3 things your Marketing Strategy can learn from your Garden.

I’m sure that if you are anything like me you have spent the last few weeks waiting in eager excitement for the spring bulbs you planted last year to send their first shoots skyward.

And if you have no idea what I am talking about then I encourage you to pop out this weekend and grab a few bags of summer bulbs and get digging, it’s not too late.

Regardless of whether you are a green thumb or whether every plant you get within two feet of mysteriously withers away, there is much to learn from your garden.

Both your marketing and your garden are delicate ecosystems, where everything has its place and if you don’t look after it you end up with a muddy quagmire covered in weeds and other unpleasant metaphors for waste and failure.

So here are three things you should know when it comes to making your marketing bloom this spring.

1)  You ‘could’ try and prune that 200-year-old oak tree yourself, but maybe you should get in some specialists.

If you are lucky enough to have a 200-year-old oak tree on your property, congrats, if you are thinking of pruning it yourself, please stop.

Now I’m not saying that you couldn’t do it yourself, in fact most people who are reasonably physically able can prune a tree, you just need to plan ahead a bit, sink enough money into the endeavour and I’m sure you can show that PPC Campaign, I mean ‘tree’ who is boss.

The question isn’t can you, but should you?

Are you the best person to tackle the task? Is there someone else in your team, I mean ‘family’ who may be better suited and has experience in this area?

There is nothing wrong with delegating, and there is even less wrong with delegating to a specialist because you want the best job done possible. Few businesses expect their marketing directors and managers to be experts in every area that comes under their remit. Choosing to outsource specialist tasks is nothing to feel apprehensive about and neither is wanting someone to come in and prune those hard to reach boughs.

The risk comes when you become over-dependant on others or choose to outsource simpler tasks just because you don’t want to do them. This is something I myself have done in the past, for over a year I constantly needed my marketing assistant to show me how to work the wretched phone system, I was obviously capable of learning how, but chose not to.

Now what would have happened if that member of my team had suddenly got injured in a freak oak tree trimming accident, I would have been dropping calls left, right and centre because what kind of self-respecting department head would want to admit that a year in, he can’t work the telephone?

So, treat your department and strategy like your garden, if you can do it yourself then give it the best of British. But you should always know your limitations and when to ask for help. Pull those weeds and plant those bulbs, but maybe ask for help when putting in the new pool.

2) Organic is great, but it takes time.

Let me make myself extra unpopular and say I have never bought organic produce. For the simple reason that it is expensive and in my humble view as an amateur horticulturalist, not sustainable given the sheer number of hungry people on the planet.

The fact of the matter is that although organic may be worth more to many people, it cannot be rushed. Where as non-organic is often seen as less valuable but usually has the benefit of quicker growth.

Do you see what I did with that skilfully crafted metaphor there?

Now it is perfectly understandable that a business may want to focus on organic growth, it can have higher returns and requires less cash upfront for boosting growth. However, whether you are a farmer, a gardener or a digital marketeer, if you only go with organic you are going to see lower short-term yields, more man-hours being required for maintenance and fewer customers, in short you will likely have less green on your plate. (I’m not great at metaphors so let’s say green is either money or those nice little green arrows you get in your analytics reports, or vegetables of course.)

So how do you balance organic and non-organic growth?

Well unfortunately there is no answer generic enough to support everyone’s needs. My approach for a new endeavour tends to be a 1-2 policy. If we include man-hours into the costings here, for every pound spent on organic, spend two on paid.  This may seem like a lot to spend on paid, but here is why it seems to balance out. (In my humble opinion.)

  • Your paid spend should diminish as a percentage over time as your organic grows, so this should be a temporary measure.
  • The paid spend includes all hours related to the management of that spend including development of landing pages etc, as well as monthly management.
  • Organic is time consuming, but if you don’t rush it, it actually doesn’t need as much work as you might think to get started.

So in conclusion if you want the best chance of success, then mix up your growth strategies and find a balance that works for your specific organisation and remember that some consumers respond better to organic and others to paid, wait until you have the data before you make any big decisions as to which to pursue.

3) A few spotlights can do wonders for visibility, but they can be too focused

Now let’s say you have decided not to chop down that 200-year-old oak tree and replace it with a pool. In fact, let us go so far as to say you like this magnificent tree and would it to be the focal point of your garden.

So, you go to your local electrician, (because you have learnt from that same piece of advice that it is best to get in a specialist for certain tasks, haven’t you?) and you ask them to put a great big old spotlight focusing on the tree.

Now your tree is being shown off with the interesting bark being highlighted and the leaves in the canopy dancing in the warm glow, and you feel very happy with your shiny tree.

But then you notice other people admiring it and this causes them to take an extra interest in you. They tell their friends about your tree and everyone is very impressed. So how can you maximise the impact of this revelation.

You could plant another tree, but that would take a long time.

You could buy more lights to highlight smaller but also interesting aspects of your garden.


You could buy four additional spotlights and make sure that more people see the tree, and I mean really see that tree, just spamming light about everywhere.

In the end it can be very easy to create a monument to your success, and then give up trying to out do that initial victory, or worse, neglect all your smaller successes.

Every garden needs its centrepiece, but it will capture more interest for longer if there are other things to look at as well.

So, if you create a piece of content that works well, or you run a campaign that sees great returns, don’t forget about all of your other endeavours, just try to learn what made the success and apply it elsewhere.