Building and nurturing partnerships with local hot spots can do wonders for boosting your business’s name recognition and growing your client base.
For Botanica International Design Studio in Tampa, Florida, a relationship with Oxford Exchange, a popular restaurant, marketplace and event space boasting 48,500 Instagram followers, has been a game-changer in terms of increasing visibility and generating leads.
“Because we are one of Oxford Exchange’s five florists, we get a lot of referrals,” said Zoë Gallina, AAF, Botanica’s creative director. “It is everything to us and our business.”
Oxford Exchange, an indoor (read: air-conditioned) space with a striking atrium and grand staircase, is a choice venue for brides who don’t want to chance Florida’s notorious heat and thunderstorms on their big day. Because of the connection, Botanica has been able to book weddings nearly every weekend — even in the height of summer, typically a dead period for weddings in the Sunshine State.
In honor of Oxford Exchange’s sixth anniversary on September 24, Gallina posted a photo to Instagram, tagging the venue and urging followers to check out Botanica’s Instagram story “for some of our favorite photos of events and weddings from the past couple years.”
When Gallina posts about Oxford Exchange (always tagging the venue), she receives significantly more social media engagement than she does other updates, which she credits to OE’s legions of fans. (Oxford Exchange also posts about Botanica, nurturing a mutually beneficial relationship.)
“They have a huge social media following. They post pictures every now and then with our designs and get a ridiculous amount of likes because it is a unique space,” Gallina said. “It’s not just a ballroom with a heavily patterned carpet and blank walls. There is tile, herringbone wooden floors, and a grand staircase. They didn’t skimp on the design, they did it the way they were supposed to.” Gallina said Botanica will continue to “share the love,” promoting Oxford Exchange and reaping the benefits. Eager to build lasting relationships with businesses in your town?
Here are some of Gallina’s tips:
Keep the relationship relaxed and be mindful of each other’s interests. Gallina and Sarah Fairbairn, Oxford Exchange’s private events director, often meet for lunch, getting to know each other on a personal level and opening communication for what needs improvement. Go into your initial meeting with the intention to make the venue staff members’ lives easier, not to expect business or force anything upon the venue, Gallina said. Moving forward, talk candidly about your upcoming events, alerting the manager or director about each bride’s needs, and asking how to make each event run smoothly.
Make sure you’re heavily staffed. Oxford Exchange includes a restaurant, bookstore, gift shop, tea shop, coffee bar and rentable office space for people who work from home. Because of the location’s many hats, Gallina said that wedding set-ups are high-pressure and fast-paced. When working with busy businesses, be sure to bring a crew that is well-equipped to make event set-ups run smoothly, quickly and precisely.
Tag your locations. After attending this year’s SAF recent convention in Palm Springs, Gallina was particularly struck by Max Duchaine and Jackie Levine’s “Experience Zone: Social Media Madness” session. After hearing the duo talk about the benefits of including locations on Instagram (rather than just tagging the business’s Instagram handle), Gallina made it a priority, tagging the Oxford Exchange location to put her post on the radar of the venue’s thousands of followers. Since tagging her location, she has seen her posts’ likes and interactions increase even more.
Mackenzie Nichols is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.