Summertime Strategies for a Fruitful Year
By Tina Miller
Ah, summertime. The temperatures rise, the days lengthen, and you finally get some reprieve from the seemingly non-stop commotion of winter and spring holidays, proms, and graduations. The slight slowdown is the perfect time to nurture some parts of your business you may have neglected in the hustle and bustle.
Pull it up now. Be brutally honest. How does it look? Are your photos sharp, vibrant, and current? Or do you have pixelated images of designs from, say, 2006? A recent study by Adobe found that 66 percent of consumers prefer websites that are beautifully designed as opposed to those that are simple and plain. In fact, if the content and layout are unattractive, 38 percent of website visitors will leave the site, the same study found. Are you inadvertently driving away nearly four out of every 10 people who land on your website?
Remember: your website and social media pages are extensions of your business. That’s the attitude Joseph Delarge, CAFA, takes with his Toronto shop, eco|stems. His site reflects the shop’s current offerings with stunning imagery, offers pertinent information customers want to know, and links to all things social media.
What’s his secret? Summertime planning.
Each summer, Delarge takes the time to map out the following year. This guide ensures that he updates the site with fresh imagery, products, pricing, and shop hours in an appropriate window before new seasons or holidays hit.
He also considers the time it takes to generate new images for the website and social media accounts, allotting time for design days, photo shoots, and even brainstorming.
He gets inspiration from studying fashion sites and other florists’ work, and observing people in the city for an idea of local trends. He set up a photo studio in the shop where he memorializes favourite designs.
But he doesn’t rely entirely on his own photography skills. Three to four times a year he schedules a shoot with a professional photographer who enhances the images with Photoshop.
This ensures the shop has a multitude of photos to entice customers during the various seasons. A yearly agenda will keep you on track to maintain your aesthetically pleasing website.
Of course, a remarkable website requires more than just pretty photos. Words are powerful. As we’ve discussed in past issues in the “Ask the SEO” and “The Social Florist” columns, a blog can do wonders for generating more traffic and engaging customers. Delarge also suggests adding an Instagram feed on the website. This helps streamline the process of posting and sharing images. Provide connections between your website and Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, or any other social medium to which you belong. When you update the website, update the social media sites. Upload those fresh images or information to all mediums at once.
Surveys by BrightLocal, an international firm focussed on Internet search, found that 9 out of 10 consumers read and rely on online reviews before purchasing a product or service. In other words, reviews are paramount to your success. Having too few is almost as bad as having scores of complaints.
How do you get more reviews?
Look no further than the Easy Review Builder (ERB). The aptly named platform lets business owners avoid spending endless hours checking, rechecking, and replying to various social media streams. ERB is a one-stop-shop for you to see and take action on both positive and negative reviews. It includes a widget you publish right onto your website that sends negative reviews to your customer service team.
From there, your team can take care of questions, concerns, and complaints. This provides a wealth of benefits. First, it allows you to tackle issues that might otherwise be lost in the Internet kerfuffle. Second, it streamlines the process; you can efficiently meet the needs of unhappy or concerned consumers.
Taking some time this summer to set up this service can save you immense time when Valentine’s Day and other busy periods arrive.
Although people are increasingly attached to their electronic devices, life, of course, exists beyond the Internet. Some personal, face-to-face time within the community can really boost your reputation, recognition, and sales.
Delarge uses the summer to court the press. “Do everything you can to be the beneficiary of free coverage by local media,” he said. “Get mentioned in the paper, magazines, radio, blogs etc.”
One tactic that gets reporters’ attention: collaborating with another local business to host a fun gathering or promotion. Have a mom and pop hardware store in the area? Think “lumber and lilacs.” How about a “latte and flower day” at a neighbouring café? How about a boutique?
You could create floral jewellery for a fashion show or a “Splash into Summer” gala. Think of what you can do with the local eatery or dessert shop. Have you dabbled with edible florals? Not only can events get you into the papers, but also onto locals’ and tourists’ summer agendas.
This summer, as you tend your rhododendrons and roses, don’t forget the importance of your 4 Cs: calendars, cameras, computers, and collaboration.
Tina D. Miller is a writer, teacher, evaluator, puppy mother, fabric manipulator, and football enthusiast in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 2008, she earned her MFA in creative writing and has since written and published several flash fiction stories, blog posts, and novels.