Blog posts of '2014' 'October'

Connecting with Consumers to Sell More Plants!

The retail garden center environment is more challenging than ever. Consumers are much busier and preoccupied today than past generations. In order to increase sales we have to ask ourselves this very important question. How do growers and retailers connect with today’s consumer to sell plants? Knowing the answer will increase sales and set growers and retailers apart from their competition.

First we have to consider the challenges in today’s market. . .

  1. Gardening is fading as a hobby. Younger generations aren’t gardening.
  2. The average consumer has less time to devote to gardening.
  3. Financial resources are limited - must get the most for their dollar.

 How do growers get noticed in today’s garden centers and sell more plants?

  1. Product and packaging that sets you apart - get noticed.
  2. Make it easy - younger generations have less time to garden.
  3. Information resource - help the most inexperienced gardener quickly get the information they need.

Steps to Marketing Success

Follow these three simple steps for marketing success to get your product noticed and generate more sales for both you and the retailers you sell to.

Step 1: Get the consumer’s attention. Consumer research shows that retailers are not creating inspiration in their garden centers. This is especially important to connect with the younger generations. Create product packaging and displays that create inspiration, get noticed and generate impulse sales.

SavorIt Signage and Tags


Step 2: Provide information to make an informed buying decision. Create packaging that conveys important information that the consumer is looking for to make a buying decision. This information should include sun exposure, bloom time, size, cold hardiness, water requirements and care information at the least. Recent consumer research indicates that consumers are actually willing to pay more for a plant if it is “drought tolerant” and also want to know if a plant is “easy to grow”.

Tags that help make an informed buying decision

Step 3: Promote success and satisfaction after the sale. Create supporting materials like mobile web sites so consumers can get additional care, pruning and tie-in product information to ensure they have success with the plant in their garden. This will give them the confidence to return to the store to purchase more plants in the future.

Promote success after the sale

Note: The references to consumer research were provided by Home & Garden Panel.

About the author: Julie Ellis is a Senior Sales Executive at Horticultural Marketing & Printing. She serves both horticultural and commercial clients across the US and Canada. Julie has been with HMP for over 22 years. She specializes in working with clients to develop innovative marketing solutions to help them sell more plants! You can reach Julie at

Who cares about plant labels? Your customers do, and you should too!

As an industry professional, you know all about plants. Heck, you even know how to pronounce their botanical names. You know what conditions they need in order to thrive, you know how tall they get, you know how to make them bloom, you know everything there is to know about how to make them look GOOD. But as a professional who deals with plants day in and day out, sometimes it’s easy to forget that many end consumers don’t have a CLUE as to what it is, how to take care of it or let alone pronounce the Latin name. As a producer of plants for the consumer market, you are producing a consumer product. For this consumer product, there is packaging, and an instruction manual. What is the packaging, and what is the instruction manual for this consumer product?

It’s a humble little thing called the plant tag. Giving the end consumer info about what to buy and how to take care of it, that’s the job of this little plastic wonder of the retail plant world.

So what information is MOST important to have on the plant label? Hort Printers always wants to know what consumers are thinking and how to make them happy, so we asked: *

Q: What’s the MOST important info you look for on a plant tag?

A: 18-40 year olds rank planting and watering instructions, respectively, as most important information on a plant tag.

Q: How important is a picture of the plant on the tag?

A: Having a picture of the plant on the tag earned the most #1 votes overall from 18 to 30 yr. olds

Q: How does technology play a role in consumers gathering knowledge on how to be successful with plants:

A: 40% of 18-30 yr. olds use their smartphone to research a plant purchase (at home AND in-store while shopping).

Using a search engine is the preferred method for all ages to access plant information using a smartphone.

48% of 18-40 yr. olds find answers to their plant care and maintenance questions on the internet using a computer. Only 9% said in-store employees.

Q: How confident are consumers about the topic of watering and fertilization?

