Austin Texas is the future

Austin Texas gives us a view into what the internet and garden blogging will be like everywhere, eventually. They have over eleven garden bloggers at work there. Pam at Digging points us to “Every Dot Connects” a business blog. Connie says “Now, if you owned a local nursery or related business, how would you respond to this proliferation of garden blogs?” Think about it, you have a tight knit community of gardeners who love to talk via their blogs. Pam at Digging even has a category detailing with pictures her visits to the local garden centers. Check it out.

These vocal gardeners are writing about the gardening and nursery scene. As a nursery owner what do you do? Connie says, “join the conversation. Not as a retailer but a participant.” She goes on to say that the best way to participate in this is as a participant and not a businessperson trying to sell something. As you build trust with the other bloggers “the next time they need seedlings or supplies, they’ll be much more likely to visit your business because they’ve already made a connection with you.”

You might wonder what type of readership these blogs have. According to Connie, “some of these local blogs have a loyal readership in the thousands.” In a community the size of Austin this is substantial. Of course we have been talking about this before here, here, and here. What’s important is that your hearing from people outside the trade now.

Austin has something "going on" and that something will come to your town very soon. We are getting close to a time when conventional advertising will be much less effective. I believe we have reached that time. Consumers will read blogs and their attendant reviews of your garden center before visiting. A blogger whom the readers have grown to trust will have a lot more influence than your ad in the local paper. Everyone wants to read reviews from other people who have shopped at your store.

The most important thing to gather from this article is that the days of talking to the consumer are over. The days of talking with the consumer are here. People like knowing who they are dealing with and a business blog can do that. It allows a glimpse into the soul of the business. If your blog does nothing but sell the latest patio furniture set that’s arrived they will assume that’s what they’ll experience at your store, a sales pitch. If you blog is a conversation with other bloggers and readers about what’s important in your world besides just selling something, they are much more likely to bond with you and your store.

Talking honestly to the consumer via a blog is not an easy thing for business people to do. In the past it has always been us (stores) talking to them (consumer). We wouldn’t want to give away our “secrets” to merchandising and business. Heaven forbid if they should find out that we “know that women are our biggest customers” or that “we have just as hard a time keeping hybrid roses disease free as they do”. What if the customer found out that “business was slow this year and we don’t know why”, or that the new Home Depot going in next door has us petrified.

We are entering an era when honesty in business will be rewarded with good word of mouth. It’s not easy to let people in on the “company secrets”. The problem is there really aren’t any secrets anymore. People want to patronize businesses that are honest about what they sell and will be there for them later. We need to move beyond us and them to a friendship that transcends today’s purchase. We need to have “friends of the Golden Gecko Gardens” as opposed to just customers of The Golden Gecko.

This is all scary stuff for those of us in business but it’s the only way that’s going to work in the future. Besides, I have found that when things get really scary is when change occurs. All of the good things that have happened to us in business have resulted when we were nervous and a little unsure about what was going on. Embrace change, it’s the only option.