Anyone who has been in the green industry for any length of time will agree that we have all had some strange times with an unprecedented influx of business.
The market is shifting for wholesalers and garden centers alike as they experience a shift to a new normal. This shift is requiring everyone to reassess what they are doing and make necessary changes.
Inflation and associated labor costs have increased production costs and limited clients’ budgets. Interest rates are up, and money is no longer coming in from government programs and incentives.
So, what should we do? Now’s the time to refresh, update and enhance your most effective online platforms. Here is a list of priorities:
1. Determine what drove online leads before 2019
As the world shifts to a new normal, it might be good to review what worked in the past. Are there any things that worked previously but might have stopped because of supply chain or labor issues?
Also review activities that are not currently effective and see if they can be eliminated or revamped.
2. Update info and photos
Make sure your Google Business, Bing Places and Yelp profiles are accurate.
Check your phone number. This is a common thing that gets overlooked. You should also test your email contact.
For wholesalers who may not want retail customers, consider setting up a service area business to avoid retail clients on your site. If you have online retail sales, set up Google Merchant Center and link it to your business profile.
Eliminate any products or services you no longer want to provide. Make sure the products or services you do want to focus on are front and center on the home page or featured in your website navigation. Categorize plants, products or services with dedicated pages and detailed descriptions of your offerings.
Update photos on your website. Plants and other green goods are often visual purchases. If you wholesale plants or other products, be sure to update your digital marketing materials to reflect new plant photos and other updates to the marketing materials you provide your clients. Add descriptions to profile photos so that people better understand what kind of work you do.
Look at how you have provided your wholesale availability and see if there is a better way to provide this to your clients. Consider online pick lists to make ordering more convenient to your retail clients or consider a wholesale option if you have an online shopping cart. Remember, the easier you are to deal with, the more likely it is your clients will use your company as a resource.
3. Search for reviews and update on all platforms
Answer all your reviews, regardless of whether they are positive or negative. Potential clients know there are people out there that have issues with services no matter what. What your potential clients are looking for is how the management of your company responds to feedback.
4. Reach out for new reviews
Call your customers during the off-season and see how they are doing. If they are enthusiastic about what you’ve done for them, it is appropriate to see if they would be willing to write a positive review and send a link. Focus on getting a minimum of 10 new positive reviews on each platform each year. By the way, these calls often stimulate new projects.
5. Review your social media and marketing plan for 2024
If your company is wholesale, supporting retailers by creating a supporting platform for your brand and retail clients. Be sure to make materials available for your retail clients’ social media as well. If you are a retail garden center, set up your social media calendar with your customers in mind. Be sure to set things up so you can shuffle them if there are availability issues or delays.
It’s also a good idea to prepare posts in advance for inclement weather or unexpected challenges; for example, when snowstorms, hard freezes or other events occur, your clients may need you to take immediate action.
If you have a newsletter, prepare topics in advance. You can adjust the order and priorities as the year rolls out and materials and supplies become available. It is much easier to adjust the order of topics than to come up with new subjects during the peak of your season.
If you are advertising, review your campaigns and make sure these are relevant to the services that you want to focus on: Many advertisers just direct ads to the home page. This decreases the chances of converting responses to a sale by 70%. If you do not have specific landing pages for each advertisement, do it now. This will lower your advertising costs and massively increase your effectiveness.
If you want to increase your online lead generation, engage with an SEO (search engine optimization) expert or digital agency that knows landscaping and your market. These marketing experts can support you on all your other online lead generation needs. It also helps to employ a marketing expert who has green industry knowledge and understands the ins and outs of this industry.
If your team takes the time to review and update your online visibility and lead generation as outlined here, you will have made a lot of progress toward achieving your online business potential!
Digital Growth from the May 2023 issue of Digger magazine | Download PDF