Tips for planning and preparing for the third busiest holiday in a florist’s year, as well as merchandising, marketing and sales advice.
By Nita Robertson, AIFD, CFD
Although Mother’s Day this year falls as late on the calendar as the second Sunday in May can (May 14), it is still just around the corner! Are you ready to make the most of it?
According to a survey of consumers conducted for the National Retail Federation, the top three Mother’s Day gift categories in 2022 were greeting cards; flowers; and special outings, including dinner out. Greeting cards and flowers continue to be staple gift categories, with 75 percent of shoppers planning to buy greeting cards and 72 percent planning to buy flowers (up from 68 percent in 2021). Another source, RetailMeNot, reports that flowers were the No. 1 gift choice for Mother’s Day last year, with 47 percent of consumers buying them, followed by chocolate (36 percent); gift cards (29 percent); dinner (26 percent); jewelry (22 percent); and beauty products, including perfume (19 percent). So, there’s a look at your competition!
Mother’s Day is the No. 3 revenue-generating holidays for florists, behind Valentine’s Day (No. 1) and Christmas/Hanukkah (No. 2), according to the Society of American Florists (SAF). The national florist association reports that Mother’s Day accounts for 26 percent of all holiday floral transactions and 24 percent of all holiday dollar volume. Attracting and handling all those orders efficiently and profitably requires early and careful planning, organization and marketing.
One advantage that Mother’s Day provides is that many customers are somewhat flexible on the delivery date, and, therefore, the holiday has become, for many savvy florists, “Mother’s Day Week” instead of just “Mother’s Day.” By promoting the holiday as a weeklong celebration of moms, most florists are able to handle more orders—and do so more efficiently. Explain to customers that their mothers will be delightfully surprised by early deliveries and thrilled to know their children are thinking of them early.
Take a look at previous years’ Mother’s Day numbers—sales, staffing, deliveries, et al.—as well as the days of the week on which the holidays fell and weather and other anomalous factors, to help you make educated decisions on buying, staffing, etc. Taking good notes about every holiday can really help you become more efficient and profitable each successive year.
If you have not done so already, place your orders for flowers, plants and supplies now, which could provide you with an advantage in negotiating prices. Assess your current hard-goods inventory, and if you have leftover holiday-specific containers, ribbons, picks and the like that need to be used, create new and reimagined holiday specials with them as part of your holiday collection (“menu”) of designs.Stock up on trendy plant options as alternatives to flower arrangements; succulents, orchid plants, and indoor and outdoor container gardens remain wildly popular, particularly among younger consumers who might be seeking “more value” for their dollars.
It is also important to prepare your shop for the big holiday with a “beautification lift” (spring cleaning). Organize, clean and clear clutter. Create captivating and enticing in-store displays, including in your storefront window(s), to attract people’s attention as they pass by your shop.
Train your permanent and holiday staff. Arm frontline salespeople with all of the information they need to fulfill customers’ wants and needs and to make successful sales. Make sure everyone is well-versed on your selection of arrangement, plant and other gift options, as well as add-on items that pair well with each; which items are the most profitable and easy to design and deliver; your range of price points; and your delivery fees, schedule and policies. Ensure that everyone on your team focuses on delivering a first-class customer-service experience at all times. The thing that defines your brand the most is the experience you create for your customers.
“Mother’s Day is a grand, stressful, busy, frustrating and fabulous holiday,” observes Leanne Kesler, AIFD, CFD, PFCI, FDI, co-owner and director of Floral Design Institute in Portland, Ore. “To create the opportunity for success, stay true to you. Design in your style. Follow your recipes. Know when to say ‘No,’ (or, better yet, when to provide other options and suggestions), and don’t forget to be pleasant and helpful at all times (sometimes easier said than done!) Customers will remember how you helped them find the perfect gifts.”
Tim Farrell, AIFD, CFD, AAF, PFCI, owner of Farrell’s Florist in Drexel Hill, Pa., offers the following tips, culled from his 40 years as a shop owner and designer.
• Limit choices to consumers to less labor-intensive designs.
• Promote color palettes instead of specific flowers.
• Stay ahead of the game: Create more designs than you have orders for, and then sell what is made.
• Get flowers in early and process and store them correctly, to save time on your busiest days.
• Keep an upbeat attitude! It starts at the top. Negativity can be infections, so always set the best example, no matter how stressful the days get.
• Keep good records, and refer to previous years’ records to help you project your sales and staffing needs for the current year.
Social media marketing, email marketing, website updates and holiday promotion are essential in the weeks and days leading up to Mother’s Day. Advertise your collection of holiday offerings and their range of price points, and offer bundles (an arrangement and a box of chocolates, a plush toy, or a candle, for example), to excite and entice customers about all the creative options you have to offer.
Create a Mother’s Day section both in your store and on your website. Having a special section on your website featuring all of your Mother’s Day offerings—with prices—will make it easier for shoppers to find what they’re looking and navigate your online store. Make sure that all options you present are realistic and attainable.
“Utilizing your web shop properly can help you streamline your holiday sales,” assures Beth O’Reilly, AIFD, CFD, TMF, a freelance floral designer in Houston, Texas. “Create and photograph designs in several price points that feature easy-to-source blooms for the season. Train staff to promote those arrangements to walk-in and phone customers, as well, and encourage customers to view your offerings online, especially during peak ordering times.”
