A tale of two florists

If you read last week’s thought nugget and did the exercise of defining and creating your ideal potential client, then you probably have an idea of what he/she looks like.

But, there is a chance that you are still struggling with getting to the core of it because you are so used to defining “everyone” as a client. Fear not, this is normal. But it is important to realize that in serving everyone we end up serving no one.

I would like to share a short story with you about two flower shops:

There is a small flower shop in a mall. The store runs on the idea that all foot traffic and anyone interested in flowers is a valid client. So, if you don’t hate flowers, and you have someone to give flowers to, you are their target. Zero focus. This generic view on the market informs their inventory, decoration and marketing. Example: Strong focus on Valentine’s Day, birthdays and special occasions. The hope is to make 70% of the turnover during the “critical seasons,” and then somehow keep afloat the rest of the year. The store is basically screaming: “Buy from us or we’ll perish!”

Needless to say, this strategy is volatile, and promotes stress and extreme exposure. 

As online businesses become more prevalent, the store panics and spews random social media posts on their feed that no one cares about. When another flower shop opens up across the mall with a slightly different offering, their foot traffic dwindles. If one of their current clients has a complaint and posts it on Yelp, things will continue to wither (pun intended). The business the flower shop is in is not selling flowers, it is in the business of reacting to its surroundings, its competitors. Being reactive exposes that there is a weakness, and the stress of what to do next keeps the business owner up at night, feeling the effect of their unfocused ways in defining who they need to serve.

Another flower shop does things differently. They sit at a much less desirable location- 2 streets behind the main road. This store, however, knows who their “ideal client” is. This is the person that will go out of their way to buy from them, because everything they do is aimed at serving them. There is even a picture of the ideal client on the wall. 

The owner is not a florist by trade. However, he is obsessed with the fact that flowers liven up a home with little effort. So he voiced this as his mission: “To bring life into every home that deserves it.” And he has gone out of his way to declare that to deserve his flowers and services, a client needs to fit. Not every home deserves his flowers, helk no. He conducted surveys and did enough online research to find out how his ideal clients think, how they live, what they care about. And once he had all this data, be built an online tool that allowed people to take a snapshot of their living rooms and get a recommendation for a flower arrangement based on season, color and personal likings, delivered right to their doorstep. Needless to say, the 500 clients he serves are in love with his offering. And because he is the only one doing it, changing “florists” is not an option.

What he has done is this: He has created a new market around a simple idea and an ideal client that only he knows and cares about. This market is so resilient, that he does not need to jump on the bandwagon of Valentine’s Day offerings. In fact, he purposely closes his shop every year on February 14th because that is not what he’s about.

His exposure is zero, his ownership of his market is 100%. His monetary investment was similar to the florist we met earlier. What made all the difference was the time he invested into defining and creating, learning about and serving his ideal client. He started with a mission and a mindset of long term business thinking that breeds happiness, novelty and fun, on top of solid returns.

It’s never too late to start. If you are clear on your mission and willing to get the data, success is the consequence of bringing all of it into action.


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