June 19, 2015

Urban Gardens Feed The World On A Local Level

Growing food in small spaces and urban gardening go hand in hand, no surprise there. But the fact that there are 200 million urban farmers worldwide, supplying food to 700 million people may be a startling revelation to those who equate food production with large rural farms. According to a fact sheet report from the Food of Agriculture Organization of the United Nations entitled “Feeding Cities, The Role of Urban Agriculture,” the 700 million people urban farmers supply with produce accounts for 12 percent of the world population. Aside from the obvious benefit of helping to feed a burgeoning world population, urban farms, the newest trend in a greener future, are a source of revenue for under- or unemployed residents. They also provide on-the-job youth training and community education and shorten the journey from farm to plate. And the benefits don’t end there. Urban farms may be small, but they have […]

Read More
american-hort-logo

June 18, 2015

Introducing SHIFT: An AmericanHort Initiative

AmericanHort, along with its research affiliate the Horticultural Research Institute (HRI), introduces SHIFT: An AmericanHort initiative. This innovative research project takes a hard look at the future of the industry. What was once announced as the “the future of retail” research project isn’t just about retail anymore — it’s about how the collective industry can rise to the challenge of meeting modern and future consumers’ expectations. This research demands a shift in strategies, thinking and paradigms. It forces us to think and to ask ourselves, “What if we started doing things differently?” SHIFT is the largest research initiative of its kind for the industry. The resulting data, insights and recommendations paint a clear picture of opportunity for all industry businesses to capitalize on trends and even get ahead of the curve. SHIFT is the future of consumers, the future of retail, the future of the supply chain and the future […]

Read More
AFE young professionals council

June 17, 2015

AFE Launches Young Professionals Council

The American Floral Endowment (AFE) has established the Young Professionals Council (YPC), which consists of 21- to 35-year-old students and professionals in the floral industry. YPC members will use their skills and strengths to help reach other young professionals interested in becoming leaders in the floral industry, provide guidance and feedback on AFE’s programs, and get involved in leadership and learning opportunities through AFE’s programs. “There are crucial industry challenges that need to be addressed, and the YPC is a significant program that I believe will help benefit the industry. I look forward to working with the driven young members of this group to help spread awareness of AFE and build a stronger future,” says AFE trustee and YPC board liaison Dwight Larimer. Current members include: • Tha Cha, grower at Cha Veggies • Joshua Craver, Ph.D. student at Purdue University • Eric Fernandez, director of mass markets and business […]

Read More
growing for futures logo

June 15, 2015

National Garden Bureau To Offer Grants To Therapeutic G…

National Garden Bureau (NGB) will grant $10,000 this fall to be split among three therapeutic gardens in North America as part of an ongoing effort to raise awareness of horticulture and support the benefits of gardening. After fundraising for a vocational therapeutic garden in Chicago last year, NGB is expanding its support of gardens that promote the health and healing powers of human interaction with plants. Beginning this month, NGB will begin accepting applications from therapeutic gardens that meet the following set of criteria: 1. Have a defined program using the garden to further particular goals for participants lead by a qualified leader. Examples include horticultural therapy, occupational, physical, vocational or rehabilitation therapy in a garden setting or using gardening to promote positive social relationships within a community. 2. Offer a nature experience/interface for population served, including, but not limited to veterans, special-needs children or young adults, the elderly and/or those […]

Read More
James_featured

June 3, 2015

A Wait-And-See Approach To Variety Selection Serves The…

Greenhouse Grower’s Medal Of Excellence For Industry’s Choice panelist James Russell of Armstrong Growers discusses standout varieties from 2015 California Spring Trials and explains how his team decided on the plants that would be chosen for production at their operations. Team Armstrong included myself, Production Manager Heather Hydoski, Desert Operations Manager Anthony Pytel and Sales Manager John Mellon. We make variety selections for our own trials during this event that will ultimately make the actual changes in the programs we offer our customers. Over the years, we have learned to hold back and wait to see how plants perform in the ground before we make any additions or deletions. Many new plants stand out and tempt us to jump into full production, and, yes, we still break the rule occasionally in the name of getting a plant out before our competition does. We feel our customer should not be the test case, […]

