PlantHaven Wins Medal of Excellence Award for Marketing

PlantHaven Team 2017
The PlantHaven team’s focus on the details is as embedded in the company’s culture as passion and creativity.

If passion is something that can be grown like flowers, PlantHaven International has a botanical garden.

It starts at the top. Owners Geoff and Maureen Needham first met and connected over a love of horticulture, building a nursery and, eventually, an empire.

The husband-and-wife duo understood that marketing quality plants could be profitable. Twenty years later, PlantHaven represents more than 90 independent plant breeders, featuring a portfolio of plants bred in all four corners of the globe.

Geoff & Maureen Needham, PlantHaven
PlantHaven owners Maureen and Geoff Needham have turned love of horticulture into a profitable business marketing quality plants.

While still active within the agency they created, the Needhams have cultivated an environment that attracts passionate plant people. One of those employees is CEO Robert Bett. He believes this exceptional group is the reason PlantHaven has been so successful over the past two decades.

“It’s very much a team effort,” says Bett, who, fresh out of a new product strategic planning meeting, is bursting with excitement about the little bit of “crystal ball gazing” he did with an eye on the future.

“We are lucky to work with superior breeder clients and to have a diverse offering that includes everything from colorful shrubs and big shade trees to perennials and volume annuals.”

Connection-Focused Marketing Drives Innovation

This diversity also inspires PlantHaven’s cream-of-the-crop marketing campaigns and initiatives. Because every new project is essentially a blank sheet of paper, Bett explains, the agency can make new connections that influence how a product is promoted.

“I think that it is important to develop these connections,” he says. “If you’re only thinking about specific products, you have a restricted view of the market.”

PlantHaven Cocktail Culture
Cocktail Culture is the result of an inventive marketing campaign to create a crop culture guide that entertains, as well as informs.

It also limits creativity, another trait PlantHaven has in spades. It’s Cocktail Culture brochure is proof of its inventive spirit. Universally beloved at California Spring Trials, the brochure was designed for a standard business-to-business effort, creating a crop culture guide that growers would actually read. In it, producers learned the intricacies of the six plants PlantHaven wants to promote in 2017.

PlantHaven worked with marketing consulting agency BlueSkye Creative and Ventura, CA, restaurant Rumfish Y Vino to spice up the standard growing manual. Together, the teams decided to bring back a much-loved PlantHaven tradition and share it with the industry.

“Maureen, affectionately known as our Cocktail Queen includes a cocktail recipe at the end of our industry wide eBriefs that is called Maureen’s “Cocktail Corner,” Bett says. “These are missed, and their absence is commented on if they are not included from time to time.”

The culture guide revived it by pairing growing recipes with drink ones. A rum and prosecco spritzer was paired with the ‘Hillier Porcelain Blue’ corydalis; a dragon fruit and vodka drink paired with ‘Painter Romantic France’ dahlia. The resulting visuals — vibrant blossoms alongside perfectly color-coordinated beverages — were a big hit.

“We received so many comments about the culture guide,” Bett says. “Industry people told us it was the most creative thing they’d seen in a while.”

A New Approach Yields Results

In addition to marketing to growers, PlantHaven also works with retailers on initiatives that speak directly to gardeners and homeowners. In one particularly successful campaign, radio personality Delana Bennett talks about Kaleidoscope abelia, telling listeners that they can find this color-changing plant at The Home Depot and other independent garden centers.

“The Home Depot realized that customers were really paying attention to the ads,” says Chris Berg, President of BlueSkye Creative. “In California, one of our highest targeted markets with radio and social media, we’re getting several customers tagging us in their photos after purchasing the plants and then several notes from customers who couldn’t find the plant in their local store asking us for help.”

“It proves the campaign is driving sell-through,” he continues. “It makes The Home Depot more inclined to partner with us and make sure all the stores in our marketing zones have the plant.”

Customer Referrals Still Speak the Loudest

PlantHaven’s marketing efforts aren’t limited to traditional advertising mediums like radio and print. The agency also creates content for social media, films 360-degree videos using drones, and produces an interactive digital catalog. The best method, however, is no method at all.

“Our goal is for the plants to be massively successful for the customer,” Bett says. “We want them to feel like amazing gardeners and tell their friends and family about the plants by word of mouth.

“It’s the most powerful marketing you can get: People become product ambassadors,” he continues. “When the plant performs so well people are constantly requesting it, that plant becomes the industry standard and takes on a whole life of its own.”

That’s one of the primary reasons PlantHaven works with so-called “botanical artisans,” specialized breeders that hone in on one or two genera. By limiting their focus, these artisans produce crops with more desirable traits, such as fragrance, drought, and disease resistance, and other characteristics that give the plants a qualitative advantage over the competition.

“Some breeders focus on color and habit, but ours focus on overall better genetics,” Bett says. “If you think about getting a bouquet of roses on Valentine’s Day and they don’t have that enticing fragrance, you sort of feel short-changed.”

PlantHaven’s focus on the details — from working with top breeders to developing an innovative marketing campaign — is as embedded in the company’s culture as passion and creativity. This, too, came from the top.

“Geoff and Maureen never push the team to cut corners, they believe it’s best to do things right or not at all, even if it takes longer,” Bett says. “This philosophy has served PlantHaven well: People are very successful with our plants.”

Topics: , ,

Leave a Reply

More From Management...

