The marketing tool in your pocket

Departments - Retail Revival | Store improvement tips from the Garden Lady

Take advantage of smartphones to promote your business.

June 8, 2020

Is your smartphone part of your marketing tool box? It should be! Smartphones allow you to directly connect with customers in a socially engaging way.

Whether we’re at work, in the garden center or at home, most of us carry the world in our pockets. The smartphone that we’ve gotten so attached to keeps us constantly connected to friends and family, the weather, traffic reports, our photo library and more. Yet many forget that it’s also a fantastic tool for the promotion of your business. For an IGC, three or more team members can form a dynamic marketing department when armed with their smartphones and a defined schedule of responsibilities.

Easier social networking

If your IGC is on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, it’s an easy matter to post frequent photos to your social accounts. The key is to make it someone’s job description. Go for photos of “wow!” plants, with an emphasis on close-ups of flowers. Don’t use “hard sell” messages like “Now on sale!” or “Come and get them!” Instead, post the picture with the name of the plant and, if you have one, a company motto, your company’s account or hashtag. Consider things such as #HappinessBlooms @XYZCompany, #WhatsMakingUsSmile or #SeenAtXYZCompany.

In addition to eye-catching plants, photos of people enjoying themselves make great social posts. If you’ve caught customers or fellow employees in a good shot, be sure to ask their permission to post them. Some parents are especially protective of their children in this way, so always show the picture to the adults and get their consent.

Easy newsletters

Some IGCs want a newsletter but have difficulty finding the time to write one. Others have a newsletter but may struggle about what content to include. In these cases, sending out regular emails that simply contain five to nine photos can be a simple way of keeping in touch with your customers. Since people love content that gives an inside look, you might title such entries as “Last Week At XYZ Company,” or “XYZ Company at a Glance.”

Plant and product updates

Instead of telling your customers what is new, show them. The phrase a picture is worth a thousand words is a cliché because it’s true. So being in the habit of posting photos of new stock on your company blog, newsletter or social streams is a quick and easy way to tell the public what you’ve got in stock. You might make “#ThisJustUnloaded” or #FreshOffTheTruck” a frequent hashtag or subject line.


Many IGCs have a YouTube channel but struggle with providing ongoing content. We all love the idea of posting how-to information, but deciding who will produce it, gathering the visual aides and making the video takes time. So this way to market often gets pushed to the back burner.

Instead of instructional pieces, consider having customers or employees tell you what they like about a particular plant they’ve found at the garden center. If one of your clients has had a great experience that day, ask if they’d be willing to be quickly recorded speaking about their visit. Short and sweet clips are usually better anyway, as many studies show that videos 45 to 90 seconds are ideal.

Who and when

Using a smartphone for your store’s marketing is no different than unloading the trucks and watering thirsty plants. Tasks like these are best set in someone’s job description and weekly planning, and marketing follows suit. Write up guidelines for how often a team member should be taking photos or videos, acceptable subject matter and where they’ll be posted.

By using two or more staff members, you’ll get assorted points of view because different plants, products and people will be of interest to each individual. And by being clear about who is responsible for the visual promotion of the business on which days, the marketing of your IGC will flow smoothly.

C.L. Fornari is a speaker, writer and radio/podcast host who has worked at Hyannis Country Garden, an IGC on Cape Cod, for more than 20 years. She has her audiences convinced that C.L. stands for “Compost Lover.” Learn more at