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Travel Diary: Virgin Farms Goes to Ecuador

Rose Farm Nursery

Rose Farm Nursery

January 10th, 2019

Today we embark on a journey to Ecuador. It’s close to Valentine’s Day season and we will be visiting our farms. Most cultivate roses and others are growers of calla lilies, asiatic and oriental lilies, and other focal flowers and fillers. Our flight takes off at 3:55 p.m. and we arrive at 7:55 p.m.

Arrival at Quito, Ecuador

As we descended into the city of Quito, from the plane we could see all the lights from the city below us along the mountains illuminated in the darkness. The view was breathtaking. After collecting our luggage we made our way 20 minutes to our quaint “hosteria” called San Jose in Puembo with historical roots. The property even has a corral with farm animals including llamas, sheep, chickens, and peacocks. 

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Shipping Flowers for Valentine’s Day

It’s Valentine’s Day season again! The year 2016 raced by quickly, and here we are in January 2017 ready for another exciting holiday. By now you all have started making preparations for your shop: order fresh cut flowers, stock design materials, begin advertising campaigns, and hire extra helpers.

At Virgin Farms we also make preparations, and when shipping week rolls around we are busy as bees. Throughout January florists place their orders for roses and other fresh flowers. Then by the first week of February we begin receiving inventory. Our operations manager and cooler crew sort and check the flowers for quality.

We wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes view of our cooler. Check out our video!

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Valentine’s Day Marketing Tips for Florists

This year Valentine’s Day is on a Saturday. With some creativity, this may be an opportunity for twice the sales if you think outside the vase. Marketing trends reveal that today’s consumers make purchases that deliver a message and tell a story. For instance, they want to know where their flowers were grown because it adds sentimental value to their purchase.

We have compiled some Valentine’s Day marketing tips for florists that may be useful.

 Create a Buy One, Get One Bouquet Deal

Most people like to receive their flowers at work to show it off to their co-workers. Let’s be honest, it’s also a romantic gesture! Since Valentine’s Day is on Saturday, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on floral delivery sales. Create a packaged deal for customers: Send a bouquet to your sweetie at work on Friday, and get the second one for Valentine’s Day at a discount.

Sell Flowers to Restaurants

Many florists have told us that they get extra business from local restaurants. Offer small bouquets made of roses, carnations, leather leaf and gyp or single stems of roses. Restaurant owners usually offer a free rose or small bouquet to couples that dine in on Valentine’s Day.

Tips for Buying Wholesale Flowers

Virgin Farms custom packed flowers

Custom Packed Flowers

In the flower industry, Valentine’s Day season begins right after the New Year. We strongly encourage customers to pre-book as early as possible in January. For floral designers, this allows you to get first pick from our inventory at a good price. Red roses in particular always increase in price, and in general for all flowers in demand as we get closer to Valentine’s Day.

When choosing a ship date, consider how long it will take to prep and process flowers, as well as design the arrangements. At Virgin Farms, the busiest ship days begin the week before Valentines Day up to a few days before February 14th. Our Ecuadorian roses and Dutch flowers are known for the lengthy vase life, premium quality and freshness. Your account manager will guide you through every step until you receive them at your door.

Advertising Your Valentine’s Day Floral Arrangements

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Social Media
Most people are active on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Take advantage of the fact that it’s free and effective in creating word-of-mouth. Share photos of your shop, employees and floral arrangements and gifts. Facebook allows you to create ads and target specific segments based on age, interests, and gender among some options.

Instagram is a great social media platform if you’re targeting the younger crowd. Create a contest in which they share a photo of their Valentine’s Day floral arrangement using your company name as a hashtag (example: #VirginFarms). Hashtags allow people to search photo posts by topic as you would in a search engine. The key is to gain followers to create brand awareness and drive consumers to your floral shop even after Valentine’s Day.

Mobile Shopping Apps
List a deal or voucher on daily deal apps such as Groupon and Living Social. “As of September 2014, Groupon is the most-visited coupon website in the United States with approximately 30 million unique monthly visitors and accounts for 59.1 percent of the U.S. daily deal market.” (Source: http://www.statista.com/topics/824/groupon/)

MailChimp Email Marketing

MailChimp Email Marketing

Email Marketing
Capture emails from your website visitors or on social media. MailChimp is a free platform for sending newsletters. Create a landing page in which visitors can sign up to receive emails in exchange for a coupon. Most email marketing platforms have built-in analytic reports that determine if the your campaign was effective. You can see which subscribers opened your email, what they clicked on, and if they visited your site.

Begin sending emails the last week of January introducing popular floral arrangements and useful information such as ideas for Valentine’s Day gifts, the meaning of certain floral varieties and colors, or curate a list of local events taking pace on February 14th. The week before Valentine’s Day, include coupons and promotions for loyal subscribers and customers. Include a call to action button directing them to your website’s e-commerce page.

What are your methods of promoting your flowers and gifts for Valentine’s Day? Share in the comments.

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Prom Season Flowers

In a few months, teenagers will be attending the most awaited event of the year—prom! High school seniors and juniors save up every penny to splurge on dresses, tuxedos, shoes, hairdos, makeup, corsages, boutonnieres—and maybe a limo service to arrive in style.

For florists, prom is a great opportunity for company exposure and to reach the younger market.

Choose floral varieties that are small enough for a wrist or to pin on a tuxedo. Corsages and boutonnieres are a delicate accessory, so keep it simple but elegant by using eye-catching flowers such as cymbidiums. Also keep in mind teens will be dancing the night away—work with blooms that are sturdy enough to withstand the harlem shake!

Prom Floral Corsages

(Suggested varieties for corsage and boutonniere designs)

Focal flowers: spray roses, mini cymbidiums, ranunculus, mini callas, alstroemeria, and mini carnations. 

Filler flowers: hypericum, solidago, astilbe, wax flower, and gyp.

Promote your Flower Shop

Begin promoting your shop as a source for corsages and boutonnieres a couple of months ahead of prom. Teens should have their dress or tux narrowed down by now, which means they’ll begin looking for color schemes and floral varieties to match their ensemble. Design samples to use as display pieces at your shop and take plenty of photos. Mix and match flowers, ribbons, wrist bands and jewels to showcase what you can create for their special night. You can offer a packaged deal  or discount for teens purchasing both a corsage and boutonniere.

Social media is changing the way we advertise by creating a closer—and a more personable connection—with your customers or target market. 

Teenagers are heavy social media users, and it is the perfect opportunity to market your shop as a resource for their floral accessories. Post pictures of sample designs on Instagram, and use hashtags so your photos appear when they use the search bar to discover users to follow. For example #corsages #prom #boutonnieres #promflowers #promcorsages could be popular tags.

On facebook, you can post content with photos, run contests, and announce special offers to promote your shop during prom season. Shortstack is a great resource for ideas to keep your facebook page fresh with new content and tab apps to grow your fan base. Ask teens to share photos from prom night on social media, and have your followers vote on the best entry. Award a prize to the participant who had the most votes. Not only are you getting exposure and word-of-mouth, but you’re also encouraging others to interact on your social media sites and attract possible shoppers.

Wishing you a busy prom season!

Follow us on Instagram @virginfarms and use hashtag #VirginFarmsFlowers to show us your #floraldesigns for prom season.  

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