A: Only 19% of 18-30 yr. olds and 17% of 31-40 year olds are fully confident that they understand how to water plants properly. Only 12% of 18-30 yr. olds and 15% of 31-40 yr. olds are fully confident that they understand how to fertilize plants properly.

Q: What do consumers do with the plant tags after they get home?

A: 56% of 18-30 yr. olds and 69% of 18-40 yr. olds save plant tags for future reference.

More than 65% of consumers who save their plant tags continue to reference them at least a couple of times per month.


So, a little Q&A for you, your business and your consumer product packaging strategy:

Q: Do plant tags play a critical role in your success in selling to end consumers?

A: Consumers say a resounding YES!!!

  *Consumer research conducted by the Home Garden Panel (HGP); July of 2014


About the author: David Pratt is a Senior Account Executive at Horticultural Marketing & Printing. He serves both horticultural and commercial clients across the US. David has been with HMP for over 18 years. Prior to HMP, David worked in the retail nursery industry. One of his favorite plants, with or without a tag, is the Asparagus Fern. Easy to grow, and looks great for most of the year! You can reach David at

What are you printing on your tags? The answer could be saving (or costing) you money. Part 2

This is Part 2 of a 2 part series by our Catalog/OnSyte Director Todd Davis. He is giving tips on adding useful information to labels that you can print yourself using NiceLabel 6 software.

Read Part 1 here

Put on the PO

You want even more ammunition when you spot sickly plants? Place the PO number on the tag too. That way you can state exactly which order the bad plants came in on.

If your vendor is worth his salt, he should be able to track those plants to specific lots and check his fields. When, lo and behold, he finds those plants are indeed infested, your credit is assured.

There are also nurseries that include the PO date on the tag. This gets dicey. Yes, it’s handy to look at a plant and know instantly how long it’s been on your yard without having to go back and reference a PO number.

But then again, you don’t want customers to look at a tag and say, “Holy cow, this tree is old enough to vote!”

One solution is to put the date in code. A simple way is to add one digit in front and in back of the date. For instance, the date April 15, 2014 would be 50415149. Most customers without spy training wouldn’t decipher that.

Retail/wholesale pricing

Many nurseries sell to both retail and wholesale customers. When that’s the case, you’re always going to have two different price points for each plant you sell.

In addition to putting the retail price on the tag, it’s handy to have the wholesale price too. That way your wholesale customers can shop without constantly asking your staff, “How much is this? How much is that?”

Once again, this is where codes come in. (Historical note: I’m told that Manny Shemin, who founded Shemin Nurseries in Connecticut in 1955, was the first to devise such pricing codes. I can neither confirm nor deny this claim.)

An easy code for customers to understand is putting the wholesale price at the end of a series of numbers. For instance, something that would wholesale for $53.99 could be coded 1098475399.

Even if you don’t sell retail at your nursery at all, sometimes placing your price in code is still a good idea. There are times when landscape customers bring out their clients to hand pick your stock. Your clients don’t want the homeowner to know what they’re paying for your plants.

Even more stuff?

By now your tag can get pretty cluttered. After you add your logo, the plant name, size and a bar code, that’s a lot of information to cram on.

There is more you could do. I know nurseries that consecutively number all their plants for tracking purposes. This is also easily done with NiceLabel software. But it may not be necessary in your situation.

But I’d call the above information a must on any nursery label. It is vital information that will save you money in the long run.

Just like that phone in your pocket, your label printer is a much more useful machine than you give it credit. Use it to its full potential and your bottom line will improve.

About the author: Todd Davis is Director of the Catalog/OnSyte division of Horticultural Marketing & Printing. He leads an inside sales staff that services North America with marketing products and solutions for the green industry. Todd has varied experience in horticulture, from managing a wholesale nursery to writing/editing/publishing hort trade publications. He is active in state and national nursery organizations and is a frequent speaker at industry events. You can contact Todd at

What are you printing on your tags? The answer could be saving (or costing) you money. Part 1

This is Part 1 of a 2 part series by our Catalog/OnSyte Director Todd Davis.

