This “Flower Guy” Sells Plants, and Himself

08-May-2014   |  Author: Fred Berns 

Brian Wheat says he “never misses an opportunity to tell people who I am.”

Who he is, is the CEO of Lafayette Florist, one of Colorado’s largest floral and garden centers.

Who Brian Wheat also is, is one of the premier self-promoters in an increasingly competitive industry. At a time when there are an estimated 16,000 garden centers in America, Brian realizes he has to sell more than just flowers.

“Now more than ever you have to sell yourself,” he points out.

The cornerstone of his self-promotion efforts is his personal brand: “The Flower Guy.”  It’s the name of the weekly cartoon he creates online and in a local newspaper, his Pinterest site, and his email address.

And it’s the identity he has created to gain and maintain attention (“Top of the Mind Awareness, he calls it) during his successful 30 year career in the green industry.

Customer service was a relatively unknown concept in the industry in 1984 when he and his wife, Lori, became the third generation to run Lafayette Florist. It was a time, he recalls, when growers rarely emerged from the greenhouse because “they were more comfortable with plants than people.”

Fast forward three decades, and customer service has become Priority #1 for Brian.

“It’s one thing to grow a plant, and another thing to sell it,” he observes. “Thanks to the Internet, customers are more educated than ever before, and they expect more help and information.”

He accumulated his information over the years through his involvement with such groups as the Society of American Florists (SAF), and Colorado associations for retail florists, nurserymen, greenhouse growers, and garden centers. The SAF named him to its prestigious American Academy of Floriculture.

But it doesn’t matter how knowledgeable, or skilled you are if you’re the only one who knows about it. That’s where his self-promotion comes in.

He’s past president and an active member of a local Rotary Club and chamber of commerce, a member of three other chambers of commerce, and you’re sure to find  him at “ribbon cuttings” for new businesses in the area. 

Stop by Lafayette Florist, and chances are you’ll see him conducting tours – for anyone from college floriculture students to garden clubs to kindergarten classes.

Add to that the articles he writes for industry publications, the videos he posts on Facebook and the local radio garden show he sponsors, and you have a self-marketing mix that serves him, and his garden center quite well.

Ask him why he is so passionate about blowing his horn, and tooting his flute, and Brian Wheat has a practical, yet powerful answer: “If I don’t sell myself, who will?”