How We Bloom

Marketing in a Digital Age with Renato Sogueco

June 28, 2022 Sharon McGukin AIFD, AAF, PFCI Season 2 Episode 12
How We Bloom
Marketing in a Digital Age with Renato Sogueco
Show Notes Transcript

For your business to thrive “You’ve got to be found,” says Renato Sogueco, Vice-President of Digital Strategy and Education at BloomNet. Renato shares with us practical tips for a holistic approach to “Marketing in a Digital Age.”

 “This requires your business execute a well-planned digital strategy,” Renato explains. Constant change and development in the digital space may make you feel that you’re coming into it late. But, now is a great time to catch up and move forward to the benefit of your business. “Digital strategy does include social media, but social is really a complimentary strategy - not a main strategy of digital,” Renato continues. He offers solutions that are easy even for the lesser tech-savvy. For example, he suggests that to capture the attention of today’s young consumers - video is the medium of the present and the future. Listen now for more tips on “Marketing in a Digital Age.”

Renato Sogueco: (00:11)
Another concept that I'll throw to the audience here is that digital marketing is not a Lone Wolf effort.

Sharon McGukin: (00:37)
Welcome to 'How we Bloom' an Oasis of flower ideas. I'm your host, Sharon McGukin, AIFD, AAF, PFCI and I believe that every great success story starts with one simple idea. That's why we interview those who 'dare to do things differently.' Inspiring people who plant seeds, grow ideas and bloom to their full potential. In this podcast, we listen, learn, explore new opportunities. And ... that's ... "How we Bloom."

Sharon McGukin: (01:31)
Many years ago, I met Renato Sogueco when he was Chief Information Officer for SAF (Society of American florists). I always loved having conversations with Renato about new trends in business. Or, ways that florists could reach out and promote their businesses to a general audience. He always had some really great ideas. Today, Renato is Vice President of Digital Strategy for BloomNet. I reached out to Renato to find out what suggestions he had, because as we know - business has changed quite a lot in the post pandemic market. There are new opportunities and that's the best way to create change. Look at your challenges and find opportunities. So once again, I find myself back asking Renato what do you see moving ahead in business, for the social integration of your product with customers?

Renato Soguec: (02:26)
Well, first I want to thank you so much for having me on your podcast. And, those were definitely wonderful times. I remember, just a quick story, that when we first met I think we kicked off so well together that we had made a mutual promise. One day, I think we're going to work a lot closer together and that day has arrived.

Sharon McGukin: (02:46)
And I'm so grateful. Thank you.

Renato Sogueco: (02:48)
Yeah. So, it's been wonderful. I think one thing that people have to realize about digital strategy and marketing their shops in a digital age, is that in the course of 20 years there has been so much change and development that has happened in the digital space. So, I think a lot of florists feel like if I wasn't doing this 10 years ago, I may have missed the boat. But, that's not the case. So even if you are coming into it later or you feel late, it's not. Because all you need to do is learn just really all the recent trends, which we'll talk about today, and implement them. And you'll find that you could catch up really quickly. I just say let's put that in the forefront, you know, before people feel like this digital stuff is intimidating or they can't do it, or, just whatever reason that comes up. I've heard them all over the years. Even with a lot of florists. Like there's one person I just talked to today and I told them about this one strategy with Google, which we'll talk about as well today. And they were like, "oh wow." That's something that I could implement today. I go, "Absolutely. And you're back in the game."

Sharon McGukin: (04:08)
Well, I love that you use the term catch up because what I see with florists, and other business people as well, everything has sped up so quickly that the learning curve is so fast. The changes in how you approach something are so fast that we all feel like we're playing catch up. So, that's a really great point to say, that's okay in this space of time, catching up is a good thing. And there's so many options that I hope today, you can help us divide down the options to find out which is the best option for running our particular business in any given industry.

