One of the things I wish someone had told me early on in my floral design + creative entrepreneurship journey is that when it comes to marketing + sales, one of the best things you can do is decide ahead of time what you’re selling.
When you’re first starting out, it’s tempting to think you need to offer up lots of choices and lots of options – that you need to cater to customers across all sorts of styles and aesthetics.
That sounds OK in practice but in reality, it leads to a lot of confusion and total overwhelm – for us and our customers.
This is exactly how we ran our flower business for years. And it was hard work – hard on the customers, hard on our business and hard on me, as a designer. It took me a long time (and a lot of money) to learn there is a better, easier way, a strategy we can follow that helps our customers and helps us.
It’s Time To Step Up and Take Charge: How to Improve My Florist Business
One of the biggest mistakes we designers make is not getting clear on exactly what they’re selling, handing over all your power and authority to your customer.
It’s kinda like if you decided to start a restaurant but, instead of deciding on a menu or cuisine, you just brought lots of different kinds of food and then waited for your customers to approach you and tell you what to make.
Could you imagine walking into your favourite cafe and, instead of the server handing you a menu, he looked at you and asked, “What would you like?” (leaving it entirely open-ended and expecting you, the hungry customer, to have come preferred with a recipe or cookbook).
This is exactly how we're taught to run our flower business. We are trained to have our customers tell us what to create, give us a reference picture and we're expected to know all the techniques and mechanics to be able to just make it.
When we do that, we're setting ourselves (and our customers) up for so much frustration. This approach requires your clients to have the same level of experience, expertise and flower knowledge we do, putting a huge amount of pressure on them.
And, for you as the designer, it leads to creative burnout and often requires you to spend hours and heaps of $$$ learning all sorts of different mechanics and styles. Plus, most of the time you don't even like the work going out the door (that was me!).
Over the past few years, I've heard similar stories from florists around the world, having been advised they need to cater to lots of different tastes and styles in order to grow their business. Philosophically, it makes sense. Practically, from a marketing + sales perspective, it’s an absolute nightmare.
The Paradox of Choice
Have you ever had that experience, where you’re trying to sort through making a decision and just feel overwhelmed by the options available to you? Maybe at the wine shop, looking at the 100s of options available. Or possibly in the chocolate bar section at the convenience store? (That was totally me as a kid!)
In the world of sales, there is a common anecdote that goes: “ A confused mind always says no.” As in, too much choice leads to overwhelm and confusion leads to the customer walking away.
One of the best sales studies I’ve learned about is called The Jam Study. Two psychologists set up an experiment, testing out their hypothesis on selling jars of jam. They wanted to see how sales were impacted by the number of options available to customers.
In one scenario, they set up the experiment with 24 different choices. In the second scenario, they limited it to 6.
Common sense might lead us to believe more choice is better, right? Turns out, the exact opposite is true.
When it comes to learning how to improve my florist business, there is such a thing as too much choice. In the case of the Jam Study, the psychologists found that sales increased when there were 6 products on offer (as compared to 24 options).
We floral designers can learn SO much from this one study. Our customers need us and want us to narrow down the choices and simplify our offer.
A Real-World Example: Apple iPhone
I often think about what a disaster it would be if we, as customers, had to walk into the Apple Store and were presented with shelves of wires, plastic screens, microchips and lenses as opposed to working phones and computers. As if the staff at Apple expect us, the totally tech ignorant customer, to come along and be able to tell the engineers what we wanted to made.
For me, I'd be in a spiral of confusion and overwhelm so quick I'd run screaming out the door. Me, the non-engineer type, has no idea what’s even possible when it comes to this sort of tech. I don't even know where to begin.
Apple has, in fact, does us a massive favour by limiting the number of decisions we iPhone customers need to think through. As of this moment in time, we can decide between basic things like (1) memory (2) colour (3) size (4) version. The rest, the amazing team at Apple have done for us.
We, floral designers, get to do the same thing in our flower business. You and I both know there are an infinite number of solutions when it comes to flowers. And, instead of relying on your customer to tell you what to create, it’s time to take charge and refine your offer.
Step #1 is to decide ahead of time what you think looks good, what ingredients you want to use and what formats you want to offer.
Simplification is the Secret to More Sales
One of the places I really saw this strategy work was when it came to table arrangements. A client would send us one of those generic emails that reads, “I’m having lunch for nanna’s 80th birthday next Thursday. And I’d like something for the table.”
Early on, we’d go back and forth with the customer for days, giving them heaps of options and overwhelming them with decisions and details.
In the end, when I saw how much time my staff was spending on all this back-and-forth, I realised I needed to find a better way. I’d have one of my best designers trying to sort through this for hours – in some cases, navigating the enquiry would take far longer than actually making the arrangements. I had had enough.
We sat down and decided OK, what do we want our go-to table arrangements to look like. We came up with a very simple framework.
- Mini arrangement $85
- Standard size $195
- Premium $350
Rather than using a reference picture as a literal ‘please make me one of these chef’ directives, we started to use the reference pictures as a guide for colour palette, textures and overall vibe. We used it as a tool for communication, rather than a literal set of instructions on what to make.
It finally occurred to me that our clients were sending us reference pictures because (1) they thought they had to and (2) they didn’t know the words to describe what they liked.
PRO TIP: Looking for guidance on pricing your floral arrangements? Jump over here and grab my FREE pricing worksheets.
In the end, this new, simpler sales strategy changed the game for us. It cut down on 90% of the back and forth and streamlined our approach dramatically. Our clients loved how simple we made things and that helped us close more sales with less effort. Better yet, it ensured that every design that went out the door met our standards. Win-win!
How to Effortlessly Sell Your Dream Designs
When you're looking for ideas on how to improve my florist business, keep this sales strategy in mind: stepping up and taking charge is the best way forward.
On a very practical note, remember that this sales strategy works for many different areas of your business. In fact, it applies to anything – ceremony features, funeral work, corporate arrangements, subscriptions.
If you're tired of saying yes to whatever is coming your way and feel totally embarrassed by the work you're being asked to create, you're not alone. That was me. 100%. Over the years, I've learned to flip the entire process on its head. There is an easier way!
It's time to put yourself back in the driver's seat and take control.
And that's precisely what I'm teaching in this week's podcast episode, passing along my exact approach to effortlessly sell your dream designs and giving you my best advice on how to improve my florist business.
What you'll learn from this week's podcast episode:
✓ Why we're all taught the exact wrong approach to get orders and navigating event clients
✓ My super simple solution to quoting designs you love and how to make it easier to close more clients
✓ How to put yourself back in the driver's seat of your business and start making work you love
✓ Streamline your wholesale ordering process and stop all the second-guessing
Listen to the full episode here