A comprehensive brand overhaul that included relocation, a new website, reduced inventory, two non-traditional locations and chasing after brides outside the city limits earned Carolyn and Vince Butera, AAF, AIFD, PFCI, of Butera the Florist in York, Pennsylvania, the title of Floral Management’s 2015 Marketer of the Year.
The announcement of the 22nd annual winner, Friday, September 11, by Floral Mangement Editor-in-Chief Kate Penn during the Marketing Breakfast at SAF Amelia Island 2015, drew thunderous applause from the nearly 450 attendees.
“This is a happy and humbling moment,” said Vince Butera in his acceptance speech, recalling that, just four years ago, he and Carolyn nearly threw in the towel on their business. It was especially touching, he said, that he learned the good news from Dwight Larimer, AAF, PFCI, president of Design Master color tool Inc. in Boulder, Colorado, and sponsor of the award’s $5,000 cash prize. That’s because, back in the shop’s darkest days —when in-store traffic was practically nonexistent and the shop’s once thriving wedding business was decreasing — Butera said he reached out to Larimer for support, and Larimer challenged the Buteras to remember why they got into the business in the first place. Butera said that conversation inspired the couple to contemplate what they wanted Butera the Florist to be and what they could do to get back on track.
“Butera the Florist from its very first day in business has been about making a profit based on innovation, creativity and artistry from the hands of BTF Artisans,” Penn told attendees as she detailed the campaign that would increase their sales by bringing them back to those core values. “In 2013, they moved full steam ahead with a bold effort to drive weekly store traffic and really put a spotlight on the BTF Weddings brand, both in their immediate area and in a wider geographic region.”
The plan involved relocating their main store to a historic space in downtown York, much smaller than their 4,000 square foot suburban location, but “one that would allow them to highlight their wedding brand and host community events,” Penn said. They also opened a stand, called Fleurish @ the Market, at a nearby farmer’s market that attracts 2,500 visitors weekly. Two months into it, they opened a second stand, dedicated exclusively to the BTF Weddings brand. “By opening these two market stands, they took their business to the people, rather than waiting for customers to come to them,” Penn said.
The Buteras also made the “bold” decision to “go solo” online, retiring their wire service website and developing a new one, dedicated exclusively to the BTF brand.
“The Butera’s knew this overall strategy was risky,” Penn said. “A leap of faith that leaving behind the traditional American retail flower shop framework – a framework that held up their business for 33 years — would pay off for them.”
It did pay off, and then some. In the past year, Penn said, the Buteras increased their wedding sales by 94 percent and see more than 2,000 customers, on average, per week, up from fewer than 50 in 2013.
“It felt like we were jumping off a cliff,” Carolyn Butera told convention attendees, of the decision to change virtually everything about the business. Doing it “hand in hand” with her husband instilled her with courage, as did former Marketer of the Year winners’ stories.
“For many years, I sat in your seat,” she said. “This award has been an inspiration to us. We realize that everyone in this business has a story, none without struggle.”
To those in the audience whose spirit needed a little “spark,” Carolyn Butera urged them to imagine that their company never existed and they were starting from scratch. “That’s what we did,” she said, adding that growth requires the bravery to “burst through the status quo.”
For in-depth coverage of the Buteras’ total turnaround, check out “Flowers to the People” in the October issue of Floral Management (in mailboxes, and emailed digitally to all SAF members on October 1). To find out how to enter Floral Management’s 2016 Marketer of the Year competition, click here.