6 top tips for seasonal marketing + a few extra for good measure!

By Gabrielle Stannus

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.” Those skills are evident in the delightful pictures of Brookfield Gardens’ Christmas merchandise displays throughout this article.

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.

Need a little more inspiration?
If you are seeking more seasonally specific merchandising and marketing advice for a certain event on the calendar, check out these tips from Immij Greenlife, adapted with permission. Plus, we have thrown in a few bonus links for good measure.

New Year’s Day
A time for new beginnings, and there is no better way to start the year off right than with fresh plants or trees grown just in time for the occasion. Consider using bright, high-contrast designs that work with the aesthetic of the plant, giving the consumer a sense of newness and vitality.
For more marketing tips for New Year’s Day, check out:
  • Art + Marketing whose advice includes sending a New Year’s email to all your loyal customers just before the actual holiday
  • Startup Nation who remind businesses that the New Year is a good time of year to review results from the previous year
Valentine’s Day
A busy time for florists and nurseries alike. Rose bushes deserve a marketing approach that is almost completely aligned with this important holiday, as many retail shoppers are going to head straight to the roses during the first and second week of February. When designing in-store promotional material for Valentine’s Day promotions, use soft reds and pinks, and maybe even a heart or two.
For more marketing tips for Valentine’s Day, check out:
Mother’s Day
Promote bright, flowering plants that are easily transported as gifts for mothers.
For more marketing tips for Mother’s Day, check out:
  • Have you ever asked your customers who they plan to buy gifts for Mother’s Day? This Vend blog says it is not just mothers who can expect to receive gifts at this time, but also stepmothers, wives, daughters, sisters, grandmothers, friends, godmothers and other relatives. How can you capitalise on that intent?
  • Ometria writer Rita Braga Martins reminds businesses that Mother’s Day can be a sensitive occasion for many people. Read her tips for carefully crafting any emails you may be planning to send out to your customers at this time
White Lilies are traditionally associated with this religious occasion as they symbolise purity and innocence. This Easter why not promote other white flowering plants to differentiate your product from other businesses.
For more marketing tips for Easter, check out:
Father’s Day
You must do more than the tie! Encourage your customers to give Dad a gift that keeps on giving, well growing.
For more marketing tips for Father’s Day, check out:
  • This article on Money which reported that a 2019 MyState Bank survey showed that from a survey of more than 1000 adults, 90% of Australian dads wanted a family experience this Father's Day. A timely reminder to highlight that your retail store is a family friendly destination at any time of the year
  • The Commonwealth Bank claimed 2017 data showed that Aussies spend more on Father’s Day than Mother’s Day. Dining out took top spot in the gifts for dad with $400 million being spent in that year. So, if you have not got the hint already, plug your nursery café for this particular special occasion!
The final word from a marketing expert
“My advice would be to not be predictable with your marketing around these periods. Do not be cliched, otherwise you are just blending in with everyone. Everyone does Christmas and it is almost boring. Look at different kinds of holidays that you can play with and be the only person in the nursery industry at that time doing a promotion,” advises Melissa Robson from Divine Creative Agency, “You also never want to feel like you are ‘marketing’. It must feel like you are helping or informing. It is also nice to see promotions that are linked to charities, particularly at Christmas.”