Donkeys & Elephants

What? Can’t hear you. Let me turn the radio down. Oh, you want me to write a column? Can’t – too busy listening to the radio, watching CNN, reading three or four newspapers a day. Can’t stop now to write.

Okay, I will turn down the radio.

Well, I would love to stop and visit with you, but you know that the most important marketing event of our generation is going on and I really can’t miss a minute of it. What marketing event? You jest! Surely you have heard about the race to be the next U.S. president? Which is typically pretty interesting if you are a student of marketing, but this year – the saints be praised – what a year!

What, can you speak up? Sorry – my ears are numb from 24/7 radio and TV coverage. Did you know that on satellite radio, there is one station that is 24 hours a day just on the election? Channel 130 on XM. Satellite radio is truly a gift from the gods. Think
C-SPAN on steroids. I’m not a big Wolf Blitzer fan, but I love those CNN political talking heads.

You don’t think the election has anything to do with marketing petunias in Peoria? Ha, I say – HA. Let’s start down that rabbit hole. 

Importance Of The Election

The election is important on two levels. First, and most obvious, are the immediate issues that our esteemed leaders in Washington must deal with – and this time around, many are very important to us lowly greenhouse types. Ignoring if you are a blue or a red person, topics like immigration, energy and taxes are very top of mind. This written space is not intended to share any views to influence you – the joy of this country is that you can make your own decisions and vote accordingly (as compared to the recent Russian election where Putin put his "guy" in an uncontested election). But I cannot remember an election in the past 30 years where we had more big issues at stake.

On this topic of big issues, I find I have started to yell at the TV whenever some politician or, worse, a TV media flunky, makes an outrageous or unsupported statement. The yelling begins. Poor wifey has had to remove all throwable items from around my chair, lest I start hurling things at the TV. This election cycle I am yelling a lot.

Now I notice that I am starting the same behavior at the grocery store and gas station. No, dear reader, it is not evil oil companies forcing up gas prices, but years of failed energy policies (both blue and red) that are coming home to roost. Then, I go to the grocery store and buy $5 gallons of milk and start yelling again. And this time, I can get going on both immigration and energy policies forcing up the price of a head of lettuce and a gallon of milk. (Do not get me started on the Farm Bill). I also blame Al Gore, but I pretty much blame everything on Mr. The World Is Ending Let’s Buy My Book And Make Me A CEO Of An Alternate Energy Company guy, so that is probably not fair.

Because you are all in agribusiness, I know you all know this stuff, but our boneheads in Washington and their inability to see past the next day’s headlines have done a marvelous job. The fact that Congress is getting lower approval ratings than the president is no accident.

That is first reason that I am obsessed with election coverage. I keep waiting for someone to get real about topics that impact our industry and my grocery bill.

Second reason, I cannot turn it off – it is marketing heaven. It is how to position a product. They each have slogans and taglines and logos and machines. They are now one-name stars – we have Madonna, Brad and Britney as one-namers, we have Hillary and Barack. "Mac is back" is now a chant, the word "change" can be put into any word combination and made a slogan. Listen to the stump speeches and you will hear brilliant product positioning. It is marketing heaven. I must listen to just one more speech, see one more Q&A session or hear the talking heads spin.

I’m not picking on Hillary, but she has changed her slogan about five times. Makes sense – she was the leading petunia in Peoria and then she fell behind. But as any petunia sales person knows, if you change your message too often, you run the risk of confusing the customer. I’m not picking on Barack, but he is master of saying very little about real facts, but saying them so well you get cranked. On the petunia side of the ledger, how do we make our products as inspiring? We sell beauty, he is selling hope – can we do it as well as he is doing today?

In this election cycle with its crazy 24/7 coverage, every small nuance of every speech and every gesture is watched. We don’t think that hard about marketing plants. But what if we did? What if we were as careful about message and position when we go to retail with our flowers? What if we put thought and some energy into how our customers emote and react to our products, not "just" have good quality at fair prices.

If we did that to a petunia, potentilla or pennisetum, we would communicate the following to consumers:

  • A two- or three-word slogan as to why this is good.
  • Stories that are easy to remember and that get me excited and emotional.
  • PR team getting every amount of free press available in local media.
  • Repeat – over and over.

