A prominently-placed video on Watters Garden Center’s website includes a cinematic, swooping overhead view of the establishment’s plants and products, giving visitors an bird’s-eye tour of the two-acre plot.

Filmed from a drone, the minute-long clip is currently utilized by the Prescott, Ariz., garden center as a high-tech marketing tool. Co-owner Ken Lain says the video acts as an easily accessible “proof statement” for potential patrons.

“We want a customer to say, ‘Wow, that’s something I haven’t seen before,’” says Lain. “When people are looking at you online, you’ve got to impress them before they get in their car and drive across town.”

Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, are not widely used in the green industry, although proponents believe the technology has practical applications in inventory and water use management. As Lain already employs workers to handle those tasks, he partnered with a local drone business for the flyover, promoting the footage on his website and social media feeds.

“When you hear a good idea, you want to jump on it before a competitor does,” Lain says. “It came naturally to us.”

Cleveland-based Bremec Garden Centers has three locations on 30 total acres in Northeast Ohio, offering landscaping materials, garden decor, bulk goods and a variety of site-grown plants. The company hired a commercial drone operating company to take airborne photographs and video of two of its sites. The images were distributed throughout the garden center’s website and featured prominently in print materials.

An aerial shot of its Chesterland location, for example, shows the entire property from a vertical vantage point. Closer to the ground is a short video of Bremec’s extensive rock garden, giving viewers a glimpse of the IGC’s scope, says marketing director Eliza Newton.

“It’s hard to communicate our size with just words,” Newton says. “Video lets us showcase different parts of the business we want to push, like our stone area, which is normally difficult to market. It ignites a customer’s curiosity and gives them a unique window into what we have available.”

Flying drones equipped with cameras are capable of recording impressive footage of your business. Some IGCs have harnessed this technology for marketing uses.

Bremec contracted Gunn Photography Services for the job, impressed by the company’s willingness to spontaneously reschedule shoots to coincide with clear weather.

“We get the best photos when communicating with the drone pilot exactly what we want to capture,” Newton says. “The overhead shots are used for maps of our departments, but we also wanted oblique shots of the site for marketing purposes.”

Lain of Watters Garden Center spent about $250 of his marketing budget on the drone video shoot, including editing. Putting attractively produced footage on his website is far more beneficial to the business than spending money on a television ad, he notes.

“TV ads are expensive to produce and may run for a month,” Lain says. “This [drone video] is intimate and shot on site, and I can use that footage across multiple platforms.”

Douglas is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Garden Center, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Crain’s Cleveland Business and Fresh Water Cleveland.