If you’ve landed here, it’s because you’ve asked yourself “as a business, how can I drive sales?” As we mentioned in The Essential Factor, the world has changed. Over the past decade, florists’ margins and customer footfall have been squeezed dry. To fix these current issues, the obvious answer is to develop the most effective marketing for your floral business.
For most of us in the world of floristry, marketing is a process involving advertising and with the aim of reaching future costumers. In the end, we want to drive more people to our shop to buy more flowers. It’s that simple.
But how many of us have actually been able to manage a successful marketing campaign? How many great marketing campaigns have there been, from independent florists, over the past 8-10 years? There isn’t much that can serve us as useful or relevant example, because what we know about marketing doesn’t apply anymore.
Marketing is not just about selling more. An increase in sales is the ultimate culmination of a process involving many steps - which for florists may mean time and money they may not wish to spend. But to get actual results, it’s not just about investing tons of time or money, it’s about understanding each step of the process.
At the start, this will involve time - money, not so much. Yet, once you set the foundations for your marketing, the process will become much easier, and your money, well spent.
In this post, we won’t go in detail into each step. Instead, we will explain the main marketing concepts, and apply them to our sector, which hasn’t really been done – until now!
If you want to fully understand all the basic steps involved in creating a complete marketing campaign for local florists. If you still haven’t signed up to our essential factor email automation, you can do so at the beginning or end of the Essential Factor page. Once you’ve signed up, we will send you each step right to your inbox, including this post.
Marketing basics if all sectors were the same
There is countless information on the basics of marketing out there. But let’s attempt to truly understand this concept.
In its 2017 edition, the American Marketing Association defines marketing as the following: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”
Wikipedia states that marketing is the activity of an organisation which brings a product to the market for consumers to purchase. From this more digestible definition, we can take away three key points: organisation, product and market.
Conceptually speaking, for an organisation to take a product to its relevant market, marketing becomes essential. There are five different approaches or frameworks, each of which can work within all sectors or not. These five concepts can be summarised in the following manner:
The Product concept - This involves marketing based around a product. The product is marketed on its quality and campaigned based on consumer insight, consumer expectations and finally, price.
The Sales concept - Sales marketing means selling any product, whatever its quality or the need of the customer. This concept focuses on unsought goods, or goods that are not sold on a repetitive basis, such as funerals. It’s an aggressive strategy with no insight and highly dependent on achieving the sale.
The Production concept - Companies that use it believe that consumers want products that are affordable and accessible. This concept became mostly relevant at the beginning of capitalism to about the fifties, when any product was made using a manufacturing line model, such as the Ford production line in the 1920s. In other words, these companies look at increasing the production of their products. The philosophy is that the higher the production rate of a product, the lower the costs. Hence, to meet prices that meet consumer needs, they will mass-produce their products to meet economies of scale (the more volume is produced, the lower the price, and therefore, the higher the sales due to the lower cost of the good). Ultimately, it turns into a “push” marketing concept of a product , whereby you push your product on consumers knowing very little about them.
The Marketing concept - This places consumers, and their preferences, at the centre of the organisation. All product research, development, and organisation values evolve around the target market. This ensures that the company provides value to the end-user who will make them choose that brand over others. This creates a connection with that customer and should result in strong brand loyalty. Essentially, this is a marketing “pull “strategy, aimed at bringing the customer to you.
Societal concept - This is a new concept that contemplates satisfying consumer needs, but also showcases the wellbeing of consumers and society as a whole. The concept calls upon marketers to bring social and ethical considerations into their marketing efforts.
How do we translate all of this into the florist’s world?
Although we have really skimmed the surface of the marketing world, we need to see how all of this fits within our particular business. We must taking the general concepts within marketing and translate them into our lingo and sector.
Before we dive in, it’s important to note that this post is not going to give you the answers to each and every one of your marketing needs. This is a general approach to the whole process, one that that will provide you with the results you need from your marketing strategy. The rest of the posts in this series will guide you through each individual step, and help you master the florist marketing strategy.
So, pick up your cup of tea, coffee, or have your squidgy stress ball ready. Take a deep breath and let's dive in!
