Understanding your primary and secondary target markets
Your first and easiest to reach market are those members of other orchid societies. Get your show information to the society newsletter editors and the COC editor early. Easy and inexpensive – what more could you ask.
Among the general public our orchid shows primarily target those in the 60 to 75 age group who are experienced gardening/horticultural enthusiasts. They are mainly retired with a higher disposable income and have the time and money to spend on this hobby.
The secondary market consists of young adults aged 18 to 34, having diverse interests, at ease with the Internet and media technology, hobbyists with an interest in horticulture. They are a large and diverse group of young, influential consumers. The majority of young hobbyists go online regularly for easy access to free resources. They haunt social media platforms to interact with others and/or obtain and share information.
Establishing an on-going media relationship is key to increasing attendance both at our shows and memberships. The young adults may not be inclined to attend monthly meetings like their parents but instead find value in having information delivered to them regularly via the Internet. They are heavy users of tablets and smartphones.
Positioning and strategy
Your society should be positioned as a community of passionate orchid growers who are knowledgeable, dependable and welcoming to all – from beginner enthusiasts to experienced hobbyists by supporting them three ways:
- Community – a society is primarily a social group. Encourage social interactions (in-person and online) and the exchange knowledge with each other.
- Education – be an organization where one can obtain first-hand valuable information on orchids and be a ‘go to’ local expert.
- Exclusive opportunities – to purchase uncommon/unique orchids at shows and monthly meetings.
Strategies include building and strengthening relationships with existing members who can become ambassadors and reach the primary older market.
People are going online to obtain information and/or socialize. Online and offline channels can co-exist and members should feel they can count on your organization for everything on orchids including local horticultural information. The experience can be complemented with an online component increasing the likelihood of gaining momentum with the secondary target market. You may need to help your members become familiar with the technology and resources available.
The general public may not know what “an orchid show” is – explain what you are offering. They may equate orchid to Phalaenopsis – explain what they should see.
Newspapers have special rates for non-profits; we only used the prime one in our city because of budget constraints and maximum results. Check to see if any of the local papers produce a gardening special (months ahead). Ask them for ‘premium real-estate’ on the page!!! That means right hand side, prime location….and do barter for this……they even promoted our show on a wrapper for free one year!!!!!! Again, think about free passes to your newspaper contacts. Research their online news options???? In the home section, flashing your show?!
Free advertising: Local tabloids have columns for non-profits….submit a press release on line. Kijiji listing……do this a week ahead of your show, it’s free but if you spend a couple of dollars you can have your ad highlighted and kept at the top of the ‘events listing’ otherwise it moves down the listings as other new events are added.
Contact newspaper publications to write a feature/article on the event. Alternatively, write a Pitch note or press release (a letter or email sent to an editor with details on the show) and send it to various editors. It could also be one of your newsletter editor’s show articles!
|Size:||Keep them reasonable 8 1/2 x 11”
Smaller ones (4 per sheet) can be displayed in members’ car windows
|Distribution:||Post in various locations such as community centres, florists, garden centres, assisted living/retirement homes, post-secondary schools and local coffee shops/restaurants.
Hand several to your members. Go through the rows at meetings and hand them out. Usually to be posted at work.
Don’t display them too early…….4 weeks ahead is plenty
If you’re not doing coupons you’re missing out.
Distribution: Drop large stacks off at garden centers, florists, etc about 4 weeks ahead of show. These are for ‘bagged purchases’. Florists will include them with their sales. It’s a ‘win-win’ as the florists appear to be giving their customers a free perk and we get free publicity.
Choosing which florist/garden center:
A necessary step in larger cities, use your yellow pages and call only the garden centers/florists that have large display ads. This does two things, it lets you focus on the ‘bigger guys’ since they can afford large display ads and it gives you an opportunity to ask their permission ahead of time as well as how many coupons they would need. I prepared the list in postal code order.
Prepare packages or drop off kits with a cover letter thanking them and note that you are non-profit, volunteer organization (you get the idea) and include a couple of posters for their window along with a stack of coupons.
Now take your kits with florists’ names, address and postal code and compare it to your membership list in postal code order. Put the kits out at the next meeting and ask the people that live in that postal code to hand deliver. Almost all will say yes. Much better than sending by mail and the store owner gets to ‘know your society’.
The biggest effort is the first year – keep your lists and redo the same thing the following year but you can skip the phone calls as your members should be able to follow through with the drop offs and details. We had some stores ask for more inserts too!!
Note: This eventually expanded our floral display section significantly when we added to our cover letter that if they wanted to submit a display in our show for floral arrangement judging it would be seen also by over 2,000 people (our show attendance) during the show (great free advertising for them).
TV: Contact stations that have community events features, local talk shows and/or lifestyle magazine type shows that profile people, place and events across your area.
Try to target ‘like-minded’ shows that have a gardening type audience. Of course, any time slot is great but bear in mind that a very, very small percentage would find our orchid shows that appealing (strange but true) if the show is a general interest type.
Cable companies are always looking for material – invite them to your meetings for special ‘on the spot’ interviews and a view of your show tables. Mention that orchids are the #1 potted plants in North America……remember they’re tv folks not orchid people.
Shows that view about a week before the orchid show have the most impact. Too early and it’s yesterday’s story.
Radio: Every town has a garden type radio show or local morning show. Drop off free passes/free memberships to be given away on air. Again, not too early, the week before is ideal. Add some free passes for the station employees too.
This is free radio advertising as your name is mentioned in the give away! This can be used for cable companies, newspaper garden editors etc. Remember to tell your show volunteers at the door that all newspaper, tv people get in free. We picked up a local Chinese paper that gave us a deal on next year’s advertising!
