August 13, 2013

Three Keys To World-Class Customer Service

Are you doing everything you can for your customers? Dennis Snow thinks you can step it up a few notches and wow your customers with world-class customer service. As a veteran employee at Walt Disney World, where customer service is essential to creating magical, memorable experiences for the popular theme park’s guests, Snow was on the front lines of dealing with customers every day.  At OFA Short Course, Snow delivered a funny, irreverent and enlightening keynote address during the Sunday morning session, setting the tone for the event. Now a business consultant at Dennis Snow and Associates and an author of two books, Snow has built on his experience working at Disney and counsels organizations worldwide. Snow thrilled and engaged the audience with humorous stories about Disney customers, and how his team worked to create solutions that would infuse a little bit of magic and wonder in every Disney experience. […]

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Hermann Engelmanns Sandra Kitain, Chuck Romagnoli and Erin Leonard

August 12, 2013

Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses Reaches Out To Consumers With Merchandising, Web Presence And Social Media

Do you grow foliage and houseplants? If not, it might be time to consider it. In a recent Today’s Garden Center magazine survey, of those garden retailers who carry houseplants, 54.3 percent report an increase in sales in 2013. Hermann Engelmann Greenhouses reports good news, as well, with a 5 percent increase within the foliage segment in the past year. So how does the operation plan to keep the good times rolling? The formula for this grower includes marketing directly to the consumer through in-store materials, a loaded website and an active social media presence. But the message being broadcast through all these media is the same — to inspire the customer to create home décor designs and to educate with plant care tips that will turn timid gardeners into experts. “We want to transition our product from a commodity item to a home décor item,” says Erin Leonard, director […]

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July 30, 2013

Box Stores And Facebook: How Social Media Has Changed Sales

How many box stores are seeing direct sales in plants from social media? That was a question on the minds of attendees at OFA Short Course’s Grower Town Hall. Here are the thoughts of the grower panel.  “I am a Facebook advocate. We don’t get a lot of Likes each week, but we see visits and unique visits from it over a week. I can tie sales to what we’re doing on Facebook. We’re trying to get potential customers into Home Depot stores. We do talk about pricing, what’s hot this week and what’s shipping. We get a good reaction to Facebook.” “Our goal is to get on the Facebook pages of Walmart or Lowe’s. This will have huge impact on our business. It doesn’t always benefit the stores we serve, but that doesn’t bother us. It’s better for everyone involved [when plants are featured on their Facebook pages].” “The […]

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July 23, 2013

Merchandising On Shipping Racks: How Does It Affect Plant Sales, Quality?

When shipping and sometimes even merchandising and selling on racks, growers are now cognizant of keeping plants at a compact size. What’s the effect on consumer success with plants once they leave the retail setting?   A grower panel asked at OFA Short Course’s Town Hall meeting about what a small grower can produce more profitably than a big grower. Here’s how the members of the panel responded: “Big growers ship on racks and fit in as many as they can. I try to grow things like delphiniums or really big hanging baskets, but I only have to ship from the top of a hill to the bottom. Things that take up a lot of room.” “It’s never our intention to grow stuff shorter than what the genetics call for or to keep plants down with PGRs. The stores we supply expect as good or better quality than the IGCs. […]

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July 9, 2013

Garden Retail 2013 Report: Hartford, Conn.

The Hartford area is a mixture of some outstanding IGCs and the usual spread of national retailers based on population density. My visit was June 12 (warm with intermittent rain) and June 13 (cool and rainy). There was not much traffic in any garden center during this two-day retail tour. In almost all stores, whether big boxes or IGCs, there was a lot of inventory on the shelves and in some instances it had some age to it with a typical spring product mix. There was no indication of a transition to a summer product mix. In talking to the retailers, they had a decent year but most thought they still needed a good solid weekend of sales to make their year compete with last year. Walmart: Emphasis On Merchandising And Perennials It seems as though there is far less emphasis on the Better Homes and Gardens brand this season, […]

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June 25, 2013

Two New Plant Marketing Concepts From Spring Trials 2013

Two new marketing concepts presented at Spring Trials this year are designed not just to attract customers’ attention, but to make them more comfortable with the plants they ultimately choose. The People’s Choice POP concept introduced this year by MasterTag allows growers and retailers to highlight award-winning plants to 1) make consumers aware that these plants have been recognized for excellence by experts and 2) inspire confidence in consumers. If they know these plants have been “vetted” by experts, they will feel more comfortable purchasing them. The People’s Choice Program can be purchased at various levels: standard black pots with tags and bench tape; colored pots; and pots printed with cultural information, posters and display cards. PanAmerican Seed’s Think Outside the Pack marketing promotion allows consumers to create container combinations on the spot, choosing from individual components of premium seed-grown plants. To illustrate the concept, the PanAm team built a […]

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June 20, 2013

Dümmen’s Confetti Garden Streamlines Container Garden Production [Medal Of Excellence For Marketing]

