Get in the conversation.

Word of mouth is the best possible advertising a small nursery or garden center can hope for. We depend on our fans to spread the word to the uninitiated. Now days the target consumer for small garden centers finds out about the store through the internet and word of mouth. Often when researching a store we read what others have said, good or bad about the store. Customer reactions often make up the final decision making process on whether to visit a store or not.

If you Goggle the store name and a bunch of sites complaining about the service or some other aspect of the store come up you might just think twice about visiting. It can also go the other way. Fans can help spread the word of the store and monitor web reactions to that store. If a new garden center has opened up in your neighborhood and you want to make sure it sticks around you can put in your two cents worth and make a difference.

My post on Flora Grubb Gardens in San Francisco elicited one such response. One commenter wrote, “I've been to Flora Grubb, and it is truly awe-inspiring... Come out, grab a cuppa joe, stroll amongst the most unusual plants and trees around and let your mind create the perfect oasis for yourself. This place is a rare find, especially for this neighborhood. The Bayview/Hunters Point area gets a bad rap, but there are lots of intelligent, arty, enviro types who live here, too, and this is a welcome addition to our world. Come check it out! Amazing garden accessories, such as the concrete loungers that are actually comfy, sleek and stylish decorative pots, and other focal point items for your garden space. Rare trees and succulents. Something for everyone...”

The reason this is important is when you Google “Flora Grub Nursery San Francisco” up pops The Blogging Nurseryman site first. You see its “Flora Grubb Gardens”, not “Flora Grubb Nursery”. So the above commenter was surfing the net looking for information on their favorite nursery and ended up at my blog. Just to put the good revue in context they added their own comment, sighting how important it is that this place succeed and helps breathe some life into this part of town. After reading this commenter’s response it might just seal the deal of taking the time to visit this place.

What’s interesting to me is how little we can control the conversation once it has started. We had better hope the consumer has had a positive experience or we, and everyone else might hear about it on the internet. Businesses that truly warrant “staying in business” will benefit hugely from the conversation going on the internet. This type of advertising is low cost, which is great for us small operations. The price of a web page and someone to check out the conversation going on is it.

That’s why I believe the small garden centers need to be leaders in web marketing. The voices of a small group of loyal fans can be amplified on the internet. Our target consumer uses the internet every day. We can either be a part of the conversation or not. If our stores are truly worth visiting and shopping at it will be on the web first, promoted by the consumer.