What Sweet Nathalie Dahlias Can Teach You About Driving Customer Demand
Does anyone else remember that Sweet Nathalie was probably 2017’s most wanted dahlia? Like, everyone was talking about it. There was even the genius wholesaler who started advertising it as “Mini Cafe au Lait”.
And did you buy Sweet Nathalie? Or at least wanted to? Yeah, me too.
Yesterday, we talked about the example of Target’s tactic to get you to buy cute stuff you hadn’t planned on buying, as well as the emotional component to decision.
Sweet Nathalie dahlia tubers are the perfect example that might hit a bit closer to home and make more sense.
In a very relevant example, dahlia tubers are dependent on marketing.
In a regular world without flower farmers, most of the dahlia tubers would be for those that do well in exhibition. That’s how it was for a long time - sales would mostly be for home gardeners and dahlia enthusiasts. For example, all of our New Mexico dahlia society members (all over fifty - we are the youngest by a couple of decades) are bound and determined to win blue ribbons, and therefore choose dahlias based on ability to win competitions, not necessarily productivity or color or vase life like we do.
I mean, in and of themselves dahlia tubers really aren’t worth what we pay for them as far as the actual tuber goes. They’re not necessarily that rare, they may only bloom a couple weeks out of the year, and they multiply so quickly - so why do we go crazy over them when it comes time to order?
I mean, before Sweet Nathalie it was Appleblossom. The year before that it was Peaches N Cream, and before that it was Cafe au Lait. Do you remember when Cafe au Lait was selling for $12 a tuber? I saw people desperately posting for tuber sources, offering to trade, and scrambling for any source that might still have some left. It’s crazy.
And yet, the dahlia craze will happen every single year. Maybe not for some of us that have reached the limits of our dahlia addiction (slowly and tentatively raises hand) but most of us will keep buying dahlia tubers after having fallen in love with them.
We get crazy about dahlias due to a manufactured need for them. We don’t necessarily need another blush dahlia - we can get along just fine, it won’t ruin our business completely if we’re missing one type of dahlia - but in our minds we have convinced ourselves that a row of Sweet Nathalie will pay the bills, help us book weddings and design opportunities, sell more flowers, make us popular with the cool crowd, help us lose ten pounds and win us an Oscar.
And how does that manufactured need come to being? Simple, by other people talking about them and how amazing they are and how they are the ONLY dahlia you’ll ever have to grow (exception- after growing Cafe au Lait, I still feel that way four years later). You see their Instagram post and get intrigued about this new or uncommon type of dahlia. You see another influencer talking about it on Instagram, and you think to yourself “Aha! This is a thing.” Two or three more people hype up about a certain variety of dahlia, and then somebody posts about it in a Facebook group and suddenly everyone is clamoring for them
So let’s flip this around.
Instead of being the customer, you’re the seller.
How would you get people to be super interested in your dahlia tubers? Specifically ones that don’t sell well currently to exhibitions and home gardeners. Maybe you might have certain people influential in the flower farming community to start featuring them in their Instagram and Facebook accounts?
This isn’t anything new. Product placement is everywhere - from an Instagram account to a Netflix television show to movies. It’s a very simple advertising technique, but in such a small community such as the flower farming community it can be shockingly effective in a short period of time.
In the same way, you’ll want your flowers to have the same effect on people. Certain people that you know are amenable to the idea of flowers, but haven’t necessarily realized that they NEED your flowers yet.
By slipping a post of your flowers into their social media feed, or better yet to one of their close friends in the social media circle, you’re planting the seed for that manufactured need.
(Note, some people might argue that by definition, a manufactured need or want for flowers is manipulating people. Which would technically be true. But we all manipulate people and we all lie, every day. Manipulation isn’t always bad, and so long as you are giving the customer a good and truthful product - which you are - the manipulation is technically in their best interests. We’ll talk more on the morality of marketing later on.)
And if you can get another post to that person through yet another friend or acquaintance on social media, they start to think “Maybe local flowers are a thing?”
And then another time after that with another friend, or maybe a local business, they’ll think to themselves “Hey, this are beautiful - I should check these out.”
By the time they actually meet you at a grower’s market or it comes time for the wedding or you have a flash sale on your Instagram stories, you’ve already sold them on your flowers.