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  • Tried and True Tips - Creative Marketing Strategies

    The Retail Florist

    Mktg promo planeThe International Florist, in Los Angeles, California, has grown dramatically over its 25 years in business. Owner Pat Banas says when she first opened her shop in 1973 in the lobby of the International Hotel, she paid only $100 rent each month. Today, after moving to her current location close to LAX (Los Angeles International) airport, she pays $1,700 rent.

    "That first shop was tiny, only 165 square feet. I have coolers bigger than that now," Pat says with a laugh. She owes her success to marketing, and offers these tips that worked for her and her business:

    • When an order is received for a person or business that has just moved into the area, make note of the name and address. Then, wait a few days and send an arrangement of your own welcoming them to the community. "We've gotten a lot of new business this way," she says. "Everything from major hotels to individual families."
    • Fax short sales messages to area businesses. "We haven't tried this ourselves yet, but we're getting ready to," Pat explains. "A friend of mine has had tremendous success moving gift items this way." (Please note: Broadcast faxing is not legal in some states - see below for details.)
    • Mail or hand deliver elegant, dignified cards to local churches, suggesting the use of your shop for funeral arrangements. "I include my home phone number on these, because funeral business can come up so suddenly," Pat says. "I also give a whole stack of funeral cards to each church. That way if people ask for suggestions about a florist to use, church officials can just hand them one of my cards."
    • When people want you to bid on an event or want information about your business, take them a free arrangement. "A new, very large sports clinic opened in the area and contacted a number of local florists to request a price list. All the other florists sent a brochure in response. I stopped in with a complimentary arrangement and a price list. I got the account. It just makes sense to give people a sample of your work."
    • If a coupon is used, either as a donation or as part of a special promotion, make it something people have to come to the store to collect on. "If they can use it for deliveries to someone else, they are less likely to think of you when they place future orders," she explains. "Also, there's always the possibility that they'll buy something else while they're in your shop."
    • Think of what sets your shop apart and advertise that to the public. "Since we're the closest flower shop to the airport, I put a big sign up outside the shop that says: 'Last chance for flowers before LAX' and had an airplane painted on it," Pat says with pride. "People driving to the airport who've never done business with me before will see it and circle the block to come back and buy flowers from my shop.That sign cost me $200, but it more than paid for itself in the first month."
    • Really listen to what the customer is saying they need, and then do what you can to meet that need. "It's not unusual to have someone come in who doesn't have a lot to spend, but who wants something that looks really nice," she says. "For example, close to Mother's Day, one young man only had $17 but he wanted beautiful, expensive-looking roses for his mother. I sold him three buds but went to a lot of trouble fixing them up for him with baby's breath and great looking ribbon. He was thrilled. When he was walking out the door he turned back to me and said: 'You're going to be my florist for life.' And I'm sure I will be. That's how you build a strong business."

    (Note: In some states, sending a broadcast fax is illegal. For example, in Michigan, law MCL445.1772{1} states: "A person shall not send an advertisement to another person by means of a facsimile machine without first obtaining, by means other than by a facsimile machine, the consent of the person who will receive the advertisement." Check with the laws in your state to before sending broadcast faxes.)


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