Although every business is unique, most companies can follow the same core marketing strategies to grow their sales and profits. A plant nursery that reviews the “Four Ps” of the marketing mix -- product, price, promotion and place model -- can consider how its unique product line fits that model to create an effective plan for increasing market share.


The more you can categorize your products, the more you can identify potential customers who need them and use them in different ways. You might segment your offerings into lawn, garden, residential and commercial. Look at how customers use certain plants and shrubs, such as for privacy, curb appeal, shading, sodding or indoor and outdoor decoration, then group the main products you sell under each of the categories. Look for opportunities to sell benefits or solutions, rather than simply selling plants. Segment your audience into landscapers, landscape architects, homeowners and recreational gardeners, then rank the main items you sell to each of these customers to help you target opportunities to market to these different audiences.


Take advantage of consumers’ desire to save money or buy the highest-quality items by using perceived pricing. This prices some items above the average marketplace selling price to give the perception these items are superior quality. Sell other items at or slightly below market price to show that you offer affordability. Price some items as loss leaders to get customers into your nursery, where they will see all of your offerings and potentially become regular customers. Bundle similar items, or those used together, to upsell customers. For example, if you sell seed, offer a discount on a spreader with the purchase of a certain amount of seed. If you sell hoses, upsell nozzle sprayers or sprinklers. Discount flowers, plants or shrubs when customers buy planters, do-it-yourself pavers or retaining wall systems.


Create a first-draft promotions plan without regard to budget, including print, broadcast and outdoor advertising, direct mail, sales, discounts, a buyer’s club, customer newsletter, educational website and social media campaign. Project your annual cash flow to help you schedule less-expensive promotional tools when sales are slow. Rank the options you chose in your first draft by cost, then by your perception of their effectiveness, and decide which you will use, based on your budget. Get involved as a sponsor with your state American Society of Landscape Architects chapter or a state or local landscapers organization, getting your message in front of those professionals. Offer a free newsletter that gives customers year-round articles and discount coupons to help spur seasonal sales. Homeowners might not know the correct times to plant, seed and fertilize, and a newsletter that educates them will help them get better results and make them see you as a partner. Create a “Xeriscaping-for-Beginners” area to serve new Arizona residents who aren’t familiar with living under water restrictions.


Think beyond your nursery location when considering your distribution strategy. You might offer delivery services, let consumers buy online or offer free or low-cost on-site consulting services to homeowners. If heavy traffic is an issue in your area, target nearby customers by working with your local post office to conduct targeted direct mail campaigns by ZIP code. Exhibit at area home and garden shows or other community festivals and distribute coupons or certificates for a free gift for to people who visit your location. Sell a few impulse items at your booth to help defray your costs and offer discounts on any orders placed at the show or festival.