There are two phrases I'd like to plant into the average American's vocabulary: "You can grow that," and "Passionate about plants."
There are two phrases I'd like to plant into the average American's vocabulary: "You can grow that," and "Passionate about plants." A couple of months ago I started thinking about a national You Can Grow That! campaign. Recently I was thrilled to see a proposal for a similar national marketing initiative written by Danny Takao of Takao Nursery. Maybe it's time to grow this.
In the same way that the phrase "Fall is for planting" cemented the idea that it was good to plant in autumn, we need to thoroughly saturate people with the belief that plants and gardening are worth the effort because of the benefits gained. As an industry—growers, independent garden centers, garden writers, salespeople, PR firms, plant breeders, and branders—it's in our interest to gather behind a slogan that will promote the multitude of worthwhile results that plants and gardening cultivate. I propose: "You Can Grow That."
You Can Grow That. Laughter? Stress relief? Fitness? A wedding bouquet? You can grow that!
Why use "You can grow that"? Because this tag phrase can be applied to all aspects of our industry, and it can be made regional, informational, inspirational, funny or surprising. It could be used in all climates and seasons. Think of the things that go viral…they're often humorous. Think of the Got Milk? advertisements, and phrases such as "Where's the beef?" and "Sorry, Charlie." They all have an element of fun, and can be made fun of.
This campaign needs to address everyone: kids, Gen X, Y and Z, Baby Boomers and the family dog. Each segment of society needs to be reminded that much of what makes life satisfying can be grown in our own backyards.
The message should range from serious (Healthy food? You can grow that!) to surprising (Sex? You can grow that!).
I'd like to see it as a starting point and punch line for advertisements, videos and blogs. I want to see David Letterman and Jay Leno make fun of it. I want Seth Godin to blog about it. I want "You can grow that" to enter the popular phraseology.
Grassroots movement. Although the ultimate goal would be to start a non-profit group and national ad campaign supported by all segments of the green industry, I believe that this movement can begin from the ground up. Nowhere is the term "grassroots" better suited than it is for our business.
In embracing the same message, we build on each other's efforts and strengths, and cultivate our enterprise as a whole. In joining together and making it a national campaign, we help grow a widespread awareness of the value of plants and gardening in everyone's lives.
I'm interested in this because it's good for our industry, certainly, but also because I absolutely know that it's true. Gardening is one of the most life-affirming things we can do.
We put a great deal of time, money and effort into our own products, businesses and brands, so how can we not band together to cultivate this industry as a whole? We can't just focus on the latest plant, fertilizer or organic insecticide; we've got to sell the excitement first. A resurgence in gardening? We can grow that!
10 ways to start your own "You Can Grow That!" campaign
- Pick a new "You Can Grow That" (YCGT) message every week. Every message starts with a plant, landscape outcome, or quality-of-life message. (See examples on p. 51) Make some strictly informational and others touching or funny. End each with a tagline from your garden center.
- Write these YCGT messages and send them out to your e-mail list or include them in newsletters.
- Print them up on 3-hole paper and invite people to come into the store to pick up a new one every week or two. By the end of the year they'll have a notebook filled with recipes for landscape success in your area that extends from their foundation plantings to their hearts and souls. Write the majority of these in the winter, and you'll have them already done during your busy season.
- Post them on your website, Facebook page and Twitter account. Use the hashtag #youcangrowthat on Twitter.
- Put them on your message boards near the road. Take photos of the funny or surprising ones and send them to the local paper.
- Make videos of various YCGT messages and post on YouTube.
- Have a YCGT contest. Ask kids and adults to submit ideas for future messages and offer a gift certificate for three or four winning ideas. Send a press release about the contest to local media.
- Ask local master gardeners and confirmed hort-a-holics to submit photos of the weirdest, hardest, funniest, plant they've grown and how they did it. (Possible funny subgroup contest: You really grew that!? Ask for photos of vegetables that look like people or odd shapes.)
- Offer to record short YCGT messages for a local radio station to play a new one every week. You could do this in conjunction with local non-profits—the charity does 30 seconds about the cause they want to grow, and you do 30 seconds that is garden and plant related.
- Start a YCGT club for kids. Give each child who signs up a few free seeds of an easy-to-grow plant such as pole beans. Supply them with instructions. If they bring in or e-mail you a photo of their plant they get entered into a drawing to win a prize.
C.L. Fornari is a writer, speaker and host of GardenLine on WXTK. She runs a consultation service and does event planning for Hyannis Country Garden, an independent garden center on Cape Cod.