Selected as the WeddingWire Brides Choice and Best of the Knot several times, Georgianne Vinicombe knows how to deliver on her clients’ needs. She has been serving the public in New Jersey and Pennsylvania through her two Monday Morning Flower and Balloon Co shops for over 25 years. In this Q&A with The Florist Guide she lets us in on some of the secrets of her success from social media to cross marketing.
How did you get your start in floristry?
I did not set out to be a florist, not to mention owning a full service retail floral shop. I was running a business that I had founded that was not very “creative” and I was looking for something a bit more challenging to do one day per week. Monday Morning Flowers was born and our focus was on providing small floral arrangements (bud vases) to small offices that wanted weekly flowers (on Monday mornings) but were not being serviced by full service floral design studios. I called this “flowers by subscription” and folks could buy a month, three months, etc. and have fresh flowers delivered for their reception desks each Monday.
Not being one to stand still for long, I became interested in balloon decor (this was 1988-1990) and so started to teach myself how to create arches and centerpieces using balloons. Typically, this was weekend work and so I started offering this service, hence the name change from Monday Morning Flower Co to Monday Morning Flower and Balloon Co. To this day we inflate over 35,000 balloons and of course, are a full service florist as well.
What is the most satisfying part of the job for you?
Interaction with customers, being surrounded by beautiful flowers and the “retail” end of our business. I love merchandising and looking for new products to offer. I especially love anything to do with marketing and social media (social networking) not to mention how two days are never the same—all combine to keep me interested and challenged in my business.
And the most challenging?
I think I’d have to say dealing with employees. I love leading and innovating, but I strongly dislike the day to day “managing and follow up” that has to happen when you manage a team of individuals.
For the busy florist trying to balance all the roles required in running a shop, what would you suggest as the best way to market yourself?
I believe in “romancing the customer.” It truly is all about them. If you understand and meet their needs, they will come back and they will tell their friends. Running a professional organization with policies and procedures can make you unpopular with your employees, especially your designers, but the consumer deserves consistent service year after year.
Holding staff accountable for their work and sharing expectations is the only way to build a consistently good floral brand. Once you have that in place, you can go out and market yourself to the world! My favorite marketing right now are all aspects of social media (social networking). Cross marketing with other businesses and putting as much about yourself online (to help with organic searches) as possible costs little but the rewards are huge. Lastly, nothing big can be achieved without a great website. An updated and current website that is customized as much as possible is a must.
Can you give me a couple of examples of some effective cross marketing that you’ve done?
We cross market with the Trenton Thunder Ballpark. We provide them with flower and balloons when they need it and they give us signage throughout the ballpark, tickets to give out, etc. They mention us, we mention them and it puts us in front of thousands of customers from our area.
How have you found your YouTube videos have helped your business?
I do have a YouTube channel and regularly post videos here. I do feel that it has helped our business. I’d love to say that I know exactly how much revenue it generates each year but truthfully, I don’t. I just know it’s a great way to market your business by sharing and educating the public. I specifically use it as a tool to get weddings, to highlight our product line and market for the holiday season.
How much video production experience did you have when you started up your YouTube channel?
It’s funny that you ask that because my first year of college was spent as a communication major and my goal at that time was to go into TV production. After a year of that, I decided it was a very difficult path to pursue and changed my major to business. I still feel that I have an eye for “framing” and I still see things as though I’m looking through the lens and am pretty comfortable in front of the camera (as a TV production major in 1981 and a woman, they were more likely to put me in front of the camera than in the editing room or behind the camera, much to my frustration).
OK, enough of my early college days; I really had no video production experience and if you look at the videos I currently have posted, most are made in a very simple and straightforward manner. I’m more likely to sit at my desk in front of my webcam and talk into the computer, starting and stopping manually and creating the video in one take. I sometimes use my Flip Video camera and I love making videos of products and past weddings using Animoto, which is a very easy tool to create slideshow-like videos set to music. No skill required!
How long does it take to film and upload your average YouTube video?
It would be very rare for me to take longer than 30 minutes to create and upload a video. Talk about keeping it simple! My videos look “home made” and they really are. In the future, I’d love to learn an editing package, but I don’t see myself making time for that in the near future.
How has your Facebook page been of benefit?
Oh gosh yes, I can’t imagine not having Facebook as a tool. I may not be able to quote exactly how much business comes from Facebook, but even five years later, I still spend a significant amount of time on our Facebook pages (we have two stores, each with a page).
If a florist only had time to handle one social media platform, which would you suggest?
It would have to be Facebook, hands down. Facebook is the way to go.