Tip Jar: The year of differentiation

With a new year and a new economy, what are you doing to stand out and boost sales?

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March 3, 2015

March 20, 2015; the first official day of spring. Seems like I just blinked and it was the first day of winter. It’s been a snowy, frigid winter, so a change in the weather can’t come soon enough for this Northeast Ohioan.

As usual, winter trade shows came and went in a flash. But, unlike the last several years, it was different. There wasn’t just hopeful optimism that it might be a good year and that maybe sales would come with time. This January had an extraordinary positive vibe; it was an order writing, “Sorry, I’m sold out of that,” getting full price kind of month, and it felt good. Real good. Now if we can just get Mother Nature to cooperate and give us multiple sunny spring weekends, life will be better than it has in a long time!

And while the above is my humble opinion, Dr. Charlie Hall, Ellison Chair in International Floriculture, shared that economic indicators are suggesting we are poised to have our best year in a long time (http://bit.ly/1AodpUl).

Hall points out there are certain economic indicators we can track so we can better conclude if and when we need to change our business course. He says if you “want to be like Charlie,” you can create your own whiteboard to follow indicators and to evaluate the current state of the economy and determine how and why it will affect your business. (http://bit.ly/economic-dashboard.)

In this New Year, consider turning over a new business leaf, or maybe baby steps is more your speed. For help, check out www.ellisonchair.tamu.edu. Goodness knows I’m no math whiz – numbers make my vision blur and my head ache – but Hall is the man who can convert accountant and economic speak into a way that actually makes sense. Maybe it is more appropriate to say “cents” as his insight can directly assist you to be a more savvy business.

Speaking of savvy, I had the pleasure of meeting Randy Bracy of Bracy’s Nursery in Louisiana at the GIE Media Nursery Grower Business Coalition this past fall in Fort Worth, Texas. Randy addressed the group about grass-roots marketing efforts for our industry. No doubt this was a subject near and dear to his heart as his comments about the subject were passionate.

In January I attended the Gulf States Expo in Mobile, Ala., for the first time. There I saw the Bracy’s trade show booth chock full of their “Declare Your Advantage” campaign for independent garden centers. I love a business person who has a vision and sees it through!

The POP encourages retailers to promote their strengths because they are superior to their chain store competitors. Signage asks shoppers to consider:

Your Local IGC. Expertise, Dedication & Community Involvement. You Have A Choice. Where Will You Shop?

And additional posters support that by focusing on:

  • Community Advantage – Locally Owned & Operated
  • Quality Advantage – Achieve Landscape Success
  • Selection Advantage – More Choices Year Round
  • Service Advantage – Experts Focused on You
     

They also offer a Sell the Benefits! Demand Creation Package. This POP collection includes in-store displays that shows customers the great things plants and landscaping do for us including:

  • Increasing property values
  • Benefits to children
  • Benefits to businesses
  • Conserving energy

Spend some time with your IGC customer to help put up some POP or spruce up a display. Going the extra mile will help them and you be more successful no matter the economic conditions we find ourselves in.

 

Maria Zampini is president of Upshoot LLC and Director of Plant Development and Ornamental Program Manager for the HGTV HOME Plant Collection.