October 15, 2008

LO launches public promotion initiative

By Denis Flanagan and Lee Ann Knudsen

Our industry’s customers have a lot to worry about. Tougher economic times, pressure to get more environmentally attuned and volatile energy prices are just a few of the concerns facing business people and homeowners as they look to make decisions on capital expenditures and improving the value of their homes.

LO members meet and set our priorities every year, and they draft a strategic plan that guides all the association’s efforts. One message has been loud and clear: members want LO to mean something to the public. In response, our provincial board has allocated resources to introduce a consumer marketing campaign, LandscapeOntario.com ‘Green for Life’ to help support LO members’ marketing programs. Over the next few months we will be introducing you to a consumer outreach campaign focused on helping you connect with new and existing clients.

What is it?

Under the guidance from the LO Branding Committee chaired by Bob McCannell, we have embarked on a multi-step program designed to INSPIRE and CONNECT to consumers.

First, to inspire homeowners and businesses to better use their outdoor living spaces, we are creating a fresh new consumer website full of images of our award-winning gardens, articles on design and even YouTube-like video blogs from members. The new website will be full of rich content on design and plant care, as well as address some of the more pressing environmental issues.

The website will update the ‘Find a Professional’ section on the current landscapeontario.com, and make it easy for a consumer to find a build firm, design company, garden centre or commodity service company. We want you to be but a click away from any consumer.

Our messaging throughout the site will be on how outdoor living is an important part of life, and we will use images and stories to inspire and connect to consumers. This site is being built as we speak, and will be up-and-running in the next few months. Our official public launch is scheduled for Canada Blooms.

In addition to a consumer website, we will have an active public relations (PR) program aimed to get the word out about LO and the new consumer site. We will visit with both the Canadian garden press as well as major lifestyle publications to get stories placed about the trend to outdoor rooms and patios. We will talk about how LO members are helping to not only to green up Ontario but that ‘Green for Life’ is far reaching into all aspects of today’s busy lifestyle. We will keep you all in the loop as we roll out the PR campaign over the next few months.

Members are key

The key to any program like this is to get all LO members involved. With over 2,000 members, if all of us are talking about outdoor living and ‘Green for Life,’ then we build momentum. To support garden centres, a simple POP store signage package will be available to retailers who wish to use our signs, or we can supply artwork if you would like to use the images for your literature, signs or website. The ‘Green for Life’ image can be used on tags, banners, store signs — let your imagination run wild! A line of truck decals will be produced — we will even help you design a full ‘wrap’ if you are keen enough to wrap your car/truck/van! Think of the LO office as your ‘Green for Life’ ad agency — here to help you spread the word.

Later in the fall we will offer online marketing seminars (webinars) with conference calls so you can log in and see all the program details, as well as ask questions about how we can help you market your business.

So — what is new? How about fully integrated marketing support from your trade association that will help you INSPIRE your customers to do more outdoor living! Watch Horticulture Review for new developments and opportunities.