Online Events vs. Online Promotions
What is the difference?
This is not necessarily a sales-driven activity. Events could be a way to expose your products, services, and brand through activities. For example, you could let your customers, like future brides, know that you will be at your local wedding fair, or that you will be hosting a flower arranging or terrarium workshop, upcoming competitions, or even something quirky like during the Summer months you are opening a Plant Hotel where people can come and drop off their plants while they’re away on holiday and that you will care for their plants for a fee. The latter is another way to get customers into your store, make them fall in love with your new plant stocks, and when they come to collect their plants again, they might leave with a few new additions to their plant collection.
How to promote Online Events:
Events can be promoted online through your own channels (website & social media).
Facebook, for example, has an easy to use ‘Events’ tool with the option on your business page where you can create an event (workshop, showcase or whatever it is you’re hosting). Also explore the 'Offers' tool found on the 'Page' section of your business page:
And external channels should also be considered if you’re collaborating with another company, for example, a restaurant where you will be hosting a collaboration cocktail-mixing & flower arranging workshop event could be promoted on the restaurant’s website and their social media channels, and also through direct marketing channels like their newsletter. As a reminder, we do not encourage a hard sale on social media (like discounts or pushing sales), as you are in your audience’s social/personal space, so rather sell an experience or event, or post inspirational posts, and the product will follow naturally.
Another option of an external channel often used to promote events in the UK, is a marketplace site called Eventbrite. It’s a nationwide site which is very popular amongst young urban-dwellers, and it’s easy to set up and promote an event on there; you can even sell tickets directly for your event through the site, and it’s usually done for a relatively a small fee.
Here’s an example of an upcoming hand tied bouquet class/workshop:
Another site aimed at courses, workshops and hobbies, is a site call Obby: https://obby.co.uk/
Many florists also promote their workshops on here, so it’s worth exploring similar options with your location and target group in mind.
In the Press:
And don’t forget that you can also send information about your upcoming events to local newspapers and magazines (a press release and images) so they can include this in their publication or events calendars (both on- and off-line). This can secure press coverage for you, also known as earned media (instead of paid). And if you feel that you only want to target specific publications that suit your target audiences, you can segment that too.
For example, TimeOut London often features workshops and things to do in London, and below they features ‘Weird workshops and courses in London’: https://www.timeout.com/london/things-to-do/weird-workshops-and-courses-in-london
Perhaps you can come up with a quirky way to get noticed and make the press and get your name out there!
Generally speaking, an online promotion is a discount or an offer related to a product. This could be a discounted/price-driven activity, but could also be a communication to highlight a specific product like new bouquet range in-store, or new season stock that you wish to highlight and promote. These are generally done for specific reasons like having to move product quickly, or making sure revenue is still being driven during quieter months, or simply to encourage a bigger spend (upgrades), or to drive sales to promote your business like an introductory offer or discount when someone joins your mailing list (we covered this topic in our Direct Marketing instalment in June).
How to promote Online Promotions:
As with our previous module about Direct Marketing and advising on segmentation, we would strongly advise to mainly focus on using Direct Marketing. Of course you can use social media to promote these every now and again or on special occasions, but you do not want customers to keep seeing discounts you offer in their feeds, as this may devalue your brand (be seen as cheap), or your audience may come to only expect discounts from you, thus causing them to only buy from you when you run an offer or promotion. So perhaps plan 4 promotions a year to introduce a new season bouquet, and the rest of the promotions you run, make sure they’re segmented and rather use direct marketing routes (newsletters for online customers, or leaflets if your target group prefers communications by post).
Our marketing manager from our Paris office, Ron Jeronimus, is contributing to this month’s instalment below, and he shares some of the ideas and trends happening on the other side of the English Channel.
Online events and promotions
Now that you have a better understanding of online communication, you will be aware that there’s a good online media mix that can be used for all your communication activities. Communication for your brand, your shop, your products, and the events and promotions you can promote. Everything can be done on your online media channels: your website, and socials like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. and make sure that your website reflects the offers or can accommodate the discount codes you are running.
Questions you should ask yourself are the following:
- WHY should I do promotions and organize events?
- WHAT can be a good promotion or an event?
- WHEN should I do a promotion?
- HOW do I communicate/promote it?
I have a flower shop, I sell flowers for occasions people need flowers for. Why should I cut prices for my wonderful product? And what kind of events could be useful – especially online?
A flower-shop is like any other business. You need to be proactive to drive footfall or web traffic and convert these to sales, and to ensure your turnover and margin. According to your commercial strategy, you can choose for high volumes/low margins or lower volumes/high margins. In the 1st case you will logically need to attract a higher number of clients than in the 2nd case, but you will have to have enough clients to keep your business afloat and make sure you are profitable, and if there are not enough clients coming into the shop (on or offline), you will need to find ways to attract them.
We also deal with very perishable products.
Depending on your needs, actions can be taken to improve your clients’ loyalty, attract new customers, get rid of stock, boost turn-over, or to stand out from your competitors on big calendar dates.
Being online, you must actively communicate with your audience to keep them engaged. Images and information can do a lot, but events and promotions poses as an important extra to surprise and seduce your community, to keep them interested in your shop, your product, your brand and MAKE THEM TALK ABOUT IT (likes & shares).
