Spring in a time of Coronavirus
Find Out How to Grow Customer Love
During the fall of last year, I made an impulse purchase at Lowe’s Garden Center. I love flowers and was in the process of transitioning an empty plot in our backyard into a flower garden. While wandering around Lowe’s, waiting for my husband to track down some obscure item on his list, I bought a bag of mixed perennial bulbs.
I had previously spent an afternoon preparing the garden bed. The plot in question had been xeriscaped and covered in wood chips, so I started by shoveling off the wood chips and removing the weed mat underneath.
With that finished, I borrowed a pickaxe from my neighbor and went about loosening the soil. I hadn’t done much manual labor since my vagabond travel abroad days when I spent some time volunteering on organic farms in exchange for room and board. That didn’t stop me.
In my mind’s eye, I looked like Rosie the Riveter but with a pickaxe. In reality, it’s possible some technique was lacking. Needless to say, I got the dirt all loosened up and mixed compost and mulch into the heavily clay-based soil.
When we got home from Lowe’s, I put my gardening gloves on, grabbed a small shovel, and went to work digging holes at the prescribed depth and spacing. In short, I just followed directions. Then I covered up the bulbs with soil, replaced the wood chips and mulch on the top, and hoped that my experiment would pan out.
That was in the fall of 2019, and now six months later, I’m finally seeing the fruits of my labor. Pink hyacinth was the first to emerge, with it’s pretty, dawn-tinted frills. Then sunny-faced daffodils, freesia, and daylilies started appearing. Not all of the bulbs I planted have sprung up, but probably just over half of them have.
That makes me feel like my experiment was a success. For the cost of a bag of bulbs and a few hours of manual labor, I gained a garden full of flowers, and some insight about what’s required to make flowers grow that I can take into this year’s planting season.
Marketing Lessons Taken from the Garden
So what’s all this talk of flowers got to do with marketing? You might be wondering right about now.
Well, it all has to do with experimentation and growing your relationship with your customers. Many of us think about experimenting with our company’s current marketing tactics. We may even talk about experimenting, the need to branch out and do some A/B testing – but few of us actually do it. What’s holding us back?
Fear of failure, for one. Nobody wants to be the person who suggested an idea or tried an experiment that didn’t work. But here’s the thing. If you put the work into setting up the experiment properly, there’s really no such thing as failure. Laying the foundation for your experiment means you have to rip off the weed mat and get your hands dirty. You’ve got to:
- Do the market research
- Compare with what the competition is doing
- Set parameters and goals for the experiment
- Define what success looks like
- Soft launch to a targeted audience in a controlled way
Then if it doesn’t go as planned, it’s not a failure. Because you learned a valuable lesson about your customers when it comes to what resonates and what doesn’t. When I set out to convert the vacant plot in my backyard to a flower garden I didn’t cut a hole in the weed mat, dig out a chunk of soil the color and texture of clay, stick a bulb down there and expect results.
You can’t take shortcuts. You need to thoroughly plan and lay the foundation of your experiment with care.
Then no matter what happens, you will learn something valuable. And that thing you learn will inform future experiments, and so on, exponentially increasing your chances of success as you go along.
So much of the time our expectations get the better of us. We expect that we’ll be able to get the results we want on the first try, and when that doesn’t happen we give up and go back to business as usual.
I encourage you to be satisfied if “half of your bulbs” come up. If half of the people who participated in your experiment responded positively and bonded with your brand that’s significant. Depending on the size of your targeted audience, you should have a good idea of what works when you want to reach half of your customers.
And for the other half – you know what doesn’t work. So time to try something else.
Another thing that often holds marketers back is time. But if there’s one thing that many of us have found ourselves with as a result of this pandemic – it’s an abundance of time. So it may just be the perfect time to try something new.
This is certainly not the time for business as usual. You never know what kinds of new customer relationships might bloom when you take the time to learn what people want. But before you do:
- Examine the soil. A deep understanding of your customers and their hopes and dreams is what makes your communication to them rich with meaning and boosts your chances to success right off the bat.
- What’s happening outside? Wash your hands, lick your finger and stick it out the window. Which way is the wind blowing? What’s the customer sentiment? Is there a particular way your customers are being impacted by current events? Don’t forget to wash your hands again.
- Plant enough seeds to get accurate data out of your experiment. I planted 16 bulbs. If all of those failed, something was definitely wrong with my methodology. When over half came up, I know that it wasn’t my technique that stopped the other bulbs from growing. Some of them may have been defunct, or perhaps they’re just late bloomers! Either way, make sure you’re target audience is big enough to give you valuable insights for your time and effort.
And if all of this has you thinking you’d like to try an experiment, but you don’t know where to start – get in touch with me and let’s get our hands dirty, and see what blooms!
I bet you didn’t know this about flowers:
- Sunflowers have superpowers. Their stems are naturally buoyant and were used to fill life jackets in the old days. Floating sunflower rafts have been used to clean up water contamination from the Chernobyl disaster. The roots of the sunflowers remove radioactivity by drawing the contaminants out of the water.
- Hydrangeas’ Soil Determines Its Flower Color. Hydrangeas’ color is determined by the acidity of the soil it’s planted in. If the soil is too alkaline it will result in pink Hydrangeas. By playing around with soil PH and additives, we could produce new colors never seen before.
- Some species of orchids give off a human body odor to attract mosquitoes. Who knew that mosquitoes were pollinators?! The blunt-leaved bog orchid wouldn’t exist without the mosquito, along with a few other species in the U.S., Canada, and Alaska.