TOP: With four acres under cover, production at Salisbury Greenhouses focuses on spring crops of annuals, edibles and many perennials. BOTTOM LEFT: For a fun Instagram post, Salisbury Greenhouses promoted its staff’s expertise in dog-petting. BOTTOM RIGHT: Rob Sproule, co-owner and marketing director at Salisbury Greenhouses
Photo courtesy of Salisbury Greenhouses

WHY THEY’RE GREAT: With four acres under cover, production at Salisbury Greenhouses focuses on spring crops of annuals, edibles and many perennials for the Edmonton-area grower-retailer’s year-round garden center. Hop on their Facebook or Instagram page and you’ll find a steady stream of digital love for the third-generation family-owned business. You’ll also be immersed in stunning photography and video.

Co-owner and marketing director Rob Sproule explains that the company puts a lot of effort into retail-focused events such as workshops and a farmers market. “We really try to build on the ‘experience marketing’ of the place,” he says. And with more than 3,200 Instagram followers and a Facebook following nearing 19,000, Salisbury’s social media is a large part of that experience.

SOCIAL MEDIA PROWESS: Sproule acknowledges that Salisbury has unique social media resources. In addition to his Salisbury roles, he runs DIG (Digital for Independent Garden Centres), a marketing agency that helps garden center clients, including Salisbury Greenhouses, build digital marketing efforts.

Salisbury Greenhouses highlighting a snake plant on Instagram Stories
Photo courtesy of Salisbury Greenhouses

In response to changing industry demographics, Salisbury’s marketing has shifted away from radio and newspapers and toward social media. “People want to see what we have and they’re very keen to see what we’re a part of,” Sproule explains. “We just have to show it to them.” Paid Facebook advertising has replaced the company’s newspaper advertising. “It’s a lot more effective for us and costs a lot less,” he says.

Digital marketing offers flexibility and spontaneity for promotions, too. “We only have to plan our sales a few days in advance. Sales can be promoted on social media and in place for the weekend,” Sproule shares. A weekly email newsletter to 20,000 recipients also helps. “Once we decide what sales will be, it’s very easy to send that out on Thursday for the weekend,” he says.

Facebook and Instagram yield the best social media results for Salisbury Greenhouses. “Instagram is becoming the most effective for our industry, especially for garden centers wanting to reach out to a Millennial crowd. Facebook is now largely your Baby Boomer base,” Sproule explains. “Facebook is more traditional. Instagram is a little younger, a little edgier, and it has to look gorgeous.”

Sproule recommends having someone on staff ready, with a camera in hand: “Have someone out there … just watching for these moments that you can capture.” He advises greenhouse and garden center businesses to get more aggressive on digital and create more content designed to attract younger consumers. “If we’re still relying on the Baby Boomers, then we’re not investing in the future,” he says. “And the future is in Millennial women.”