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 August 6-7, 2024 | Rosemont, Illinois

Connecting With Customers Through Newsletters

Independent garden centers can stand out from the competition by connecting with customers on a personal level through email marketing and newsletters. Newsletters should be personal and friendly, with a unique voice and perspective that customers will connect with.

When you can’t compete with big box stores on price, and the other independent garden centers in your area are selling basically the same products as you, how do you stand out from the competition? You do it by connecting with customers on a personal level. You’re trustworthy, you’re informed, and you’re always helpful. But isn’t that still what every independent garden center is offering?

You can take your differentiation a step further. Not only are you a trustworthy expert, but you’re an expert who can speak your customers’ language, who can connect on a personal level in ways that make them care. And you can get this information across to customers through a newsletter.

So we’re back on the topic of email marketing. We’ve talked about this again and again, but that’s because it’s one of the most cost-effective marketing tools available to a small business. Many services like Mailchimp have a free tier for smaller lists, and as your list grows—and your sales increase—you can move on to feature-laden paid tiers that can handle thousands of subscriptions. That’s all great, and you probably know that already. The question is, what actually goes into the newsletter?

That’s the fun part: whatever you want. These don’t have to be promotional messages advertising sales or new products. A newsletter certainly can contain special promotions, but they don’t have to be the main focus. The point of a newsletter is to promote your brand on a personal level. In that sense, you can write your newsletter like a blog. Some topics your newsletter can cover:

  • Your own garden. What are you planting? What challenges are you facing given your climate zone?
  • Anecdotes about work. What is it like to work at your store? What kinds of customer interactions brighten your day? Do you have any favorite regulars?
  • Solving problems. What kinds of questions do customers often ask? You can expand on your answers in a newsletter. And then, when these questions come up again in the store, you can tell your customer, “I just wrote about this in our newsletter!”
  • A featured employee. What makes them great on a personal level? How are they providing service that customers shouldn’t miss out on?
  •  Local issues that affect your business. What should customers be aware of?

The tone of your newsletter should be personal and friendly, something that people will actually want to read. If writing isn’t your strong suit, you can hire a writer to touch up your draft or develop your outline while maintaining your unique voice and perspective. Your voice and your perspective is what customers will connect with. And that’s the difference you’re looking for: a personal, emotional reason to choose one business over another offering basically the same products and service. Not every customer will love it, read it, or even open it, but the ones who do will become loyal, repeat shoppers, the kind of customer independent retailers depend on.