Tag Archives: social media

Building a Following: Attraction Rather Than Promotion, Part II

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We are continuing this month with David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, indeed my better half and a very bright light.  Photo: Renee and David Bates, circa 2001.

When I asked David how he prepares for writing the newsletter each week he said, “I rarely know what I’m going to write about. I schedule time to write. I sit down and some thought comes or I think about what has transpired over the week and I begin typing. As the type goes onto the screen, that’s where I become inspired and, it’s important for me to have a deadline.”

People often tell me that they get several newsletters but David’s is one that they always read. David’s late friend, Rebecca Bain of Nashville Public Radio, told him that his articles were good though he needed to keep them brief. Mark Twain once said, “I apologize for the length of this letter as I did not have time to write a short one.” Writing with brevity takes time. Most weeks David keeps it to 350 words as his homage to Rebecca. He also tries to keep the self-promotion aspect low in newsletters. Topics are generally informational and not about promoting specific items.

Tracking outreach, he notes that about 1,500 people open the email within the first hour. People sign up for the newsletter through his website, www.batesnursery.com, or when they check out at the register and sign up for Bates Rewards, a loyalty program.

Regarding social media, Bates’ has Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Tumblr sites. David also co-hosts a weekly radio show, At Home with Josh Cary and David Bates, on WWTN 99.7 FM. He tries to coordinate all aspects of promotion across these formats.

Bates’ Twitter account has over 81,000 followers and Facebook has close to 3,000 likes. The Twitter following has more of a global audience and when he began in 2009 he said he didn’t really have any idea what he was doing. He spent an average of 2 hours a day for 2 ½ to 3 years building it.

He is committed to keeping viable content on social media. “Keep people engaged,” David offers. “Facebook has a decidedly more local audience. The up to date information is posted more to that site.”   When I asked him about whether he had delved into paying to promote on Facebook he replied, “Not yet.”

When asked what advice he would give someone who was just starting out with social media, he said that he would take his father, Earl Bates’ advice: “If you are going to copy someone, copy someone who has been successful. Don’t try to make someone else’s failure work for you.” David looked at what others were doing successfully and emulated their practices. Apparently it works.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit Greenways for Nashville to pursue art and product development. Renee likes being in nature, hiking, birding, and working in the garden. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, she appreciates that the legacy of the 3rd generation business was begun in 1932 at the height of the depression by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.

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Building a Following: Attraction Rather Than Promotion

Bates Nursery 1

David Bates is a nurseryman who grew up in a family business, Bates Nursery and Garden Center, begun in 1932 by a savvy woman, his grandmother, Bessie Bates.  He is also my husband of 30 years so this interview was convenient. I am awed by the way he made something where there was nothing and I thought you might benefit from how David embraced technology to expand his customer base with social media, and writing a weekly newsletter that is received by over 11,000 readers.

David had about 2,500 subscribers prior to 2009 and wrote only sporadically.  During a rough patch, after he had sold the business and then had to take it back, there were limited financial resources for conventional advertising.  He began looking for ways to expand his customer base.  The fact that customers tend to age, and with many of his customers in their early 60’s, it became apparent that there was a need to attract new and younger customers for the long haul.

Conventional at first, the newsletter featured only garden tips.  David needed wider parameters than exclusively writing gardening tips for the weekly newsletter. “Seasonal reminders are a good thing but I needed more content and began to inject more of myself into the newsletter, making it more personal.“  The newsletter has proven to be worth the effort, based on the response he gets from customers.  “I write them as though I am writing to one person.  When people receive it, my hope is they feel as though they are getting a personal note from me to them.  Consequently, I think people feel more comfortable with me and respond the way one friend does to another.  I am a person who has gone through a lot of bumps in life; the things I write about along those lines tend to be the posts I get the most response from.  They often don’t have anything to do with gardening.“

More on David’s writing process and social media in my next post.

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, recently leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit Greenways for Nashville to pursue art and product development. Renee likes being in nature, hiking, birding, and working in the garden. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, she appreciates that the legacy of the 3rd generation business was begun in 1932 at the height of the depression by a savvy woman, Bessie Bates.

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Social Media And How To Build Your Authentic Personal Brand

Social Media 3

The  women of HerSavvy met recently to learn more about using social media to build and enhance our business brands.  The session was led by a young adult, or digital native, who walked us through the process of using Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and the like.  To us digital immigrants, it was a bit overwhelming, but there is no denying the importance of social media in today’s world.  We all understand the need to, if not master it, at least know the basics.  And when it comes to business there are professionals to help us navigate that world.  The bigger issue for many of us is how, or whether, to use social media for our personal lives and where personal and business identities intersect.  The question also came up of how to be our authentic selves while at the same time creating a brand and where and when to set boundaries on our use of social media.  Just like Hollywood celebrities (or Barbara Mandrell) all of us are now under a bit of a microscope and can be photographed, quoted or otherwise “captured” by this wild new world.

Listen to our discussion on our latest podcast and let us know how you manage to balance your personal and business identities and remain your authentic, best self.  And thanks for tuning in!

About Barbara Dab:

Barbara Dab is a journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant. She currently hosts two radio shows locally in Nashville, TN. Check out her website athttp://www.zoneabouttown.com.

Barbara is also creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation. Check it out at http://www.theperetzproject.com If you, or someone you know, is the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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