September 19, 2017

Horticulture Business Leaders Demand Resolution to Labor Struggles in Washington

AmericanHort's Impact Washington event was an importantly timed mission of advocacy for the green industry, delivering messages to lawmakers on three of the most pressing issues – labor and the workforce, research and innovation, and tax reform.

Read More
Hurricane Irma Damage

September 18, 2017

Southern Greenhouse Growers Continue Hurricane Recovery Efforts

Harvey and Irma wreaked havoc on the floriculture and nursery industries in Texas, Florida, and elsewhere. Here are the latest updates.

Read More
Micandy Gardens Team

September 17, 2017

4 Ways Micandy Gardens Greenhouses Reaches Out to Millennials

Micandy leverages social media to get the word out about its products and spread the word about how flowers can make a difference in people’s lives.

Read More
Latest Stories

September 19, 2017

Horticulture Business Leaders Demand Resolution to Labo…

AmericanHort's Impact Washington event was an importantly timed mission of advocacy for the green industry, delivering messages to lawmakers on three of the most pressing issues – labor and the workforce, research and innovation, and tax reform.

Read More
Hurricane Irma Damage

September 18, 2017

Southern Greenhouse Growers Continue Hurricane Recovery…

Harvey and Irma wreaked havoc on the floriculture and nursery industries in Texas, Florida, and elsewhere. Here are the latest updates.

Read More

September 16, 2017

Registration for MANTS 2018 Now Open

MANTS, which takes place Jan. 10-12, 2018, in Baltimore, MD, brings together green industry professionals from around the world.

Read More
GGS Cannabis Production

September 14, 2017

Griffin Workshop to Provide Education to New Cannabis P…

Griffin will be hosting a half-day educational workshop in Lancaster, PA, on Sept. 26, that will focus on crop protection and nutrition, as well as sanitation.

Read More
AmericanHort Women in Horticulture Panel

September 13, 2017

Women Making Strides in Horticulture, But More Progress…

Greenhouse Grower Editor Laura Drotleff helped moderate a "Women in Horticulture" panel discussion at Cultivate'17, in which plant scientists, growers, marketers, and company presidents talked about how they were called to horticulture and the evolution of their careers since.

Read More
Trends Slide - No Logo

September 12, 2017

Garden Media Group’s 2018 Trends Report Highlights Natu…

This year’s Garden Trends report offers seven trends that you can use to inspire mental wellness. Take a look to see how many trends you’re already using to connect with your customers.

Read More
Worker taking cuttings at Vivero Internacional.

September 11, 2017

Vivero Internacional Elevates Clean Cuttings to New Hei…

One of the last independent cutting operations, this fast-growing company raises the standard for delivering clean, high-quality unrooted cuttings.

Read More
Farm at Penny Lane

September 7, 2017

Cast Your Vote in National Garden Bureau’s Therapeutic …

Online voting is now open for the Therapeutic Garden Grant Program, which will split $5,000 in grant money among three therapeutic gardens.

Read More
Aron Hoff feature image

September 6, 2017

Head Grower of the Year Aron Hoff Never Stops Learning

Hoff originally wanted to be a teacher. Now, he is incorporating those skills he learned into his leadership and desire to keep learning and educating.

Read More
Selecta Sponsor bed at Raker trial gardens

September 5, 2017

C. Raker & Sons Acquired By Roberta’s Unique Garden…

Ownership will change hands in December, and Raker will supply young plants for the 2018 season. Beyond that, leadership of the two operations say they are excited to move forward with a partnership that will continue to supply the industry, and gardeners, with top-quality plants.

Read More
Container Gardening

September 5, 2017

14 Consumer Gardening Trends That Have Stood the Test o…

In early September, the Garden Media Group will unveil its 2018 Garden Trends report. To whet your appetite, here’s a look back at several trends that remain relevant today.

Read More

August 29, 2017

Know Your Grower: New Platform Brings Consumer Transpar…

The new Follow Your Flower or Plant vignette from MPS allows consumers to learn all about the producers of the plants and flowers they see at retail, and how sustainably their products are grown.

Read More

August 29, 2017

7 Popular Retail Trends from the 2017 IGC Show

Almost every type of retail garden product imaginable filled the booths on the tradeshow floor at the 2017 IGC Show held in August in Chicago, from pots and containers to garden tools, patio furniture, and decorative items. Here are seven gardening and product trends that stood out at the show.

Read More

August 29, 2017

First-Of-Its-Kind Federal Grant Designed to Stimulate C…

The National Initiative for Consumer Horticulture has received a USDA grant to help develop strategies and tactics to grow the practice of gardening 20% by 2025.

Read More

August 24, 2017

California State Water Board Accepting Comments on Cann…

Producers in California have until Sept. 6 to weigh in on how regulations might affect them.

Read More
Cannabis Crop Protection

August 24, 2017

More States Helping Cannabis Growers Reduce Energy Cost…

Cannabis production requires a lot of electricity, and some states are now offering growers energy rebates if they switch to LED lighting.

Read More

August 24, 2017

How Cannabis Might Affect the Floral Industry in Califo…

A report from the Society of American Florists notes that cannabis growers and investors are eyeing the Golden State’s agriculturally zoned land, and marijuana could take a bite out of the state’s flower production acreage.

Read More
Graduates Interested in Cannabis

August 23, 2017

Cannabis is an Appealing Career Choice for New Graduate…

While few universities offer specific courses in cannabis, many of them teach similar skills that can be applied to the ever-growing cannabis field.

Read More