Please remember that flowers are not very often top-of-mind . Even-though people like flowers, they have to be reminded of them very regularly. Funnyhowflowersdothat.co.uk does that in a general way, you have to do this as well for your shop, your brand.
According to your target group: offers, participation to special events and promotions.
Keep it simple, surprising and seductive.
You will have to design your actions and promotions according to your type of client – as with segmentation: those who are price-driven (price-promotions), those who want special service or extraordinary flower-arrangements (high-end), those who want the things they know (traditional), etc. Events and promotions are not the same thing, but always think of what your clients and you target-group will appreciate.
If you mainly have price-orientated clients, price-offers are interesting and simple. Organize them well in advance for specific moments, or create them instantly when you can get an interesting offer from your supplier, of if you have products in stock that need to be sold.
In some cases, a big, simple and flashy online communication will help to attract the attention to your offer. Use all your online means (website, Facebook) and overdo the communication on instant means like twitter or snapchat (‘the last day’ – ‘only 4 more hours to go’ – ‘the last hour before closing, for 25% extra’ etc.)
If your clients are real ‘connoisseurs’ of flowers, or are very trendy, or who only want the best quality and service, opt preferably for a different type of action.
Of course, these clients will also pay attention to price, but it’s not the first buying criteria, and they are more focussed on the actual product offered. It would be more useful to offer something extra instead of a price reduction; add offer a vase or upgrade to entice them to spend extra.
Other types of activities can be much more appealing to this public. An invitation for private sales will make them feel special (e.g. when you have a new assortment of flowers for the new season coming) or simply being the first to be informed of the arrival of a special product (the first dahlia’s, or the first tulips of the season).
And DIY workshops is something the trendy consumers love to participate in, so don’t be afraid to experiment - they will never be florists and they will come to you when they need a nice bouquet).
Do not forget your online presence. Events and promotions are part of your online communication and you have to plan your communications ahead. If you indicate all the inevitable moments, you will see the empty periods in which you will have to create a buzz with your own special events or promotions in order to have a constant presence with your community.
So start with the usual and inevitable moments for the promotion of your shop/your products: Valentine’s day, Mother’s day, Christmas etc.
Don’t forget other calendar moments: New Seasons, Wedding Season, Blue Monday, International Women’s Day etc.
And be especially surprising on all these moments to get noticed and to entice your customers.
Information or news that create an event:
“The first peonies of the season have arrived. Order our Romance Bouquet now.”
“Our Autumn Windows are in! We invite you to our special clients evening to celebrate the start of the new season.
"We will also host a plant-care workshop for you to participate in. RSVP by 12/08/17.”
“Spend €45 or more on a bouquet and we will include a vase for free”
“Today only, from 5pm to 7pm, we double the number of stems of narcissi you buy” (this could help to get rid of stock)
Terms & Conditions:
Always consider your legal obligations and regulations when running an offer and always make sure you have yourself covered in your T’s & C’s, which should always be clear to the customer before they buy or participate. Competitions often demand official regulations, and they also have to be accessible online.
Things like closing dates, detailed outline of the offer, prize or discount or restrictions should always be outlined and clear, so look into these to avoid any nasty surprises or disputes. Remember, it’s purpose acts as an agreement between you/your company and the participant or customer.
Use your social media to communicate on your actions.
Plan your communication:
- Your website: announcement of the activity (on the homepage) and background article with subscription/competition form with link of the T’s & C’s (if applicable), or a simple field to allow the discount code in your online shop to be claimed.
- Your Instagram: a beautiful (relevant) picture with a mention of the action and a link to your website (image)
- Your Facebook & Twitter: An announcement of the activity (and especially short-term/short-notice actions)
Examples from France
The online flower shop, Bergamotte has done a cooperation with French brand, Petit Bateaux (luxury fashion for babies, children, teens, and young adults). A special bouquet Petit Bateaux was created and promoted on the website – with storytelling and the brands logo. And especially for Mother’s Day, a “win-a Petit-Bateau Bouquet, or a year’s flower supply by Bergamotte” competition was held on the website of Petit Bateau, and promoted by this brand. A great way to have new potential clients to get to know your name and your product! No need to say that in case of a partnership, you should select a partner whose clients fits your own clients’ profile…
Monsieur Marguerite is another online flower shop with a very contemporary way of communication.
It specializes in subscriptions for a shorter or longer period. It communicates a message for every occasion, even when they relaunched their new look for their website.
-Are you letting your customers know that you have rebranded since this programme, or about your new website, or that they should follow you on your social media channels if you’ve recently created it? Why not?
This is the lovely way Monsieur Marguerite announced his new online-look:
The contemporary flower shop Monsieur le fleuriste for a certain period had its own recognizable and unique way to announce the arrival of a new flower (seasonal – catch of the day) on their Facebook page…
So be creative with your events and promotions, and find ways to keep flowers and plants top of mind and keeping your customers engaged.
You can also download and save the above as a document for your own files.
DOWNLOAD LINK: online_events_promotions_-_august_2017.pdf