I’ve got nothing against VWs. I’ve owned several in my time, black after black after “Atlas Gray,” each more reliable and serviceable than the last. I switched to Subaru because of my dog and have stayed with it long after the passing of Miss Dakota Star, too many years ago. If, for some reason, I were to lose this car and need another, I’d likely turn again to Subaru. No offense, VW.
All of this is to say that I truly do not intend to denigrate any one particular car, nor car company, nor VW dealer. However: VW is putting me to sleep, and it’s a dangerous game we’re playing here.
Each morning when I venture out to McDonald’s for my large Diet Coke (still just a dollar!), I pass a local VW dealership. It’s located on a busy thoroughfare that sees lots of bumper-to-bumper traffic if you don’t time your caffeine-and-carbonation run right. The building is rather modern, decked out in stainless steel trim and clad in white.
A curved drive directly in front of the showroom often is used for displays, and it’s a pretty effective use of space. New cars on display appear as beads on a necklace, gracefully arranged to lure passing motorists. Okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole, but remember, I usually see this before I have my morning jolt.
For a few weeks last spring Beetle convertibles were lined up, looking for anything like the most tempting jellybeans in the Easter basket. It was such an enticing display that I was tempted—on more than one occasion—to stop and investigate. I even took a risky left turn out of the drive-thru lane so that I could pass that irresistible lineup again on my way home. It was fun to see; it was something I told friends and neighbors about. It very nearly pulled me in to forsake an aging Subaru.
Lately, however, I run the risk of nodding off as I pass by. Why? The new display features all white cars. I believe there are Jettas and Golfs, probably a couple of Passats and a Beetle or two. But I don’t know. Seriously, it’s hard to tell them apart.
Lined up in front of a white building, the parade of white VWs whispers, “bland.” It’s probably meant to convey something along the lines of “clean” or “modern” or … I don’t know … “sanitary”? It’s not exciting. It’s not enticing. It’s antiseptic.
And it’s snooze-inducing.
All of this got me thinking about marketing and merchandising, and how we attract Mr. and Mrs. America (and Ms. and Dude and Bro and Hey You) to plants—those gorgeous products to which so much time and effort and passion and, yes, money, are devoted. Long before a customer sees a plant and is in the position to pass it by or snap it up, years of work have gone into making it, shall we say, attractive.
So, how are you attracting buyers? How do you make your plants stand out? How do you capture—and hold—the attention of the gardening public? What differentiates your plants from the rest?
In this issue, we asked horticultural marketing expert Bridget Behe to give us some marketing guidance. Check out what she has to say, beginning on page 10. She doesn’t talk about Volkswagens, but she’ll help you avoid the snooze-inducing approach to selling your best stuff.