Renato Sogueco: (04:49)
Yeah. Like absolutely. The first step that I think you need or any floral business owner needs to take with digital strategy, is you have to look at it holistically. I kid around with florists a lot and say, you know, most of my florist friends, they tend to gravitate toward the shiniest object out there at the time. So right now, it's April 5, 2022. And people will arguably say, I need to be on TikTok and just totally jump at TikTok. But, you have to really ask yourself where do I close my sales in business? Where am I found on 'search?' So, when I say you have to approach your digital strategy from holistic sense, you also have to consider your website, which is still a key part of your digital strategy.

Renato Sogueco: (05:52)
And, it's simply because that's where you close these sales. That's where you drive the leads and capture leads. We were having a great conversation just earlier, how your website is truly your 24-7 virtual store. And a lot of florists tend to maybe neglect that. It's a great discussion that I've had with people while, you know, the question is, "well, do I still design in-store displays?" I say, absolutely. Yes. Walk in traffic has declined for most florists. It is true. most florists or most customers are now, checking out your website first, even before you walk in the store. That says a lot. You have to absolutely treat your digital storefront and pay attention to it as you would your real storefront and treat them the same.

Sharon McGukin: (06:48)
I do agree with that wholeheartedly. I find that it is very important that your brand is consistent in-store and online. If they go online and visit a wonderful website, but come to your store and are disappointed, you've lost that customer. If they go on the online first and check the website, and it's not interesting, you also lost a customer. So I think it's important that you represent yourself in both spaces equally.

Sharon McGukin: (07:17)
Now, I'm hoping that you can guide us some in these steps and methods, because people have left their website to a degree just because there's so many avenues of reaching out to people in other social areas. And it was purported that we would abandon our websites for the others because so many people are on social sites. But I think the thing that you've said that makes the most sense is "remember the sale takes place on the website. "

Renato Sogueco: (07:48)
Yeah, absolutely. And let's introduce this concept where I think a lot of florists, even the ones that have been in business for 15, 20 years, make the mistake that they think that they're well known in their local community. Mm-hmm. And I just hate bursting this bubble because a lot of florists take a lot of pride in the fact that they've built their brand name in this local community.

But, what's the number one search. When someone is looking for flowers in any particular locale, it's flower delivery, city, and state - they won't necessarily put Renato's Flowers, Be it that you do get a lot of searches from that, but there's this whole mess of customers that are out there - a lot of them younger that may not be familiar with your brand. So you absolutely have to focus on the search engine optimization of your website. That's how you're found. And, this is a really interesting stat. So, when you do a search for anything, there are about nine listings that appear on that search page. If you do a search for florists and Jacksonville, you see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. 40% of people click on that first link - and only on that first link.

Sharon McGukin: (09:13)
Yes, I agree.

Renato Sogueco: (09:16)
So as they scroll down, , that percentage drops like a cliff. I think the third one would be 16%. And when you get down to that eighth position, it's only literally this is the number, like 1.8% mm-hmm and this is not me making up numbers.

Sharon McGukin: (09:35)
Yeah. These are statistics.

Renato Sogueco: (09:36)
These are, these are facts from Google. These days, it's not enough to appear on that first page, because if your competitor is position one in your position eight, think of the percentage of orders that they're getting. In essence, online business is a numbers game. If you took a thousand clicks or a thousand visits to that search page, that number one person will get 400. Now you … that eighth person will get two. Like 1.8 is the number.

Sharon McGukin: (10:19)

Oh, wow.

Renato Sogueco: (10:20)
Hopefully I'm doing my math right. So hopefully you guy are out there with calculators checking my math. This is the conversion rate. Most average conversion is 4%. So out of the 400 visits, you're getting four sales.

Sharon McGukin: (10:38)
Oh, wow.

Renato Sogueco: (10:39)
So how long will it take that person who's ranked 7, 8, 9 to get anything worth that? Of what that person is ranked at number one or number two. It's amazing.

