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  • My Way: Marketing, Part 1
    By Sam Viviano

    The Retail Florist

    In the dictionary "marketing" is defined as "all business activity involved in moving goods from the producer to the consumer; including selling, advertising, packaging, etc."

    Many business people think that marketing deals only with advertising, but it is much more than that. Marketing also covers the appearance of your sales people, the way you answer the phone, how you handle complaints, your stationery, your store's layout and dÿcor, the appearance of your trucks and so on.

    A Sound Investment

    The money you spend on marketing is really an investment. When you treat it like an investment, it becomes apparent that marketing is supposed to build and ensure the present and future prosperity of your business.

    With the limited funds that most florists have at their disposal, getting the most impact for every dollar is critical.

    It is also important to track results of each marketing and advertising program so you can gauge which are giving the best return on your investment. There is an old saying: "50 percent of all advertising dollars are wasted: I just don't know which 50." You can't afford to waste either 50, so keep track — and keep good records.

    Open Your Wallet

    Florists used to spend very little money on marketing. In fact, the average shop dedicated less than one percent of sales to marketing.

    Today, that pattern is changing. A progressive florist will spend between five and seven percent of sales on marketing. Of course, that doesn't have to be all in cash; there are many ways to market your shop without giving away precious cash. From a tax standpoint, for example, donations of product can be more advantageous.

    Quick Study

    To determine the type of marketing program you need, the first task is to determine what your market is. Some florists want to serve high-income people. Some shops are "bucket types" that specialize in loose-cut flowers. Others want to focus on commercial businesses. Still other florists are a combination of the above.

    Though it's a good idea to take money from any customer willing to spend it, I find it is best to market to one specific type of customer. By focusing on a particular market segment, you will get the best return on your advertising dollar. It is impossible, with limited resources, to use a scatter-gun approach and be effective.

    Hire a Professional

    I believe in using advertising agencies to handle a shop's marketing and advertising program. Why? Because they are experts in advertising — just as I am an expert in flowers. I can give customers great value for their floral dollar. And the advertising agency can give me the most impact for my marketing investment.

    You might go through three or four advertising agencies before you find one with which you are comfortable, but it's worth the effort.

    Many advertising agencies have connections with radio and television people. A good agency can line up appearances that you couldn't get by yourself — at no cost to you except your time. For example, I was interviewed every Christmas on television or radio about the care of poinsettias. Every Valentine's Day, I was asked about the high cost of roses. These interviews were set up by my advertising agency.

    Because of this invaluable exposure, Bartz Viviano Flowers and Gifts became established as a true expert in the flower business in Toledo.

    Courting Your Business

    Don't assume too quickly that your marketing budget is too small to interest advertising agencies. Agencies love to work with floral accounts. It's a fun, creative type of business — just the kind of work in which they specialize. They will often take you as a client even though your budget is small by their usual standards.


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