What Should Our Marketing Message Be?

Life. Plant Life.

When the subject of a national marketing effort comes up in the industry, the debate begins as to how it will be paid for, but what would the marketing message for a national campaign be? Here’s what garden centers and growers have tried in the past and a few nuggets of ideas to kick around. 

Life.PlantLife

The message: Shows some simple images of life without plants – then life with plants. From Laurie Scullin and Frank Zaunscherb of ZMI Marketing.

“An advantage to us all using the same slogan is we could support the slogan with a website – with public relations and social media outreach (think Facebook for plants). Think about a bunch of YouTube videos all with fun information on plants and all telling the world how great plants are,” Scullin says.

America In Bloom

America in Bloom promotes nationwide beautification through education and community involvement by encouraging the use of flowers, plants, trees, and other environmental and lifestyle enhancements. The benefits of participating in America In Bloom are increased community involvement and civic prife, decreased vandalism and crime and increased property values and tourism.

How it’s been used: The number one Life & Style article of the Holland Sentinel was Holland In Bloom winning it’s Population Category Award in 2011.

America In Bloom was also a top story of 2011 for the Coshocton Tribune.

Belpre, WV was lit up for Christmas as Belpre In Bloom organized a luminary kit fundraiser.

Fall Is For Planting

The message: Expand the gardening season by promoting a second season, originally sponsored by ANLA.

How it’s been used: In signage, marketing materials and overall messaging. Here are some examples.

In this blog post, Fall Is For Planting Trees, Shrubs, Perennials And Lawn Seed, from Mahoney’s Garden Center.

Video from Highland Hill Farm

Fall is for planting bulbs: Video from Roger Reynolds Nursery

Fall is for planting wildflowers article from Joan S. Bolton of Santa Barbara Garden Design

Got P(l)ants?

The message: Brad Pitt in his underwear, a parody of the Got Milk ads. This was part of a display at ANLA Management Clinic, along with the question: “Is this what we need to get attention?”

What people are saying about it: “I think it’s just the type of thing that an ad agency would give us for a few million dollars. It has all the necessary components: celebrities, sex, unexpected humor and environmental consciousness. I enjoyed the irony: as a consumer, I would personally hate this campaign, but I also thought it was brilliantly clever and that it would resonate and get a lot of attention. The other thing I like about it is the way it subtly says, ‘Hey, world. You’re forgetting about plants.'”
– Art Parkerson, Open Hort

You Can Grow That & Passionate About Plants

The message: Each segment of society should be reminded that much of what makes life enjoyable can be grown in their backyards.

How to execute it: “The message should range from serious (Healthy food? You can grow that!) to the fun or surprising (Sex? You can grow that!),” says C.L. Fornari, garden expert. “We want it to be the starting point in plant descriptions and punch line for advertisements, videos and blogs. I want to see David Letterman and Jay Leno make fun of it. I want Seth Godin to blog about it. I want ‘You can grow that’ to enter the popular phraseology in the same way that ‘Got milk?’ has. Laughter? You can grow that. A tasty, organic meal? You can grow that. Flowers for a wedding? You can grow that.

“Why? Because it’s good for our industry, certainly, but also because I absolutely know that it’s true. Gardening one of the most life-affirming things we can do. We put a great deal of time, money and effort into our own products, businesses and brands, so how can we not band together to cultivate this industry as a whole?

“We can’t just focus on the latest plant, fertilizer or organic insecticide; we’ve got to sell the excitement first. Call me an unrealistic, naïve hort-a-holic, but I truly believe that it’s possible. A resurgence in gardening? We can grow that.”

Other Ideas:

  • “How about Plants For Air or Plants for Oxygen since plants release oxygen into the atmosphere and we all need to breathe?”
    – Fred Ceballos
  • Beauty Feeds the Soul. “What we want is to suggest a ‘culture’ of living with more beauty, more health, more consciousness. The Food Industry is already moving this way due to attacks on it from the ‘health’ side, and they are doing it without an industry slogan. In a way, they have broken the ground for us. Ornamental horticulture could align our message with food and health, demonstrating the ‘value’ that plants contribute to our lives. The marriage of Food and Flowers (the common stand-in for all landscape beauty), is classic evidence of the ‘Good Life.’
    “Anyone in the industry could use the slogan or just the concept because it does not name any particular slice of the industry. Targeting specific demographics is done with individual message crafting and delivery media. A universal adoption of the theme would constitute a ‘cultural’ message without requiring any industry overhead…except maybe to TM the slogan.
    -Carol Brown
  • “Something like the ‘stimulus plan’ Lets all do something for everyone. No, I like the good old American way–you do for you and I’ll do for me and may the best plant win.”
    – Len Van Wingerden

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One comment on “What Should Our Marketing Message Be?

  1. Len gives a good idea for something that might go viral. A promotion called "The Presidents New Stimulus Plan". We create a web site and Fb page with this title. The focus would be "Presidents" of large – medium – small horticulture companies publish very short You-tubes with a garden stimulating message and theme. Would it go viral? If done right, the WSJ or NYT might just pick it up and launch it. There may be other opportunities to build from a program like this and include the above ideas. We need to all get our "Parallel Thinking" caps on and come up with a plan to promote.

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