Third-generation Nielsen's Florist and Gifts in Darien was named Marketer of the Year by the Society of American Florists' Floral Management magazine.

Sandy Nielsen, general manager; Raya Ward, operations manager and marketing coordinator; and Tami Whittier, co-owner, traveled to Phoenix to accept the award.

"We are immensely proud of this and even more proud of our incredible staff," Nielsen said. "A special thanks to our marketing coordinator, Raya Ward, for bringing our business to this level of excellence and professionalism in marketing. We are thrilled with customer response to our efforts."

As part of the honor, Nielsen's, 1405 Boston Post Road, received a $5,000 cash prize, and its winning campaign is detailed in the cover story of the October issue of Floral Management, the association's monthly magazine.

Creativity and success are the two most important criteria judges look for in evaluating the entrants; professionalism, use of resources and overall excellence are other criteria.

Nielsen's creative and successful effort to re-brand itself as a lifestyle destination, where the residents of Darien and surrounding communities could find not only florals, but home decor items, caught the attention of the judges -- as did the creative way in which the team marketed the re-branding out to the community.

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Nielsen's "went on a deliberate warpath to create buzz, and they used their existing resources to do it," Floral Management Editor in Chief Kate Penn told a crowd of nearly 400 convention attendees.

Among Nielsen's strategies were leveraging its new showroom space as a place for high-end fundraisers and events, for which it sought out strategic media sponsors; getting on the radar of influential lifestyle bloggers; and retooling its email marketing efforts, among other avenues.

"We've all worked really hard to promote the Nielsen's brand, and it's hard to put into words how it feels when all your work is actually recognized in an award like this. It's very humbling, it inspires me to want to go out and achieve even more for our brand," Ward said.

For information, visit www.nielsensflorist.com.