Forging a marketing concept as an independent florist
In order to create a marketing concept for independent florists, we will firstly cover the meaning of a Florist Marketing Concept. Where do we, as independent florists stand in the sentence above, if marketing is the activity of an organisation which brings a product to the market for consumers to purchase. The keywords we need to focus on are organisation, products and market. We will break down what these mean for any independent florist.
Above we described marketing as an activity of an organisation. The organisation in question is the independent florist, working within a certain local area, with physical retail spaces that sell to the public, and/or other sales points, such as websites.
The products sold at independent flower shops are, obviously, flowers and plants. But these are not sold only as products, but also as services. When it comes to these, no service is more or less important as the other.
Historically, the primary business of any flower shop is the sale of flowers and plants as gifts or for personal use. These can be presented as bouquets, centre-pieces, loose flowers, pot plants and as other arrangements. Apart from these, independent florists will also cater to funeral services, corporate events and weddings.
The market in which any independent florist places their products is complicated for two reasons. The first is that from a business position, there are plenty of other actors selling the same product and/or service, making the flower and plant market super-competitive:
On the retail side of the market, we need to differentiate between traditional, brick-and-mortar shops and online spaces:
Brick-and-mortar business points: sales of flowers and plants are no longer confined to flower shops and garden centres. Today, we can buy these in supermarkets, petrol stations, DIY shops, and other spaces.
Online: over the past seven years, the online market for flowers has jumped lightyears ahead, with large amounts of money from investment companies being poured into start-ups. Also, large companies in the sector have become even more established as e-commerce front-runners.
Weddings and corporate events: there has been an increase in nuptial services such as wedding planning and the integrated services offered by caterers and wedding venues, including floral arrangements of their own. Additionally, the drop in sales on the retail side has drifted a lot of florists towards the events market, increasing competition greatly.
The second reason comes from a consumer perspective. The market for flower and plants is not made up of one particular type of consumer. Each consumer has a personal preference for flowers. Factors such as lifestyle, cultural background, age, colour preference, hobbies, whether they holiday or not and how often, what celebrations are important, and a whole plethora of other important attributes, make every consumer unique.
As a result, any independent florist needs to understand what consumer market to target and how to stand out from the competition described above, using different products and services tuned to the needs of their target customer. This translates into analysing colours, types of flowers, forms, styles and presentations, all of which will influence the degree of success.
Having broken down what marketing involves for a florist, what marketing concept must we choose from the five outlined before (production, product, sales, marketing or societal)? The answer is, that we can’t choose just one, but include a little bit of each.
The Local Florist Marketing Concept
A local florist marketing concept must focus on three important factors. These make up a unique equation and cannot be considered separately.
The first is that floristry today is based around the value of designing a product and/or service to meet the expectations and personality of the customer. These key expectations may be purely emotional, based on decorative reasons, or down to a feel-good factor. A florist’s own creativity paired with the right sourcing, will offer irreplaceable value to the customer. As a result, we work on the assumption that in flower shops, customers prefer products (bouquets, centre pieces, plant arrangements or single stems of flowers) of greater quality, price and availability, all of which will influence their buying decisions. This marketing focuses around a florist’s artistic flair, one that other competitors cannot recreate due to the florist’s education in design, their own critical eye and style.
Yet beautiful floristry is only part of the equation. An independent florist also needs to tackle any outside competition by defining and targeting their customers. This is done by creating a different value that stands out from what is offered by the competition. Consumer research is key, to create new products based on this research, plus the florist’s own creativity. In addition, smart local campaigns must attract the desired target consumer. Getting this right is complex and time-consuming. Yet, when promoting customer loyalty, the rewards are far greater than the efforts involved.
Finally, future consumers will be attracted to flowers and plants thanks to all issues natural and green. Consumers are steering towards sustainability, and plants and flowers are part of a greener lifestyle. This “green” and sustainable mantra is extremely important as we are selling what is the core of today’s solution to climate change: protecting nature. We must be conscious that we are part of the problem. We must recognise the need for ethically-grown plants and flowers and sustainable transport systems. Even our own shops should follow the basics of green living.
Overall, creating a marketing concept for florists, - one that is relevant today - would involve a mix of three of the concepts highlighted before:
Crafting an exclusive product to a tailored target consumer, with a personalised, moving and original design using unique, exclusive and sustainable materials.
This may sound out of your depth, but believe us when we say that it’s a process we can embark on together. Are you ready to take the next step?