It's approaching mid-March and STILL winter here in Michigan (yes, I'm getting a little stir crazy from all the cold weather). In fact, I shoveled another 5 inches of snow from my driveway just last week. But that doesn't prevent me from thinking about spring and all the things that come with it - flowers, green grass, warm weather, gardening. I've actually started browsing mail order catalogs trying to figure out what plants to add to my garden this year. So the Scotts Company had perfect timing when they sent me an e-mail announcing their new "Miracle Grow" website.
For those of you who aren't familiar with the Scotts Company's brand portfolio, it consists of Scotts, Ortho, Round-up, Miracle-Gro, and most recently, Smith & Hawken. (In October 2004, the Scotts Company acquired Smith & Hawken for $68.5 million and announced plans to sell Smith & Hawken items at major retailers like Home Depot. Many of you may be Target shoppers and have noticed the dedicated Smith & Hawken aisle...with higher priced gardening/home decor items.)
On Scotts' new site, the login screen reads: "It's all about you. Jump in and customize your experience.
- Save your supply lists: Keep track of everything you need from the store.
- Create personal blogs: Share stories of your lawn and garden prowess.
- Participate in forums: Post questions and get answers quickly.
- Offer ratings and write reviews: Give your opinion on products and projects.
- Get customized recommendations: Get info based on your specific interests.
- Make a personal page: Keep everything in one convenient place.
- Grab what you need: Download personalized info to your desktop."
Sounds like they thought of just about everything a web-savvy gardener would want! Exploring the website I discovered several useful areas. For example, you can customize your own lawn care program. Through inputting some information, the website will give you recommendations on fertilizers, watering, etc. for different zones and grass types. I think a lot of this information was available on the old website, but not as easy to find and with less detail. There's also a link called "My Supply List " where you can add the Scotts products you want to purchase to a list you can print out and take to the store with you. In looking into the other areas of the site, there were spaces to:
- Grow- An area where you can find information about lawns, various types of gardening (flower, vegetable & herb, indoor and container), birds and wildlife, trees, hedges, hardscapes and organics.
- Learn - An area with links to projects including a "learning library," annual lawn care program, and lawn & garden calendars. This area helps take the guesswork out of yard work, providing you with things like seasonal feeding, watering and maintenance plans (you click on your region of the country to get the perfect plan for you) and help in identifying your grass type.
- Solve - A section on the site for you to find solutions to problems. For example, it can help you identify what may be causing those round patches of brown grass in your lawn.
- Connect - The key interactive part of the website where you can join the Scotts Lawn community, post and browse photos in lawn, garden, and pet photo galleries, start your own gardening blog (or read someone else's), post comments or ask questions in online forums, receive advice from Scotts' experts, and sign-up for email newsletters/hot issues alerts (ex. if there's an unusual insect infestation in your area).
Besides areas to "grow" and learn you you can create a profile that will be your identity when participating in the Scotts Lawn community. So what might your profile page look like? Below is what I created in a couple of minutes. You can upload a photo, and tell everyone about your dream job, what you do to relax, where you'd love to visit, your favorite type of music, what neighbors say about your lawn, and your zodiac sign (what some of this has to do with yard work and gardening I have no idea. I'd personally prefer to list areas of gardening I like, yard specialties (for example, maybe you have a knack with roses...this would be good for others to know in case they are looking for some advice). And things you need help with. For example, some of my plants are a magnet for spidermites.)
First of all, I want to give Scotts props for getting co-creative with its customers. What do I mean by co-creation? Co-creation essentially means a company wants its customers to create their own unique experiences with their product/brand. To accomplish this, the company will provide some sort of platform for users (in this case a website allowing for some personalization). The results of this are easier access to consumers and their opinions, which generally helps assist the company in making better products and service experiences for its customers. Instead of being one-way interaction (i.e. Scotts providing all of the information to it's customers), it allows for multiple-way interaction - customers can interact with each other and with Scotts, customizing the experience to be unique for them. Personalization...gotta love it.
I have a feeling Scotts will get some great feedback from its customers as a result of this site's launch. As more people use the site, they'll also discover what improvements/additions customers would like to see be made. Something I'd like to see Scotts improve on, for example, is in the lawn care program section. I'd like this section to let me put in the actual date that I applied my last lawn treatment and then send me an e-mail when I need to apply again (right now it will notify you of generic timing when to apply, but doesn't record when you actually applied the treatment to your lawn.). I'd also like to see some minor mods to the profile area - although putting in my zodiac sign and favorite type of music might be fun, it doesn't really help other community members know where my lawn & garden expertise may lie -or- in what areas I could use some help. These are just minor things and overall, I think this site is a great start to getting more in touch with customers. Being a lawn & garden enthusiast, I know I personally will be using the Scotts site as a resource for my growing tips, helping make my thumb a little more green...even in the months that Mother Nature isn't cooperating with me :)