Much is made of the competition that florists have to deal with in the form of supermarkets, grocers and online order-gatherers.
We did once suggest a strategy for taking this competition head on – but what if you stopped regarding these types of businesses as competition and instead saw them as completely irrelevant?
The way to make these so-called competitors irrelevant is through:
- understanding what your customers really want,
- tailoring your value proposition accordingly
- and communicating this proposition to your target customers effectively.
I know! Some suit-n-tie business jargon in there – but bear with me!
Understand What Your Ideal Customer Really Wants
Customers come to you or your competition because they want something – and this something is not necessarily just flowers – it’s more complicated and intangible than that.
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Flowers are a very different product from most others because in and of themselves they have only minor use or value – they are essentially just decorative. To a retail purchaser, the weight, amount and size of flowers is not that important – in fact if a customer buys too many flowers it would probably reduce the value of their purchase. But what is this “value”?
“Value” in this context should not just be confused with “price” or “a good deal”. Value in this case is a marketing concept loosely meaning “the needs and wants that the customer believes are delivered via the product”. If the value proposition is compelling enough to the target customer, price is not always going to be a major concern.
People do not buy flowers just for their decorative appeal – they buy flowers because they have a message that they need to convey to other people and to themselves. So the flowers are a vehicle to convey this message – which might be “I love you”, “you are important to me”, “I miss you”, or “I hope you feel better” – or something subtle like “I have style and money”.
Tailoring Your Value Proposition
The reason people turn to florists to buy flowers is because of the perceived value that the florists add to the straight flowers.
Telling someone “You’re important to me” is a message more convincingly conveyed through giving a hand-made, quality bouquet than it is through giving a straight bunch of flowers wrapped in cellophane bought from the supermarket.
You know that – but your ideal customer probably doesn’t think about it in such flower-specific terms. “Supermarket flowers” probably don’t come into it (therefore irrelevant). Rather, they may choose another action (bake a cake, invite them over, call on the phone) or purchase (across different industries) to communicate their message. You need to craft a value proposition that attracts this customer to purchase from you instead or as well.
This is just one example – but key here is understanding different customer wants and tailoring value propositions to meet these needs. You can probably think of a whole host. For example, yesterday when we were talking about this, Steve White (Tesselaar’s CEO) asked me whether I would be buying my partner some flowers for Valentine’s Day. I snorted cynically and informed Steve that she considers Valentine’s Day a bunch of commercial Hallmark rubbish so – no need.
Steve then asked me if, while yes she sees Valentine’s Day as a bit twee and mainstream, she would not be happy if I rocked up home that day with a floral token – something pretty but unconventional – just to let her know that I love and appreciate her. I had to admit that yes, it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea at all. Had I been in a florist shop I probably would have bought right there and then!
So there’s an example of a highly targeted value proposition. The flower purchase in this case would have been a vehicle for the message “I love and appreciate you so much that I took the time and effort to choose flowers for you that I know would appeal to your unconventional tastes”. And this is a message I send not just to my Significant Other but to myself – not to mention our ever watchful four year old daughter!
Communicating This Proposition to Your Target Customers Effectively
There is no point tailoring a range of value propositions and their associated products if you do not communicate this effectively to your target customers. This is not rocket science but it does take some thought and some work.
How can you get the customer’s attention? How can you let them know that you understand their needs and wants and have the products to satisfy them?
It is not enough to simply create a website that has sections for “births”, “funerals”, “get well” and so forth. It is not enough to simply display some pretty arrangements and flowers around your store.
You need to segment your marketing into:
- the different reasons for buying
- and the types of feelings your products communicate
And then market to those needs by:
- designing the right vehicle
- and the right arguments to meet these needs
- and overcome objections to the sale.
None of this is necessarily easy – but if you take the view that flowers are the packaging around the feeling or message that the customer wants to send, then you will truly understand the value that you, the florist, add to the flowers. Do this well and you will render the so-called competition completely irrelevant!
Written by Seamus – Tesselaar’s website manager and marketing nerd based on ideas patiently crammed into my brain by Steve White (CEO, Tesselaar Flowers)
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