The phrase “The Value Proposition” is marketing-speak for “In return for your money (or effort or time etc.), you get this” and is worth more than an academic glance. Just look how the “Mad Men” in advertising have used that simple premise to help us all to part with our money for decades:
– Concerned about that daunting list of side effects in a medication ad? (Sure, but just the idea of not sneezing every five minutes in spring makes it that a deal you can accept.)
– Excited to turn over all your home TV and internet to one giant cable company? (No but you DO like the idea of watching whatever you want, when you want.)
These types of ads carefully craft a message of emotional benefits (the outcomes of the purchase), while the garden industry mostly still features the technical details. From propagator/manufacturer to retailer we see garden product ads, signs, labels or training manuals that are heavy on product functions (“Spreader-sticker” anyone?).
We see “Takes partial shade” instead of “Fill that bare spot under a tree” or “soaker hose” rather than “Waters gently like Mother Nature”. Maybe THAT’S why Americans spend more per household on Pizza than on gardening!
Marketers realized years ago that consumers spend more easily on emotional benefits than on functional ones. That’s why people drive miles to save gas money, so they can spend it at their favorite restaurant!
With competition from the smartest marketers on the planet, the lawn & garden business should spice-up the (sometimes necessary) technical language with words that suggest the product benefit (outcomes!) in simple emotional terms. We have highly marketable products with infinite emotions from excitement and joy, through pride and accomplishment, to solace and peace. We have things that taste great, clean the air, increase property values, reduce utility bills, create privacy, enrich lives and save the planet. But we still talk or merchandise to the public in technical or hobbyists terms. Just look at what “Mad Men” do with soap, drugs or insurance and think of what you could do with gardening!
So instead of “quick grower, 6ft by 5ft, $99” how about “Hide the neighbors for under $100”? Or for “3 months continuous feeding” substitute “Feed and forget” (with a 90 day reminder to buy more).
Train to Think Like the Customer
Team training should focus on the end result, not the process, as employees make the emotional value proposition: emphasizing the cool style of succulents or the fun of a child measuring a sunflower.
In training meetings I have found employees so anxious to tell the customer every single fact, they miss the essential motivator – the emotions of the end result. Stressing “things they need to know” means that emotional values like the fragrance of lilac or tasting that first tomato are missed. I even heard one experienced manager telling a customer “I think you’ll find it worth the effort” when she balked at digging a big hole for a shrub!
So let’s see more emotional values from the entire supply chain:
- Let’s read about “A green lawn for 90% less than a lawn-care service” (money-saving is a MAJOR emotional benefit!)
- Let’s see plant labels spelling out nostalgia like “Grandma’s Lilac” or the fragrance of Old Roses
- Let’s suggest the environmental satisfaction of creating a Monarch haven
- Let’s see POP with “Basil on your balcony” for apartment dwellers and “Hops made easy” for home-brewers.
- Let’s hear employees talking of “Relaxing sounds of wind chimes” or a fountain that “Hides the sound of the dog next door”!
- Let’s see displays that call out “Best herb for grilling steak” in the myriad of herb choices.
- Let’s focus on those emotions that entice consumers to save on gas and spend it in this industry!
… and finally, let me know what you come up with: happy propositioning!
Photo by Ian, on the road somewhere