Interview with Florist: Videos, FB and Business in Central NJ

Monday Flowers - interview with Georgianne Vinicombe

Introduction: I met Georgianne Vinicombe at an NJCoffee Talk – she spoke enthusiastically about the videos she produced, the brides who send her photos and her pride in her florist business. She graciously agreed to this blog interview. You can learn more about Monday Morning Flowers on the website, FB or YouTube video channel. Thank you, Georgianne!

Georgianne Vinicombe

How long have you been in business?
My Princeton shop founded 25 years ago, Yardley, PA 15. My husband joined me full time 12 years ago (leaving a career in sales and accounting) and including part-time and full-time employees, there are 20 of us running the day to day operation of both stores.

How is your business unique?
I guess in the world of florists, we are a bit unique. In addition to the usual flower offerings for just about any occasion along with wedding designs, floral delivery, etc. we have a wider than usual product assortment which includes food and gift baskets, extensive balloon bouquets and balloon decorating. We also have a complete gift shop at each location.

When I met you in person, you told me you have a had a lot of success with YouTube videos.
I do consider them successful and worth my time. For example, some of my wedding tip videos get lots of view but not only that (which may never bring in a dime to my business) they are seen by my brides prior to our meeting. They may have made an appointment with me even if I did not have these helpful videos, but I think it makes them more likely to choose me as their florist. So for weddings, they have been a “must do” for helping to align me as an “expert” in the floral/wedding area.

How did you get started making these videos?
I love making videos and I have kept them super basic. What made me start creating them was my desire to “let customers” into our world. Educate them on topics such as “how to pick your wedding flowers”, “why do flowers cost what they do” ~ you name a topic, I’ve probably hit on it. My most popular video has almost 20,000 views, and it’s just telling folks how to put on a boutonniere. I started making simple videos that showed my wedding designs. At first I used software in my computer (very basic, I assure you) and then a started using programs such as Animoto. I have fun with these because I can add text and fun music that fits the theme of the event I’m highlighting.

What technical equipment or software have you used?
Oh, I use very simple software – mostly my flip video and sometimes my camera that has a video taking option. Lots of my informational videos are simply made with my computer webcam. I have never even tried to edit these videos. I just turn the thing on, start talking and turn I off!

What would you suggest to someone starting off using YouTube to market a small business? For sure, we have used them in many ways and I think for the amount of effort (which is very small) they can pay back big. We do employee product highlights in addition to the other informational videos and if you are in retail, those are a must and can be very powerful to get the customer to see what you offer. Our walk in trade (folks coming in and walking out with something ) is less than 5% percent of our sales so in that way we are not a typical retailer but if you rely on folks walking in to your store, what better way to gain their interest than posting product videos on your website or on youtube!

How have you used social media to market your business?
I’m in love with Social Media and in my industry was probably considered an early adopter. I have used it in every possible way I can. In addition to Youtube Videos, I’m big on blogging, that has been great for relaying information, getting us press as well as inbound links to our website. I’ve posted almost 600 blogs and we get over 400 page views per day. I also love Facebook and for a visual product like flowers, it’s been the best way to invite in the public to see what we have, what it’s like working at our store as well as what’s new. I can’t stress enough how important Facebook has been to my company. I’ve also been Tweeting for quite a few years and find it’s been good getting the word out about my company in general. Although not as easy to track as some other sources, I know that Twitter has gotten me quite a few large decorating jobs and weddings. Tech savvy brides follow vendors on Twitter and it’s helped me to get quite a few weddings. I have also found that one bride on twitter sharing her experience with other Twitter followers has resulted in Twitter referrals.

What are some of your favorite social media platforms?
Obviously, I’m really in love with Facebook. It’s the “window” that customers can peek through to see what we are doing.

You mentioned brides often send you images – can you explain how you get material to share with the public so easily?
When I meet with brides, they see all the photos of our wedding designs, many of them given to my be past brides. I think this makes an impression on them because many share their photos with me later and I truly because they know that future brides will see them. Everyone wants their moment to shine. Nothing makes a bride happier than when I tell them (usually via Facebook) that many brides have admired what they chose for their wedding flowers. 🙂

flowers designed for 2013 Princeton reunion

Princeton reunion flowers

What can you tell us about the small business environment for Central New Jersey? Well, I feel lucky to have a business in Central NJ. Central Jersey pretty much has it all for a business like mine. We cater to both business and individual flower buyers and both are alive and well in our area. My Princeton location (actually located in Plainsboro with a Princeton address) is in what I consider one of the prettiest business communities in the area ~ Princeton Forrestal Village. We have a very active community that buys from our shop ~ both folks who live in the areas as well as those who work in the Village and in nearby corporate parks. With the Westin Hotel and many restaurants, all feed us the clients we need to survive, not to mention easy access for our 5 delivery vans to hop right onto Route 1 to help with our promise of “Fast Delivery 7 Days a Week”. Central Jersey indeed helps me to help people “Send Someone a Smile”. 🙂

How can business owners get support?
There are some great organizations that support my business ~ with the Princeton Regional Chamber of Commerce being high on my list. The newly formed Plainsboro Business Partnership and the Women in Business Alliance have also been great sources for sales as well as the services that we need. I am also part of a Barter organization called Barter-It, which has been wonderful for us.

