Pollinator Month is coming up in June, and it’s an excellent opportunity for our industry to speak as thought leaders on this important topic. However, depending on where your garden center is located, social distancing protocol may pose unexpected challenges as we look to capitalize on the occasion.
Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to lead the conversation next month, even if customers can’t walk through your doors. Here are some simple ideas for engaging your customers online while increasing your native plant sales—and none of them have to be expensive!
1. Hold a Pollinator Photo Contest on Instagram
Announce a Pollinator Photo Contest on your garden center’s Instagram account, and come up with a unique hashtag for the contest. Make sure the hashtag isn’t already in use, so it’s easy to find all your entries when the contest period ends!
In order to enter, ask your customers to post their photos of pollinators in the wild, tag your garden center, and use the contest hashtag. As part of the contest rules, clarify that the customer has to be following your account.
Throughout the month, share some of the great photos you receive to encourage more entries and continue promoting the contest. Your customers will appreciate the recognition, and by continuing to keep the contest top-of-mind, you’ll spread the word to more of your followers.
You can choose to hold four weekly contests or announce a grand prize winner at the end of the month. Choose a prize that will motivate people to go out of their way to share photos, such as a $100 gift card for your garden center or a “variety pack” of several pollinator-friendly plants!
2. Promote a “Featured Pollinator” For Every Week of June
This is a great opportunity for your email newsletter. For each week of June, feature a fascinating pollinator—like mason bees, hummingbirds, or monarch butterflies—and share some information about what makes them so interesting.
Along with the information about the pollinator, highlight some items from your garden center that help support the “featured creature,” such as bee houses, nectar feeders, and some on-theme American Beauties Native Plants®!
For an added incentive, you can also offer a promotional special on featured items to entice customers to get their orders in fast.
3. Hold Pollinator Seminars “Live” on Your Favorite Social Channel
If you pride yourself on your knowledge of certain pollinators or pollinator-friendly plants, share that knowledge virtually with Instagram Live or Facebook Live. These tools let you speak to a far larger audience than you could normally fit in a hotel banquet hall!
To attract the largest possible audience, announce your seminar several days in advance and post a reminder about your virtual “seminar” each day leading up to the event.
You don’t need anything fancy to present; just a social media account, something (or someone!) to hold your smartphone camera, and a few notes on what you want to talk about. Allow your audience to ask questions as they watch and cherry-pick the ones you can answer confidently.
If you’re stumped for how to present your topic, think about how you can relate the topic to your customers’ wants or needs. The easy way to do this is to frame the topic as a “how-to” phrase. For example, “How to Make Your Yard a Haven for Hummingbirds.”
With these tactics, you’ll be sending a message to your customers that your garden center cares deeply about the wellbeing of our ecosystems. Environmentally-conscious shoppers will look to you for the products they need to help protect our pollinators!