Pen & Petal, Inc.
Tell us a little bit about the company.
Pen & Petal was founded in 2001 as a full-service marketing communications agency to serve the green industry. We specialize in horticulture for both the B2B and consumer markets and seek to provide cutting-edge marketing with technical how-to. The cornerstone of this business is the combination of creativity and experience, and Pen & Petal will utilize additional outside talent in order to offer our customers a broader range of marketing, advertising, and PR services. Pen & Petal grew out of my experience working with EuroAmerican Propagators and the Proven Winners group. I realized that there was a niche market for an agency that specializes in the horticulture industry because a general PR agency often doesn’t understand the industry or have in-depth insight. I took that realization and made it reality and now work to make sure my experience working with U.S. and European markets is applied to provide the best service possible for Pen & Petal’s clients.
What is Pen & Petal known for?
Our strongest plus is that we know the industry inside and out. Our clients tell us that they like how “we get it” and know how to appeal not only to other industry professionals but to the gardener, as well. Knowing those two segments requires that we market a product differently to the professional grower than a home gardener. We understand what is important to industry professionals and can tailor our clients’ marketing messages accordingly. Add our strong attention to detail and a passion for delivering top-quality work to the fact that we are closely connected to the industry, and you have a marketing business that knows the industry, knows the customer, and knows the market.
What are some of the biggest challenges you see for your business and the industry?
It is an increasingly competitive and rapidly changing market that our industry is challenged to adapt to. That means, for Pen & Petal, that marketing messages have to be adapted more quickly. Also, because of the abundance of marketing messages the average person is exposed to daily, it is crucial that the messages we produce are on-target and attention grabbing. Besides learning to adapt quickly and the need for focused and strong marketing messages, we as an industry need to work together to realize the bigger picture. The bigger picture is not the competition coming from the grower or nursery down the road, but actually from other industries competing with us for the consumers’ discretionary money.
What are future opportunities for the industry?
Right now, we have more and more avenues available to promote our products and to spread excitement about plants, flowers, and gardening. Today’s consumers are looking for the experience and not just the purchase, and they appreciate being part of a likeminded community that enjoys similar activities and products. That community is part of the experience, and through social media, we can interact with our customers on a daily basis. Then, through their friends and connections, we can reach potential new customers. It’s a snowball effect of great opportunities!
There is also a growing consumer trend toward healthier, more natural lifestyles, as well as a growing interest in a broader selection of unique vegetables and plants. Knowing what the consumer is starting to be interested in is a huge opportunity for the industry.
How does being a member of OFA benefit their business?
OFA is a great forum to stay connected to the industry and with industry peers. I greatly enjoy serving on some of the OFA committees, where I have the opportunity to interact with some of the industry’s great thought-leaders. The OFA Short Course is our industry’s most important trade show and event, and I haven’t missed one since 1995. This involvement and dedication to the industry is pivotal for my business and many of our clients. OFA also keeps me informed of what’s happening in the industry. I believe in “strength in numbers” and that we all need to work together to strengthen our industry as a whole. OFA works diligently toward that, which benefits every business in the horticulture industry, especially the OFA members, who are on the cusp of all new opportunities and solutions.