Yesterday, I spent a few hours at WinterGreen 2011, the annual conference and trade show of the Georgia Green Industry Association and learned a lot in a short period of time.
I had pleasant conversations with Patricia deVroomen of Marlboro Bulb Company and Rose Duncan of Callaway Gardens, said hello to Mary Kay Woodworth of the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association, who introduced me to her assistant, Kathy Johnson, caught a glimpse of Connie Cottingham of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, received a collapsible plastic vase (who knew?) and plant virus testing kits from the Agdia rep on the exhibit floor, picked up a paper (“Progress Report”) about ornamental blueberry varieties, and listened to Geri Lauffer as she gave a presentation on Social Media.
She did a good job, talking about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, gave tips for getting started and reminded her audience to “stop pushing out advertising; invite people in and engage with them” – the heart of effective Social media practices.
This is, as I have experienced over the past five years, not an industry that gladly embraces change. There are still many growers, plantsmen and landscapers whose businesses do not have adequate web sites (or any at all!), they still use generic e-mail addresses, instead of proprietary ones, and they profess not to have time for Social Media, or are convinced it’s anything more than an amusing way to spend some time they already don’t have to spare. That Social Media can drive sales is unexplored territory for them. Too bad! I have suggested “The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media” to one of the conference’s organizers, and some training sessions with Barb Giamanco.
I wouldn’t care (this, after all, is not the only industry that is root bound . . .) if it were not for the fact that I love gardening and everything related to it.