I have heard the stump speeches. I can do a pretty good Barack impression. "On the steps of the old state capital …" The Hillary clap and wave and the McCain "My friends …"

How do we do that with petunias?

Anyway, I gotta go, a McCain stump speech is on the radio and then I must listen to talking heads talk about the Hillary/Barack thing. I will be back sometime in November…

Leave a Reply

More From Marketing...
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Students

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
Dual Income No Kids (DINK) Young Couple

September 16, 2016

What You Need To Know About DINKs

DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) are quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing demographics that marketers are targeting.

Read More
Cavicchio Greenhouses

September 6, 2016

Cavicchio Greenhouses Wins Inaugural Sustainability Award

The Sudbury, MA, growing operation sustains more than 250 acres of annuals, perennials, and nursery stock, with a number of practices to mitigate its impact on the environment.

Read More
Latest Stories
OSU ATI Greenhouse

September 21, 2016

Your Support Is Essential For Current And Future Studen…

September is back to school time, and that means renewed opportunity to support the young people who are electing to pursue careers in horticulture. I continue to hear from growers of all sizes, from all over the country, that there just are not enough qualified graduates of two- or four-year horticulture programs. We also need to be active in promoting careers in horticulture to those who are not aware of the opportunities available. There have been some great success stories in this area recently. At University of Florida (UF) last fall, Anna Ball and Dr. Marvin Miller of Ball Horticultural Co. joined UF’s Dr. David Clark in an introductory environmental horticulture couse that’s open to any major. After the class, the line of students waiting to talk with Ball, Miller, and Clark was out the door. It is so important, Ball says, for each of us, individually and collectively to […]

Read More
Dual Income No Kids (DINK) Young Couple

September 16, 2016

What You Need To Know About DINKs

DINKs (Dual Income, No Kids) are quickly becoming one of the fastest-growing demographics that marketers are targeting.

Read More
Cavicchio Greenhouses

September 6, 2016

Cavicchio Greenhouses Wins Inaugural Sustainability Awa…

The Sudbury, MA, growing operation sustains more than 250 acres of annuals, perennials, and nursery stock, with a number of practices to mitigate its impact on the environment.

Read More
Laura Drotleff

August 10, 2016

Customers Need Hand-Holding And TLC [Opinion]

If we want customers to use our plants, we need to provide basic information about the plants we produce.

Read More
Luxflora Flower Run

July 20, 2016

First-Ever Flower Run Was A Big Success, Luxflora Says

Kicking off Cultivate’16 on Sunday, July 10, Luxflora’s first annual 5K saw nearly 150 participants racing through the picturesque Scioto Audubon Park in Columbus under clear blue skies and perfect conditions. It was a great way to start the week, participants said. Congratulations to the winners of the first-ever Flower Run: First Place: Jacob Griffith Gardner Second Place: Mike Goyette Third Place: Jack Ford The top three winners — and all of the Flower Run participants — were showered with flower petals when they crossed the finish line, making for a colorful and fragrant finish to an invigorating experience. “Personally, I would consider it a grand success,” says Luxflora President Rebecca Lusk. “The overall mood was fantastic, from start to finish. There were many high fives and group hugs, numerous duo phone selfies and postings to social media, while participants enjoyed their bananas and bottled water donated by Experience Columbus. Most […]

Read More
PrairieSplendor_CompactRose Syngenta Flowers March 2016

May 16, 2016

New “Generations Of Flowers” Study Tracks How And Why C…

The Society of American Florists and the American Floral Endowment have released an update and analysis of this study, which first began in 2009.

Read More
Webinar Photo from Flickr

May 7, 2016

How You Can Connect With A Broader Audience Through Web…

Webinars are time-saving and effective marketing tools that can extend your reach to a greater audience.

Read More

April 27, 2016

Use Your Data To Make Smarter Marketing Decisions

Learn which marketing metrics are important to your business, measure successes, and learn where changes are needed.

Read More

April 26, 2016

“Bee-Friendly” Labels Matter To Plant Consumers, Accord…

Research at Michigan State University shows ornamental plant buyers understand and respond to bee-friendly production practices.

