Sell More Stuff

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At Sunrise Marketing we help retailers “sell more stuff.” It says so right on the cover of the Idea Book, our catalog of marketing and merchandising tools. However, whenever I am approached at a trade show or industry event, many growers scratch their heads and try to figure out exactly what we do. My simple answer is always the same: “We help retailers sell your stuff.” I should be their best friend, right? So it might surprise some to witness the wrestling match that I’ve gone through to get the growers to let me help their retailers. Hmmmm.

Working Together

After all these years, there is still an uneasy trust between retailer and supplier. It seems to be a challenge to look forward without carrying the baggage of the past. Whether it is a product issue or simply a slight from years ago, some retailers can really hold a grudge. It is not to say that retailers shouldn’t look out for their best interests, but not to the extent where it limits their ability to recognize opportunity. Historically, there has been an environment where some retailers (in my opinion) don’t take complete advantage of what the growers or vendors can offer, and the vendors complain that the retailers won’t use their stuff. “We spend all this money on signage and fixtures,” they moan, “and the retailers don’t even set it up.” Really weird. The challenge seems to be getting these two parties to work together. 

The reality is that everyone needs each other and the collective is much more effective than going it alone. At Sunrise Marketing, I am always on the lookout for ideas that will help me help our clients, you guessed it, “sell more stuff.” I think the iceberg between grower and retailer just might be breaking, but I am concerned that in other cases, retailers are missing the boat. So, at the risk of offending some …

Three Good Ideas For 2008

1. Endless Summer hydrangea for Mother’s Day. Bailey Nurseries has created a strong sales campaign that goes straight to the heart of the biggest shopping weekend in green retail – Mother’s Day. The idea – Endless Summer hydrangea is the plant for Mom. They have created a marketing and merchandising toolkit that features signage, e-mail marketing tools and my personal favorite – a direct mail piece. Retailers can simply download the artwork, have it customized with logos, addresses and postal indicia and it’s good to go. At Sunrise Marketing, we can then print it, address it and mail it to their customers or prospects for Mother’s Day. The grower delivers the product and the retailer puts up the display and the e-mail and mailer on schedule. Marketing, merchandising and product are working in synch.

2. If you like Endless Summer, then you’ll love Big Daddy. Sunrise Marketing is working with the Novalis network of growers to help retailers deliver solid sales all season long. The Big Daddy hydrangea program is supported with signage, plant information and direct marketing tools for retailers. Remember, it is a simple business: promote what is in flower; send out the marketing message, merchandise the plants when delivered and update your Web site.

3. All done with hydrangeas? Move on to Knockout roses, or Plants That Work, or Twice As Nice Daylily, or Nooks & Crannies. You get the idea. J. Guy and the team at Novalis understand the power of co-branding and continue to serve up great plants and great sales programs.

It is also very exciting to see the quality of photography, graphic design and marketing sense that are built into the product. Visuals are everything, and savvy growers are aware that the ‘mug shot’ just doesn’t do it anymore. People respond to visuals featuring people, landscapes, friends and family and all the positive vibes that go with it.

It’s All About Lifestyle

The marketing landscape is changing from selling “gardening” to understanding it is all about lifestyle and entertaining outdoors. One of the best in the business is Proven Winners. They have, in my opinion, the best photography in the industry. They understand it is more about inspiration than information. Yes, people want to know what the flower looks like, but even more, they want to see it look beautiful and know they can buy it. With the PW Certified programs, retailers have access to thousands of images sized for every application from Web site graphics to billboards. If you haven’t used it, then you are not taking full advantage of what the Proven Winners program is all about.

I don’t want to hear about the “box store” argument. They have provided retailers with the tools to blow the doors off the neighborhood Depot. It is up to you to take advantage of it. We recently created a new design consult concept called “Perfect Patios & Dream Decks – container gardens designed and delivered by XYZ Garden Center.” Like the successful “We Plan, You Plant” idea, it is all about selling the end result, in this case, a well-dressed deck or patio. The sales potential of container gardens is off the charts. Not only will the initial sales be huge, but the refill opportunity every year is ginormous!

And in all honesty, the look and the feel of the program workbooks are gorgeous. But by using the images from PW, it went from good to great. Working together we can create retailers with concrete ways to grow sales. In this case, we provide the IGC retailers with the opportunity to take advantage of their marketing tools to sell more PW, and everybody wins.

During trade show season, everyone is looking for new ideas. Well, there are three really good ones. Our industry is changing – that’s always true. But retailers have the chance to participate in the process. I can tell you the growers are ready. Will you be able to make the most of the opportunity? I hope so, because at the end of the day, we all need to sell more stuff.

Kurt Fromherz is the owner of Sunrise Marketing. Dedicated solely to the horticultural industry, Sunrise Marketing works with more than 1000 independent retail garden centers and the growers that support them. For more information about building your seasonal sales strategy, contact Kurt directly by phone at 888-393-4443, online at, or by eMail at

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