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8 Tips for a Successful Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Love is in the air, Cupid’s on his way, and you’re wondering whether you’ll be successful this holiday. Fear not: it’s possible to turn that anxiety into a lucrative game plan with the right strategy.

doctor of loveWe’ve consulted veteran florist and business coach, Rick Rivers, for his top tips to have peace of mind while growing your profits this Valentine’s Day. Rivers and his wife Susie have been in the retail floral business for more than 30 years and took their company, A Floral Boutique in Ormond Beach, Florida, to the next level in sales using proven marketing strategies. He’s tapped into the “big box” strategies, re-worked them for the floral industry, and packaged them into bootcamp programs, CD workshops, and books designed to help florists grow their businesses.

We chatted with Rivers about what it takes to be on your game for this holiday. He happily shared his top tips for a smooth and lucrative Valentine’s Day. After all, as he says, “70% of our profits come from a few days a year, so let’s make the best of it.”

Plan for Procrastinators

“This holiday, unlike others, is very last minute,” Rivers said. Few people do their Christmas shopping on December 24 but a huge chunk of Valentine’s customers wait until February 13 or 14. “Most florists don’t have the inventory to sell to these customers because of lack of planning,” Rivers said, insisting that’s it’s better to have too many flowers than too few.

If you have the flowers, you can swoop in and snag sales from other florists who have failed to plan. “Around 10 am or so day of, all five phone lines start ringing,” Rivers said. “It’s other florists’ customers looking for product. Their florist has said no and we say yes.” Last year, he got 57 new customers who previously used his competitors.

Bundle Up

Packages help you upsell and also make the decision process painless for your customers. “Our packages range from $79 to $199 and the higher one includes a dinner gift card,” Rivers said. “This is what we mainly sell for the holiday.”

Consider going to local businesses – bakeries, restaurants, chocolate shops – and buying products or gift cards that you can bundle in your packages. These added value touches make things simpler for your customers.

Prep Part-Timers

If you’re understaffed, it can cut into sales. Part-time employees help you reach your potential. Quality training that covers sales pitches and product info are a must, especially for those staffed to answer phones.

“My lines can average $1000 per hour on Valentine’s Day,” Rivers said. “If no one is answering the phones, then you’re losing big money.”

Whether you turn to friends, locals, or workers from a staffing agency, you’ll likely be hiring part-time employees who don’t know the ins and outs of the floral industry. Rivers suggests having a part-time training day one week before the holiday to keep things running smoothly.

“I use the part-time staff to stuff direct mail and prepare any of the marketing material we send out,” Rivers said. “This helps them get familiar with what they are selling.” He also suggests writing out precisely what you are offering so everyone’s clear on prices and products and even how to say it. “We script everything, from laminated fliers to sales pitches.”

Put Your Name In Lights

Rivers has success in buying splashy billboard ads at strategic times. He runs ads on two digital billboards for three days before the holiday.

Rivers suggests finding an intersection within a few kilometers of your store. “Valentine’s Day involves men mostly, and billboards grab guys’ attention,” he said. “They are very visual buyers.”

The key to a good marketing campaign is to match the message and imagery. One of Rivers’ recent ads showed a man sleeping on the couch with the slogan, “Don’t let this be you.” He matched this imagery on postcards and direct mailing pieces, solidifying his brand and campaign.

Should have used a florist

Go Bar Hopping

Recognizing that about 85% of his Valentine’s Day customers are men, Rivers focuses his efforts on this demographic. He knows that a lot of men love watching professional football, which is at peak excitement in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, due to playoff games and the Super Bowl. To reach these macho men, A Floral Boutique hits his local sports bars.

Rivers dispatches part-time staff to distribute fliers, postcards, or marketing material at the bar. “We ask for permission from the manager and offer to send their loved one flowers,” he said. “We then approach the patrons with fliers.”

Reaching out like this reminds people who haven’t ordered yet to call your shop, or it just might give people the idea to order in the first place. It also gives customers a chance to meet one of your shop’s representatives while they’re in a good mood and enjoying themselves. (Note: pass out flyers early in the game, before the home team has a chance to tank!) The positive associations can only help!

Email Away

Rivers sends out three e-blasts during the holiday. His timing: one week prior, three days prior, and then one on the morning of February 14.

He sticks with the same campaign image and message he uses elsewhere in his print and social media advertising. “It gives us a more consistent message,” he said.

Rivers also makes a point to keep in touch after the holiday. “I like to do a follow-up email, reminding them we’re still here after Valentine’s Day,” he said.

Put A Stamp On It

rick rivers postcardPrint is not dead. Let your customers know you have amazing quality products with a colourful postcard or flier. Again, Rivers makes sure his message is on-point and consistent with his other Valentine’s Day campaigns.

He also suggests you remember to gather any emails and mailing addresses you can for new customers. It will give your business a tremendous boost if you convert your once-a-year buyers into round-the-year ones.

My customers will see my name three to five times per week of any holiday,” Rivers said. “You can convert them more throughout the year by putting them into one of your funnels (direct mail, e-mail list, etc.) and keep putting your name in front of them.“

Ditch The Discount

It can be tempting to offer discounts, especially when you want to estimate product orders ahead of time. But Rivers eschews this strategy. “I used to offer discounts for early orders,” he said. “But I found that customers who order early tend to be the type of people who plan ahead, so I was giving them a discount for something they would do anyway.”

Still, he believes in keeping customers informed. “Keep your name in front of them and be a constant reminder of your service,” he said.

For more tips from Rick Rivers, visit www.floristbootcamp.com

Lindsay Ulrich
Lindsay Ulrich is a multi-platform communications specialist in Toronto.
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