I have a smart phone in my pocket.

I take that back. I have a ridiculously huge smart phone in my pocket. The screen is larger than the television my wife and I bought when we were married in 1995.

The phone is awesome. I use it to check the weather and sports scores and occasionally use the GPS feature. But in reality, I have no clue of what it’s really capable of. I estimate I use maybe 5% of my phone’s true potential.

Sound familiar? Believe it or not, you may be doing the same thing with your nursery tags. Your thermal-transfer printer (or desktop printer if you’re printing on laser-printable stock) is a tool that can add vast amounts of cash to your bottom line if used to its full potential.

It all depends on what you put on your labels. The following items are easily added to a label template, especially when using software such as NiceLabel. And if you aren’t currently printing labels at all, consider how the following might make a new label printer worth the investment.

Print tags before the trucks arrive

It’s always a best practice to tag plants at the exact moment they’re coming off the vendor’s truck. Take your purchase orders for the next day’s deliveries, and print out those tags so you’ll be ready when the trucks arrive.

Why is that so important? Because counting plants is one of the hardest tasks human beings have ever attempted. Sending a probe to Mars is nothing. Give me 12 NASA scientists and have them count 3-gallon Dwarf Burford hollies coming off of a 53-foot trailer. I guarantee you’ll get 12 different numbers.

But if you tag plants as they come off the truck, you have a safety net. If the truck is empty and you still have tags in your hand, you know you got shorted. You then inform your vendor and you don’t pay for plants you didn’t receive.

It’s a simple practice, but how much money has your label printer saved you already?

Add a vendor code

Vendor Code

How many times have you walked your nursery yard and spotted diseased, infested or otherwise sickly specimens amongst your plant blocks? Don’t be ashamed, it happens to everyone.

It’s your job to instantly assess the situation. Step one should always be determining where those plants came from. Without that knowledge, you really have nowhere to start.

But if you can establish that all the sickly plants came from the same vendor, you can take that information and use it.

Hey, all the crape myrtles we received from you this month have scale. None of the ones from other nurseries have it. Have you gotten complaints from your other customers?”

Armed with this information you’re much more likely to get a credit than if you said, “I think those crape myrtles with scale came from you.”

The easiest way to add a vendor code is to create a two- or three-digit code for each of your vendors. For instance, VanHoodenpyle’s Nursery might be VHN. Put this at the bottom of the tag and your customers will most likely never notice it, or even care if they do.

Read Part 2 here

About the author: Todd Davis is Director of the Catalog/OnSyte division of Horticultural Marketing & Printing. He leads an inside sales staff that services North America with marketing products and solutions for the green industry. Todd has varied experience in horticulture, from managing a wholesale nursery to writing/editing/publishing hort trade publications. He is active in state and national nursery organizations and is a frequent speaker at industry events. You can contact Todd at

Feed Your Plant Brand with Creativity!

Have you ever wanted to create your own brand? A brand that will set your plant apart from the crowd? If so, it’s not as difficult as you might think and it could reap big rewards down the road. Follow along below for some of my tips on creating your own brand.

The first thing I ask myself when developing a brand for a customer is “What makes this plant unique?” Now, this can mean a lot of different things. For instance, does it have interesting foliage, a new flower color or more cold tolerance? Or maybe it just a regular plant with a catchy name that sticks in your head? Whatever that “thing” is, you need to use it to your advantage and create your brand around that aspect.

To illustrate this better, take a look at the catnip program below. As most of you know, catnip in itself, is not a unique plant to grow (at least for humans anyway). But pair the name with a catchy phrase and some innovative packaging and you have transformed average catnip into a must have plant for the cat lovers of the world!

See, that wasn’t so hard. MEWOW! It catches your attention immediately and has a clear message.

After creating the initial brand, the next thing I like to do is develop a good tag line. To do this, you need to elaborate on your brand name while still keeping the message simple and short. The old adage definitely applies here…when in doubt, leave it out!

