Digital Marketing has played an important role in the growth of Peggy McDonald’s business, Good Food Garden, from the beginning. When she posted an announcement to her personal Facebook page to share her home-grown produce with friends and family she had no idea that same platform would help her take her business national in just one year.
Before McDonald officially started Good Food Garden it was a passion project that grew out of her love for gardening and growing her own food. As more inquiries for her produce began to stream in, she quickly realized it had the potential to reach far beyond her community of friends and family, it just needed a little boost. So, when she came across Digital Main Street’s Digital Transformation Grant program she jumped at the opportunity. The program provides small businesses with a digital assessment, online training, and a $2,500 grant to implement their Digital Transformation Plan.
McDonald had recently expanded her business beyond selling her produce after noticing a quickly growing target market born out of the lifestyle changes that resulted from the pandemic. “Since COVID, a lot of people are able to work remotely, so they moved out of the city into rural […] homes that come with gardens, and maybe they’ve never gardened before, or they didn’t come from a family that gardened, and they’ve got an interest,” says McDonald. With this audience in mind, she set up a Shopify website to sell eco-friendly gardening supplies and seeds, and to promote gardening workshops.
Up until that point, Good Food Garden had mostly grown by word-of-mouth; online marketing was a brand new world for McDonald. She needed the knowledge to create a strong digital marketing strategy and the funds to test out different channels. After learning more about what marketing channels were available through her Digital Main Street training, she decided to allocate a portion of her Digital Transformation Grant (DTG) to testing the impact of Facebook ads on her website traffic and sales. “I was kind of hesitant, you know, because it’s just another ad,” says McDonald. “And having to pay for it and not knowing if I was going to get the money back […] there’s a big investment placing money for those types of ads.”
The DTG funds she received helped her take the leap, and McDonald’s investment paid off big time for Good Food Garden. She quickly began shipping to locations across Canada daily. “It was incredible,” she says, “all of a sudden, this […] website that had only a handful of daily visits, was having all these visitors on a regular basis, like 1000s throughout the year due to those Facebook ads. So it’s pretty cool.”
What’s even more exciting for McDonald is that Good Food Garden’s success with Facebook went beyond boosting website traffic and online conversions. The Facebook Messenger application has become a great tool to help her foster relationships with her customer base from all over Canada. “I […] get […] pictures […] sent to me through Messenger saying, ‘Oh, look at my zucchini or my watermelon’,” says McDonald. The one-on-one relationship building that she is able to do through Facebook Messenger is not only rewarding for her personally, but it’s good for business too. “I find that when I look at the analytics, half of my customers are repeat customers. So they’re coming back, and it’s only my second season. So yeah, it’ll be very exciting to see how it grows.”
Today, McDonald is building relationships with gardeners as far north as the territories with vast spaces to grow produce, city dwellers tending urban gardens on their apartment balconies, and everyone in-between. “Being able to have the grant to promote my business has allowed me to actually have a footprint from one coast to the other, which is really exciting for a small business to have that much presence and that much success in a year,” says McDonald.
From a single post on a private Facebook page to a national ad campaign, digital marketing has played a key role in the inception and growth of Good Food Garden. The DTG program equipped McDonald with not only the funds, but the knowledge to scale her customer base while maintaining effective one-on-one relationships and fostering repeat purchases.