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Custom Printed Plants and Seeds

Best Buds
By Mindy W. Toran

There's nothing like a living product to get end-users' attention. Plant the seeds of lasting promotions by taking a cue from nature.

The concept of developing a new product, nurturing its growth and promoting its success is a powerful motivator in the world of business. The same can be said for the use of living things - plants, seeds, flowers, trees - as promotional products. What better way to grow your business than with natural products that promote a healthy environment and blossom and grow over time?

"Plants convey sincerity, warmth, and life," says Mark Herman, general manager at Plants with a Message. "When you give the gift of a plant, you engage the recipient in activity. He or she opens the gift box, reads the personalized greeting card and plant care guide, places the plant in a visually stimulating area and stays active with the promotional product white watering it and watching it grow. Throughout the process, your company or organization's logo stays in the daily view of the recipient, who recognizes the sincerity of the gift - one that lasts."

Endless Metaphors
Themes of growth, branching out, support for the environment, health and beauty are common messages conveyed by the use of living promotional products. In addition, low-cost, high-visibility and longevity are major selling points for the use of plants, seeds, flowers, trees and the like as promotional products.

"These products make for great end-of-year gifts, with themes of "Let's grow together this coming year" for employee recognition, thanking staff for helping the company grow, as a thank-you to home buyers from mortgage companies and realtors, etc.," says Herman.

"Flower power is a great door opener for all sorts of companies," says Herbert Piller, president of Gro-Line. "More and more companies use horticultural products because of their low cost and positive attributes for the environment. For example, a red maple tree that you grow from a seedling can last for 200 years and converts 2,000 pounds of pollutants into 2,000 pounds of pure oxygen each year."

Carl Olson, president of California Koolaroo Inc notes that, "The serenity and beauty of plants can enhance the décor and pleasant feeling of the home or office. Plants - in particular bamboo - offer Feng Shui or good luck, stress relief, and mind-pleasing atmospheres. They remove carbon monoxide and other pollutants from the air and produce oxygen for our health and well-being, and have broad appeal to recipients of any age and sex."

Top Seed
One of the most popular and least expensive "live" promotional items is seeds or seeded paper products. "Seeds provide a great way to say 'lets grow together'" says Don Martin, president of Bloomin Promotions. "Embedding seeds in paper has been done for years, but in the last five or six years has really caught on in the promotional industry.

"Planting paper in the ground and having it grow into something beautiful is a unique concept that appeals to many people," Martin continues. "Company colors or logos and custom shapes can be integrated into die-cut seeded paper to match a particular promotion. It's a product that helps nurture the relationship with the recipient, with the residual benefit of flowers that come up each year, constantly reminding them of your company."

"In addition," says Nancy Denk, sales and marketing coordinator at American Greenwood, "seeded paper makes for great direct-mail pieces and hand-outs. Banks, credit unions, Realtors, non-profit organizations, churches, community programs and the like all gravitate towards these items. Over the past few years, we have done thousands of "Plant A Shape" bookmarks with a pink awareness ribbon for the annual Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation Race for the Cure. The organization used the slogan 'Plant a Seed for the Cure', which has been a big hit," she says.

"The combination of low cost and high perceived value makes seeds one of the most cost effective advertising pieces you can offer," agrees Lance Bentley, president of Bentley's Seeds. "Seeds are an environmentally friendly item. They don't get thrown away or tucked in a drawer, as most people intend to plant them. That means the customer's message stays with the client longer. Their light weight and small size makes them perfect for direct-mail campaigns, handouts at trade shows, special events and grand openings, leave-behind calling cards and customer thank-you gifts."

"We recently produced vintage seed packets for use in the movie "Secondhand Lions", starring actors Robert Duvall, Michael Caine, and Haley Joel Osment. We then replicated the movie poster on a seed packet for inclusion in New Line Cinema's promotional kit that was sent to distributors and theaters. We've also done several promotional seed packets for the food industry that were related to children's gardening themes, and to promote healthy foods and the environment."

Green Thumbs
Gardening is America's number one hobby, notes Bentley. According to the National Gardening Associations' 2003 study of consumer gardening practices, trends, and product sales, eight out of ten households - or 84 million households - participated in one or more types of do-it-yourself indoor and outdoor lawn and garden activities last year - one of the highest levels of participation in the past five years. According to the study, 58 million households purchased indoor houseplants and supplies, 55 million purchased seeds and bulbs, 50 million purchased floral products, 44 million purchased garden tools, and 30 million purchased plant containers.

"There is real impact in flower power," says Jan VanDenKieboom, president of Live Promotions Inc. "Color and texture in nature create a psychological mode in which a message can be 'planted' in the mind of the recipient - what we call 'horticultural therapeutic communication.' We offer a creative new idea, coupling a message on a container base with a specialized design and quality product that can be safely shipped bulk or individually via our triangular gift box. The containers are colorful, with customized imprints complemented by a live or silk floral insert. The packaging is very simple and the message stays in front of the recipient for the life of the floral insert."

One of their most popular products is the Fridge Friend container with two stalks of Lucky Bamboo, which is a big hit among business, like casinos, that want to wish good luck.

Live Promotions was also involved with a 15-year survivor program for breast cancer research, using a red silk rose tied with pink ribbon in the symbolic manner. The items were given out to patients in a cancer center, promoting the opening of a new center.

Ken Bebermeyer, president of The Chest Inc., notes that the interactivity and uniqueness of these products are key reason for their success in the promotional market. "Clients need something that will make them stand out in the mundane avalanche of promotional products in order to get real value and results for their marketing dollars," he says.

For instance, an investment firm used the Supplier's Garden Can filled with marigold seeds, playing on the search for the elusive pot of gold. "These promotions seem to tie in well with taglines like 'Come watch your money grow,' 'Planting the seeds of tomorrow's success,' and other growth and opportunity-oriented messages," he adds.

Herman notes that the health-care industry often uses these items because of their "oxygen producing effect" and the sincerity conveyed by a plant gift; the banking and financial industries often focus on the theme of growth; hotels stress the retentive value of plants, encouraging patrons to return; meeting planners use these items as an invitation to attend an event, such as a palm tree for a Florida location, a cactus for the Southwest, or aloe vera for a health care summit; and the list goes on.

The truth is, most any industry can use live promotions successfully. No matter what type of plant-related product you choose, it's sure to help you cultivate business and make your bottom line blossom for years to come.

COPYRIGHT © 2004 ASI, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
Mindy W. Toran

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