PHOTO BY AMBER SMITH

Finding ways to connect is tough right now. Traveling is tricky and long-distance trips are nearly impossible for most. Holidays, graduations, birthdays and anniversaries are being celebrated in new and different ways from socially distant outdoor get-togethers to drive-by parades to video parties.

I’m amazed at the innovation people have shown to stay in touch. I’ve done a few virtual game nights and birthday parties, and even a wedding over the past few months. From cards and cake deliveries to presents dropped on porches, people are finding unique ways to show their loved ones they care. I’ve been turning to flower bouquets and live plants to show a little extra attention to those I can’t see in person. I was lucky enough to get two bouquets of flowers on my birthday and I’ve been returning the favor by buying and sending flowers to loved ones, sometimes for a specific reason and sometimes not.

For customers who can’t physically visit, or don’t feel comfortable shopping in person, how are you staying in touch? And even for those who are coming in to shop, how are you staying connected with them without the usual classes, parties and events? How are you showing them that you’re still thinking of them and excited to see them when those in-person activites start up again?

The options for maintaing relationships with your customers are just as innovative as the ways we’ve all found to stay connected. Virtual happy hours, online classes for kit assembly, victory garden plans and plant ID forums are supplementing the traditional avenues of communication.

However you choose to do it, it’s important to be mindful of the message. When the pandemic first hit, my inbox was flooded with generic messages that all said the same thing: We’re being careful and we’ll be here to serve you. I’m sure yours was too. It was as if everyone had the same cookie-cutter message and simply signed their name at the bottom. I stopped reading them after the first few. IGCs are certainly doing much better than that.

You know your customers better than anyone, so you know what they want to hear and what they want to know. As they continue to look for ways to stay connected to you, and each other, I can’t wait to see what else IGCs come up with.

Kate Spirgen
kspirgen@gie.net