From the Fall 2008 issue of our newsletter, Let's Grow. For a FREE subscription, CLICK HERE

Improve Your Offers

Since 40% of your results depend on your offer –what you’re selling, at what price, and on what terms -- it’s worth significant attention. Yet few marketers devote as much thought to offers as they do to copy, design, and media. Here are a few ways to beef up the often-neglected offer.

Product Bundling

Every time I hear how lack of knowledge holds young homeowners back from buying plant material, I wonder why more companies don’t try product bundling.

For instance, the popular "Garden in a Box" program from the Center for Resource Conservation (Boulder, CO) sells a choice of plans and accompanying plants for xeriscaping specific areas, such as the strip between sidewalk and street, or a triangular corner of a yard. Eliminating the confusion new gardeners face has made the program a sellout.

Early Bird Discounts

Every year, I’m inundated with garden catalogs. The ones that get my attention first are those that offer a nice discount for early orders. After that, there’s much less left in my budget for other catalogs.

Free Gift

Some companies provide a nice "thank you" with a "free seeds with every order" gift. Perhaps a better use of a free gift is to encourage somewhat larger than average orders by offering a more valuable free gift with a larger purchase.


Consider what related items you can suggest with each product. Cross-sell offers may include a discount (i.e., 10% off any supplies bought with your greenhouse), but they don’t have to (i.e., "Would you like to try our organic fertilizer with that?").

Free Shipping

Some companies offer free shipping but barely mention it. If that’s your case, include a prominent graphic advertising "Free Shipping" frequently in your catalog and web site. Without that, you turn a positive into a negative by making your prices look high.


Studies have found that the longer the guarantee period, the less likely people are to use it. You might think that offering a one-year or a lifetime guarantee increases your risk, but it’s likely that experience won’t bear that out.

Free Returns

If you know that your prospects hesitate before ordering, try offering free returns. This is especially important with bulky items like outdoor furniture, return costs can be significant.

Payment Terms

I understand why some plant sellers process my payment when I order, oftentimes months before they ship…but that doesn’t mean I like it. That makes me wonder why more companies that don’t process payment until they ship don’t make a bigger deal of it.

Likewise, I also wonder why more companies that sell high ticket items don’t offer installment payments. It’s a common way to increase sales in other industries, but rare with gardening and outdoor living products.

Promote Your Offers

As important as the offer you’re making is how you promote it. Display your offers prominently on your website and in your catalog. Make more offers on each order call and in every outgoing package. The incremental costs of doing so are very small compared to the results they’re likely to yield.


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Helpful Articles

For helpful how-to articles from past issues of Let’s Grow, our newsletter of marketing insights for the garden industry, click on the links below.