Roadside Marketing
Great Roadside Marketing - It's Hard to Pass

Roadside marketing can cost little to be effective. It's all about getting noticed by every potential customer that passes your front door. The busier the location,the greater the opportunity


With day after day of temperatures of over forty degrees, the 2016 summer in southern Australia was not what garden centre owners dream of. When these kinds of conditions are forecast our thoughts go into survival mode. Minimise the damage to stock with lots of time standing in the heat at the end of a hose. Too hot for customers and a major setback in making budgets balance.

How do you handle the pending horror of such a major climatic event? At the staff meeting of a well known garden centre, it was decided to put a sandwich board on the roadside, boldly announcing 40% off giftware. 

The thinking was that the extreme heat would kill plant sales but there may be a chance of at least clearing some giftware.

Roadside Marketing is not just about fantastic eye catching signage – although this is very important. Anything that captures the attention of those passing by your door is good Roadside Marketing. Anything that swings those who would have passed you by, into your business is GREAT Roadside Marketing.


There are very few garden centre premises that are grand enough to be a traffic stopper but that is not what is required. What is required is catching the attention of those passing by. Any building, no matter how grand or humble, that is suddenly a new colour attracts the attention of those who drive by it regularly.

One of our clients in Queensland had a very dark entrance to their garden centre. Part of their Action Plan was to paint the black over with a nice fresh white. Not the whole premises, only the entrance and once this was completed the results were instant.

The common line was ‘We have driven past here for years but never been in’. One can of paint was very affordable Roadside Marketing.


We wouldn’t fly with an airline that had planes in poor repair or falling apart. A fantastic eye-catching colourful garden is the most obvious means of great Roadside Marketing for a garden centre but is often an opportunity that is missed.

The best thing about the product we are retailing is that it screams freshness, life, happiness and newness so why not use the products we sell to draw attention to our businesses.

In the small town in Tasmania where we owned our first garden centre we would supply the council enough flowering instant colour to plant out all of the most obvious roundabouts in the town.

We would then plant out our small garden with the same varieties and make sure that we had more than enough to supply the overwhelming demand that had been created. Yes, some would get stolen, yes some would get vandalised - but oh my goodness - it was worth it.

A number of garden centres that do this well include the cost of their garden as part of the advertising budget and rightly so. It is GREAT Roadside Marketing.

Colour Displays

Not all garden centres have the opportunity to create amazing eye catching garden displays. Bay Road Nursery in Melbourne is famous for colour and present excellent road appeal with their display of flowering plants, tempting customers to come on in and see what is on offer.

Tasmania’s Stonemans Garden Centre’s planted pink VW Beetle is excellent Roadside Marketing. This has become an iconic landmark for gardeners and locals and also features strongly in their advertising and promotions.


Hutchisons Nursery in Narracoote, South Australia replaced their existing sign with the current Hutchisons Plants Plus sign fifteen years ago and had the new sign painted with automotive paint.

After 15 hot summers, 15 cold winters and one vehicle running over the sign, it still looks bright, new. It stands out from 100m on approach from both directions and cannot be missed. The main sign, in a split second, conveys the message of the business.

If the message is old and fading, it’s time to invest in a new message.

Seasonal Banners and Sale Banners are great for attracting attention but must be neat and current. A Christmas Banner still up in January does quite the opposite to what a banner should do.

Fence banners, as with all signage, must always fit with the image of the business. Banners used at a garden centre with a strategy of high turnover with a lower margin must strongly reflect value. A garden centre with a strategy of inspirational style will have banners to strongly reflect this.

Temporary roadside signs such as sandwich boards are also very effective and need to be large enough to be noticed and once again, in fitting with the image of the business. The message needs to be a short, clear, and compelling – Such as “WE LOVE PLANTS……..EXCELLENT MULTIBUYS AVAILABLE NOW” or “40% OFF ALL GIFTWARE” which brings us back to the garden centre during the South Australian red hot summer.

Once the 15 days of heat wave conditions had passed, it was time to analyse sales. The month ended up just 3% down on the previous year, a good result in the circumstances and much better than other local garden centres. Giftware accounted for 15% of total sales with everything else being sold at normal retail price.

This was affordable, GREAT Roadside Marketing giving GREAT results.


- Hilton Blake