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  • Make Room for Niche Marketing
    Displays that Shout "Special"

    Flowers & Profits®

    The purpose of adding a niche to your business plan is to promote a segment of commerce to your customers as "special" or "unique." You can do this through carefully executed promotions and stop-'em-in-their tracks displays.

    Just because it's called "niche" doesn't mean the merchandise or service should be relegated to a back corner or other small space. To sell it, you have to display it - and that goes double for most niche products.

    If you are promoting a niche, you've singled out one type of product or one service to spotlight with the goal of generating additional revenue. You already surveyed your customers, scouted the competition, checked out the marketplace, interviewed your vendors, and maybe even endured a sleepless night or two before you decided to invest time and money in a niche venture.

    Most new niche endeavors fail because of inadequate research or promotion. Be sure your plan includes ways to let your customers know that you're offering something new, something they should find interesting, exciting, or useful. Use indoor displays to sell this message.

    What Niche Fits?

    Obviously, your customer needs will dictate the niche you decide to pursue. But, adding niche products to your wares requires you to also consider the physical features and limitations of your shop. For example, if you have limited wall space, folk art paintings are probably not the niche product for you. On the other hand, a high ceiling may lend itself to hanging wind chimes and garden accessories. Take a look at your surroundings and think about what potential exists there.

    In some cases, you may be able to redesign your physical space to ease limitations. Taking out an interior wall could give you more open space to display statuary or a new gift line. Or you may want to add a dividing wall so that you have more wall space or to create a cozy corner for niche merchandise. If you own your building, you could even open up the ceiling space, add skylights and display hanging items above customers' heads.

    Do Your Field Research

    Field research can help you determine the best ways to display niche merchandise.

    Visit other shops that sell specialty items, noting what you like about their displays and what mistakes you think they've made.

    Go to market and trade fairs to see how the products are displayed commercially. Ask suppliers for suggestions; chances are they've seen what works and what doesn't.

    Consider Traffic Flow

    When deciding placement of niche products, consider your shop's key areas where merchandise will get maximum exposure. These are the areas that have the most foot traffic, such as near your order counter, the fresh flower cooler, or in the vicinity of other popular merchandise. Key areas may also exist where there is a natural traffic flow, such as tile floor pathways through carpeted areas or paths set up around large displays.

    The order counter and fresh flower cooler are the most obvious key areas. Customers are often a captive audience at these spots because they tend to browse while you fill their orders. Reserve these key areas for impulse buys, such as plush toys, special picks, and greeting cards, all of which make for good add-on sales. You can also place new niche merchandise at these areas to introduce them to the most customers possible, and then move the display later after the niche catches on.

    Branded, high-end containers, such as Lenox or Waterford crystal vases, are also well-placed near your fresh product or ordering area. Such renowned products are an easy sale — and solid profit — when a customer needs a special container to go with a flower purchase.

    Designate Space

    Anything given its own space takes on elevated importance, so be sure to give your special merchandise its own niche. Don't scatter parts of the same product line throughout your shop, thinking it will entice customers to browse longer. Consumers want to find what they are looking for quickly, and a complete display of items with the same brand name, style, and coordinating pieces is more likely to draw attention.

    Give your niche items' display area plenty of space, too. The area should have ample room for a customer to spend time browsing and making purchasing decisions without feeling crowded or rushed. If they are constantly jostled by others in the shop, they may move along without deciding to buy. If the niche display is in a high traffic area, be sure that the aisles surrounding it are wide enough for people to pass by without interfering with browsers.

    Focused on Profit

    Niche marketing is about being a specialist; having a reputation for knowing a product or group of products. With some research and creativity, you can profit from specialty items that support your floral focus and supplement your revenue. When flower sales are slow, a niche can give the shop something special with which to generate traffic and interest.

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