Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Botanical Brouhaha Expert Discussion Panel: Session 34

expert panel Picture 018 springwell gardens                                                                                                                                                                image via Springwell Gardens

The Question:

What marketing strategies have you found to be most successful? As a home-based business without a storefront, I am struggling to find the best ways to reach potential clients- online or print advertising, styled shoots, wedding fairs, networking with other vendors, promotions..... these are all things I have been experimenting with, and so far it seems like wedding fairs and networking with other vendors have been the most successful, but I am curious if there are other things/tricks to good marketing that anyone has come across?

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The Answers:

Blogging and styled shoots were the best marketing things I ever did for my company. Because I do so much social media it has significantly helped my SEO.  In addition to that, blogging made me hungry for new and unique material that was all my own. This ability to share my designs encouraged me to grow as a designer. Photo shoots are an incredible opportunity for me to stretch my wings and create something new or they allow me to create trend. Each photo shoot is seriously thought out and the photographers and other wedding professionals I work with are essential. The imagery has to be top notch to be picked up for publication. An editorial spread goes much further than an advertisement. However, if I am repeatedly featured in a magazine or a blog I feel at some point that I should invest in the publication. I don't like being a taker. I want to help support these magazines and blogs so they will be around in the future. I have one magazine that I now advertise with. They featured me four or five times and I was not an advertiser. Eventually I took the plunge and advertised with them because they had been so good to me. I do not like pay to play advertising.

I do not do bridal shows unless I have a relationship with the venue or the vendors that are hosting it. I don't think todays brides really enjoy a typical bridal show. If the bridal show has a fresh twist or a celebrity designer it is more likely to be successful. The mad dash bridal show is a thing of the past. I also believe strong industry relationships are worth their weight in gold. Being an important and happy part of an event will make everyone want you to be the designer on the job.

-Holly Chapple (Holly Heider Chapple Flowers)

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I think advertising success will vary from person to person. So much depends on your local market, and the type of clients you are seeking. I do advertise online as a preferred vendor on a few websites that I like. That is the only form of paid advertising I take part in. Occasionally I will participate in a shoot to reach clients. I have found that most of the clients that I actually end up booking are from word of mouth referrals.  So I am taking a lot of care to build new relationships with people who I might want referrals from. I continue to pay to be a preferred vendor online because I do get site traffic from it, and feel that eventually it is getting me clients even if it isn’t immediately.

-Sarah Winward (Honey of a Thousand Flowers)

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I also run a home-based business and have no store front.  I depend on Facebook, exposure through my blog, and of course Instagram to showcase images of my work.  Getting lucky and being featured in local print magazines and online bridal blogs helps a lot too, but I have never advertised with either blogs or print magazines as it gets pretty spendy and I don't bring in that much volume.  I do love putting on a great styled shoot here and there though.  It's a great way to just be creative and experiment with new trends that you want to showcase, and that your clients may not be requesting - how else would you get some of those great trends in your portfolio!?  And shoots are an awesome way of networking with other industry professionals!  You get to work with them on a great project, be on site with them for a few hours and get to know them on a more personal level, and after the shoot is over, they will help promote the shoot as well to get both of your names out there!  Networking with other vendors simply over coffee was how my business REALLY started to grow in my second year, so yes, DO THAT!  And as far as bridal shows go, we all know that it can get really expensive, REALLY fast.  Flowers are expensive, and we don't ever want to skimp when we're trying to impress brides.  It doesn't hurt to try one out if you have the funds available!  I say, DO WHATEVER WORKS FOR YOU.  Try something out, and if it isn't working, try something else. 

-Liz Rusnac (Liz Rusnac Floral Design)

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I have spent nothing on advertising or traditional wedding fairs and have instead built my business by developing strong relationships with other designers, others in the wedding industry, and working to get myself on preferred vendor lists of select venues. Styled shoots and earned media are also very worthwhile investments.

-Clare Day (Clare Day Flowers)

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I guess this varies from different areas and countries. But in my opinion it's no idea to waste money on printed advertisement. If there's a good wedding magazine I would advertise on their website instead, so that people can click on my link and end up on my website/blog straight away.

For European florists I would suggest to advertise/be in vendors guides on big wedding blogs like Style Me Pretty. The vendor guide on SMP doesn't contain that many European florists, so you have a great opportunity to stand out!

Otherwise I think networking with other vendors and wedding fairs is the best way to go. When you’re a small business or just started out I think "real" meetings with people build more trust.

-Emelie Ekborg (Svenska Blomsterbloggar)

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My marketing goes through two channels, first my blog and the collaboration I have with wedding blogs and second networking with other wedding professionals. I've never tried fairs, as there's no interesting fair in my area…

-Laetitia Mayor (Floresie)

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Thanks Laetitia, Emelie, Clare, Liz, Sarah and Holly!

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Are you familiar with Nadia di Tullio Flowers? If not, let me introduce you…

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Toast of Leeds Photography

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Hope your Wednesday is wonderful!

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