Communication and marketing were the topics of lively discussion at the Know it to Grow it #Commference, hosted by the Flower Association of Queensland Inc. (FAQI) on the 19th and 20th of June.
Growers, florists, wholesalers, suppliers, educators and marketing experts gathered together at the Gold Coast Convention & Exhibition Centre to share their ideas about methods and tools for connecting with their customers and improving their businesses.
A selection of supportive sponsors
The #Commference would not have been possible without the valuable support of its sponsors:
- Horticulture Australia Limited
- Ball Australia
- Christensen’s Flower Auction
- Australian Forest Greens
- Top of the Range Flowers
- The Cedar Hill Group
- Flower Association of Queensland Inc.
- Australian Flower Industry magazine
A plentiful program
With inspiration from flower industry marketing expert Andrea Caldecourt, the delegates were led through hands-on workshops and interactive debate over the two-day program. Topics covered by Andrea included the basics of good communication and networking, making social media work, telling the story behind a business, online retailing and the benefits of branding. Andrea incorporated her experiences as the CEO of the UK Flowers & Plants Association to guide the delegates through new and effective ways to think about their approach to marketing and promotion. She spoke about the world of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and the importance of measuring and using the program analytics from each tool to position a business to its best advantage.
This event has revealed that to create engagement on social media, businesses need to create valuable content, provide an experience and build relationships. It’s not about the business; it’s about the customer. In simple terms, engagement is a two-way conversation.
Invited speakers also added their unique perspectives to the conference program. Annie Harper from Flowers Victoria explained how the association has improved its online impact to better connect with Victorian cut flower industry members. Blogs, tips for florists, fact sheets and a featured ‘florist of the month’ have helped to extend services of the association to the floristry sector. Deborah Delaney travelled from New Zealand to bring us an engaging presentation on the very successful marketing campaign to support that country’s cut flower industry. She outlined the effective use of posters, flyers, jingles and structured campaigns to promote flowers to the consumer, and emphasised the importance of professional photography in doing justice to the products. More information from Deborah on the New Zealand flower industry’s promotional activities can be found in the article on page 14 of the Australian Flower Industry magazine.
Winners of the 2013 AFI magazine Small Florist Business of the Year Award Alyssa Goodall and Rosie Mackenzie reported on their 30-day challenge to use social media to drive growth in their business, under the direction of Andrea Caldecourt. Despite their affectionate references to their ‘hard taskmaster’, their appreciation of Andrea’s skills and advice were made clear to the conference audience, and the success of the challenges was proven by a 20% increase in their business growth. Rhinda Larsen of Rhinda Larsen Photography rounded out day one of the conference with her advice on how to design, create and share striking images for social media, for effective promotion and communication with customers.
On day two, the audience heard from Peta Fielding, CEO of Burleigh Brewing Comany, Telstra Queensland Business of the Year for 2013. She told her inspiring personal story about how she and her husband developed the boutique brewing business from scratch and how social media has played a big part in allowing them to compete with the ‘big boys of brewing’ in a highly lucrative and competitive industry. Adrian Parsons of WAFEX discussed the value of branding, using examples from his own business, and reviewed the success of Sovereign Flowers, a brand designed to assist florists in identifying and consistently sourcing high-quality flowers. Adrian’s insights on the power of branding are further outlined in his article on page X. The final presentation at the #Commference was by Jason Nealon from Tropical Blooms showcased the value of a great website, with Jason explaining that after the launch of their new website, the average spend of existing florists increased by ten per cent.