Read More
Amy Daniel with daughters

May 20, 2015

Fall Creek Farm & Nursery’s Amy Daniel Suppor…

Amy Daniel, marketing and brand manager at Fall Creek Farm & Nursery, has a passion for marketing and branding that led her into the green industry early in her career, when she and a friend started their own agency, and she began helping her parents — then owners of a retail nursery — with marketing services. Daniel’s career in the field started in the 1980s, after she finished college with degrees in journalism and advertising. It wasn’t long before she began to feel frustrated with the status quo in the industry. She and a friend from college, agreeing there was a better way to do things, decided to start a business. “I guess now looking back, we were probably young and naive, but it all worked out really well,” Daniel says. “We started our own advertising agency/marketing and PR firm. I ran that for two decades. It was very successful.” […]

Read More
susie raker featured

May 12, 2015

Manage Costs To Increase Profitability

Business profitability and health is about more than just sales. Growers can get in trouble when they don’t look at the complete picture when it comes to cost accounting. Susie Raker Zimmerman shares how the team at C. Raker & Sons keeps costs and profits in check.

Read More
Suzi McCoy with GM Logo

May 6, 2015

Garden Media Group’s Suzi McCoy Urges Women In Horticul…

When Susan McCoy, owner of Garden Media Group, started promoting roses and shrubs for The Conard-Pyle Co. (Star Roses and Plants), she knew the horticulture industry was the right place for her. What she didn’t know was how much the journey would reshape her business for the better. Now, she encourages women in horticulture to invite others to be a part of the industry.

Read More
indoor-vertical-farm

May 5, 2015

World’s Largest Indoor Vertical Farm To Be Developed In…

A former industrial site in the Ironbound community of Newark, N.J., will be redeveloped into the world’s largest indoor vertical farm. The $30 million project was recently announced by RBH Group, Goldman Sachs Urban Investment Group, Prudential Financial Inc. and AeroFarms, in partnership with the City of Newark and the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). The vertical farm will serve as the global headquarters for AeroFarms. “We are excited to redefine not only the Garden State but also agriculture overall,” says David Rosenberg, CEO for AeroFarms. “Partnering with RBH, Goldman Sachs, Prudential, the City of Newark and NJEDA allows us to bring our global headquarters and the world’s largest indoor vertical farm close to where the consumer is, offering a fresher, more nutritious and delicious product while also creating jobs in the community.” According to Ron Beit, founding partner and CEO of RBH Group, AeroFarms will anchor its broader Makers […]

Read More
fieldtovase

April 29, 2015

Field To Vase Dinner Tour Promotes American Grown Flowe…

For the first time last month, guests at The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, Calif. were treated to a four-course, gourmet, farm-to-fork style meal in the middle of the fields. The event was part of the 10-city Certified American Grown “Field to Vase” Dinner Tour. The tour is a series of private, intimate gatherings that place seasonal, local and sustainable American Grown flowers at the center of the table where locally grown food, beer and wine is served by a farm-to-table chef. The Flower Fields event was one of four dinners that will be held in the state this year. It featured chef Marissa Gerlach, executive chef at the Vista Valley Country Club, Vista, Calif. Mike Mellano, a third generation flower farmer with a Ph.D. in plant pathology, led guests on tours of the fields. Guests were given a floral arrangement as a symbol of the evening’s theme: Celebrating Local American […]

Read More
CrownBees_Blue-Orchard-Bee-Female_Artz

April 21, 2015

There’s Still Time Left In Crown Bees’ Camp…

There is a little more than a week left in Crown Bees’ Indiegogo fund-raising venture designed to give garden center retailers a chance to help increase awareness of native bees, and to increase the number of bees to pollinate local food. The company is raising $100,000 to redesign “Bee with Me,” a social network that connects, maps and empowers bee boosters across the U.S. Garden centers that take part in the campaign can: Be listed as a local resource for products and supplies in the online network Get access to and activate a new group of customers Be viewed as a leader in the community Be seen as a source of local expertise. Within your own store and brand, there are several ways you can also help to raise awareness about native bees, such as educating customers about the gentle nature of solitary bees. Visit CrownBees.com for some easy facts to pass […]

Read More
Todd Woodfield

April 8, 2015

Sustainable Horticulture Pays Off

Practicing holistic horticulture has saved money and improved plant quality for Abby Farms. Its manager shares where the operation has seen differences from conventional production.

Read More

April 1, 2015

Philadelphia Flower Show Draws More Than 250,000 Attend…

With more than 250,000 consumers attending the prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show in March each year, it's a great opportunity to get flowers and gardening products into the public eye. This year's show displays took on family favorites at the movies, with a focus on Disney and Pixar films. Check out some of the highlights in our slideshow.

Read More