Below is an example of a topiary program we were asked to develop. The mission here was to create a program that added value to higher priced evergreen topiaries. With some great design and a properly chosen tag line, the customer immediately recognizes this as a “high-end” plant and understands the higher price. The tagline “Prestigious Landscape Elegance” fits perfectly.

Finally, comes the art work. The eye-candy. The milkshake that brings all the customers to your perennial yard. Don’t be afraid to be fun. Playful, eye-catching art can have a huge impact.

Now take a look at the tag below and tell me you don’t want to go out and buy some bananas! This is some really great artwork. We created this program for a customer who wanted a kid friendly graphic that showcased the first cold hardy banana. Mission accomplished! Notice the use of complimentary colors and the little smile on the monkeys face. Small touches like this allow your customers to connect with the brand on an emotional level.

Keep these easy to follow tips handy when developing your plant brand and tags. Have fun and let’s sell some PLANTS!!!

About the author: Jhoanna Utset is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for Horticultural Marketing & Printing, a division of IntegraColor. Originally from Colombia, she moved to the United States to live and continue her studies at the University of Central Florida in Orlando and then graduated from The Art Institute of Charlotte with a degree in Graphic Design. She has over 9 years of experience in design, marketing and print media.

Share the wealth: How other nurseries can reduce the cost of YOUR tagging program

I want you to imagine you are planning a road trip. In fact, let’s make it a road trip on a bus to your favorite botanical garden. Now think about how expensive it would be if you were the only one leasing the bus. Would it change your mind about using the bus? What if you could lessen the cost by getting your garden buddies together to share the cost of the bus? Sounds more appealing doesn’t it?

Grouping plant tag print runs for themes and common die shapes can have an impact on pricing similar to the bus analogy above. If you were to print a small quantity by yourself, it would be very costly. If you are able to get fellow nurseries together and group your orders, the pricing is much lower, saving everyone money.

Let’s say Williams Nursery, a small IGC in Akron, OH, is wanting to start a unique program geared at promoting hometown favorite plants. For this program they want to use a new tag design. In the first year of this program, the quantities will be small. If the program is successful, it will expand in the following years. But for now, producing the small number of tags for the first year would be very expensive.

Down the road in Canton, OH there is larger wholesale nursery. Let’s call them Midwest Wholesale. They grow and distribute plants regionally to local IGC’s. For years they have used the same common die shape for their heat resistant plants tag and they print thousands each year.

This is where knowing your neighbor can pay off. Williams Nursery and Midwest Wholesale have an opportunity here to mutually benefit from group pricing. Williams Nursery could create their own deer resistant design that fits the Midwest Wholesale die shape and have it added to their large print runs. Thus reducing the amount they would pay for each tag since they will be included in such a large print run. Midwest Wholesale in turn benefits from increasing the quantities and receiving lower pricing due to volume.

For this principle to work, everyone involved needs to agree on (and meet) two very important deadlines. One, there needs to be a concrete due date for all orders. And two, a common shipping date must be established. If orders are turned in late, the shipping date will then move out. Think about it using the bus example above. If the bus is scheduled to leave at a specific time and someone is late, the whole bus is held up and everyone is delayed in getting to their final destination. Similarly, if one order is late, everyone’s tag order could be delayed.

Grouping tag runs can be very efficient and cost effective if everyone participates with the same goals in mind. Feel free to contact me for more information on how to save money by grouping and gathering orders.

About the author: Angie Spratt is a Senior Client Manager at Horticultural Marketing and Printing. She has been with the company for 15 years as a horticultural client manager and has 25 years of experience in the printing industry. You can reach Angie at

Consumer research: Higher margins for growers and retailers

Several years ago we conducted research to find out if the value of a plant could be increased with good marketing and a strong brand promise. With the influx of new and improved bedding plant varieties into the marketplace, we thought there was definitely opportunity to add value and enjoy increased margins by clearly calling out differentiation that resonates with the end consumer.

