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  • My Way: Marketing, Part 2
    By Sam Viviano

    The Retail Florist

    Focus Groups

    Our advertising agency helped us put together a focus group to find out what customers thought of the shop. We asked them about the shop's strengths and weaknesses. In addition, we asked them to list any products or services they would like us to provide.

    The focus group was made up of people from our own database. I did not attend the focus group meetings, nor did any of the staff, because I felt people would talk more freely without anyone from the shop in attendance.

    The focus group sessions generally had good attendance. Lunch at a nice restaurant will usually bring out your customers.

    Jingles

    The advertising agency suggested we have a jingle produced for the shop. Although I was reluctant at first, it turned out very well. In fact, many customers would come into the shop singing the jingle.

    At school, my children's friends would sing the jingle. It was one of our most effective efforts.

    We began the jingle at a time when we were fighting for name recognition. It worked. After a couple of years, an outside agency conducted a poll that showed the shop's name was the most recognized florist's name in the city. Our name was mentioned more than twice as often as that of any other florist.

    Direct Mail and Catalogs

    Bartz Viviano Flowers and Gifts has been sending out holiday fliers and catalogs for more than 25 years. We even have an everyday catalog. While catalog marketing takes some time to show results, I found it well worth the effort. Our customers looked forward to the catalogs and would call the shop to find out when the next one was being sent.

    Direct mail can be used in other ways too. You should include a flier or stuffer in your customers' monthly billing statements.

    The fliers cost very little and can produce very big results.

    Radio Contests

    We hooked up with several radio stations to give away a bouquet every day. Called the "Secretary of the Day" contest, the radio station asked listeners to send in postcards to enter the contest.

    Each day, the station would randomly select a postcard, and we would send a bouquet or coffee mug (with the shop's logo) to that day's lucky winner.

    One benefit of the program was that the shop got many on-air mentions as part of the contest. We received 50 to 60 spots per week.

    Of course, the radio station expected us to buy some of the advertising, but we still got a lot of exposure for our money.

    If you decide to sponsor a radio promotion, remember that there are an unlimited number of themes you can use — from "Mother of the Week" to "Business Person of the Week." You are limited only by your imagination.

    Teacher, Teacher

    I taught adult education classes at a local high school. Through that experience, I found some good future employees. Teaching the class also established our shop as the authority on flowers and plant care in the community.

    Final Thoughts

    No matter what type of marketing campaign you undertake, be sure all your advertising tells potential customers how they will benefit by dealing with you. Don't treat customers like dummies — respect their intelligence.

    Advertising only brings people to the door. Actually selling the product is done by salespeople.

    To capitalize on your successful advertising efforts, be sure you train your staff to exceed each customer's expectations.

     

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