Fortune favors the proactive. “People won’t buy something if they don’t know it exists,” said Jennifer Barnard, the fourth-generation owner of Tillie’s Flower Shop in Wichita, Kansas, who offered some tried-and-true, low-cost marketing practices during a recent webinar for the Society of American Florists.
“You cannot market too much,” Barnard said. When states began shutting down in March, she bumped her twice weekly e-mail blast to daily, keeping customers abreast of the shop’s safety precautions, how the virus affected the business (floral supply chain, staffing, etc.), flower specials and lots of information about the physical, mental and emotional benefits of flowers. “I got no pushback,” she said. On the contrary, she moved product, hit her sales goals and made emotional connections with customers.
Here are a few of her tips:
Be comprehensive. In addition to email, Barnard’s marketing channels include radio, direct mail, outdoor signage (marquee and an LED sign), indoor signage (tv screens promote daily specials), social media, phone hold message and her website. “Our website rarely looks the same from week to week,” she said. “We’re constantly updating the homepage to reflect current occasions and feature product we most want to sell.”
Listen to your community. Some of Barnard’s most successful campaigns this spring came from homing in on her friends’ and customers’ wants and needs. For instance, when a customer called asking for some eucalyptus to hang in her shower, Barnard realized she could provide an easy solution for the anxious masses stuck at home craving a little self-care. She got a great deal on eucalyptus, marketed the plant’s soothing scent and quickly sold out. When a friend bemoaned celebrating her 9-year-old daughter’s birthday in quarantine, Barnard contacted a local bakery and created a party package with cake and flowers. In response to parents struggling to entertain their restless children, she came up with projects to teach them to care for plants and set out curbside “Petal it Forward” bouquets that they could collect and leave on neighbors’ doorsteps. “If you listen, people will tell you what they need,” Barnard said. “Creating solutions is something we really focus on with our marketing.”
Promote the benefits of flowers. “I work this into as many messages as I can get,” Barnard said. During a Facebook Live video in her home, she talked about her past experience homeschooling her kids, offering tips to followers who suddenly found themselves in this position. “There just happened to be plants in the background,” she said. “So, I pointed them out and mentioned how plants and flowers have been scientifically proven to boost mental wellness. It wasn’t a hard sell, but it got the point across.” Barnard recommends mining SAF’s promotional resource center, which features groundbreaking research studies conducted in partnership with universities, along with graphics, photos, videos, pre-written social media posts and press releases, marketing ideas and more. “There is great research out there,” Barnard said. “Sharing it makes you look more professional.”
Think small. “A huge advantage for our industry right now is that, more than ever, people want to support local small businesses,” Barnard said. She recently started sharing Facebook Live videos, with much success (one helped sell $1,000 of plants the following day). “Relatability is key,” she said. “These are real and authentic videos, which help you put a face to the business.” She also looks for opportunities that show the shop’s role as a community player, such as partnering and championing other small businesses.
For more advice, click here to watch the full webinar.