5 Direct Mail Tips from Gardening Catalogs

This Monday was what some psychologists call “Blue Monday,” so I looked at some gardening catalogs. I jotted down some thoughts on what works well in them, marketing-wise. Even if you have the exact opposite of a green thumb, there are some practices worth considering.

This Monday was what some psychologists call “Blue Monday” but I was in pretty good spirits, thinking about spring, and looking at some catalogs.

Gardening catalogs, to be exact.

Last year, we planted a few tomatoes and that was it. No beans, no basil, no butterfly bushes … nothing.

This year’s going to be a different story.

We don’t have much space to work with, but enough for a few rows of this and that, and if we’re really lucky, save us a few trips to the farmer’s market.

I love the satisfaction that comes with each stage of the process, from turning over the ground, all the way up to harvesting a crop of … something.

So, time to plan, and out came the catalogs, some from home, and some from Who’s Mailing What!

I jotted down some thoughts on what works well in them, marketing-wise. Even if you have the exact opposite of a green thumb, there are some practices worth considering.

1. Use Lots of Color
catcover_01This should be a no-brainer, right? Plants are living things, so show them in all of the rich color print can deliver. This catalog from Tomato Growers Supply Co. is a great example, especially with its front cover. The size of the image on the pages inside can vary, and bigger isn’t always better.

2. Be Authentic
catorigin_01You want to build trust with your customers. But how? Tell a story. Talk about the history behind your brand. Baker Creeks Heirloom Seeds discusses the mission of its Good Seed Catalog, and ties to it a future without GMOs or corporate control of food.

3. Master the Details
catguide_01There are so many things the customer has to consider when ordering seeds or plants from a catalog. You want to provide enough facts for them to feel confident, but not overwhelmed. Wildseed Farms shows an image, some background and cultivation information, and pricing. Each listing also includes a seedling photo, and even indicates if it helps pollinators like birds or butterflies.

4. Compare Yourself to Others
catcompare_01Plants and seeds are available in so many places, both online and in brick-and-mortar stores. So, what differentiates your products from theirs, besides price, or reputation? Territorial Seed Co. devotes an entire page to explain what makes its live plants so special.

5. Offer the Latest Tools
catapp_01Seed and gardening catalogs have been around for well over 150 years. But when it comes to working the soil, or getting ready to do so, time doesn’t stand still. Tools aren’t just implements like shovels, composters, and seeders. Industry giants like Burpee offer apps to assist to help gardeners. Other companies promote instructional videos on their websites, as well as social channels for further assistance.

Printing and postage costs continue to go up, and more gardeners choose online shopping to fulfill their gardening needs. But hopefully, printed catalogs will continue to evolve, and become more personalized and relevant to consumers.

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