Original ideas abound in the floriculture industry, but not every idea is a success. There are the times, however, when a company hits on a concept that fills a void growers didn’t realize was there, and it’s such a game-changer, they can’t imagine growing without it. The 2013 Medal Of Excellence for Marketing goes to a company that used its game-changing idea to not only sell plants, but to solve container garden production problems and streamline this thriving growth area. Dümmen North America’s (NA) Red Fox Confetti Garden products are innovative, time-saving and profit-increasing products that benefit the supply chain and satisfy consumers’ need for quick, convenient and beautiful color. Filling A VoidSpring annuals are a hot commodity for any breeding program, and most plant breeders feel they need a presence in this area to compete. But when Dümmen entered the vegetative spring annuals market in the mid-2000s, it did […]

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June 17, 2013

Burpee Home Gardens Completes Its National Grow Anywhere Tour

Burpee Home Gardens began touring the U.S. this spring on its Grow Anywhere Tour, visiting 23 cities to deliver more than 30,000 pounds of fresh produce, 13,000 vegetable plants and gardening suppport to areas without easy access to fresh, healthy foods, known as food deserts. We asked Burpee’s Product Manager Scott Mozingo about the outcome of the tour, which was completed in mid-May. GG: Why is the Grow Anywhere Tour something that Burpee Home Gardens wanted to do? Mozingo: With the Grow Anywhere Tour, Burpee Home Gardens has nourished a new generation of gardeners by sharing food, plants and advice nationwide. By demonstrating simple ways to grow food, Burpee Home Gardens demonstrated how easy it is to grow anywhere. After years of inspiring and educating the public about the physical and environmental benefits of gardening through our “I Can Grow” school and community garden program, Burpee Home Gardens took its […]

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June 6, 2013

Pro-Mix Is Now On Social Media

Premier Tech Horticulture, which is among the North American leaders of peat moss-based growing media production and distribution, has recently announced the launch of its social media strategy, including the unveiling of its Pro-Mix Facebook, Twitter and YouTube pages for professional and amateur gardeners. Known as a customer-focused and market-driven company, Premier Tech Horticulture strongly believes that today, people are expecting constant interactive communication with brands. As a result, interacting and communicating with external audiences through both new and traditional media remain important elements. Now, with Pro-Mix, this dialogue will also take place online, via new social media platforms that are easy to access for everybody. “These Pro-Mix social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, blogs, wikis, YouTube, etc.) present us with unique opportunities to listen to our customers and stakeholders, but also to share with people our 20 years of experience, knowledge and expertise,” says Chantal Duchesneau, marketing and […]

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May 28, 2013

Why Is Fairy Gardening So Popular?

Garden centers have several theories about why miniature or fairy gardening is so popular. Kerry Kelley of Homestead Gardens in Davidsonville, Md., thinks women and men are drawn to the hobby for different reasons. For women, the small scale calls to something instinctual. “It’s related to the biological instinct women have to care for anything small — like babies! The same fascination we have with a baby and all the tiny fingers and toes — it really goes back to that, in my mind,” she says. “I think with men it’s more the fascination with the building and design end of things — that’s why they tend to like the train garden side of it.” Gethsemane Gardens’ Victoria Anderson sees the appeal stemming from a childlike creative energy and way for non plants people to connect with nature. Nature A connection to nature is what personally attracts Anderson. “My biggest […]

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May 7, 2013

Making The Old New Again: Getting Creative With Chrysanthemums

Some categories of plants have been around for a really long time. So long, in fact, that they can become associated with phrases like “old-fashioned,” or “out of date.” That doesn’t mean they aren’t excellent plants — that’s probably one of the reasons they’ve been around so long. But consumers like to buy things that are new, different and trendy. So how do you make something that people take for granted new and interesting again? Sometimes it is with new genetics. And sometimes it is through marketing — creating a story around the plant and a reason to buy it. We talked to Liz Hunt, senior market manager, vegetative, for Syngenta Flowers, about its new Zenia mum collection, which uses both breeding and marketing to revitalize the category. GG: Do you see working with growers and retailers to re-package older categories as a growing trend in the industry? Hunt: Syngenta […]

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May 7, 2013

Spring 2013 Garden Commercials From National Brands: New Gardener Success Is The Message

The new crop of spring gardening and home renovation commercials is out. What messages are national brands like Miracle Gro and box stores like Lowe’s taking out to the public? It’s all about the inexperienced, those consumers who think they have black thumbs, and how these stores and products can introduce gardening to the uninitiated and help them have success. Here’s a look into their 2013 ads.  MiracleGro’s Growing With Miracle-Gro Moisture Control Potting Mix “The only thing we’d ever grown together was our record collection. No, there was that fuzzy stuff on the gouda.” Those are the first few lines spoken by the two beginner gardeners in this entertaining commercial, reflecting the experience level many new gardeners have. “How much is too much water? Too little?” Sound familiar? MiracleGro’s message is that even new gardeners can have success using its product.  Lowe’s “Neighborhood” Commercial This commercial shows a whole, […]

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