An orchid grower I talked with recently told me about how she gave up teaching at a major university to go into the orchid business. She says it started out as a six week stint between teaching gigs, helping the 78 year-old owner of the business with the daily chores of caring for and selling orchids. Two weeks later the man offered to sell her the business and she took him up on it.
Stories like this one can make you more endearing to your customers. If you’re a landscaper, greenhouse grower, or other green industry business you need to start telling your story, if you’re not already doing so.
Why? Because people like to hear a good story. Also, it’s the wave of the future when it comes to marketing. It’s part of the content marketing approach that seeks to attract customers, rather than interrupt them with in-your-face type of ads you see on television and other media. In fact, recent research indicates that two thirds of marketers think branded content is superior to PR, direct mail, and print advertising.
So what type of story do you tell? You can look at some of the big companies to see what type of stories they’re telling. For instance, Coca-Cola is talking about more than just soft drinks. They tell stories about how they’re helping veterans find jobs, how they’re promoting healthy lifestyles, and an “inside look” at a Coca-Cola sponsored game to help fight AIDS.
Choose your media
Your stories can be told on your blog, Facebook Page, YouTube channel digital newsletter, or print media. Here are 10 suggestions for stories you can tell your readers.
- The details of an event you had at your business and/or a special visitor. One story I recall from an interview I did had to do with a popular cook that showed up for a one day demonstration on the delicious things you can make with blueberries.
- Tell how your company participated in a local fundraiser, perhaps by donating some flowers and/or your time.
- Have you found new ways to use less resources, save money and help protect the environment? Don’t be shy, let’s hear about it.
- Employee stories. Have you ever hired a military veteran, future pro baseball player, or other interesting person? Tell their story.
- Do you have a plant breeding program? People will be interested in how their favorite plants came to be.
- Have you overcome adversity lately? This could be springing back from an illness, flood, tornado or some other calamity. It might be tough being so open, but people will probably relate to your story.
- Your rags to riches story. Did you start out selling plants off a wagon, or with a wheelbarrow and pickup truck? We’d like to hear about it.
- Are you trying new things? One company I wrote about, Gotham Greens, is trying out rooftop growing for restaurants and other outlets.
- How about the holidays? Are you getting involved in charitable giving? A local event? It’s all fodder for a good story.
- Are you doing business in other countries? Attended shows abroad? You must have some good stories to tell, about the trip, the culture, the people, the event.
Five tips for telling a good story:
- Learn from others. Read stories other people are telling that seem to be of interest to readers and try to replicate them. If you don’t have a good writer on staff, hire one and write it off as a marketing expense.
- Use emotion. Emotion is what really draws people into a story. Not every story is going to have an emotional appeal, but some will, like holding a fundraiser for someone diagnosed with cancer.
- Keep it simple. A good story doesn’t have to be a dissertation. Try to get to the heart of the story fairly quickly.
- Be honest, authentic. In one story I wrote about a summer camp I attended with my daughters I had to come clean about my own insecurities spending a few days with strangers.
- Make it shareable. This might be the hardest thing. However, if you’ve told a good story, people will want to hit the share button!