Take a Penny, Leave a Penny

Everyone has experience at your local convenience store, or gas station – a small bowl or tray with a small sign that says, “Take a penny, leave a penny.” Sometimes you might be short a penny, and sometimes you might think of the next person you might help.

Many of the best ideas we’ve produced over the years have been the result of customers asking us, “Can you…?” That was the genesis of ideas like bonus bucks, full color postcard mailers (albeit, a while back) and most recently our specialty mailer. Honestly, we call it the specialty mailer because we haven’t come up with a better name.

Here is the origin story. The Garden Center Group has their Fall Event meeting in locations all over the country. One such event took place in Utah. One of the features of the event is usually a tour of local garden centers or businesses. It was on one of these tour stops that J. D. Boone from Dothan Nurseries picked up a mailer. It caught his attention.  It featured colorful graphics and folded in on all four sides to create a self-mailer. J. D. grabbed a sample (as did many others in the group) and later sent me an email with a photo. “Can you guys do something like this?”

He sent me a sample and we got to work. We created a custom die cut to recreate the shape and folds necessary to make it. We followed J. D.’s direction and produced 1000 for him to use to mail notes to special customers.

Later, a few other garden centers approached us. But honestly, the idea never took off… except for one garden center in Pennsylvania.  He saw the mailer in our catalog and contacted us. That was Kevin Meakim from The Flower Station. His first order was in 2021. He did two mailers. In 2022 he ordered three mailers, including an innovative idea to change the design. Ultimately, we created 5 unique designs for him – Spring, Fall, Holiday, a Butterfly theme and most recently one featuring pies.

The other twist is that they were using them as mailers to their customer list. So, his orders were large, averaging around 8500 pieces. Recently I asked Kevin to share his rate of return, and eventually his return on investment (ROI). I must admit I was surprised. In 2021 his rate of return was 11% – a staggering response rate for any mailer! In 2022 it was 15% and his last mailer got a 17.5% response rate. When we calculated his ROI it was a staggering 773% or close to an 8 times return on investment (after discounts, printing and postage). That mailer generated over $92,000 in sales.

It was very heartening to hear his success story, but it illustrated a larger point. It was the willingness of that Utah garden center to share their idea with Dothan Nurseries – and it was that simple question from J. D. – “Can you do this for us?” –  that ultimately led to the production that ultimately found its way to The Flower Station.

Did everyone have the same success with that mailer? No. But Kevin’s thinking outside the box and his careful eye on measuring the results of the mailer led him to a commitment to continue to make the investment in marketing, year after year, that really paid off.

I like to share these stories to encourage you to think outside the box. It also speaks to the larger community of Independent Garden Centers that generously share their success stories in hopes of supporting each other.

So, in the spirit of ‘Take a penny, leave a penny,’ I invite you to collaborate, share, and grow together. Need a fresh idea, or perhaps an idea that has worked for other garden centers over the years, then a I encourage you to contact us. Have a success story you’d like to share? I’d like to hear about that and share it within our community. My thanks go out to all the garden centers that have shared their stories about disparate items like bonus bucks, or mailers. Click here to let us know what you’re thinking about.

If you are interested in adding this specialty mailer to your marketing mix,  Check out our newly renamed PetalPost product. >