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Florist Transworld Delivery Finds Value in Membership

Screen Shot 2014-02-03 at 4.47.01 PMTAKEAWAY TUESDAY Take it away! This is the fourth in a series of posts that will be featured on Fonteva’s blog highlighting important strategies associations can take away from other industries. In today’s sixth-degrees-of-separation world, your members are assessing your association not just in comparison to similar organizations but in relation to the totality of their experiences as consumers. As such, we want to help you stay abreast of key trends and best practices, those takeaways that may benefit your association. Almost $2billion -- according to the National Retail Federation, that’s how much Americans are estimated to have spent on flowers last Valentine’s Day. As one of the top flower-giving holidays of the year quickly approaches, my thoughts turned to how the first floral wire service got its start. Florist Transworld Delivery, better known as FTD, was initially launched when 15 florists joined forces in 1910 to form the Florists' Telegraph Delivery Association. The group’s primary objective was exchanging orders for out-of-town deliveries by telegraph. From there, FTD introduced the first system for standardizing order placement among florists worldwide. FTD was also the first to create a standard special bouquet order with its member florists and to publish floral arrangement catalogs to help consumers select the proper arrangements. Today FTD provides floral, gift and related products and services to consumers, retail florists, and other retail locations primarily in the U.S., Canada, the U.K., and the Republic of Ireland. It’s interesting to reflect on the company’s start as an association because that continues to influence its overall business philosophy and approach to offering products and services. Here are a few concepts particularly relevant to associations. Members are in the mission. The FTD mission statement reads as follows, “to inspire, support and delight our customers when expressing life’s most important sentiments.” What association doesn’t want to inspire, support and delight members? Then fill in the blank with “as they serve their professions” or similar language and that sounds like most associations I know. The focus is on creating experiences members will value and offering products/services that help them be successful. FTD members’ customers can be members too. For many years, FTD has served an umbrella organization for florists nation-wide who chose to join. However, more recently the company developed a means for cultivating a different segment of members. In March 2011, FTD launched its gold membership program for consumers. The primary benefit of the gold membership, which costs $29.99 annually, is free shipping for online orders. Gold members also receive special discounts and offers. Perhaps, there’s a way for your association to cultivate another segment of membership by offering a specialized service to the people your members serve. Specialized resources are provided for big opportunities. To help member florists fully capitalize on what should be one of their best-selling holidays, a portion of FTD’s website is specifically dedicated to Valentine’s Day. From marketing tips to help them promote the holiday locally to ordering guidelines to sure they have sufficient inventory on hand, FTD outlines what member-florists need to do be successful. If your members are in a position take advantage of some significant opportunity, you association should be their one-stop source for information and other resources. Certainly FTD has faced its fair share of competition and criticism in recent years. Still there’s something to be said for being first, and associations are clearly in its “blood” since many, including the National Homebuilders Association, the Air Force Sergeants Association, and Associated Skin Care Professionals, offer FTD discounts as a member benefit. So stop, take a moment to smell some of the estimated 224T million roses grown for Valentine’s Day and think about what you can do next to make sure your members continue to love you. Original Article

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