Sharon McGukin: (10:55)
And below where it says “more views.” How often do you ever click on that? Zero? 28%? Yeah. No, it's crazy.

Renato Sogueco: (11:02)
No one ever!

Sharon McGukin: (11:02)
No one clicks to that second page! 

Renato Sogueco: (11:04)
You know, just getting back to what we were talking about. Digital strategy is yes …  it's social, but in the end, it's all about being found on search. And, social media is really a complimentary strategy, not a main strategy of digital. Your main strategy should focus on your website. And like, we'll talk about how you could segment different types of traffic in a bit.

Sharon McGukin: (11:30)
And that's one thing I really want to direct this to, in particular. I am here, in Jacksonville, and we are presenting a wedding class, so I have a weddings on my mind. I want to ask you, in terms of using the website for a flower shop to drive wedding traffic to their business, I feel like there's some important steps that need to be taken. So that is an important part of the way you collect wedding couples for your weddings. What could you share with us using the information you're talking about, for websites in general, in the direction of weddings specifically?

Renato Sogueco: (12:10)
Yeah. This is a fascinating area of digital marketing, because if you think about weddings, that's a very specific search. Mm-hmm You've got the couples, the brides and the moms doing searches specifically on wedding flowers. A lot of florists may have a specific section on their main retail site that is wedding flowers. But if you think about it, how many times has a bride ever come on your site and bought one of the fall arrangements on that wedding section of the website? I challenge if you do have a lot, then, prove me wrong. But, I want to say it's pretty minimal. So, a lot of florists have taken the extra step of creating a separate website. Now they're not like your everyday retail site. That's really meant to convert these people into sales. What you're trying to do with a separate website is to convert these people into consultations.

Sharon McGukin: (13:19)

Renato Sogueco: (13:20)
So you really need to have a good conversation with couples and brides. Just because I'll dare to say that everyone has a picture or a vision in their mind of what their perfect wedding would be. That may not necessarily match what you have on the default website. So, they want to come in and talk to you. Getting back to this idea of search, if you have a separate wedding website, it's very likely (and I've done tests with many florists) that when you type in wedding flowers, city, and state, that wedding website pops straight to that number one position. And remember, we just talked about how powerful that number one position is. Again, let's reiterate the goal of this website is not to sell the flower at that point, but get that consultation and have that point of contact where you reach out to them later.

Sharon McGukin: (14:19)
So is there a specific way you think you get the attention of the wedding couple when they come to the site? Do you have a form that is listed? Do you concentrate on videos? Do you add a lot of photos? Do you set up Pinterest pages for your business with whatever the trends you hope to sell for that year and connect to those for weddings? What do you think? When you say inspiration, what do you find inspiring for wedding couples who are on the search?

Renato Sogueco: (14:50)
Well, one thing great about having a separate wedding website, you could load it with all the inspiration that they'll need. You could convey your expertise as a wedding florist in showing them all these different types of trends and colors and styles of weddings that you've done. And, the other thing you mentioned in a strategy is Pinterest. Let's take the concept of - you have all these wonderful photos on your website, and now you have this wonderful … or, you start up a Pinterest account. This is the exact strategy that everyone has to follow. So, listen carefully - on your Pinterest presence, you need to create boards that focus on style, color, trend.

Sharon McGukin: (15:44)
For example, you might have, if the new trend coming in is pink bouquet, you can have a page of just pink bouquets. A page of reception flowers. A page of the newest trend that's incoming. A page for cascades. A page for round bouquets or hand-tieds specifically. Like that is what you're indicating.

Renato Sogueco: (16:07)
Absolutely. And, I'll just explain really simply how Pinterest works, right? So, when you have a Pinterest presence and you've published all these wonderful photos on that wedding website that are stratified, or segmented in those trends that we just spoke about. Then you can create pins out of those photos and load Pinterest pages of these boards that are categorized and with all these pins. Believe it. Like, the number one feature of Pinterest is search. When that bride types in pink bouquet, guess who's going to pop up? That pin of yours will pop up. And, that pin has a link in it. So that when they click on it, guess where it's going go?

