Digital spring clean saw flower business blossom
Since moving to a small holding near Llandysul, Sara Redman has hit the sweet spot of monetising her passion and still living a charmed life. No doubt there is hard work behind every bloom, but the secret to The Flower Meadow’s local success is using digital to do the heavy lifting. And since it has, Sara has seen a 50% rise in sales for her locally grown cut flowers and a 20% increase in people attending her flower design and growing courses.
It hasn’t always been rosy. Sara and her husband regularly took 8-hour round trips to ready their five-acre plot for their semi-retirement project and lived in a caravan onsite most weekends. But their hard work paid off and by 2017, The Flower Meadow was launched with a beautiful website and in 2019 Sara became the Welsh coordinator of ‘Flowers from the Farm’, a multi award-winning, not-for-profit, co-operative of over 700 cut flower growers in the UK.
Despite selling her bouquets at local markets and in local shops, Sara realised she had very few online sales to support her growth. So, at the end of 2019 she took advice from another entrepreneur and contacted Superfast Business Wales for help on using digital to develop her business in an eco-friendly way.
“I wanted to tap into the local economy to keep my carbon footprint low”
“I wanted to tap into the local economy to keep my carbon footprint low and promote environmental sustainability whilst enjoying my family and walking my dogs on the beach. Ideally, the grassroots ‘buy local’ sentiment was something I wanted to make the most of, but I didn’t know where to start.”
Following a free course with Superfast Business Wales, Sara took down her old website and with the help of a web developer built a simpler one, with better content and calls to action. She now has complete control over the site and can update it using a content management system and uses this to update key words that her customers search for. She also uses google analytics to measure its success and tweak her marketing strategy.
“It makes it much easier for my customers to order and pay now”
“I use iZettle to take card payments rather than an e-commerce system because locally delivered bespoke bouquets are all charged at different prices; something that hadn’t occurred to me previously. It makes it much easier for my customers to order and pay now, especially as most don’t use cash due to the lack of local banks and cash machines. I’ve had good feedback for putting their needs first, so I’m also going to add an online booking form on the website for my open days and events.”
“I can’t say one thing is better than the other, more together these small changes have made a big difference”
Rather than fork out a fortune on untested ideas, Sara advertises her events in the local press and on her website. She then underpins her advertising strategy with a modest monthly £12 spend on automated Facebook and Instagram posts, and online competitions which attract up to 60 applicants. She says, “I can’t say one thing is better than the other, more together these small changes have made a big difference”. The Flower Meadow has tripled the number of weddings Sara supplies, bookings for courses have increased by 20% and visitors to her open days attract as many as 150 people. “Facebook analytics indicates Sunday mornings are the best time to advertise and that’s how I keep costs down”, says Sara.
The digital spring clean has worked. “My courses sell out within days and this year I’ve been able to add another 10-15% to the number of courses I ran last year. Work really has become a pleasure, and I’ll be looking at new ways digital can make my life easier whilst promoting sustainability. Last year, British grown flowers accounted for only 14% of the £865m sold in the UK, so by promoting locally grown, sustainable flowers will benefit the environmental and hopefully allow UK growers to expand”, she concludes.