A small, family-owned grower, importer and distributor that used employee-driven marketing, YouTube and other unconventional means to grow into an internationally recognized brand is the winner of the Society of American Florists’ 2022 Marketer of the Year award.
Jet Fresh Flower Distributors of Miami was revealed as SAF’s 28th annual Marketer of the Year during the kick-off breakfast at SAF Orlando 2022, the association’s 137th annual convention in Orlando, Florida. The honor recognizes excellence in marketing and comes with a cash prize of $5,000, sponsored by Design Master, a division of Smithers-Oasis.
While accepting the award, Jet Fresh Marketing and Media Director Ryan Black, son of owner Mike Black, said he hoped that the company’s marketing campaigns would inspire others in the industry.
“I’m humbled by this award,” he said.
Jet Fresh was a very early adopter of video marketing for social media. While that may seem basic by today’s standards, it wasn’t something many others in the industry were doing in 2011. “At that time no one was using social media at all,” Mike says. “All these companies in Miami thought we were a joke.”
The videos put the spotlight on Jet Fresh employees. In a recent video, set to the Full House theme song, Ryan caught dozens of Jet Fresh employees waving to the camera as they moved boxes, logged orders, and unpackaged flowers. Other videos capture Mike behind the camera talking with employees about varieties of flowers and foliage available.
Mike knew they were on to something as the number of views increased. “It just kind of naturally happened,” Mike says. “It wasn’t even a planned marketing strategy.”
As the videos evolved, the Blacks knew there was power in putting the Jet Fresh team front and center in their marketing. “We wanted everyone on the team to be part of the face of the company,” Mike says. “We kept building on that and building on that. Before we showed you the flowers, we showed you the person,” he says of the marketing strategy, which reflects the company’s people-first culture.
Stars of the Show
Ryan took the employee-driven marketing one step further by branding characters for staffers willing to star on camera. Take, for instance, Jimi “the Tulip” Santoli. He already had the nickname, which Black then branded into temporary tattoos, t-shirts and more for the top-selling salesman (Santoli was also named the 2021 Florida State Florists Association’s ‘Salesperson of the Year’). There’s also Ortega, known as “The Fern Show,” whose vibrant personality is often caught on camera; Olga Ramirez, AIFD, CFD, who is known for her catch phrase, “Check it out!;” and Melisa “Mundial” Fuenmayor, whose social media influence earned her a spot in promotional videos for Volkswagon Ecuador.
Their roles in the videos have earned them industry fame. Early on, the team was in Holland at a trade show where they were recognized. “The brand was known, and we didn’t even know it,” Mike says.
Low-Budget, Blockbuster Hits
The videos, of which there are about 850, are done in a raw, uncut style that shows Jet Fresh’s energetic, fun culture. There’s no fancy studio, no scripts; just flowers and the people who supply them. Sometimes the videos include flower time-lapses, office pranks and milestone accomplishments of staff.
Viewers like the content. Nearly 2,300 people have subscribed to their YouTube channel, and collectively the videos have been viewed 423,000 times, according to YouTube analytics provided by Jet Fresh.
Not only does Ryan keep marketing expenses to a minimum, he also uses his skills to barter for discounts and deals with business partners.
In 2018, when Jet Fresh bought a boutique rose farm in Cotopaxi, Ecuador, Ryan negotiated to reduce and, in some cases, eliminate royalty fees to breeders for a set period in exchange for creating buzz on social media.
Ryan used the same approach when the company sought to enhance its packaging without using water. Jet Fresh promoted Chrysal’s “Arrive Alive” hydrating foam with testing videos in exchange for a discount on the product.
“We immediately saw an increase of sales in our Arrive Alive line,” says Mimi Martinez Pacheco, marketing manager for Chrysal Americas. “Ryan has elevated the way suppliers reach the floral industry.”
Read the full story about Jet Fresh’s marketing strategies in the September/October issue of Floral Management.
Amanda Jedlinsky is the managing editor of SAF NOW.