In the lead up to Christmas, Robin McLay from Brookfield Gardens shares her top tips for seasonal marketing, and marketing in general.

Together with husband Scott, Robin McLay owns and operates Brookfield Gardens in Brisbane, Queensland. Whilst remaining first and foremost a retail nursery selling plants, Robin explains that recent rebranding of the business has seen a name change to better reflect that Brookfield Gardens has become a destination.

During this experience, Robin learnt a thing or two about how to market a retail nursery more effectively. Although busy with her own Christmas planning, Robin found time to share her seasonal marketing tips.

1. Host a special event for loyal customers
“It is important to show our customers how much Brookfield Gardens appreciate their patronage,” says Robin. Their new loyalty program, the Garden Club, has more than 8000 members. Robin, Scott and their team are obviously doing something right. It is no surprise then that their special Christmas themed event was quickly fully subscribed.

“We know it is important to give our members benefits such as workshops and special events. At our Bubbles on the Lawn event, we are providing our members with champagne, drinks, free gifts, special prices and demonstrations. We are also giving them priority access to the pick of the crop; our Norfolk Pines and Daintree Christmas trees that were homegrown at Greenglades, our new production nursery,” says Robin.

2. Understand your audience
Robin is quick to emphasise that no matter what the time of year, you need to understand your target audience/s and what is likely to attract them into your store.

“Seasonal marketing is important. However, I feel our regular messaging and selecting our identity is just as important,” Robin explains, “We target our customers through our online platform. We have our Greenhouse customers who are mostly millennials. We have our true Gardeners who we target through our Garden Club offers. We also have our Gift Shop customers, who are comprised mainly of 35 to 40-year-olds. Each group is very different. When we reach out to them via Instagram, we must be mindful that we are giving the right kind of information to each group,” says Robin.

3. Get savvy with your digital marketing
“All retail business needs to have a professional and strong e-commerce presence,” advises Robin.

“Leading up to Christmas, we focus on digital marketing and increasing our activations on all levels. There is a fine line between bombarding customers and subtly reminding customers what Brookfield Gardens offers,” Robin says, “All our images on social media reflect our professional and unique displays. Every image tells a story of new arrivals and the latest trends. We continually remind and offer great savings to our garden club members. There is a strong Christmas focus in our merchandise display: our Daintree Christmas trees, lots of colourful poinsettias, plus more. Customers can now buy online via Instagram that click through to our website and they can click and collect. We plan to further develop our eCommerce presence further next year.”

4. Seek the advice of a marketing professional
Your experienced horticultural staff are expert in plant cultivation and maintenance. However, they may not be suitably qualified to help you market your business effectively.

If you have not already, now may be the time to engage a marketing professional to help you out. Robin speaks highly of her own staff: “We have a wonderful team of staff with great skill sets including merchandising and marketing.”

5. Stay true to your business’ core values
Whatever the special occasion your business is seeking to capitalise on, Robin reminds business to stay true to who they are to ensure they profit in the long term.

“You know the product that is coming in well in advance. You know how you are going to use that product to market it to customers. It must fit in with and reflect who you are. I do not believe you can jump around and be a different product. You cannot market yourself differently because you send different messages. You have got to have that constant, consistent message. When people think Brookfield Gardens, they know what they are going to get when they get there, regardless of the season,” says Robin.

6. Make a New Year’s Resolution (and a marketing plan!)
“Marketing is more than a season; it is every week, every day. We will sit down at the beginning of the year and we will map out our marketing plan for the next twelve months,” says Robin.

“The marketing world is very fast moving. As a business dealing with the live green product, you need to be fluid. We will have more interactive events next year and explore the option of pop up shops. We will focus on developing and marketing our homegrown range. Having our own production nursery enables us to grow our products locally and explore the trends and grow and we can predict some of the trends, which we try to do. Obviously, the indoor trend is huge now. Having our production nursery really ensures that we can get the product when we want it and we can get the variety of products that we want because they are not always available,” says Robin.

Read more at Greenlife Industry Australia (Gabrielle Stannus)