Sharon McGukin: (17:01)
Go back to your website.

Renato Sogueco: (17:02)
Back to your website. So that serves two purposes, right? The first purpose is pure that you've just driven them back to your website because you did a great job in categorizing and showcasing your expertise and knowledge and weddings. That link that clicks does wonders for your SEO.

Sharon McGukin: (17:25)

Renato Sogueco: (17:26)
SEO, great SEO, contributes directly to that rank that we were talking about to get to be number one.

Renato Sogueco: (17:33)
That's right. So, the more photos, the more … I guess the metaphor I'll use is fishing. The more bait that you have out there for fish to bite onto, it's the same thing, you know. You're just putting lures out in this wonderful site called Pinterest that could serve as a powerful means of boosting SEO. As well as just building a funnel. A sales funnel, or I'm sorry, not a sales funnel, but a consultation funnel back to your website. So, I know that was a big nugget to take, but just think of it this way. You have your website that's a consultation website. It's your landing zone to convert the consultation. You have the photos that you need to be beautiful. They have to be segmented and categorized with all the trends, colors, and what have you. And then you have Pinterest. Which really serves as a way for couples and brides to, ideate and craft their vision of their wedding. So, once you get all that information, now have powerful information. So when they come into that consultation, it could be a very productive discussion.

Sharon McGukin: (18:50)
So do you believe that you should set it up such that they sign up for the consultation on the website? Or, do you provide the contact information for them to reach out to you through email or by making a phone call to connect?

Renato Sogueco: (19:03)
No, definitely have a form. Okay? On that consultation website, because you want to capture them in that excited moment that they feel “wow.” I think this florist could really deliver on the vision. Clicking on a link to write out an email that's just yet another step. So, what you're trying to do is remember, it's all about conversion. Clicking on a link to go somewhere else is what we call in the web business - a conversion killer. Because it's just one extra step. Yes. If you have the ability to publish a form, and this is like really easy stuff. If you have a web master that that says “oh, that's hard” I will challenge them on that because it's not hard for you to install a form on your website.

Sharon McGukin: (19:46)

One of the things that you do once a bride or a groom come into consultation is find out what other vendors they're using. You can tell by the other vendors, a generalized amount of what they're spending on the wedding. And, that helps to guide you in determining how to present pricing to them for flowers. You’ll know, if it's upscale, or if it's budget, such as that. Do you recommend that on that consultation form you should ask  …  who their caterer is? Where their dresses are purchased? What facility they're using? Or, do you just want to get just the basic contact information and name?

Renato Sogueco: (20:26)
Yeah. You know, that's a challenge because I know we want to really qualify these people before we even speak to them. I mean, time is precious, you know, let's just be honest. But,  I'll challenge that a little bit because that form really needs to be as simple as possible.

Sharon McGukin: (20:41)
Simple. Okay.

Renato Sogueco: (20:42)
You  know - name, email, phone number.

Sharon McGukin: (20:45)
And date of wedding.

Renato Sogueco: (20:48)
Yeah. Great. Date of the wedding. And then what you could do is when you do make that contact, then you can ask that second series of questions on who their caterer is, the venue, etc. It's really all about making that contact because those few seconds make a difference. Okay?

Sharon McGukin: (21:07)
You mentioned the venue. That's something that I like to suggest that florists do when reaching out to wedding couples. The venues that are in your area, that you very often frequent in terms of designing for weddings and such. Maybe you're on their preferred list. Go to the venue and video the space. Show where flowers could be used there. 


