Jan 05

Everything I Learned About Marketing I Learned from my Garden

One day I went to Home Depot and found a yellow rose bush for five bucks. Most traditional roses do very poorly in Austin because we don’t get the rain they need and it gets too hot for them. For five bucks though, I couldn’t resist.

I did some research on the variety and figured it would last through the spring, but that I’d have to trim back for summer. No worries. Unlike many roses in the United States that are cross bred for their looks at the expense of their smell, this rose had a sweet aroma that struck you every time you passed by. Worth the risk.

I gave it rose food, plenty of water, and put it in a good spot with just the right amount of sun. And sure enough, I had a huge yellow rose bush that all my neighbors loved. It was every Texan’s dream.

So how does this relate to marketing campaigns?

Preparation is key. Before you plant anything, you want to make sure the soil is the right pH for the plant. You should lay down some compost to enrich the soil. I’ve seen products launched before they were ready and the result is a disaster. You can try to be agile, but if people already have it in their minds that your product sucks, you could be doomed. Or at least, having to work a lot harder than you should have to be.

Some businesses will be doomed from the start if you don’t know where to put them. English roses are beautiful. I’d be an idiot to put English roses in Austin because we get a fraction of the rain they get. I’d really be stupid to put it out in full sun and somewhere far from me where I couldn’t water it easily. Where are you marketing your company? Are you putting it in the right target audience? Putting a company in an inappropriate spot is just wrong, because everyone else in that company is working hard to build the product, and you are squandering it by not putting it out there to the people who want it.

Certain businesses need certain elements to grow. Roses generally need very acidic soil. They generally do best with rose food. Are you supporting your team properly? Do they have the tools and knowledge they need? Do your customers have the information they need to differentiate your product from someone else’s?

Don’t be lazy. If you clip roses back, they grow back stronger. If you water them regularly, you get better results. Having a routine helps you figure out what you’ve done and what you need to do. This could be checking analytics, reading blogs, or sending newsletters.

Plant at the right time, and diversify
. Yesterday I ate a salad from the lettuce I’m growing in the side yard. I want to plant zucchini, but you just don’t plant zucchini when its cold. It just doesn’t get what it needs when it needs it and it can’t take the frost. If you have to wait to launch a campaign for the right moment, wait. It could give you exponentially better results.

Don’t grow what you don’t understand
. If I moved, you better believe I’d be studying up on my zone before wasting my money on plants. Home Depot makes a fortune off of people who couldn’t tell you the difference between a perennial and an annual. These people pick based on “what is pretty”. If all the bloggers are talking about an industry, don’t just decide you want to do marketing for that company because “it’s shiny”. You could end up with nothing but a pile of dead snapdragons in your yard and a huge balance on your Home Depot card.

Be prepared for the worst. I was out of town and it snowed out of nowhere. My neighbor, who shares the plot with me, didn’t cover my basil and I lost all of it. I should have told him to watch out for it but was not anticipating such wacky weather. Sometimes disaster strikes when you least suspect it. That’s why it’s important to know every objection for why someone would buy your product before you go in. It’s also important to have a strategy if your budget gets cut. Bad things will happen.

Pick and maintain relationships with your partners, affiliates, employees and any alliances wisely
. Why is that rose bush dead now? Because I moved out of my ex-boyfriend’s house, and he purposely killed it. The little boys across the street would have no more random roses to deliver to their mother. :( One person can really poison a campaign if they want to.

And most importantly, if you don’t like it or can’t grow to like it, don’t grow it
. It doesn’t matter if you have a great spot for a particular type of bush. If you don’t like that bush, don’t grow it. By working for a company whose products you don’t believe in, your campaigns will never be as good as those done for a company you love. Remember that.

  • http://www.breezemarketingaustin.com Steve Calkins

    Nice metaphor. Your thoughts about knowing “where to put them” made me think of Tony Schwartz’s ideas in “The Responsive Chord” and “Media, the Second God”. Though both these books were written decades ago, they contain principles that are even more relevant in the world of new media. An effective message needs not only to communicate well (in part by striking a “responsive chord” within the consumer), but also must be placed where that consumer is likely to find it.

  • http://socialmediatherapy.com/ Sue Rostvold

    Love the garden analogy Michelle. Probably because I’ve been studying marketing while eating out of our garden every day. :)

    We have 5 kinds of kale and 5 kinds of bok choy growing in our front yard, and it’s absolutely scrumptious!

    Regarding marketing though, your right, planning is everything. Remember how common it used to be that someone would launch a company, but their website wasn’t “up” yet. You would find the old “under construction, check back soon” message. Ugh. Bad news.

    By the way, come on over if you want some greens. I’m not kidding! We have enough to feed ten families over here! Organic, of course.

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  • http://www.bridging-the-gap.com Laura Brandau

    Hi Michelle,

    Nice post. I’d stretch the “don’t be lazy” metaphor a bit further and say clipping back the roses is similar to developing what Jim Collins calls a “not doing” list. It’s just important to stop doing irrelevant things as refocusing on doing the right things.

    Laura Brandau

    Laura Brandaus last blog post..Aligning business with IT creates better workplaces.

  • http://medlmobile.com dave swartz

    great post michelle. would love to talk to you some time about mobile app marketing.