I’m just finishing the book about marketing titled Different, by Youngme Moon. Different: Escaping the Competitive Herd Since one of my life’s goals is to promote gardening and horticulture, learning how to better sell the excitement about growing plants is always something I’m interested in. Dr. Moon is a professor at Harvard, and her book is about the value of stepping out of the marketing mainstream. One way that some products do this is to promote themselves as a “hostile brand.”

Gardening is such a feel-good activity, that it’s hard to imagine promoting it in any other way. People like to be a part of something good, so let’s invite them to the garden party with talk of flowers, fragrance, and great tasting food, right? When they worry that gardening is too much work, let’s reassure them about how easy it can really be.

That’s how we’ve promoted horticulture in recent days, and frankly, it hasn’t been working all that well. And I don’t know about you, but it hasn’t escaped my notice that it’s the male “marketing experts” who keep talking about making gardening easier for the female consumers. When I hear comments such as “She doesn’t want to get her high-heels dirty at the garden center,” or “She wants to be able to decorate her patio with a pretty plant, but she doesn’t want it to be work,” I’m transported back to the “Don’t worry your pretty little head about it…” days.

Women are the main consumers of plants, but marketing gardening as easy hasn’t fooled them in the slightest. They soon figure out that all the talk about “low-maintenance” is a lie. I think it’s time to stop dumbing gardening down. Maybe we should become more aggressive and shake things up.

Perhaps it’s time to challenge both genders with the truth: Gardening is sweaty, dirty and there are no guarantees. It take thought and effort, and it’s totally worth it.

Do you have what it takes to be a gardener?

Do you have what it takes to be a gardener?

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