In business, when you fill a void, you expand the business sales opportunity. So, look for places where flowers aren't used previously and suggest that we can use them here. After a couple of brides have used flowers there, it becomes a necessary “oh, we have to have flowers there.” But, go through with the venue director and point out how the weddings could formulate. Show the way that it could be set up. Make suggestions. If you've done weddings in that particular venue, go ahead and add photographs of your most beautiful weddings that took place there. Put that on your website, tag the venues, put it on social media. Give them a copy of the video also to go into their website. When a bride or groom is going online and searching for a venue, you pop up in a video telling them exactly how easily it can all come together beautifully. That's one thing that works well for them in person. Do you think that that would work well online? Or, how could you expand on that?

Renato Sogueco: (22:40)
You know, absolutely!  Another concept that I'll throw to the audience here is that digital marketing is not a ‘Lone Wolf effort.’ You could build a powerful presence by proactively reaching out to all the vendors that you work with. The venues, caterers, photographers, you name it. Be proactive. Say to them, I'm making a commitment that anytime we design flowers at your venue, per se, we're going to tag your Facebook page. We're going to tag you on Instagram. You have the opportunity that when you see that tag come through, please add it to your page. Because, what better opportunity to showcase your space? Showing how it will look with flowers. A photographer that I'm collaborating with will be taking the picture. I’m giving you the permission to post those photos on your Facebook page.

Renato Sogueco: (23:51)
You are tagging them. You're tagging me. We're all after the same business. If we all just take a proactive approach to collaborating with one another and take an active tagging, and hashtag tagging approach to this, we can all build our digital presence collectively. In effectively, a very short period of time. And, the last thing that I'll throw out to you again goes back to our idea. “I should have been doing that for all these years, because, I haven't been doing that.” But guess what you could do, you could actually go back to old posts and retroactively Facebook tag them. Because remember, I think once something is on the internet, it tends to stay on the internet. When a couple or when a bride does a search on something on Instagram, fine. It may find the most recent posts, but a lot of people tend to find a lot of the older stuff.

Renato Sogueco: (24:54)
So, you know, I think my recommendation to everyone is that if, if you heard this today and you feel that, “oh, you know what, Ronaldo, that's a valuable piece of information, and I'll start doing it today.” Go beyond that, you know, start doing it today. Yes. But also, retroactively go back to maybe a year back and tag those posts. Ask your friends in the event space to do the same. And I think once they hear the value proposition of what you're doing, they'll do it. Like hopefully they'll do it with you. And, you guys could grow the business together,

Sharon McGukin: (25:33)
Sometimes a problem with getting someone to do those things with you is they're not particularly tech-savvy. And that might be a point. If you have someone in your business who is - allow them to help the person learn to do that. Say to them, we can show you, we can tag you and then we can show you what to do with that tag. Once they've learned, hopefully they'll continue to do it. Another thing that comes to mind - ask permission. Remember to ask permission of the bride of the photographer before you use those photos. We can't just get a little happy because we can do selfies or snap a picture here or there. This is someone's very private life. And for the photographer, this is their work. So be sure that you get the permission of the wedding couple and of the photographer before you share a lot of their photos.

Renato Sogueco: (26:27)
Wholeheartedly agree. Great point, Sharon.

Sharon McGukin: (26:32)
Well, this has been so wonderful. I appreciate all the information. If you had one last really valuable piece of advice, what do you think it would be? I think one that I hear you say is start today and even go backwards in time to some of those favorite weddings you just loved. But what would be one thing that you would say, if you were a wedding florist looking to grow your weddings and you wanted to reach out in a different way. Is there one new way that you could suggest?

Renato Sogueco: (27:05)
Absolutely. I know we’re focused on imagery and photos, but it's really video is such a powerful medium. Especially with millennials and younger. Who are your brides? Who are the couples? These are the people that are in their twenties, late twenties, getting married and where they live is yes, they live on Instagram, but they live on IGTV, which is the video version. They live on YouTube. It's amazing the numbers of young people that are on social media. And YouTube is a social media. The other thing I want to mention about YouTube is that, again, getting back to this holistic view of digital marketing - that incredibly helps out your SEO when you create these videos and you embed them back into the website.

