Attending the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo: Reason 2 – Marketing and business management

Get the answers your greenhouse business needs for the latest in marketing and business management strategies by attending the 2014 Greenhouse Expo.

In a previous article, greenhouse growers were encouraged to attend the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo that takes place Dec. 9-11, 2014 at the Devos Place Conference Center in Grand Rapids, Michigan to learn about pest management strategies. But, there are many other reasons to attend the Greenhouse Expo. For instance, have you ever spent money on advertising only to wonder whether it brought you any sales or customers? Are you considering growing greenhouse vegetables, but don’t know how to develop a marketing plan for them? Do any of your retail areas need an image boost? Have you had labor issues or are you struggling with how to meet the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements? Then this year’s Greenhouse Expo has the answers for you.

On Wednesday morning, Dec. 10, at 10 a.m., Michigan State University’s horticulture business management and marketing professor Bridget Behe will give a talk on “Advertising - What is the Cost and What is the Return on Investment?”’ She will cover counting the cost of advertising and developing creative ways to discern a return on investment.

If you’ve noticed the increasing trend in fresh local produce and have considered using your greenhouse space for production of produce, Behe will talk on Wednesday afternoon about the many aspects of marketing greenhouse vegetables that you should consider before planting your first seed. Her talk, “What Should I Consider before Marketing Greenhouse Vegetables?” will cover who is eating what vegetables, hitting the pavement market research, development of a customer product matrix, and pricing.

Is your container garden department making as much money as it could? Judy Sharpton from Growing Places Marketing in Savannah, Georgia will present “Mixed Containers - The Most Important Department in Your Retail Greenhouse for 2015 and Beyond” Tuesday afternoon. She will talk about how mixed containers should be a major revenue source in most retail greenhouses and show you how to redefine your container department. Sharpton will also talk about the trends and services other successful container garden departments are using.

Perhaps you are considering revamping your retail greenhouse space. If so, then come listen to Sharpton talk again on Wednesday afternoon about “The Best Retail Garden Center in America and How to Use the Design Concepts at Your Retail Location.” She will show you how Berns Garden Center redesigned its space and how you can transfer those design concepts to your retail greenhouse.

Have your consumers been asking whether your plants are safe for bees? If you plan to produce plants in a bee-safe manner, then sit in on the talk “Consumer Perceptions on Pest Control” by Heidi Wollaeger, Michigan State University Extension‘s floriculture educator for southwest Michigan, to learn how to best market that product. She will present the results of her research from a nationwide survey to understand consumer’s perceptions about insecticide use, biological control strategies, and common greenhouse pest control practices. She will show consumer’s willingness to pay a premium for indoor, outdoor and hanging baskets labeled with a variety of word alternatives describing the pest management practices used during production.

There are also a few general sessions at this year’s Greenhouse Expo that cover general farm labor and management issues. Come to a Wednesday morning session presented by MSU Extension on “What Do Your Employees Say About You as a Manager? And How Might That Affect Their Work Performance?” At that same session, two farmers will also present “Our Experience Using Seasonal Guest Worker Programs.” If your business has ever considered Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program (MAEAP) verification, consider attending a Wednesday afternoon program that will show how this voluntary program can benefit your business. On Thursday, a three-hour workshop about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will be offered in the morning that will cover how the ACA affects farms and the self-employed. These and all other general Expo sessions are complimentary when you register for the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo.

If marketing and business management does not interest you, then consider attending the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo this December for other reasons, including learning about the latest pest management or learning about production and plant selection strategies. Or consider attending because of the large trade show (over 400 exhibitors covering 4 acres) and a bus tour of southwest Michigan greenhouses. For more information, including cost, lodging and how to register, visit the Michigan Greenhouse Growers Expo website. Early registration ends on Nov. 20.

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