To find out we created a fictitious plant brand that promoted two brand promises that we thought would clearly differentiate and add value in the eyes of the end consumer. These were #1 in University Testing and Heat Tolerance. With today’s genetic diversity and improved plant trials, both these promises could in fact be identified and claimed.

Would the consumer see the benefit and pay a higher price than the standard selection? Could the grower and retailer benefit?

Research Methodology

The research was conducted at both IGC's and box stores in the DFW area.

Impatiens was chosen for the research since it is one of the best-selling annuals.

Plants were custom grown by our grower partner. The same plants, in the same pots were used for the branded and unbranded products

Tags, display signs, and bench wrap were created to promote the plant brand and points of differentiation (#1 in University Testing and Heat Tolerance) at the point of sale.

The branded product was merchandised at retail next to or in close proximity to the unbranded plants that were marketed with a standard plant tag. Same plants, same pots the only difference was the labeling and signing.

The branded product was priced 20-40% higher than the identical non- branded product.

Key Findings

Overall the branded products outsold the unbranded version of the same product by almost 40%. In addition to this, the branded product carried a significantly higher cost than the unbranded product.

After considering the additional marketing costs, the results proved that the right combination of brand promise, point of sale, and effective pricing did add substantial gross margin dollars to the bottom line for both grower and retailer.

About the author: Bob Schmidtke is a Senior Account Executive at Horticultural Marketing & Printing. He services both horticultural accounts as well as commercial clients. Bob has been with HMP for almost 17 years serving the Mid-West and SE US customers. Prior; Bob has worked in both the retail and wholesale nursery industry. You can reach Bob at

Want to lower the unit cost of your custom plant tags?

Let’s say, hypothetically, that the operating cost for an airline to fly a plane from LA to NY is $100,000. Let’s also assume there are 300 seats on the plane.

Now, if this is a sold out flight, each ticket will be $333.33. BUT, if only 100 of the seats are sold, the tickets now become $1,000 each. Regardless of how many tickets are sold, the bottom line is still $100,000 to operate this flight.

Plant tag press layouts work similarly.

Let’s say you have a custom branded hang tag that’s size will allow it to fit 20 different positions on a press sheet. If you have 20 different varieties, and you need 1,000 of each, the math works out perfectly. You have utilized each position and created an even, 20,000 tag run with no overs.

Now, suppose you have only 16 varieties but still have the same 20-up press sheet. At 1,000 per variety that only gives you 16,000 tags. But, your tag run is still 20,000 tags.

In other words, if this 20-up press run has a bottom dollar amount of $3,200, below is where you’ll see simple examples of the savings:


Total print run cost $3,200 ÷ 16,000 tags = $0.20/per tag


Total print run cost $3,200 ÷ 20,000 tags = $0.16/per tag

So, as you can see, you just saved 20% on the unit cost of your tags by slightly increasing your quantity without increasing the bottom dollar amount. Take advantage of the overs. It may be necessary to increase the quantities of a few of your more popular varieties, but in the long run, it will be worth it.

About the author: Bryan Bravenec is a Senior Account Executive at Horticultural Marketing & Printing. He services both horticultural accounts as well as commercial clients. Prior to his sales position, Bryan served as Director of Production for a lenticular printing company and has been in the graphic arts industry for over 19 years. Bryan currently services the Eastern US. You can reach Bryan at


Plant Marketing Strategies for the Horticulture Industry

Properly targeted and focused marketing strategies can and will change the perceived value of your products, differentiate you in the marketplace, promote consumer success and satisfaction, and generate those all-important repeat sales.

Marketing strategies run the gambit from simple to complex. An effective strategy can be as simple as high-lighting a plant attribute or as complicated as creating a plant brand with a strong brand message.

