My New Garden and Deck in Sonoma
Cue Leonard Bernstein’s Make Our Garden Grow on YouTube while you read.

I’m a gardener.
It’s just like marketing.

The most successful gardening requires lots of things many occasional (or uninformed) gardeners don’t want to do. Double-digging. (I hate doing this, but I just did it for my new garden.) Amending soil with stinky stuff like manure. Laying down weed paper and irrigation lines. Oh, yeah: regular watering!

There are times when I’d like to use shortcuts, expecting the same results the long method produces. (Yeah, right!)

Many sometime gardeners just go to the local big box store for what they want. They buy some six packs of marigolds, Gerbera daisies and maybe some petunias. These plants are already blooming like crazy and look very attractive at the store. All that’s required is to pop them out of the plastic sleeve and put them in a hole in the ground or in a pot. Press the dirt around it, water it, and you’re done! Right?

Instant Garden — just like Instant Customers!

Those flowers should grow nice and big, reproducing multi-fold. (After all, that six pack was soooooo small. Of course they’d grow infinitely larger with all of Mother Earth’s dirt there to spread out their roots in immediately!)

Uh, oh! What’s wrong? It’s curling over like it’s sad! The leaves are wilting and turning brown. Did I use too much water or too little?

Nuts! I guess there was something wrong with those marigolds. I guess that lemon tree was diseased when I got it at the store.(The list of the plants’ problems goes on and on.)

And thus another great marketing campaign, er, plant, bites the dust, discarded in the trash, accused of being faulty from the get-go!

Some Are More Talented Gardeners, er, Marketers, Than Others

But we all know some folks have greener thumbs than others. Those marigold six-packs were in perfect condition when your neighbor got them. The lemon tree had healthy fruit growing when she started.

She lovingly planted it in a sunny location in your yard with good drainage. She was careful to handle the root ball gently and ensured the hole in the ground was plenty big enough when she planted it. She fed it organic fruit tree fertilizer at the proper intervals.

The fruit didn’t seem to grow bigger. It just stopped growing. In frustration one day your neighbor dug it up, wondering why the tree was getting no bigger and fruit wasn’t producing. And what did she find?

Nothing was wrong. The tree had been developing its roots steadily throughout the past year (until she viciously ripped it out of the ground!)

The mistake was not understanding the complete growing cycle of her lemon tree, er, target market!

Just like many new or inexperienced gardeners, this new gardener was unaware that the tree would take at least a year to develop strong roots and get over the shock of transplanting. Though it may have seemed like there was little or no activity above ground, that lemon tree may have been on the verge of an above ground growth spurt and fruit development.

Marketing Is Just Like Gardening

Some campaigns and some venues are more like marigolds. They seed quickly, establish roots and focus all their energy on producing stunning flowers. But, hey! It’s an annual. There and gone in a short amount of time.

Customers can behave like this too. Some products are relatively inexpensive and their sales cycle is short and easy. But like those annuals, you have to keep feeding the pipeline to keep those orange flowers blooming.

Trees are more like big-ticket items. They may plant quickly and easily, but their roots don’t take to moving very quickly. Growth underground is slow but steady. They are perennials. They’ll be around year after year after year. But as far as you can tell on the surface, nothing is happening. Your tree may as well be dead. So you chuck it. The growth cycle of this customer is too long to stick around for.

How to Improve Your Gardening, er, Marketing Skills

You’re a smart business owner. You don’t want to waste anything. You’d prefer not to rip out your garden and start over if it can be helped, right?

  1. Don’t rip out a marketing campaign prematurely!
  2. Like a funky pest infecting your lemon tree, take a leaf or a sample rotted fruit to an expert to review. (Translation: Don’t scrap that campaign until an expert has agreed it’s a total loss. You may be expecting a crop of new customers too soon.)
  3. Perhaps all you need is a spray to eradicate the infestation. (Translation: Maybe your message is off the mark. Good copywriting is an art and a science. An expert can let you know.)
  4. In short, ask an expert to review your strategy before throw it out.

One of the biggest mistakes made by marketing neophytes is a lack of patience for a new venue to produce the desired results. They’re waiting for the phone to ring from this new campaign launch a week after it kicks off. They’re waiting for (many) someone(s) to say, “I got your postcard. Where do I send my money?!”

What newbies often overlook is the recipient’s point of view:

Wow! I love this product! I’ve never heard of this company, so I’m going to wait awhile to see if I still need it.

[The postcard then gets stuck to their fridge, reminding them day in and day out they want the product, but they haven’t yet the impetus to make the purchase.] I still want this, but right now I can’t buy it. Maybe in another month….

In the meantime, the newbie has concluded the mailing was a complete and utter failure and vows never to pursue this avenue of advertising ever again.

