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Success Blooms At

What began as a single flower shop on New York’s Upper East Side has become a global floral empire for Jim McCann, the founder of, according to AOL Small Business. By adopting innovative technology in a traditionally low-tech field, McCann has transformed his flower delivery business into a multi-million dollar corporation that serves 30 million customers around the world and earned $667 million in revenue in 2010.

How did he plant the seed for such success?

In 1976, McCann was looking for ways to supplement his meager income as a social worker and started working in a small flower shop on the weekends. He enjoyed it tremendously and ended up buying the flower shop, which had previously earned $50,000 a year in sales and jumped to $300,000 in sales the year after he purchased it. For the next decade, he continued his social work and ran the flower shop on the side. Each year, he bought a new flower shop. His third flower shop brought him to $1 million in revenue and he knew he was on his way to much bigger things.

"This organization called 800-FLOWERS had started out of Texas and approached us to be a fulfilling florist for them in New York City,” said McCann. “We did that, and lo and behold it dried up and went away. I contacted them and, long story short, ended up buying the company and the 800-FLOWERS brand.”

Despite friends in the flower industry telling him that no one would be interested in ordering flowers by phone, he went ahead and built his business, changing the name to 1-800-FLOWERS in 1986.

The 800-number was considered cutting-edge technology in the 1980s, and especially innovative for the traditional floral industry. After reaping the rewards of embracing new technology, Mr. Cann started looking for the next technological breakthrough that would elevate his business even higher.

In 1991, the company had its own Web site, but it was unfulfilling because there was no Google, no browser and no one knew how find them. The mid-1990s brought Netscape into their lives, along with the browser that finally organized the Internet. By 1997, the emerging Internet was beginning to change the way they did everything.

"As a company, we've gone through four waves,” said McCann. “The first wave was retail stores, the second wave was the 1-800 number, betting on the Internet was our third wave and now we're on our fourth wave. Right now, it's everything video, everything mobile and social.”

Social media has become very important to the company because it reflects the customer interaction and intimacy experienced at their very first flower shop. McCann believes that the only way to preserve that personal relationship as the customer base grows is through emerging technologies. He views social media as the way to engage with customers, develop real relationships and give them a voice in the company. This mindset has elevated his business from a commerce website into a social commerce company that continues to blossom.

MDG Advertising is a full-service South Florida advertising agency, with offices in Florida and New York, that specializes in developing targeted franchise marketing solutions, exceptional online executions, and solid branding and media buying strategies that give franchises a real competitive advantage. MDG Advertising handles creative, media, and interactive marketing for Coverall, one of the world’s leading commercial-cleaning franchising companies, with a global network of more than 90 support centers and 9,000 franchisees.

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