by Courtney Llewellyn
In a partnership that will benefit both growers and consumers in eastern North Carolina, a project that focuses on Christmas trees grown in the Tar Heel State is on schedule for implementation this autumn. A grant was awarded last year by the North Carolina Tobacco Trust Fund Commission to create new, eye-catching marketing materials promoting the real Christmas tree industry in the eastern portion of the state and to redesign the Eastern North Carolina Christmas Tree Growers Association (ENCCTGA) website.
“There will be multiple benefits expected from this project,” explained ENCCTGA Board Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator Brad Barick. “First is that the choose-and-cut Christmas tree farmers will sell more trees and continue to grow their inventory. Through the marketing program, the public will become more educated about the variety of trees grown, will have more access to information about Christmas trees and care and will be able to identify the location of and information on each of our member choose-and-cut Christmas tree farms.”
The Tobacco Trust Fund Commission awarded $39,150 for the project. The ENCCTGA filmed a series of short videos promoting the industry during the last holiday season, which will premier this autumn. The association is also redesigning their consumer-focused website and association-focused website. All promotional videos and the updated website will be advertised via digital marketing. Through digital marketing, consumers are exposed to “choose-and-cut” farms located in eastern North Carolina, which grow different varieties of trees than other parts of the state. The intent of the program is to provide greater opportunities for the eastern Christmas tree growers to reach consumers using modern marketing methods which will encourage a greater quantity of consumers to purchase local Christmas trees, according to the commission.
Digital marketing and use of the internet have become the easiest and quickest methods to instantly find desired information, Barick said. Whereas other media and print have their place in communication, they’re not always immediately available. “Also, in the case of information on Christmas trees, our display of digital information will be far more comprehensive that other methods of marketing,” he added.
Through this grant program, with help from liaison Christina Wrenn, marketing specialist with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services, members of the ENCCTGA have the opportunity for input relative to the website and videos. The videos were made at association members’ farms. “Thus, the members are participating in the development of both the website and videos which are shared, discussed and critiqued at meetings. The website is a ‘work in progress’ and will be updated on a regular, as-needed basis,” Barick said.
An ENCCTGA board meeting is scheduled to take place in August; the association’s membership will be informed and have an opportunity for input during their Sept. 11 meeting at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. Updates on the grant and the industry will be presented to attendees. To see the project progress, visit nc-chooseandcut.com.
In addition to the video series grant, the NCDA&CS Plant Industry Division was also awarded a USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant to implement surveys, develop and prepare statewide treatment plans, implement public outreach and work with North Carolina’s wine grape and Christmas tree industries to safeguard them from the devastating impacts spotted lanternfly could have on their commodities.