Where Beacons Will Take Garden Center Marketing

hand elizabeth park mapRecently we partnered with the city of Hartford, Connecticut to launch a neighborhood revitalization project, Hello Parkville, that included the creation of an app and the deployment of 100 beacons in retail, restaurant, and community centers. Included in the plan are placements of beacons in the ‘wild’. The ‘in the wild’ deployments are out of doors in public areas. These beacons can be used to trigger actions on the app that range from directional messages to detailed descriptions, videos and interactive experiences.

One of these ‘interactive’ experiences will be a self-guided tour of Elizabeth Park in Hartford, CT, one of the oldest public rose gardens in the US. 12-15 beacons will be deployed throughout the 102 acres park in the perennial, rose, annuals and herb gardens. It will also be used selectively on the over 100 unique varieties of shrubs, trees and conifers. The city app, Hello Parkville, will ‘unlock’ this experience for subscribers to the Hartford app. These beacons will be placed as landmarks on a walking tour of the gardens. These beacons will load videos, audio files or website links giving more detailed information on the plants and gardens.


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The great thing about beacons is that they can be used by any app configured to the settings of of a specific beacon. Beacons use Bluetooth Low Energy technology to communicate with smart phones in close proximity, allowing for location-based features. In our case they would download and install the free Hello Parkville app for local transmitters to connect, and they must have Bluetooth and the appropriate notifications enabled. With our epunched program we have created a mobile app platform where the city and garden center app is Android and Apple compatible with Apple’s iBeacon technology. These beacons can be set for proximity ranges from as sensitive as 2-3 inches to 180 to 200 feet away. They feature unique identifiers and encrypted settings.

The city of Hartford is considering an investment where Sunrise Marketing would create a dedicated Elizabeth Park app with the potential deployment of hundreds of beacons. The park could then use the app to act as a fundraiser.  They could make the full featured Elizabeth Park app available for a nominal amount, say $1.99. This creates a sustainable project and also helps fund park projects.

In our epunched system we can load the same settings that will ‘unlock’ the Elizabeth Park experience on multiple apps, including the local garden center. Of course part of the challenge of making any app useful is it’s versatility, experience and ‘rewards’. While the overwhelming majority of users initially download an app for the rewards program, the ability to offer these interactive experiences at the garden center AND public gardens is extraordinary. Garden centers can also opt for the placement of their ‘beacon’, accessible through both apps (park and retailer), in the park that could load an instant incentive for the user to visit their garden center.


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They could in effect sponsor the garden tour as well as expand the range of their marketing to place their message in exact proximity to the consumer experience (interested people in front of plants). Garden Centers could also use this technology to place informative beacons in municipal plantings. Many garden centers supply and maintain large planters, window boxes and garden plots in local businesses and common area plantings. Now they can identify their business while educating consumers on the plants in the planters.

Of course this presents a unique opportunity for brands to compliment or sponsor the whole process. In the case of the planters our Connecticut garden center create they will utilize Proven Winners® plants in Coast of Maine soil. This expands the number of beacons that can be deployed spreading the garden center marketing message to more locations OUTSIDE of the garden center. With the cost of beacons dropping the expense to brands and garden centers will be minimal.

coast-of-maine-handCurrently Proven Winners® is sponsoring the deployment of beacons in up to 30 garden centers on the epunched customer loyalty app platform. These will be used to launch informative videos in interactive displays. Other vendors sponsoring the program include Espoma (testing in two New Jersey garden centers), Coast of Maine soil products (six New England locations), and the American Beauty Native Plants program in the retailers located in the mid-atlantic region. Another benefit with beacons is the results can be measured. Engagements can be quantified as each interaction between an app and a beacon creates a datapoint.

What you end up with is a convergence with city, town or local business association sponsored beacons effectively ‘triggering’ actions on all apps linked within the epunched system – including local garden centers and sponsors. Of course the obvious benefit of educating the public on gardening is one thing, but the ability to target market that expanding user base is another. The ‘big data’ aspect of this for garden centers, towns and brands is enormous. While the garden center might not have the resources to crunch the data, brands and cities do. At the very least all groups can grow their user base and follow up with users through push notification and email marketing (apps collect email addresses).

The app management console allows for the deployment and management of dozens of beacons – 100 alone in our project with the city of Hartford, CT. It is simple to use and can be managed from any device from any browser. Initially these retailers will allow their partner firms access to their browser based app portal, but ultimately we will create universal management tools.

Our plans might include a shared portal where a brand like Proven Winners®, Coast of Maine, Espoma and others can manage and support hundreds of beacons in hundreds of retail locations. The great thing is these brands understand our commitment to the independent garden centers, allowing us to provide technology advantages for independents over large box stores.

At Sunrise Marketing we pride ourselves in being able to give small businesses the same access to the latest ground breaking technology as fortune 500 companies and retail chains with thousands of locations across the country. By leveling the technological playing field small businesses can compete with talent and what they do best. Customer experience shouldn’t be about who has the most money to provide access to the best technology has to offer but what’s the best way to utilize that technology to make the customer more informed and empowered.