Banner video examples can be found at www.countylinenursery.net and www.jniplants.com.

Making a good first impression on customers, even before they visit your independent garden center, is crucial to growing your business.

One way retailers are doing this is by adding banner videos to their websites’ homepages to give customers an idea of not only what they’ll find in the stores, but also a behind-the-scenes look at the companies. Rob Lucas, website developer for Johnson’s Nursery, says having a website video is important because it “[allows] the customer to see below the surface.”

The Menomonee Falls, Wis., business features a silent loop of clips that show the various stages of its tree production, highlighting the shade and flowering ornamental trees it grows wholesale throughout the seasons.

“Most people don’t see beyond the surface of the plants that we have for sale,” Lucas says. “Our nursery is a lot more diverse than just a yard full of sellable material … I think showing some of the [growing] operations or the care that we put into plants is important.”

Denni Jones, co-owner of County Line Nursery in Franconia, Pa., says the opening homepage video is important to give an introduction to the company.

“We have to let people know what kind of place we are,” Jones says. “You just have to present who you are and add your own little aspect [of] personality to it.”

County Line’s video is more choreographed, featuring quirky scenes with “customers” pushing carts in a circle, in a synchronized shopping fashion, placing annuals in their trunks on cue. The video also provides an overview of the store, including its succulent and garden décor displays, to give viewers an idea of what they can expect when visiting.

“If you look up a restaurant, for instance, and they have no pictures of the food and no picture of what the setting looks like, you have no idea whether you’re going to a nice place [or] a not nice place,” Jones says. “This video will [show what to expect] quickly and easily.”

The investment doesn’t have to be big to make a good banner video. For Johnson’s Nursery, making the video was an internal process. Lucas, who is well-versed in technology as Johnson’s web developer, says it took him about half a day to learn how to use a drone, and that he was the only person involved in the project.

“The largest investment was the technology behind it, which was mostly drone footage,” Lucas says. “Getting ahold of the technology, that’s actually fairly simple.”

Lucas says the video has been on Johnson’s website since mid-April. Website traffic has increased about 6 percent compared to last year, and the company receives more leads and calls regarding the website. However, there are a lot of factors in determining how web traffic and a business grows, and he says he can’t pin it all on having a banner video.

County Line Nursery hired videographer Ben Hallman, founder of Hallman Productions, to produce their video, but Jones stressed that a polished video isn’t necessary.

“It’s better to post something than to do nothing at all,” she says.

According to Thumbtack.com, a website with small business listings, freelance and small-business videographers’ prices based on video length in packages range from $400 to $800. Some charge hourly prices at about $50 with different base production rates. But prices vary based on location.

Jones recommends that IGCs have fun with the videos and to focus on what a prospective customer would want to know about your business.

“Make it so that it is geared to what a customer wants to see, as opposed to what you want to show,” Jones says.

Johnson’s Nursery says it’s just as important to keep an updated and user-friendly website as it is to experiment with new features like the banner video.

“We live in a digital age and people like to see more than just words on a screen,” Lucas says.

Samantha is an editorial intern for GIE Media’s Horticulture Group.