by Alex Huebner
According to a 2014 study on small businesses by Verizon, 85 percent of businesses reported that their customers discovered their business through word of mouth. So how do you get customers talking about your business? Beyond traditional advertising, customer events like seminars and greenhouse tours can be a key way to drive up talk about your growing business and can bring in new customers.
Events are a good way to bring in business for your operation for multiple reasons. One is that they can help your greenhouse bring in business year round. Events can be tailored for the season or holiday; so if winter is usually a slow or off-season for you, you can remedy that by having a Christmas themed event.
Pahl’s Greenhouse in Apple Valley, MN starts hosting DIY Christmas events in November. They feature classes for customers that focus on creating holiday-themed decorations for the house. Pahl’s teaches customers how to make a spruce tip pot and provides free refreshments. In turn, the customers buy the supplies for the class from the greenhouse and then stick around after the class to look at the rest of the retail operation. This one-time purchase of supplies then leads to multiple purchases of products from the rest of the greenhouse.
DIY classes are successful for greenhouses and similar businesses because customers like personalization. A 2008 study from the University of Texas titled “Consumer control and customization in online environments”, concluded that customers enjoyed when things like media and advertising were tailored to them. So when planning an event or seminar for customers, make sure you are tailoring it to their needs or desires.
One way to personalize is to look back on your sales figures and see where the trends are. Host seminars on the techniques or products that they may be interested in based off what they already like. For example, if customers were inquiring often about organic gardening, you could have a class where you discuss the organic fertilizers, soil or pest control you offer.
Seminar and teaching events are also excellent ways to bring more people not only into your greenhouse or garden center, but also can bring in a new demographic of customer.
Younger generations of consumers, like Millennials, are not the most common demographic when it comes to gardening and greenhouses. However, you can get them interested in growing by hosting targeted sessions.
Since these younger buyers are usually garden novices, host a seminar series about the basics of gardening. Cross-merchandise these classes with easy to care for plants or generate goodwill by offering coupons to your retail operation. It will come off as approachable and will keep younger customers coming back.
Another way to attract customers is greenhouse tours. Bauman’s Farm and Garden in Gervais, OR uses tours like these to bring in old and new customers. They hold educational and entertaining tours about their farm and greenhouse operation for families and students. Bauman’s also gets double duty out of their greenhouses by touring them during their growing season and then converting the houses into farm attractions when they aren’t in use.
Greenhouse tours are a great way to get customers interested in your operation by showing them the details behind the growing process. You can use this to market your farm and show the story behind your business. Sharing your story with customers builds up a rapport with them, and gives them something to talk about with others once they leave.
Tours are also a great way to bring out young families to your business. Providing a tour that is as entertaining for children as it is with adults, like Bauman’s farm does, can create a lasting relationship with your customers.
Greenhouse tours work along with seminars to educate customers of all ages. Outings in and around your greenhouse can be used to enforce ideas presented in seminars. You can hold the events concurrently, offering deals for those who chose to take a tour and a class. Noteworthy experiences like this can keep customers coming back for years to come.
Attracting new customers to your business can be a dilemma for some. However, by providing memorable classes, seminars tailored to your customers, and offering educational greenhouse tours, you can appeal to all types of customers. This can make your growing operation a great destination for consumers.