You are completely unique, the most remarkable florist in the world – and you hold inside you the keys to great business and creative success.
The thing is, you are in your shop or workshop every day, so after a while you probably stop seeing your own genius with fresh eyes. But what if you stopped working for a moment and took a look around and asked yourself – is my business remarkable? Not just remarkable but “Remarkable” with a capital R?
In a saturated marketplace where the traditional florist model is under fire from all quarters, the way to get ahead and stand out in the crowd is to accentuate those things about you and your work that is so truly unique that you stand out like … a beautiful flower pinned to a black dinner jacket.
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Here are some ideas:
Identify Your Own Remarkableness
Everybody has their own original personality traits and creative business strengths that they can use to establish an effective point of difference. But the truth is most people are not very aware of their own uniqueness or of what a valuable asset this is. This is probably because we are brought up to be busy and productive, not to be overly self-contemplative.
However stage performers, the smart ones, know that their originality is the key to their success, so they will go back over their performances and work on identifying what it is about them and their work that is unique and accentuating that, while eliminating as much as possible that is generic or copycat.
You might want to try doing this for your personal brand, your business and your floral work. It will help you stay enthusiastic and to really stand out.
Make Your Business An Experience
Have you ever walked into a shop and felt like you’re interrupting the shop owner, that you’re entering their little world and so you’d better be quite? I hate that, and yet it happens so much in little shops that I basically avoid them. Now maybe this is a guy thing, but regardless, it isn’t a good strategy on the part of the shop owner.
But every now and again you walk past a shop and the vibe emanating from it is so welcoming that you want to go in and have a nosy. For me this would probably be a place with a bit of noise and bustle about it, however that might not work for flowers or for every customer type. But my point is you want people to leave not with just a product but with a memory of an amazing experience.
Now if you have an outsized personality then this might be easy for you, but if you are as meek as a church-mouse this doesn’t mean you can’t design your shop (or business in general) into a memorable experience.
What you are aiming for is for people to walk away thinking “Wow! That was completely different and wonderful”.
Here’s a great story about a general store in the middle of nowhere USA that has managed to get people all over the world talking about the experience they create, it’s worth reading the whole article for ideas.
We have mentioned before that specialisation is the go, but it bears repeating.
In the town center where I live there is a restaurant, seemingly always empty, with a big sign that proudly proclaims: “We specialise in French, Lebanese, Greek, Portugese and Australian cuisine”. Smarty-pants local marketing guys like yours-truly like to joke about that, while waiting for their clearly-defined take-away across the street at the busy, specifically-Indian restaurant. I wouldn’t want to be the floral equivalent of the brand-confused restaurant.
If you are known for doing one thing really well, then word of mouth will work better for you, as people will find it easy to remember and define you as an expert in that niche to their friends, and they will trust you to do what you do well.
No, I don’t really mean that you need to become some master orator who can hold her customers spellbound by tales of high adventures in flowers (although that’s great if you can do that).
What I am really on about is the ability to convey a story through all the different aspects of your business: the product, the customer service, the marketing materials, the shop, the website – everything. All of it needs to tell the same story to your customer. Whatever it is – incredible design expertise, speed and convenience or nurturing and empathy – your story must come through clearly and consistently every step of the way.
However the story must be chosen well. It is probably not enough to find a story that you want to tell and then tell it, gambling that enough people want to hear that same story. It’s better to figure out what story people already tell themselves, and then make this story come true for them.
That’s an important point, so let me put it another way – if you don’t find a story that enough people tell themselves and then make it come true for them, you will struggle to get enough customers, because they will all go elsewhere, to the guy who makes their story come true.
People are by nature herd animals. We are wired up to do what everybody else is doing because we have an innate fear of being ostracized from the pack. At a fundamental level this is very sensible but unfortunately it is a habit we stick with when it would be better to be as different as possible.
What I am saying is that if you Zag when everybody else is Zigging, then you give yourself an opportunity to stand out like …. a pretty little wildflower growing out of a pile of rubble.
Be a contrarian – do it deliberately. Look at everybody else and list it all – what is “industry standard” – and then question it. Does it absolutely need to be done this way? Or does everybody do it just because it’s the way everybody does it? Try choosing some aspects of floral work and turning them completely on their head. (Upside-down bouquets anyone?)
After years of being a creative person, I recently understood the most empowering fact about creativity itself – it’s just about connecting things together.
At its heart, creativity is about combining available existing ideas to create something unique. For example, you might decide to sell floral arrangements using funky 70s roller-skates as vases. The two ideas (floral arrangements and retro-rollerskates) already existed but by combining the two you make something new and hopefully remarkable*.
Combining possibilities is actually the secret to creativity, because it is (probably) impossible to have a completely new idea. Ideas, even those that seem stunningly original, only come about by combining existing ideas together for a new purpose.
*If this idea-example is NOT new and NOT remarkable then forgive me, I am not a florist (nor a roller-skater).
P.S. For more ideas on being remarkable and why it is so important, I suggest you read Seth Godin’s little book, Purple Cow.
P.P.S. Also, if you tend to feel overwhelmed by how much stuff there is to do, then like me, you may officially be a Flake (aka human). If so, I suggest you check out this blog post which made me feel a lot better today – The Complete Flake’s Guide To Getting Things Done
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