Olson’s Greenhouse Uses Radio, Text Messages To Market

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Olson's Greenhouse teams with Proven Winners to promote container gardening at Home Depots within its region.

The best ideas are sometimes the ones someone else comes up with. But just because the original idea isn’t yours, it doesn’t mean you can’t execute the idea better.

That’s the attitude Brian Lloyd, the vice president of sales and marketing at Olson’s Greenhouses, took when he further developed Containerfest, a one-day Home Depot event across stores in his region. Fred Meyer, a retail supermarket company and a Home Depot competitor, had been hosting a container planting event at its stores for years. Come early April, Fred Meyer customers would ritually line up with pots in hand and buy spring annuals that a grower vendor could plant into a beautiful spring container for them.

Lloyd saw the demand Fred Meyer was creating. His goal was to create the same demand at Home Depot stores where consumers could purchase his plants.

“There was always a long line for this, even if it was a rainy day,” says Lloyd, whose business is based in Utah. “Fred Meyer’s customers came to expect this, and so Fred Meyer had a pretty loyal following.”

Home Depot officially launched a container planting event in 2008, and all stores in the Pacific Northwest are involved in it today. But Lloyd has taken promotion of Containerfest a tad farther for his region, teaming up with Proven Winners to market the event on KSL, a newsradio station in Utah, during its Saturday morning Greenhouse Show the same day Containerfest takes place.

“We promote the event in all stores within earshot of the radio program,” Lloyd says. “So we have employees planting about 30 stores that day in Utah and Boise, [Idaho]. Other vendors do the same thing as far as the planting that takes place in our stores, but we’re the only ones who promote it during the event and during the planting.”

Over the show’s three morning hours, Olson’s Greenhouses and Proven Winners get nine one-minute announcements to discuss anything related to their businesses and brands with host and local garden celebrity Larry Sagers. Sagers takes gardening questions from callers the rest of the show.

“We don’t have a lot of footsteps on the day of the event, but the day we promote it we feel there’s a huge, immeasurable advantage,” Lloyd says. “Even if people don’t come into the store that day, they’re hearing our name, thinking about Home Depot for the gardening season and getting Olson’s and the Home Depot top of mind.”

Taking The Event A Step Further

One element Olson’s Greenhouses weaved into Containerfest last year was a texting campaign. “There’s a company that provides a service for us,” Lloyd says. “We would hand out a little flyer that read, ‘If you text this number, you can receive a free plant by showing us the confirmation the day of our event.”

Lloyd came across the idea when he ran through a drive-thru at a fast food restaurant. An advertisement indicated he could get a free sandwich if he texted a word to a particular number. Once Lloyd texted, he simply had to show his phone at the drive-thru window to get his free sandwich.
Lloyd then took what he learned from the fast food restaurant and applied it to his own business.

“Our card will say text the word ‘spring’ to a certain number right now to receive a free plant,” Lloyd says. “We probably gave away 300 or 400 plants at our container event. We gave away Proven Winners pots because they donated some of the material for it. With the campaign, we captured about 400 phone numbers.”

Now, whenever Lloyd wants to push out a message to those 400, he contacts the company that facilitated the texting campaign.

“We can send out very time-specific advertisements,” he says. “I can send it out to your market area with messages that read, ‘Home Depot just got fresh plants; brave the rain today and get one.’”

Kevin Yanik is the former managing editor of Greenhouse Grower.
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