Renato Sogueco: (28:02)
Okay, let's use the example of that wedding website that you're using to collect consultations. And if you segmented that website, for example, by those trends that we were talking about. If there were a 1, 2, or 3-minute video of you expressing your expertise about color, about style, about what have you within that website. This is again a Google stat  ...  conversion … it increases 38%.

So, there's no better way for someone to fill out that form and get them excited to talk to you when they see you as the florist, being that expert for them. Again, you're aiding them and convincing them that you truly are the person that could do their wedding for them and, and fulfill their vision. I know we're getting into a little tangent and going on about this, but you know, the same equipment that you have for, for like taking great photos - your smartphone or you may even have a new digital camera. All that equipment can also be used for taking video. It may be difficult at first, but keep going because it will pay dividends in the long run. I truly believe that video is the medium of the present and the future.

Sharon McGukin: (29:34)
And today you and I did a short video that you said would be used in a Gmail email form. Can you explain? Because I had not heard of it. I'm sure a lot of our listeners haven't either. We are a lot less tech savvy than you are, but can you explain how that works for them?

Renato Sogueco: (29:52)
Oh, Sure. Ironically emails have been around for a very long time, but the thing that's missing from a lot of emails are just videos. No one wants to sit there and read a very long email. You literally have their attention for literally two seconds. They read the subject, they read like maybe the first couple of sentences, and then they make that immediate decision of deleting or reading on. So, but if you had a video embedded in the email, they could just click on it, watch the video, and then you could deliver, you know, the thousand words in a few seconds. Versus having them take time to read a long email from you. 

The way you would do it is though I think that this is a specific strategy. Like remember we talked about YouTube? First, you need to be sure that you create that YouTube channel. Okay? Because every video that you have embedded in an email will link to a YouTube video that you have on your channel. And that YouTube video, of course, will also be embedded in your website. So again, back to the idea, digital strategy is a holistic strategy for marketing.

Sharon McGukin: (31:13)
And we move faster and faster. We talked about earlier that we are moving at breakneck speed now, and we are trying to catch up. Video can be a faster way to respond. So, it's just part of that, moving with the speed of light that we have today.  

Thank you so much Renato for explaining some of those things to us. You know I'm always interested. I learn so much from you. So, I'm always interested to hear what your insight is. And especially for wedding florists because weddings have come back in full force. And we just want to be sure that they're directed to professional florists who enjoy working with our wedding couples.

Renato Sogueco: (31:53)
Yeah, absolutely. But remember “You’ve got to be found.”

Sharon McGukin: (31:55)
”You've got to be found.” 

Renato Sogueco: (31:58)
Everything that we talked about for this podcast will get you found. So, good luck out there. And, if you guys have any questions for me, feel free to email me.  My email is Just reference that you heard me on Sharon's podcast and I'll gladly have a dialogue with you. No problem.

Sharon McGukin: (32:24)
He's very sincere because bless him. He has answered a lot of questions for me. 

Renato Sogueco: 
That's been my pleasure. 

Sharon McGukin:
Thank you for joining us.

Sharon McGukin: (32:57)
Are you wondering, who helps me to bring practical solutions to you? Smithers Oasis-North America. They understand that you need fresh ideas to inspire new growth. They carefully plant the seeds of your success by offering a balance of traditional and on trend products. Simply visit your wholesale supplier for your favorite Oasis products or view the online selection of direct-delivered -to-you. Products and seasonal inspiration. Now available from While you're on the website, subscribe to the ‘How we Bloom’ podcast and check out our Floral Hub blog.

 Until next time, I'm Sharon McGukin. Reminding you that like the unfurling pedals of a flower, we grow by changing form soaking inspiration in like raindrops absorbing energy from others, like warmth from the sun. This growth opens us up to new ideas and that's ‘How we Bloom!'