From the March 2006 issue of our newsletter, Let's Grow. For a FREE subscription, CLICK HERE.
Tips for Helping Your Customers Through the Decision Process
Like every other gardener, I’ve been spending cold winter weekends surrounded by catalogs, dreaming of spring and planning my garden. It’s been interesting to note my own buying process.
Some catalogs make it incredibly easy to buy. Their presentation simplifies the process of narrowing the list of plants to those that fit my criteria. Photography, use of icons, subject groupings and other details make the decision-making process simple.
Catalogs that provide a helpful presentation plus an early bird discount got my order in January. Now I’m turning to the well-done catalogs that didn’t offer an early ordering incentive.
Still on the pile are many other catalogs that carry terrific plants. All the information I need is there somewhere – but finding it and sorting through it requires more work. I may or may not make it to the decision-making point before the winter is over and it’s time to start digging.
What can you do to ensure your catalog is in the “early order” pile? The tips below may help. They were written with perennial catalogs in mind, but the same principles apply to many different types of catalogs. Take a look and see which may be able to help boost your sales.
The Power of Pictures. Although smaller companies find color photography prohibitive, it nearly always pays for itself. If you can’t include a picture of every plant, start by including a few pages of color photographs. If color printing costs are too expensive, then refer people to photos on your web site. Photography is especially important when selling unusual varieties that people may not be familiar with.
Streamline With Icons. There are so many variables to consider when buying plants – soil type, light requirements, bloom season, height, spread, color and more – that choosing wisely can be daunting. Catalogs that make it easy to find these details have a significant edge. Using icons circumvents the need for lengthy text. The best icons are self-explanatory and provide depth of information. For instance, with my very shady yard, I gravitate towards those catalogs that go beyond labeling a plant “for shade” and indicate the degree of shade tolerance.
Lead Them To the Sale With Lists. Different plant qualities are important to different customers. I always appreciate catalogs that list the plants that thrive in shade. Other possibilities include deer resistance, easiest to grow, suitable for damp or dry spots, late-season flowers or long-blooming varieties. Offering such lists reduces work for your customer and gets them to the buying point faster.
Tell Them What to Expect. Many times, I’m on the verge of ordering a plant but hesitate because I still have questions. Will that shrub grow quickly or slowly? Is its growth habit horizontal or vertical? Will it tolerate droughts? The more information that’s missing from a catalog description, the more likely that customers will hold off ordering until they do more research. Once your catalog is out of their hands, you may be out of luck.
Offer Collections. Collections often encourage larger sales, but they also make it easy for many people to buy. By offering a beginner’s garden, a cutting garden or a butterfly garden, you simplify the decision-making process for many people, and get them to “yes” much faster. In addition to collections, suggesting appropriate companion plants can also boost your average sale.