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Tap Into the ‘Experience Economy’

by | Apr 17, 2023 | Events, Events & Education, Floral Industry News | 0 comments

Derek Woodruff, AAF, AIFD, CF, PFCI, of Floral Underground in Traverse City, Michigan, will share his best practices for organizing customer-facing events at SAF’s Next Gen LIVE!.

We are living in an experience economy, where social media chronicles meals and vacations, and 76 percent of consumers say they’d prefer to spend money on an experience than a product, according to the advertising agency Momentum Worldwide.

Derek Woodruff, AAF, AIFD, CF, PFCI, of Floral Underground in Traverse City, Michigan, began observing this consumer spending trend in the late 2010s while working at a boutique plant store.

“It started to really take shape in retail and other industries before ours; you could really see it with cooking classes, for example,” he says. “The exciting part about it was that it was something they could create themselves or a skill they could learn — and that’s still growing today.”

Woodruff, who has tapped into this trend for years hosting virtual and in-store workshops in partnership with other businesses, will share his best practices for organizing a successful customer-facing event to leverage the “experience economy” at the Society of American Florists’ Next Gen LIVE! event in Miami on June 11-13. The event also features a slate of education sessions —including three on digital marketing, a design competition, two tour options, and time for networking. (Click here to see the full schedule).

Last year’s event drew 160 attendees from throughout the U.S. and South America, who picked up leadership skills, productivity tips and social media hacks, among other professional development. It was the first industry event designed by and exclusively for the next generation of floral industry professionals.

“The event was a flurry of education and floral-focused experiences to build a supportive community for career growth,” says Juliana Gutierrez, senior marketing manager at Golden Flowers in Miami, who attended last year’s Next Gen LIVE!. “The presenters were all very knowledgeable and passionate about their specific field.”

Avoid Common Event Mistakes

A successful event hinges on avoiding common mistakes.  The first: choosing an activity that isn’t too complicated for customers. Keep it simple to ensure that what you teach can be replicated at home, Woodruff says.

“I have a succulent wreath workshop and the skill level is a little bit high for something like that because people really don’t understand plant material, and it’s really easy to be unsuccessful when creating something that takes a little bit of skill,” says Woodruff.

Similarly, the cost of materials should be considered because if they are too expensive, tickets to the event might be cost prohibitive.

Another mistake Woodruff cautions against is understaffing the event, which creates challenges before, during, and after a class.

“Some people don’t realize that it might take more than just themselves to do this,” Woodruff says. “They don’t realize how much setup there is, or if people are paying … as they’re leaving, you might get this line and you’re trying to package up what they’ve made and ring them up at the same time.”

Tap Your Inner Teacher

During his presentation, Woodruff will show attendees how to become an effective teacher, which he says is at the heart of creating engaging in-store experiences.

“I call it, ‘teaching the teachers,’” he says. “A lot of floral designers aren’t really sure how to communicate the skill of floral design to somebody who doesn’t know anything about it. The audience will get to see a live demonstration of how they should be teaching, and learn some tips and tricks on the best ways to do it.”

Click here for more information about Next Gen LIVE! and to register.

 Kenya McCullum is a contributing writer for the Society of American Florists.

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