by Danny Summers

As a Garden Center connecting with your audience is extremely important. It always has been. Connecting happens in a multitude of ways. It certainly happens whenever the customer enters your Center and interacts with your team, and shops for your plants and products.

The other ways of connecting has been changing over the last two decades. More connecting today happens through your messaging or sharing of information through the various channels of communication. At the same time, your audience is slowly changing and the way they want to receive your information may be different than how you are positioned to share information today.

Over the years most Centers have developed a considerable audience list for connecting, for use through a combination of direct mail and email in addition to attracting followers in the social platforms (that seem to be ever-changing). But email is becoming more crowded than our regular mailboxes were back in the days of curbside junk mail. Remember those?

Today, the regular mailbox is lonely and the email box is overworked. One reason today's email boxes are more full is... sending emails is FREE. No postage involved.

But today email is having its own set of issues. Remember back to the regular junk mail days... we got very efficient in sniffing out (like a "bird dog on a covey of quail") what was junk mail and what was the mail we really wanted (and needed) to see.

We all have transitioned to being equally efficient in sniffing out junk emails without opening them. We can trash huge groups of junk mail that finds its way into our inbox. Your audience is most likely the same and their email inboxes are just as full as ours. In fact, I bet your email campaigns are averaging only in the 20-25% open rate range (if you are getting a higher rate, email me as I want to know more). So to make sure your email is opened and "connecting" the message has to be unique, refreshing, and valued. We all know your STORY is everything here (I can hear Robert Hendrickson talking now).

Today, there is an additional method emerging for connecting that is on a different level of efficiency. It's texting. But texting is different. It is a 100% "opt-in" approach. But, unlike emails where Centers are probably very fortunate to have over 25% open rates, texting is almost 100%. Building a text audience is different and requires a new sign up (opt-in) but you can start it from your email audience.

Introducing TapOnIt
While at The Fall Event 2021, Meadows Farms' Bobby Lewis was already moving ahead in implementing a new level of connection to their audience. It is a service called TapOnIt and Meadows Farms is now attracting signups from their existing email audience to a new Meadows Farms VIP Text Group. TapOnIt is the creation of two sisters, Katie Wilson and Sara Castillo. They have been developing TapOnIt since 2015 and began working with a local Garden Center in their hometown shortly thereafter so they are very familiar with Garden Retailing.

Most of us think of a text message as just that. TEXT. That is SMS  (short message service) and that's the kind most of us may now be receiving from our doctor, dentist, or even plumber. But TapOnIt specializes in what is called MMS (multimedia messaging service) which can include images. There's much more to their story and services today, but first I want to share a few details from Bobby Lewis at Meadows Farms and also one of the first Garden Centers Sara and Katie worked with... Wallace's Garden Center's Kate Terrell in Bettendorf, Iowa, their home town.

Last week Bobby said, "We have just begun with TapOnIt, but they were able to get us going quickly and we have now sent out three weekly emails with details of our new VIP Text Group with decent results for what we did and the time of the year.  We have very quickly been able to attract over 1,400 text subscribers. TapOnIt has worked with other Garden Centers and seem very aware of our industry, which I like.”

I spoke to Kate Terrell from Wallace Garden Center last week and she shared her experience of implementing TapOnIt and she made the comment:  “I just send out a text and watch them come into the parking lot, so I am very excited about this media and about working with TapOnIt". Keep in mind they have been building their Text Group for several years and Kate said while they still continue to offer an email signup as a base of connecting she sees a higher level of acceptance of the Text Service as compared to email. She added "It certainly is where our younger audience is more comfortable." I asked Kate to share samples of in-store signup messages. You can see one here they have used at the cashier areas (click on image to open larger version).

A major advancement in using a texting service is the MMS (Multimedia Messaging Service) that can include photos. While open rates for text messages are nearly 99%, text messages that include graphics seem to gain even more in responses and also more likely to be shared. This results in organic growth of your audience list. Kate Terrell commented on how much organic growth they have seen in their Text Group. This is a customer sharing the text with others. She said their Text audience is now much larger than their email audience.

So is Texting right for your Center? It very well could be a "next level" of audience connection but you need to analyze your current position. How developed and effective is your other forms of connecting with your audience (active mailing lists, email lists, social following, etc)? How often are you connecting and through what methods and technologies? Building a Text audience seems to be best started as a next level through your email and social following connections. Here's a few more details highlighting TapOnIt on the subject:

TapOnIt Case Study - Wallace's Garden Center
Want to Chat directly with TapOnIt Co-founder and President? Email Sara Castillo here: [email protected]
TapOnIt Website - Click HERE

Special Offer for Group Clients:  Sara sent this message for you... "At TapOnIt, we love working with garden centers and nurseries and helping to grow your business. We are offering 10% off the monthly fee for all Garden Center Group members when you sign on with TapOnIt. AND, sign on before December 31, 2021 and also receive 10% off the startup fee!"

Want to book a demo: click here

A special THANK YOU to Meadows Farms and Wallace's Garden Center as well as TapOnIt for sharing details for this message.


If you want to learn more about either of The Group Programs, give me a call or email. Sharing is at the heart of The Group and your ideas are very important. Are you and your staff all subscribed to our eLists such as GroupEs, Marketing, Retail-Grower, Retail-Landscape, Owners-Only, and a number of others? Need help subscribing? Let me know as I can show you how you can sign up.

Thanks for sharing!

Danny Summers
[email protected]
Tel: 678-909-7770
Cell: 678-761-7145

REMEMBER: Your interaction (by phone and email) with Group Service Providers such as Steve Bailey, Tim Quebedeaux, Sid Raisch, Robert Hendrickson, John Kennedy, Jean Seawright, and of course Danny Summers are included in your retainer!

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