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Attracting local brides in the internet era
  by Brian D. Lawrence

     When many brides think about looking for florists today, they think first of using a computer.

     So the challenge for you, the local florist, is to be found online by brides.

      A flower shop that is recommended by caterers, has a longstanding reputation, and has prominent retail exposure will likely be on the radar screen of many local brides.

     However, if a bride finds your competitor(s) online and sees images and pricing that capture her interest but doesn’t see you there, she may overlook your shop.

     Also, it’s important to get the attention of brides who live close enough to do business with you but far enough away that they haven’t heard of you.

online directory listings
     To start being found online, visit Google.com (www.google.com/intl/en_us/services/var_1.html) and Yahoo.com (www.smallbusiness.yahoo.com).

     These two leading search engines offer free directory services for businesses and enhanced listings for a modest fee.

     A bride, for example, who searches for “Florists, Wichita, Kansas” on Google will find a list of local florists and maps of any retailer who signs up for the service, at no charge.

     That still puts you in competition with other local florists. Most brides, however, do not include geographic information in their searches, which means your shop has almost no chance of being found by a local bride who types “Wedding Bouquets” into search engines.

     Instead of finding your flower shop, that potential customer will find the first page of search results dominated by wedding planning resource sites such as The Knot.com.

     That potential customer may then find local florists on those wedding planning sites—but with more effort than if she saw your local listing prominently displayed in the search-engine results.

online ad campaigns
     The good news is that you can be found by brides living or working near your shop with the marketing program “Google AdWords” (www.adwords.google.com or  www.google.com/intl/en_us/services/var_1.html).

     Google actually knows the location of the computer on which the bride conducts the search.

     To target your ad campaign most effectively, the parameters of the geographic areas must be set so that your listing appears on the right-hand side as a “sponsor.”

     Then a separate bid must be placed on each phrase the bride might enter, such as “Wedding Florists.” You will be competing against Web-site owners who bid quite high on all national searches.

     When your listing shows up, you pay much less for brides in your target area and only if the bride clicks your ad to reach your site.

     You can control your ad spending by setting a budget each month to limit the number of clicks.

     This way, you can test how many of the brides who click through to your site actually come in to your store.

     You can change your budget depending on the time of the year as well as stop and start again.

getting professional help
     Any florist can set up this program on his/her own, but a professional Google Search Marketer (www.seoforgoogle.com/blog/seo-services) will be able to offer the development and monitoring of a program that is more cost effective and get better results.

     The time and concentration required to create effective ads that grab a bride’s attention, to monitor the results, and to adjust the bids is greater than the average retailer has to expend.

     The educational process of embracing all the online strategies available is absolutely overwhelming.

     Once you start generating local traffic to your Web site, your job still isn’t done. It is important that your Web site impresses brides enough to pick up the phone to schedule an appointment.

     Your Web site should be the front door to your store. It should paint a picture of the quality and service you offer and indicate how easy you are to work with so that brides are more likely to contact you with an intention to buy. Show samples of your work that whet the brides’ appetites, but don’t overwhelm them with images.

     Building the most effective online marketing campaigns will drive quality traffic to your site and ultimately your store.

     Brian D. Lawrence is the author of The Wedding Expert’s Guide To Sales and Marketing, a manual about offline marketing. The manual can be downloaded at www.localtrafficbuilder.com/weddingmanual.

     A wedding retailer for 15 years in the 1980s and ’90s, Mr. Lawrence has created Local Traffic Builder (www.localtrafficbuilder.com), a company that provides Web design, enhancement and knowledge with wedding industry insight. Contact him at info@localtrafficbuilder.com or (201) 244-5969.


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