By Douglas J. Guth from Greenhouse Management Magazine.
WHY THEY’RE GREAT: Ray Wiegand’s Nursery dedicates 800 acres to a variety of deciduous and evergreen trees, alongside production of about 12,000 roses and more than 600 varieties of perennials. Patio furniture, seasonal gifts and garden supplies are on offer as well, requiring a robust online presence the company uses to attract new customers and supply beneficial information to the larger gardening public.
“It’s surprising a lot of the time when people don’t know who we are or what we carry,” says graphic designer Kristan McDonald, who spearheaded a redesign of the nursery’s website, wiegandsnursery.com, several years ago. “Our site lets people know how long we’ve been around, and makes them comfortable when making purchases on big-ticket items.”
A SITE TO BEHOLD: The Macomb, Michigan, grower-retailer updated its online and marketing presence to include high-resolution images and detailed information about the plants and other items it sells. An expanded “About Us” page tells the history of the family-owned and operated nursery, beginning in the 1860s when Francis Wiegand grew crops from a small farmstead in Warren, Michigan.
Television ads and the company’s Facebook page drive potential patrons to the site, which also carries event announcements and a “gardener’s journal” replete with growing advice and seasonal decorating tips. While journal content is not created in-house, the nursery’s marketing team revises the information for content and relevance. A site overhaul scheduled for spring, meanwhile, will allow visitors to purchase items via a simple click, an update set to coincide with a reconfigured wholesale business page and a brand new farming website.
“We do many different things and do them well, and want people to know about it,” McDonald says. “We’re trying to build trust with customers when there’s so many corporate options available. People can go to a big-box store, but it’s a unique experience going to an independent store.”
When planning a website, a grower-retailer must complement its overarching marketing message with strong content and exceptional design, as discerning visitors will react to sloppiness accordingly.
“If content isn’t consistent with what the company is saying, you’re not going to be comfortable with the company,” McDonald says. “The message is to keep up on digital worlds and not get left behind. It’s something business owners should be talking about.”