HTA marketing conference hears gardening Bake Off TV ideas

The HTA Marketing Forum, which took place on 8 November at Whittlebury Hall, Northamptonshire, saw 100 delegates hear from across the industry about how to create unique and relevant content.

Matt Young, executive producer at Spun Gold TV, which produces ITV's Love Your Garden, discussed how the presence of gardening on TV could be developed. Looking at cookery programmes such as Bake Off and Masterchef, it’s the competition format of programmes about food that attracts non-foodies to tune in, he said. Also the human, storytelling element entices people to watch.

Presenter on ITV’s Love Your Garden, Katie Rushworthsaid the industry should not dumb down in order to attract a younger audience. "Being smart is cooler than ever for those millenials between the ages of 26 and 36, particularly if its anything sciency. So offer educational content with their interests, not their wallet in mind. Get weird – our age group loves weird."

QVC is one of the most trusted brands in the UK, ahead of Amazon, Virgin Atlantic and Waitrose, said gardening presenter Richard Jackson, who highlighted the opportunities for the garden industry in that it can really build brands. He said "Don’t be worried when you see garden products on QVC. Appearances on TV will drive customers to stores too."

Cleeve Nursery’s Alan Down demonstrated the less conventional ways they have engaged with their community and younger audiences, including planted up pick-up trucks in Bristol city centre and giant planted watering can at Bristol Airport. He said "The less conventional approach reaches a younger audience and is very good for staff morale. Engaging with your community largely involves time rather than money. Providing expertise, rather than products."

Create your own community – utilise your customer data and provide a calendar of niche and targeted events says Sally Cornelissen from Burleydam Garden Centre. Showcase the talents of your staff and establish yourselves as experts. Link up with a charity and become visible in your local press. Creating loyalty and engagement through events can help you build your customer base.

Content is king and traditional advertising can no longer match it according to Antje Derks, senior content manager at Haymarket Business Media, who gave an overview of the different approaches they have used to generate content for different brands and clients to create unique leads. A creative blend of live events, webinars, blogs, video can help you stand out in a crowded space.

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