TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read) - $1 in advertising should provide more than $1 in profit. Ensure that advertisers use relevant numbers and that they match up. Use them for a short time period then measure the results and decide to use them again based on your results.
Advertising Your Wedding Floral Company
Let's take Floral Marketing one step further. How do you know who to advertise with? Advertisers are forever pitching why their website, their magazine, their event is worth you paying them money.
So many florists advertise because "that's what you're supposed to do" and they throw money at a problem without realizing an incredibly important concept.
A dollar out (in advertising) should equal more than a dollar in profit.
Write this on a post-it note and put it on your mirror if needed. This simple principle should guide your marketing efforts. Yes, you should play offense (getting money in to your business) but you have to play defense as well (keeping money from going to bad advertisements).
If you're giving charity, understand that and mark it as that. Don't convince yourself that "you're helping the local wedding community" by paying for advertising from a certain hip magazine or going to a particular wedding show. If they aren't providing you with more $$ business than you're providing them, then drop them or recategorized them to your charity fund. Someone wants you to donate an arrangement to their event? Fun! That's almost always charity...no matter what celebrity will be there or how much "exposure" they say you'll get by giving them free flowers. Someone doing a style shoot? Be sure it is what it's being pitched as. And consider why you may want to say no to styled shoots.
It may not be a bad idea to ask your bookkeeper to create a sub-category called, "Money I'm trying to advertise with but won't ever see again." Watch how that adds up.
There are two sides to finding out if an advertisement is working. Looking at the numbers before and looking at the numbers after.
The Pitch Before
Some advertisers are great and some advertisers are ineffective. Typically advertisers are sincere in their pitch. Yet honesty doesn't make you effective. If you are a wedding and event floral company, you're looking for an advertiser who creates value through "audience aggregation." Their job is to gather the people (brides and grooms or event coordinators) that you want as customers. Then you pay for the opportunity to advertise to those customers.
Learn to read through the pitch. You'll get told a million different lines for why you should advertise with a company. "We have famous people who subscribe"; "The 'hot' floral company in your town advertises with us."; "You are supporting your local wedding community." None of these things matter when it comes to your advertising dollars. If they say something like, "We provide a magazine for high-end clientele", that's great (if that's your market). You should get numbers from them to back up that claim.
If they say to advertise with them for brand name recognition, ignore it. I'm a huge fan of branding. I own a branding company. But you are NOT advertising to repeat customers. You can't get them the next time around. Your advertising will NOT build brand equity. In the wedding floral industry, your brand is equated with your reputation even more than other industries. Your brand will be carried on by bridesmaids - not bride's magazines.
Numbers that Matter
When you make it clear that you need numbers, they may use something called "vanity metrics": numbers that don't really matter. Be sure the numbers they give actually matter. The number of people who viewed their Youtube video doesn't matter. If they're using a survey, ask them how they did their survey and how old the data is.
Once you finally get the numbers, you can't always prove them. If you trust them, take them at their word. Then verify with results. Numbers you should care about:
- How many active subscriptions do they have?
- What is the % breakdown of their readership?
- What is the conversion rate of their advertisers?
- How many engaged clients are they in front of?
- If they're a national company, ask about the numbers in your area.
These companies can't guarantee you to have results. (Run from anyone who suggests they can.) So, don't ask for a guarantee. Just ensure all of their numbers make sense and match up.
Then ask your friends in the industry who advertise with them if they have seen a bump in revenue from going to their show or advertising with them.
If everything looks good, take a leap of faith and advertise. Don't sign a long term contract. It doesn't matter if you get a discount for signing on longer. A loss of a discount is better than losing all of your ad money through a bad ad campaign. If their standard price doesn't end up bringing in more $$ than what you put out, you shouldn't advertise with them.
So you've gone to the wedding show, you've signed up for the half-page ad, and you've bought the premium placement on the wedding site. How do you determine if it's worth it? This part is where most florists throw in the towel and continue to advertise with bad advertisers.
(Side note: This post isn't about making your marketing better...we deal with that here.)
At Twisted Willow, Rachael and I have a form that all clients fill out. One of the questions on the form is, "How did you hear about us?" This isn't just a trick to boost our reputation with the bride ("Look at everywhere we've been!") It's a core part of our advertising strategy. If you don't know how your money is traveling to you, it will soon get lost on the trip.
After looking back over our booked brides, we recently decided to drop a company whom we're currently paying $220/mo for advertising (for a year). Their numbers up front looked great. Yet, we aren't receiving the number of clients we expected and those that are contacting us aren't our goal client. We've had 6 of these clients this year make it through to the form, only three that scheduled consultations, and there was a budget mismatch on all but one (who never met with us but booked with another florist.)
To put it another way: we paid $2,640 for advertising that netted us $0 in profit. (Ouch.) That's a good chunk of the new cooler we need. Oh well, hopefully we helped our brand recognition. (lol) How much profit should we have made to keep advertising? At least $2,641.
On the flip side, some of our other advertisements worked out well and we know where to invest better now.
Go look at where your clients are coming from or add the question to your questionnaire. Then go have some awkward conversations with your advertiser friends and let them know you're not making enough profit off of their advertisements and you need to stop for now.