Plant attributes like “Drought Tolerant”, “Cold Tolerant” and “Sun Lovers” have been used effectively to differentiate, promote and direct consumers to groups of plants. Tag lines such as “Easy to Grow”, “Farm Fresh”, “University Recommended” resonate with consumers and are very effective at targeting consumers who can’t or don’t want to devote a lot of time to gardening and landscaping. The best place to promote is at the point of sale. Communicate attributes using labeling or signing. Utilize unique icons to make it easy for the consumer to find the plant with the attributes they desire.

Plant brands can be developed around a single plant, a series of plants or an entire line of plants. The challenge is finding a powerful brand promise that truly relates to the end consumer. Independent Garden Centers should consider branding or co-branded plants with their corporate name to build brand equity and clear differentiation. Nothing is more important to a Retailer than promoting their brand in the marketplace. The thousands of plants, labeled with your company name, leaving the nursery every year is a powerful marketing strategy. Every branded plant tag is an advertisement and research says that consumers keep plant tags for future reference.

To help execute marketing strategies, retailers and growers are now using advanced LED/Laser printers, UV resistant toners, and weatherproof stocks to easily and quickly produce high quality customized signs and tags. Some growers are exclusively using in-house printers to produce all of their full color plant tags; customized for different retailers.

Whether you are a grower or retailer, there are marketing strategies out there to help your grow sales and profits. Take a second to check out some of the unique designs below. One of these could be just what your business needs.

About the author: Tim Peterson is a Senior Account Executive at Horticultural Marketing & Printing. His past experience includes Marketing Services for Frito-Lay and Borden Foods. He was also a Managing Director at Brand Institute. Currently he services horticultural accounts in the Northwest US and Canada and excels at marketing and brand development.

Running with the Gang: An economical print strategy for custom tags

No, I’m not talking about the Bloods or the Crips or troubled youths from the lower east side of a major metropolis. I am going to be talking about a print strategy called “gang-run printing”. This method of printing is perfect for producing multiple tag programs cost effectively and efficiently.

Gang-running is a method of printing multiple jobs on one press run. The main advantage is that it is extremely economical. Multiple print jobs share the same print run, which reduces manpower, plates, prep time, and press wash-up labor. Plus it reduces waste by using less plastic for the make ready process.

You may be asking - how does all this affect me and why would I care?

Well, let’s say one of your top customers (IGC or big box) has asked you to develop a specialty tag program to promote a particular variety. Maybe you want to develop a tag program to attract the new generation of millennials.  In either case, after you crunch the numbers, you realize a unique tagging program just isn’t going to fit into a healthy bottom line.

But wait a minute! There is hope. You can reduce the cost of that ONE special tag program and produce THREE for a greatly reduced per unit cost! If you are working with one of your customers, you can tell them they are such a valued customer, you are planning to design three custom programs for them this year! (small sales tip)

The first part of the plan is to decide what varieties to promote. You spend a lot of time forecasting and planning production so you have a good idea what plants warrant a custom tag program. You may decide to promote a certain variety for spring, another for summer and the third for fall.

This is where gang-running your tags comes into play and the strategy is simple. Decide on a common shape for all three tag types. It can be a simple rectangle, circle or some unique shape. The main thing is to make sure all three tag programs share the same shape.

Once the shape is determined you can design the tags of all three programs with different graphics, branding and plant information. If you need help developing and designing your tags, Horticultural Marketing and Printing’s expert design team is ready to assist any way you need. Our team has designed hundreds of brands and thousands of tag designs. If you need, our design team can also help prepare your presentation to your customer.

Once the designs are approved and quantities are finalized, HMP’s print production team goes into action and prepares the files to gang-run on the appropriate press. The tags are then die cut, bundled, packaged by program and sent to your place of business.

To learn more on how this economical print strategy can help your business grow, call your sales representative for more information. Who knows, you just may become a member of our gang.

About the author: Randy Webb is a Senior Account Representative for Horticultural Marketing and Printing. He services both horticultural accounts as well as commercial clients. Prior to his sales position, Randy served as Creative Director and has been in the graphic arts industry for over 20 years, working in both print and digital media. You can reach Randy at