Before you send me a scathing letter reacting to the second part of the headline, I realize I painted that with a broad brush. Sure, there are a few players that are doing a stand-up job when it comes to marketing plants, their beauty and their benefits. But we can’t let a handful of companies do all of the heavy lifting. We’ve got to come together – growers of all sizes – to put out effective marketing messages. I’m not talking about a one-size-fits all tagline for the industry. But we all must do something. Whether it’s a robust Twitter feed, entertaining YouTube videos, or easy-to-understand tags, every grower in the market can help spread the message.

In this year’s State of the Industry survey, nearly half (49 percent) of respondents said they’d like to improve marketing efforts. And more than a quarter (31 percent) of those surveyed said they did nothing to add to their marketing strategy in 2016. And while 55 percent said they use Facebook for business, some 36 percent said they don’t use any social media platforms. (There are more State of the Industry stats starting on page 13.)

Being a wholesale business does not preclude you from talking to consumers. You’ve got a chance to make a difference. First, make your messages simple. Stop assuming the majority of consumers know what the lingo means. While we’ve been using terms like “hardy” or “perennial” for years, it doesn’t make sense to a huge swath of potential buyers. Today’s consumer doesn’t know sandy loam from heavy clay. Not only do we need to turn to a more elementary message, we’ve got to tell a story and make a connection.

As Charlie points out in his working capital story (page 28), the baby boomers helped make our industry a success by buying all the houses and planting all the landscapes. And there are 11 million fewer people in generation X. But we have the opportunity to market to what is now the largest generation – the millennials. And Charlie reminds us that millennials are the most eco-minded generation to date. Plants are air cleaners, mood boosters, oxygen producers, wildlife attractors. There’s our compelling story. Do you need help getting started? Are you lacking social media skills? You’re not alone. Contact me and I’ll be happy to help or point you toward someone who can. Anyone out there want to be a marketing mentor? Let me know.