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Keep it relevant and inspire your customers

UK: HTA Marketing Forum 2015

Over 100 delegates from across the industry gathered for the HTA Marketing Forum 2015 at Chesford Grange, Warwick. The event, themed ‘tools for success', brought together keynote speakers, industry experts and practitioners to look at ways in which businesses can maximise their marketing spend, no matter their budget.

Chair of the HTA Marketing Committee, Caroline Owen from Scotsdales Garden Centre opened the conference, talking about the many ways in which marketing has changed over the years. She spoke about how it's not only about the adverts that you create, but also how you bring that campaign through into your in-store marketing.

One of the key themes that was carried throughout the day, was the use of music to aid your campaign, and also to create a mood within your store. Caroline Owen brought up the success of the John Lewis Christmas advert, and how in this age of digital marketing, their advert was clocking up over a million views on YouTube in the space of just 12 hours. The choice of their iconic music helps to create the emotive feeling that they aspire to achieve, but also carries the advert throughout the future year, making people think of the advert whenever they hear the song. This message was also discussed by Laurens Doesborgh of the de Haan Group and Edwin Meijer of Garden Connect, who spoke about using Spotify playlists in different areas of your store to help create inspirational displays for your customers. Ian Stuart from Global Four Counties and Trevor Pfeiffer from Garden Radio also discussed the power of music and sound in relation to radio advertising, and music within your store.

Social media
Social media and digital marketing were also key topics that were mentioned throughout the day. The use of social media for loyalty schemes was discussed by Edwin Meijer and Jonathan Bates of Thomond. They spoke about keeping your customers engaged with you and your brand by creating a digital strategy, no matter how simple, and planning your social media activity around other features that you are planning on running in your stores throughout the year. Conor Mee from ProvenMentor also discussed how a phone is no longer just a phone anymore; it is part of everyday life. Talking to your audience in their language and understanding what resonates with them is key to knowing how and where to position your social media activity.

John Ashley spoke about the success that Scotsdales have had using doordrop campaigns as a key marketing tool in their local area. Through using a combination of doordrops and editorial in local publications, they are able to target their key demographic audiences, and make their store an integral part of the local community. Mark Davies of Whistl also spoke about why doordrops are so effective, and how using pen portraits can help you to find the key demographics to fit your promotional campaigns, and make sure that you are not bombarding people with information that is irrelevant to them. For example, you do not want to be sending people in flats information on the latest lawn care.

Boyd Douglas-Davies from Hillview Group and Neil Grant from Ferndale Garden Centre both spoke of the ways in which they are bringing in new audiences to their centres throughout the course of the year. Boyd reported on the new play barn at Hilltop Garden Centres whilst Neil spoke on the success of their summer beach campaign and the wider National Childrens' Gardening Week initiative which he instigated this year.

Keynote speakers Tim Mason (ex Deputy CEO and Chief Marketing Officer of Tesco) and Gerald Ratner (former CEO of the Ratner's Group), both provided lively and entertaining accounts of the highs and lows of their careers - demonstrating the impact and importance of marketing.

Commenting on the event Caroline Owen said, "This first HTA Marketing Forum has been well received and it was good to see retailers, suppliers, growers and landscapers attend - with content applicable to all. The delivery of short bite sized sessions proved popular and enabled delegates to take away plenty of marketing nuggets to implement within their businesses."

For more information
Horticultural Trades Association
Horticulture House
19 High Street
West Berkshire
T: +44 (0)118 930 3132
Fax: +44 (0)118 932 3453
NGGV: +44 (0)118 930 2092
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