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Keep calm and Prom on: The top five ways to add shine and shimmer to your Prom business

Here we go! The season of “wearables”— packed full of fabric match-ups, expansive accouterments and stressed parents!

Going all the way back to the debutante balls of the late 1800s, the prom season is considered the single-most significant social function of all high school events, with florists walking the tightrope between satisfying the parents’ budgets and fulfilling the students’ vision of flower grandeur.    

prom1Making the most of this labor-intensive season requires impeccable planning and innovative marketing techniques. Here are the top five strategies to help capitalize on this high-volume and high-profitable business:

1. Advance marketing

Promoting proms is a visual business! The dress and tuxedo are the center-point of the celebration, and therefore potential customers will want to see a broad selection of flower styles in advance of ordering. The best way to accomplish this is to create basic prototypes of each wearable, which can be altered to fit any color combination. Once the prototypes are created, a photo of each can be taken and placed in a Look-Book along with the recipe and retail price of each selection. This book should be displayed in a prominent place in the shoppe, along with compelling signage, pass-outs and a Bling Bar (See Section 2- TIP 1 below).

TIP 1: Create prom sets in the Look-Book which include a coordinating corsage, boutonniere, headpiece, ring, anklet and necklace. Give each set a flashy name, pricing each component within it both individually, and as a set.    

TIP 2: Encourage complementary colors! Without a visual guide, most customers will want to matchy-matchy the dress because that’s generally what they can visualize on their own. But on our end…we know how hard it is to match flower colors to many of the modern fabric shades of today. Make it easy on your customers — make it easy on yourself by illustrating fabulous complimentary colors in your Look-Book!  

TIP 3: Check with local schools to find the best way to advertise your prom offerings to the students. A small ad at a student event will pay dividends to promote your wide selection of flower wearables to prospective prom-goers. Don’t forget to create a digital version of your Look-Book to use online!

TIP 4: Have you heard of a “promposal?” A promposal is the formal act of asking a date to the prom, accompanied with pricy gifts ranging from flowers to jewelry. In the past few years, promposals have gained such large traction that there is now a National Promposal Day, which is March 11.

2. Expansive accouterments

There’s no shortage of bling available when it comes to floral wearables! Ask your suppliers for the latest in magnetic sticks, glues, leaves, ribbons, sprays, art wire, adhesives, necklaces and bracelets. During prom season, the accessories are a key component to the overall look and can exponentially create additional sales and margin. Check out the latest teen prom fashions in magazines such as Teen Vogue and Seventeen, and include those colors in your display. Pinterest is also a great resource for the latest prom fashions, as well!

TIP 1: Create a Bling Bar in a primary location within your shoppe. A Bling Bar is an interactive kiosk, where the customer can see examples of your basic wearable designs, and then mix-n-match their own accoutrements by selecting their favorite ribbons, wristlets, pearl sprays, jewels, leaves and nettings. In a Bling Bar, the basic design is priced, and then each additional accoutrement is priced accordingly.

TIP 2: Tie in event décor products such as balloons, bows, streamers and centerpieces. Also, promote small gifts that may be given during the “promposal” or on prom night such as teddy bears, candy gifts and small bouquets.

TIP 3: Corsages and other floral wearables require a large amount of labor to create each item. In addition, multiple accessories can add up quickly. Be sure to charge sufficiently for your work, as the average cost of an entire prom experience exceeds $1,500 in total! The average retail price of a corsage can range from $35 to $80, so don’t sell yourself short!

3. Fun and easy ordering

Once your Look-Book and Bling Bar are complete, the ordering will ensue. This is where personal service is imperative. Ordering prom flowers can be made fun for your customers by offering free products or discounts.

Here are some fun and engaging ordering ideas:

TIP 1: Offer a discount for early orders

TIP 2: Create a contest for customers to win a free corsage and boutonniere for the most “likes” on Facebook, posted with a picture and your business hashtag

TIP 3: Host a Prom Fashion Show or Prom Expo at your local school or shopping mall, with drawings for free prom merchandise.

TIP 4: Create an in-store flower-tastic photo booth, where couples can take selfies before the prom wearing their full attire. Post the pictures in-store and create a contest for “best picture”. Be sure to include your business name within the photo booth so it generates publicity and future business opportunities when posted on social media.  

TIP 5: Cross-promote with a neighboring nail or hair salon. Arrange to exchange promotional materials where you will promote nail/hair services to your flower customers, and they will promote your flower shoppe to their salon customers.

4. Quick and experienced designers

As much planning ahead as you do, there is always a continuous flow of walk-in traffic at the last minute. If all of your advance orders are done ahead, then your design staff can likely keep up with last-minute orders. To alleviate some of the pressure, you may want to pre-make a set of corsages and boutonnieres in basic colors for customers to pick up at the last minute.

TIP 1: Communicate on all signage that advance orders are appreciated in order to provide the quickest service on such a busy night. Include your business phone number, website address, take-home brochure and order form.

TIP 2: As each order is placed, collect each accoutrement (wristband, ribbon, spray, blings, leaves, etc) and place them in the corsage box with the order attached. Then on the day of pick-up, the designer will have all accessories for the order at their fingertips, and simply add the fresh components on the day of pick-up.

5. Personalized service

Prom season is a high-volume, high labor time — but it can also be a high revenue-maker, as well! It’s difficult for a customer to order for a prom, because it requires matching and coordinating colors and accessories. Be sure to lessen your customer’s anxiety by being patient and full of great ideas. The more self-explanatory your signage, brochures, prototypes and Bling Bar are, the easier it will be for your customers and also for you!