17 February 2020

Recently, one of our smaller prospects phoned us to decline an offer we made. That’s disappointing for us as we always put much effort into any offer we make, but just like any business: you win some, you lose some.

I was wondering where we took a wrong turn. What caused this prospect to decline our proposal? Didn’t we understand his needs? I decided to give him a ring to learn how we could improve our proposals for future prospects.

During the conversation, the owner told us he focussed solely on social media. He reaches thousands of people via Facebook and it was free of charge, so he didn’t need the website anymore. 


Whenever you make a decision, it is always best to be well informed. So before you consider doing the same, I suggest you continue reading this blog to understand how risky this is and why you have to own the conversation with your customers.


1. You don’t own your Facebook page

Let’s start with the most obvious one: you don’t own your Facebook page nor do you own your followers. Facebook owns it all and decides what you can do.

A few years ago, Facebook significantly reduced the reach of messages posted by businesses. That harmed a lot of businesses who relied on Facebook.

Facebook is a great add-on to your existing channel, but you shouldn’t rely on it. Yes, you can reach out to followers and it will help to gain momentum, but you will always rely on the network enabling (or disabling) you to contact your customers. 

You can use it, but you don’t own it.


2. Social media doesn’t appear in Google

If you’re selling plants in Liverpool, ranking high on a keyword like “plants Liverpool” will make sense. People looking for plants in Liverpool are indirectly looking for your business.But social media accounts don’t help you to rank on specific keywords.

Of course, if they enter your business name your social media accounts appear. But customers looking for “plants Liverpool” are not entering your business name, so how are you going to attract them to your garden centre? One may argue Twitter posts appear on Google. That’s true, but they only last for days. Also, Twitter isn’t the best social media channel for garden centres anyway. If you want to generate traffic from Google, you need to rank your website.


3. Social media comes and goes

Networks come and go all the time.

Were you one of the garden centres who invested in Snapchat marketing? Once, you were the best. But today, you rarely find any potential customers on Snap.

There is even an argument to be made that Facebook has already reached a tipping point. The user base in the UK isn’t growing anymore and users are steadily getting older. The youngsters have already moved to TikTok and other apps. So trying to be the best on social media means you have to chase different platforms all the time. 

It’s a never-ending story: your customers go to another platform and you follow them. But you’re never ahead of the game. On the other hand, a website is rock solid and will be there for another 20 years. 


But how do you own the conversation?

There are two things you need to have to own the conversation with your customers:

  • A website
  • E-mail marketing

Your website should be your platform where everything comes together. Your webshop, your garden centre, social media, e-mail marketing, video, texts and so on. It’s your own content hub. From your website, you start sharing snippets of information on different channels:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • YouTube
  • E-mail marketing
  • Etc.

From these channels, you lead followers back to your website where you can control the narrative. That’s what we do at Garden Connect as well: we use multiple channels and multiple posts to promote blogs.

It’s likely you ended up on our website via LinkedIn or Facebook. 

Many garden centres share content on Facebook without having it on their website. we think this is a wasted opportunity since many Facebook followers won’t read the post at all (due to Facebook policies) and website visitors won’t see that information.

On a side note, a good tip I received from a content marketer is to use Hootsuite: you can link all your channels and make sure they work together in a harmonious way. 


E-mail marketing isn’t dead

It is important to build an e-mail list to reach out to your customers when it really matters. E-mail isn’t dead, it’s dead for you if you’re not using it the right way.

You can use e-mail marketing to generate another steady stream of visitors to your website and garden centre.

One of our biggest garden centre customers consistently sends weekly offers on Wednesday evening to its customers. They have been doing that for 5 years and have grown their list from 1,500 to 60,000 recipients over the last years. E-mail marketing isn’t dead for them. They are successfully using e-mail marketing to generate footfall. They have a consistent message, customers know what to expect. To support this they continuously focus on getting more e-mail subscribers, online and instore. Yes, they do have social media channels (and the spend a lot on it), but their newsletter is their most important marketing tool. And more importantly: they own the conversation they are having by e-mail.


Do you own the conversation? Feel free to contact us! 

Garden centre marketing social media
Edwin Meijer

This article is written by:

Edwin Meijer

Marketing director

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