Schedule engaging stories and regular updates on your social media channels, including entertaining Instagram Reels and fun TikTok videos. Share a different Mother’s Day gift option (or two) on your social media channels daily to incentivize consumers to place orders early. Create most of your social media posts in advance, before you get too busy, and then schedule all of your posts at one time using a social media management platform such as Buffer, Hootsuite, SocialPilot, Sprout Social, Zoho Social, MeetEdgar, Loomly, Sendibile, PLANOLY or something similar.
TIP: Integrate your website with Instagram Shopping (business.instagram.com/shopping) or Facebook Shops(facebook.com/business/shops), to help customers complete in-app purchases of your products.
Hosting giveaways is another great way to increase sales on Mother’s Day while also boosting your brand awareness. A giveaway is a limited-time promotion in which you offer a prize to one or more lucky participants according to a predefined set of rules. You should get a lot of traction on social media.
PROMOTE ADD-ON GIFTS
For customers who want to give their moms more than flowers or plants, create pairings of great gifts that complement your flowers and plants (“bundles”). Help customers envision what is possible by creating in-store displays of your creative pairings and posting them on your website. Some popular gifts are cards, chocolates, candles, spa items, plant care and gardening items, art containers, and locally made or sourced gifts. Display a curated selection of unique, creative and fun Mother’s Day cards in your store, perhaps near the checkout counter, and add a greeting card option on your website as an upgrade. Greeting cards are easy sales for Mother’s Day!
THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX
Offer unusual and unexpected gift options such as “flower subscriptions” and tickets to upcoming floral design classes. “Experience gifts” are extremely popular, and what better fun than to go to a flower design class or workshop with one’s mom. If a customer cannot attend, encourage him or her to send mom out for a day of fun. This will require creating and scheduling classes or workshops in advance of the holiday, so get started planning for this sales strategy now. You could also offer floral design “kits,” with all of the materials and instructions needed to make a special arrangement. You could market these as gifts for mom—perhaps that she could pick up after the holiday, at her convenience—or advertise them as DIY kits with which kids can make arrangements for their moms for the holiday.
Online Marketing Tips
By Frank Blanchard, AIFD, CFD
Think Flowers Media; Portland, Ore.
Let’s face it: Mother’s Day, and all the business that happens during the week(s) leading up to Mother’s Day, is crazy! And marketing, for many professional florists, can be one of the hardest parts of what we do. You have to make it easy for people to find you, and you must inform them about the wonderful and creative products you have available and the services you can provide.
Marketing is too huge of a topic to cover here, so I am sharing a basic blueprint of what needs to happen on your website for Mother’s Day. First, you must get you and your business “found” online. Before any potential customers can find you, the search engines have to be able to not only find you but also know what you are about, the products you have available and the services you provide. The search engines do this in two ways: by means of the text content, especially the metadata you have on your website, and AI (Artificial Intelligence).
Search Engine Optimization
So, for the sake of practice, let’s take an image from your website or one that you are going to have on your website as a special for Mother’s Day. First, you have to have enough text content for every single item on your website that tells the search engines what it is, what it’s for, etc. I have found that three short paragraphs of text work best.
The first short paragraph is your opportunity to generate desire for the item by telling the online customer what makes the arrangement, plant or other item special. If you desire, you can describe a specific scenario by creating a mental image for the customer as to why the item is a fantastic choice. Be sure to include some keywords and, more important, keyword phrases that people actually use to search for the kinds of things you have available. At this step, you are starting to generate what is called “on-page SEO.”
In the second short paragraph, go more in depth about the item, describing, for example, what kinds of flowers and colors are included in a specific arrangement. This is also where you can suggest to customers how it can be displayed in the recipient’s home, how to keep the flowers fresh, and so on.
Last, and most important for the search engines, the third short paragraph is where you share your business name; where your shop is located, naming the city and state and, possibly, even your specific neighborhood; and to what geographical areas you provide your “professional florist delivery service.” (That’s a hint.) Also, tell people (and the search engines) what other cities you service.
The information that you include in these three paragraphs is what the search engines use to figure out what you have to offer and where you are located. Be sure to focus on local, local, local. Also, all of this information needs to be different for every single item on your website.
The next area of importance is the metadata (data that provide information about other data). This is the info you are basically telling the search engines directly what content to look for.
First is the meta title (a.k.a. title tag) of the item and the page it’s located on. It is the text that is displayed on search engine result pages and browser tabs to indicate the topic of a webpage. It should be brief (between 30 and 60 characters), describe what the page is about, incorporate a primary keyword or keyword phrase for the page, and include trigger words and a USP (unique selling proposition) about the item.
Next is the meta description. This is your first chance for a sales pitch or tag line and sharing where you are located. A meta description tag generally informs and interests users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about. It is like a pitch that convinces searchers that the page is exactly what they’re looking for. Make sure your description reads like a normal, human-written sentence, but make it as compelling and relevant as possible. And make sure it matches the content on the page.
These two pieces of metadata are the most important because once online consumers do a “search” for whatever they are looking for, this is the info they are going to get in their search results. Your keywords and keyword phrases are critical in getting search engines to look what you’re offering.