Read More
Krause Berry Farms Farm To Table Dinner

April 20, 2016

What The Floriculture Industry Can Learn From Farm Mark…

Although we have a lot in common with the produce industry, there is much we can learn from one another.

Read More
Costa Farms Container Ideas E-Book

April 12, 2016

Costa Farms Targets Consumers With New Container Garden…

The electronic book offers tips on container selection, design, and plant care for millennials looking to grow in small spaces.

Read More
Tropical Fruit Tree Selection (Hopkins Tropical Fruit Nursery)

April 7, 2016

University Of Florida Research Shows Consumers Value Lo…

Compared to conventional plants, consumers reported a higher purchasing likelihood for certified organic or organically produced fruit plants.

Read More
Random Acts Of Flowers

March 31, 2016

The Floriculture Industry Needs A Unified Message To Pr…

Seeing the sneak preview of the new varieties that will be presented at California Spring Trials (CAST) spurs a visceral reaction in me. I’m giddy and excited about these gorgeous plants, having taken in some of their beauty and excellent performance already at Costa Farms’ Season Premier. I’m excited to travel to Spring Trials and that spring is coming, and I’m ready to dig in and get gardening. I’m guessing many of you feel the same way. And it’s likely that consumers do, too. Nearly a year ago, upon returning from California Spring Trials, I lamented the absence of ideas translated from CAST to retail. The beautiful displays, the breathtaking combinations, the clever marketing — somehow, all of that effort and enthusiasm focused on business-to-business promotion is not being funneled effectively to the consumer. As an industry, we are not good at working together to market our products in a clear, […]

Read More
Sakata Seed America President David Armstrong

March 30, 2016

Sakata Signs Agreement With Indonesian Government To Co…

This week, Sakata Seed Corp. announced internationally that it has signed an agreement with the Republic of Indonesia to cooperate in the further development and production of its line of SunPatiens interspecific hybrid impatiens, based on the principles of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Under an agreement based on the CBD, Sakata Seed has worked with the Indonesian government since the early 2000s to identify the origin of the native germplasm collected in Indonesia to develop SunPatiens, and the two parties have agreed on how the indigenous genetic resources will be used for the further development of SunPatiens. There are currently only a few cases in the world of such an agreement, based on the CBD in the category of horticultural plants, made between a resource-rich country and a commercial seed company. Greenhouse Grower contacted Sakata Seed CEO David Armstrong to provide context about this agreement, what it means […]

Read More
NGI-SunPatiens-Compact-Hot-Coral-Sakata

March 23, 2016

P. Allen Smith Says SunPatiens Are Hero Plants For Cons…

Plants that ensure consumer success with disease resistance bred into their genetics, and ease of use in a variety of conditions, are heroes for gardeners, especially beginners, and they should be celebrated and supported to promote gardening success and interest. These are the messages the award-winning designer, gardening, and lifestyle expert P. Allen Smith wants the horticulture industry to know, with the recent announcement of his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed. In an exclusive interview with Greenhouse Grower, P. Allen Smith describes his expanded partnership with Sakata Seed to promote SunPatiens and why the now 10-year-old series helps both novice and expert gardeners to be successful. Smith also collaborates with Sakata to promote the HomeGrown Collection of vegetables. SunPatiens Set Consumers Up For Success, Smith Says As a plantsman first, Smith has extensively trialed SunPatiens in his gardens at Moss Mountain Farm in Little Rock, AR, and says he is […]

Read More
Suzanne McKee

March 18, 2016

4 Pitfalls To Avoid With Responsive Web Design

When implementing responsive design on your website, sidestep these common problems with some advance planning.

Read More
1 800 Flowers Instagram Women's Day

March 15, 2016

Society Of American Florists Uses Social Media To Take …

SAF strategically promoted five key Facebook posts to expand its reach beyond its followers and prominently featured Women’s Day on its other consumer channels.

Read More
Mason Day Great Plant Debate Campaign For GrowIt!

March 3, 2016

GrowIt! App Founders Look To Make Waves At The Chicago …

Mason Day and Seth Reed will hold a “Great Plant Debate” at the event, while updating the GrowIt! app with information on every plant featured at the show.

Read More
[gravityform id="35" title="false" description="false"]