During a drought years ago, a garden center owner in Colorado Springs, Colorado, mentioned a soil nutrient product during a news segment on a local TV station. Within a few days, his center sold more than 300 bags of that product.

It was, Mike Spencer recalled, proof-positive of the power of video exposure.

"Being on TV gives you the credentials," says Spencer, the owner of Spencer's Lawn and Garden Centers. Spencer ended up doing news spots for the 5:30 p.m. news show at the station for 20 years, a fact he says resulted in a considerable amount of business for his center.

Green industry officials have what local TV producers desperately need: highly visual and timely stories to tell.

"TV weather people and meteorologists are always on the lookout for stories about the local freeze or drought, and how people can protect their plants," Chris Beytes, the editor of GrowerTalks magazine, points out. "Garden center owners are experts on that."

Beytes encourages those owners to reach out to local TV producers with seasonal story ideas, and to offer their facility as a setting for weather and other news segments. A nursery growing poinsettias, for example, makes for a nice holiday season backdrop.

But green industry professionals need not go on local stations to share their expertise. They can create and distribute their own videos.

"All it takes is a simple camera, a nice backdrop and some props, and a small, independent garden center can create YouTube videos," notes Luan Akin, the community outreach specialist for Tagawa Gardens in Centennial, Colorado.

Akin has produced nearly 50 videos for Tagawa in the last four years on topics ranging from composting and spring baskets to growing garlic and watering trees. Those videos have resulted in increased traffic at the center, as well as speaking invitations for Tagawa representatives at garden clubs, homeowner associations, churches, schools and elsewhere.

"Video is a very modern way for a center to get their message across in this visual age," Akin says. "And the potential for increased sales from these videos is huge."

Akin, a former local TV news reporter who is trained as a Master Gardener, has plenty of ideas on how garden centers can make high impact YouTube videos for a low cost. Here are some of them:

  • Make quality a priority: Don't settle for "selfies." Use a simple camera with an external microphone, so viewers need not strain to see or hear.
  • Keep it steady: Set up your camera or cellphone on a stable platform. Aim for simple, consistent framing. The less camera movement, the better.
  • Give it a test drive: Do some practice runs to see what the light and background look like and the audio sounds like.
  • Plan ahead: Line up your props — plants, bees, worms, etc. — within arms reach, in the order you'll use them.
  • Smile once in a while: Gardening is supposed to be fun. Talk to the camera as if it's your friend.

Whether you go on TV or produce your own, videos can go a long way toward increasing your credibility and sales.