Bill Schaffer AIFD, AAF, PFCI & Kristine Kratt AIFD, PFCI

Until now, it was the retailer who created values around their products and services and it was up to the consumer to find their way to it. Now, the consumer is leading the drive. Consumers have strong opinions, specific needs that want to fill a psychological need as well as fulfill their purchasing needs. It’s important to them to search for local businesses that offer unique craftsmanship, skill and expertise.

Consumers are looking for transparency and authenticity in products and services. The floral industry is in a great position to build rapport with customers old and new and market to them in modern yet personal, ways.

Show what you know. Although it may sound strange, educating your customer should be at the forefront of your marketing strategy. Educating the client is one of the best ways to increase your sales and turn people into long-term customers. When someone is first thinking about buying a product or service, they probably don’t know very much about it. How will they take care of that plant? How long with those flowers last compared to those over there? Where do I even begin with choosing wedding flowers?

Before a customer becomes overwhelmed and hesitant to buy your product or turns to the Internet of Things for the answers, strong sales education steps in. When we take the time to help the client learn more about the product and give a balanced look at the options, it not only gives them confidence needed to make a purchase, but also earns your trust and loyalty. The client is more likely to return to you as a source of good information and good product again and again.

Of course, consumers are savvy and can instantly search for information online as they need it. We all do it time and time again. However, in an industry such as ours, the knowledge we have, the skill, the creativity and the experience can open a connection and confidence with people in ways an online search can not. Offer to share what you know. Inspire and surprise with what you know about new varieties, rare finds or artistic creations. Make sure your employees can do the same. Become the source of not only amazing product but of amazing education and service.

Tell a Story. The current consumer trends show that customers are not as concerned about cost and appearance as they once were. Nowadays, they attach less value to status and money and look for value in what is meaningful to them, and that somehow gives back. People want a connection to what they are purchasing. Adapting creative storytelling into your marketing helps communicate whats new, special, and rare. To share the story you can highlight benefits, notable environmental qualities, unique product traits, your personal story and more. Be creative!

A great example is Accent Decor’s new showroom in the Dallas Market Center. At the January market, they featured an inspiring display sharing how their containers are created from start to finish. Sketches and photos of the process, molds and tools were all subtly incorporated into their visual story of what it takes to bring their product to market and all the hands behind it. It was a powerful reminder of craftsmanship and added instant connection to the merchandise.

Hands-On. Consumers are constantly on the look-out for the latest and greatest DIY. An ever-evolving trend toward having a creative learning experience is an open door for our industry to share education and get consumers excited about flowers and plants. Consumers love a “how-to create your own…” class. For consumers it’s a peek behind the curtain of the world of botanical bliss. It’s exciting and challenging and usually in the end gives them a new respect for what it takes to do what we do.

With the trend in houseplant-love going strong, there are endless options for hands-on terrarium classes, “build-an-herb-garden” workshops, and many other “green-experience” learning options. The latest trend in indoor gardening is geared toward kids. Plant kits, child-sized gardening tools, bright and whimsical containers all scream ‘fun and playful’. We’ve even seen white painted succulent plants that come with colorful water-based paints to let kids create their own artistic color enhancement.

Helping to educate these new budding gardeners, stores are offering short workshops that allows parents to browse while their kids begin to learn about plants and flowers.

Having events where parents and kids interact with what we know can open a door to a new generation of people who love our industry.

Engage your customers. Share what you have learned. Tell them stories about who, what, why, and where it all comes from. Let them touch, feel and have an experience. Educating creates a transparency and connectivity and builds trust and loyalty that few other industries are lucky enough to be able to tap in to!

Originally published in the October 2017 Issue of Florists Review

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