Give passes away generously!!!! Most are never used but it’s the thought that counts. Code the back so you can see who redeemed them. Give them to people that do your trophies, ribbons, posters…..build relationships and they will even display posters at their locations.
This one is not utilized enough!! Learn from our politicians and use cheap signage on major thoroughfares in your neighborhood several days before the show. Check local bylaws and please specify that you are non-profit (ask for suggestions too), but the most successful farmer’s market in town only advertises this way……signs along the side of a busy rush hour road in the high tech section of a major city. Big letters, few words are the key……what it is, where and what time…..that’s it folks!!
RETIREMENT LIVING COMMUNITIES
This should be done a couple of months before your show. Call/make appointments to meet with their recreation directors. Bring along coupons or group deals, posters etc to the meeting. Put a face on your society. Personal contact works and they love to set up bus trips for their small communities.
If you’re in a larger city, use the same logic we did with selecting larger florists – go by the size of their display ads in the yellow pages.
This can be done by someone other than the publicity team. Ask (personally) a member with an outgoing personality to do this……plenty of time for them to set it up….no pressures.
There are several ways to find photo clubs on the web. It takes a little research but you will find email addresses in the ‘contact us’. Send them a cover letter specifically inviting them to your ‘photographers – tripods welcome’ time slot. If you don’t have one, then start one at a time that is slow (like Sunday morning). Give them at least 6 weeks’ notice. I did clubs within 100 mile radius and they came in buses!!! This eventually led to a large portion of our attendance regulars too.
Again, check Google listings of garden clubs/horticulture groups/master gardeners. Email a cover letter, your coupons and poster, asking them to include it in their newsletters. They need 6 weeks’ notice ahead of show time to prep their newsletters so count back. If your show is early, such as September, ask them to forward your poster and coupons to their membership at a special time. Don’t forget to return the favor when they have their shows. This is no cost too!!
Keep this email listing for next year too…..then research only the ones that bounce back.
Horticultural classes in a nearby college??? School???? Drop in to talk to their teachers! We had several students volunteer with ribbon judging and assisting vendors by horticultural students from a local college.
Partner or invite like-minded organizations. Bonsai, Garden Clubs, Ikebana etc to have displays or even a booth! Double bonus, they do advertising to bring in crowds if they have a stake in it!
I cannot overly emphasize the importance of website research that put us on the map in City Festivals, tourist attractions, CTV calendar of events, Linking Boomers (on line listing), CTV morning shows – local…..also call for interview. Any senior magazines that are given away (need months advance work for these). These all got a press release as well as coupons and/or posters. All submitted on line.
You got them in the door, now make sure they have a reason to come back next year — with a friend. Keep the show interesting! Would you go to the same car show every year with the same cars?? Entertain! Educate! The public need to connect to what they see at the show otherwise why would they return or recommend the show.
What about a simple re-potting session in a corner? Wear a badge with “Ask me about orchids” on it.
Education displays: what is an orchid, kinds of orchids, orchid propagation, where do the originate, native orchids, literature, etc. Make it informative and interesting. Think society annual project to produce a new display.
Learn from major success stories like Canada Blooms who have a stage with rotating shows to add an element of diversity. IT IS ABOUT MARKETING your show and entertaining too.
Your show is the advertising for next years show – make it good!
Focus: (this bears repeating) young adults aged 18 to 34, having diverse interests, at ease with the Internet and media technology, hobbyists with an interest in horticulture. They are a large, diverse and young group of influential consumers. The majority of young hobbyists go online for easy access to free resources and social media platforms (i.e. forums, social networks) to interact with others and/or obtain and share information.
Personality:The following traits should be kept in mind when participating in social media activities: friendly, approachable, expert, knowledgeable, dependable, caring, social and passionate. These are conveyed through ‘tone of voice’ and type of content.
Tactics: For show promotion
- Update cover photo to include a few event details such as show poster
- Share event images from last year – keep it clean and simple
- Create excitement by posting teaser event details highlighting attendees, events, demonstrations etc
- Start the countdown teasers three weeks prior, once a week
- Invite fans to submits photos and stories that could also be in the next newsletter (shows sense of community)
You need a ‘team’ for publicity and a schedule of events with assigned tasks. Newspaper, social media, Cable/TV, web, spokespeople etc and encourage them to expand their areas with new ideas and targets.
It’s never too soon to start….. Our show was in April, I started the previous October with posters, developing team volunteers – we had the same wonderful group for several years. Each had our own areas of expertise/responsibility. A no-rush schedule and good organization takes the pressure off.
What did you do right? Do a random survey, either at the door or on the floor, a contest, or a door prize/raffle, asking them their address and where they heard about your show. You need to know what you did that worked. Was it an ad, the photo clubs, senior residence – see how effective your work was and where it worked (where did they come from)? You only need a random sample to get an idea or you’re not spending your time effectively.
Our surveys have told us (and several locations I might add) that posters seem to have become the new graffiti?! Even if you get permission, too early and it becomes scenery lost in the blur. Many posters/coupons are sent electronically to organizations for information distribution but effectiveness is doubtful for the printed posters. Check your survey to see the results in your area.
Recruit your volunteers personally!!!! Know your members and ask what would they like to do? Recognize their contributions before, during and after the show.
Do a critique….ask your show/publicity team for random comments, complaints, and praises within 48 hrs of the show. Yes, while it’s fresh….document and use it as your starting point for the next season.
We tried to come up with a new twist/idea/target every year!!!
Good luck et bonne chance!
Orchid Journal and Canadian Orchid Congress
Reference and excerpts:
Marketing Plan/prepared by: Rebecca Tow
Courtesy of Vancouver Orchid Society