Across town, the experienced marketer who makes a similar product launches a similar postcard mailing campaign. The recipient who still has your postcard on her fridge pulls the competitor’s postcard from the junk mail pile and decides it would be smart to compare the products. The competitor’s postcard goes up on the fridge too next to the newbie marketer’s postcard.

The months pass. The experienced marketer sends out two more postcard mailings to the same list. Each time the recipient sticks them on her fridge. Over time she concludes the competitor must have a better product. After all, they must really want my business because they keep sending postcards. The first company must not be interested because they didn’t stay in touch with me.

Upon receipt of the fourth postcard from the competitor, she decides it’s time to purchase the great product and gives the competitor a call to buy it. The newbie’s postcard is still stuck to the fridge, but the other cards have been stuck over it.

Don’t Give Up!

There are two primary reasons prospective customers don’t buy from you:

  1. They don’t know you exist.
  2. They don’t have a good enough reason to buy from you yet.

Solving these two problems seems simple: get seen and provide a good reason to buy. But we all know the nuances of accomplishing that are more complex today than ever before.

Many prospective customers won’t even consider buying a product or service until they’ve “seen” you several times in several places. Impressions count!

While you may say, “Facebook doesn’t sell anything,” I know many (experienced marketers!) who will disagree with you. (And this could be any other medium. Facebook is merely an example.)

Here’s an example of how it could work:
Mrs. Favreau is speeding through her NewsFeed before getting off the internet for the day. She only has fifteen minutes and the rest of her day is spent offline. None of that fooling around online for her!

She clicks her mouse to stop the speed scrolling when she spots a shared post by her friend Karen that’s about an online virtual assistant service. She reads the post; Likes the business so she’ll see more posts from them in the future; and logs off.

Over the next few weeks Mrs. Favreau sees a few more posts by this company speed past in her News Feed. She doesn’t pay them too much attention, but she now remembers the company name and types of services they provide. She was surprised to see that they have local errand runners available too – not just online services.

Kicking back on the chaise one Sunday, Mrs. Favreau sees a small ad in the local paper for the same company with a couple of bullet points and their web address. Remembering how frazzled her schedule will be for the upcoming week, she decides to open her laptop and take a short look at their website. Maybe they can relieve some of the stress she anticipates.

She sees the home page and a short list of services, but then she hears her 10-year old call her and dashes off to help her out, website seemingly forgotten.

The following week she’s speeding down the aisles of her local grocery store, smartphone in hand with her grocery list displayed on the screen. Grabbing an item off a shelf, she looks for a spot to place it in her cart and notices the ad on the back of the grocery cart: “Need a little shopping help?” It’s the same company.

While she continues shopping, she dials the number in the grocery cart ad and says, “Yes, I really could use some shopping help!” And the rest, as they say, is history.

Did Facebook produce a spectacular ROI (return on investment) for this company? It sure is hard to attribute an accurate portion of the final sale to Mrs. Favreau to Facebook, splitting the remainder with the other venues in the overall marketing strategy. But what she didn’t tell you was that what finally persuaded her to buy was the cumulative effect of seeing the company’s ads in several locations – locations the target audience frequents.


Now more than ever before in marketing, it takes multiple venues, multiple tactics to sway the buyer. Ignore one at your peril! Had the company pulled their grocery cart ads earlier or not have captured friend Karen’s interest to repost their update on Facebook, Mrs. Favreau would not be a devoted client today. The same would be true if they’d canceled any of their other campaigns in other venues. Conversion to sales takes time!

Today Mrs. Favreau’s thrilled to have more time to spend with her kids. She’s thrilled the company’s virtual assistant can perform tasks for her home business that otherwise would be ignored or losing her business.

Persistence. Perseverance. And Patience all paid off.
Nuture your marketing garden.
P.S. Here’s another video of Lenny conducting another concert version of Make Our Garden Grow.

Related Articles:

Traditionally a marketing campaign’s success has been measured based upon the number of dollars of sales generated compared to the dollars spent on the campaign (return on investment – ROI). Susan DeMatei’s primer, How to Calculate ROI for your Programs, is a terrific introduction to understanding the numbers (whether or not you are in the wine industry).

But today the consumer has become so sophisticated; and the marketing venues themselves have also become so complex that if you measure your success rate strictly by ROI dollars, you are highly likely to miss other forms of success that should not be discarded.

The fictional Mrs. Favreau was the recipient of several marketing impressions that led to her final buying decision. Her friend Karen engaged with a company on Facebook which ultimately led to Mrs. Favreau’s purchase. Read on in Forbes’ Understanding the New ROI Of Marketing for a new perspective in measuring marketing success.

Finally, to put it all in perspective, Brian Solis reminds us that measuring ROI without a clear strategy in place to begin with is merely shooting in the dark in Without a Strategy There Is No ROI.