Spring has sprung! By the time this issue comes out, we will all be basking in the excitement of the new season. This winter has been one of extreme cold and heavy storms in many areas, so I know I am especially ready for green sprouts, warm days, sunshine and of course, FLOWERS! With the new season come new markets, new customers, new varieties and new opportunities in every direction for selling all those blooms. So where to begin getting the promotional ball rolling? For those of you who sell retail – whether at a farmers’ market, through your local specialty store, direct from your farm, for weddings and events or even subscriptions  – promoting your farm and your flowers is crucial to your sales. Here are a few ideas for flower farm promotion.

Before undertaking any promotional project, your first step would to be to make a list of your goals and where you want to go. That’s a whole other article, but having a clear plan with both qualitative and quantitative goals that are measurable in some way is a key guiding point for creating your promotional plan. It’s tough to create a plan to accomplish something if you don’t know what it is you want to accomplish.

Regardless of who you sell to (or want to sell to), if you aren’t already on Facebook, there’s no better time to jump on board. Setting up a page for your small business is so easy and recent upgrades now allow you to interact with individuals on Facebook as your business (i.e. “Roost Flowers commented on your picture”) rather than only as an individual person. Facebook is one of the only places that allows you to give frequent, brief updates and share photos with customers and potential customers in a community type of forum. Once you begin, don’t be afraid to suggest to the fans of your page to share your posts/photos with all their Facebook friends to get the word out. Build your Facebook fan base by adding a link from your website, by encouraging market customers to “like” your Facebook page for discounts and specials and by reminding your personal friends on FB to check out your business page and share it with others.

E-mail marketing is still uncharted territory for many small business owners. But with services like MailChimp or A. Weber, it’s never been easier. Build a mailing list by having a sign-up sheet at your farm stand or farmers’ market. Offer a $5 discount or other incentive for customers who sign up. Then go to MailChimp.com and sign up for free. Enter your mailing list, pick a template and send out regular email updates to your mailing list. No need to be wordy or fancy — even a weekly email during the season telling what’s in bloom that week reminds your customer that you’re there and that you want their business. Let them know about the other services or products you provide and about what’s happening at your farm to build that connection with them.

If you provide floral design services for weddings and events or arrangements of any kind, get serious about your promotions. Spend the time and money to have good quality photos done if you don’t already have them. Build your online portfolio and promote your services through Facebook and through your own website and/or blog. Give yourself a bit of formal education in design, if you haven’t done so. Get connected with a designer or take a class or workshop to be sure your designs are professional, and then use only the highest quality blooms. Connect with other local wedding professionals to build referrals and most of all, always over-deliver on service and quality of your product. One of my biggest qualitative goals for 2011 is to be a service business that happens to provide flowers and let everything else fall in place from there. Happy Spring and here’s to a new and prosperous season!

Becky Devlin

Roost Flowers & Design

Becky Devlin Roost Flowers & Design [email protected]cox.net