Do you compete locally or regionally?
We compete both locally and nationally, believe it or not. For example; you live in California and your mom lives in Princeton, NJ. You go online to search for a florist to deliver flowers to her for her birthday. As you search, you may come upon national brands such as 1800flowers or or you may find a small locally owned florist, like mine to place your order. The larger national chains have resources that I just don’t have that allow them to compete against me quite successfully. In addition to these “National Chains”, there are others who are not so ethical and pretend to be located in Princeton when they are simply “call centers” advertising against me. These “order gatherers” simply take the order and then relay them using a floral network to a local florist in the area for them to create and deliver. For the most part this works when local florists use this network to send out of town orders for their customers but the “waters get muddy” with these unethical businesses who “act local” but are not.

Is there anything else you would like to share about your business or running a small business in general?
I’ve been self employed for so long I don’t know any other way of life but it is what I was meant to do. I’m made for it, on every single level you can imagine. There’s no greater freedom and no more terrifying thought that when it comes down to it, it’s all on me. Sometimes I’m a success and sometimes not so much, but no matter what, I wouldn’t change a thing. At the end of the day (or a life) who could ask for anything more than that?

Thank you again, Georgianne! This interview is part of a series of interviews with small business owners.

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28 thoughts on “Interview with Florist: Videos, FB and Business in Central NJ

  1. Am really impressed with Georgianne’s use of social media. It’s not a coincidence that she lives in the US. You are ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to social media.

    Interesting how she uses YouTube to promote herself and the positive feedback she gets. It’s definitely something I should have a go at.

    The way Georgianne works is the way of the future and we will see retail businesses all over the world work the same way. Chapeau, Georgianne!
    Catarina recently posted…Do you thrive in the social era?My Profile

    1. She does a great job connecting with brides!

      The Princeton area is definitely ahead when it comes to social media. Where I live, in Middlesex County, I don’t see as many business owners taking advantage of social media. It gives those businesses that do use social media an easy advantage.

  2. I loved her thoughts on YouTube videos. I have contemplated making mine a bit fancier but based on her thoughts I may just stay with what I’m doing right now. I find it no surprise she has been a success. Regrading promoting her business: She works at it and stays up with the current trends and times. That tells me she does the same with her product and service. 🙂
    Susan Cooper recently posted…Stack Wines Cabernet SauvignonMy Profile

    1. Regarding making YouTube videos a bit fancier – I’ve seen businesses do some great things with more formal video. That said, one has to pick and choose where to put one’s energy and marketing budget. Sometimes one can do well with simple.

      The bouquets in the photos all look stunning to me! And that’s ultimately what she is selling.

  3. Nice. It is really quite interesting to see how a real day-to-day business makes use of the web, media and social media. We read so much about how it should be done, and the benefits you can gain from it, but she is a shining example. Not to mention, it is great to highlight a local business – give them a bit of the spotlight for a change. They make up so much of the economy after all, and add a bit of variety to the usual!!
    thanks for the interview post
    Ashley Faulkes recently posted…Triberr for Beginners – Finding Tribes & SharingMy Profile

  4. Thanks for sharing! This is an awesome over view of how helpful social media and videos can be. That was really intelligent of her to put these to use and gain the most success in the way she did it.

  5. Basically every business category is using social media to boost their visibility. Not surprised, I’m on an email listserve with my local florist.

    1. Well, we all have to pick and choose. I’ve spent a little time learning video (not much) – I love doing static, like photos, text and illustration. We all have our specialties!

  6. Good interview Leora and not surprised video works for her business as flowers and weddings as visuals give what print can’t. Her business is a good example of how to use new technology and networking platforms that others can learn from.

    1. Susan, yes, she does make great use of what is available to her. When she sent me the answers to the questions I asked, she said, I wrote the way I speak! Having met her in person, I can tell she comfortable with speech and speaking to others. And it shows with her use of video.

  7. Great post. It’s so smart using YouTube to support her business. Flowers can be such a personal thing that getting a look at how they approach the process is great. The diversity of their product offerings is also nice. YouTube is a great way to go for any business.

  8. It makes sense that video’s would work well for this business. I have only made one and it cost me $400 which is a good price, but not duplicate-able. I would like to make more, so maybe will just see if my little Cannon will work. I’m wondering if it’s too time consuming….

    1. Jeannette, that doesn’t sound like a lot for a video (especially if well-done), but I suppose to do them regularly at that price would add up. I would worry more about the quality of doing them on my own – for some people it’s a natural.

  9. Facebook is clearly the platform for companies that target retail consumers. It’s great that her YouTube videos do so well. Astounding that her video on how to put on a boutonniere has gotten 20,000 hits! It goes to show you that simpler is better. We all suffer too much in seeking for perfection. She’s doing quite well with a Flip camera. Good for her
    Jeannette Paladino recently posted…So You Thought Social Media Would Increase Your Sales. Think Again.My Profile

  10. That’s a great interview Leora and something I was talking to a client about just yesterday.

    She’s in the relationship business, has written a book and wants to bring it all online now. She’s going to start shooting videos with tips each week as she answers readers and friends questions about relationships. She want’s to be the “relationship” women people come to and she’s already shot her first one and I think she’s done really well.

    I can see where a florist where we’re all about pictures online would do really well on social media. I can imagine that everything she shares is just beautiful.

    Appreciate this interview and I’m going to point my client to this one so she can hear what others are doing as well and know she’s on the right track.

    Adrienne recently posted… Celebrates 4 YearsMy Profile

  11. Georgianne is a florist who truly knows how to market in today’s world! The use of YouTube and social media is brilliant. Many would quickly dismiss those marketing strategies as a waste of time because they may not directly lead to sales, but there’s no question that they do lead to sales. More importantly, they help distinguish her as the local expert in her field. Awesome work and ideas.
    New Orleans Florists recently posted…Why Your Website Should Have a BlogMy Profile

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