A high-end salon is probably not going to fare well in a small town. A $10-per-cut salon that doesn’t accept appointments won’t do well in an area without foot traffic. If the market is crowded with luxury salons, a kid-friendly salon might be a welcome addition. If beards become trendy, a place where men can get a trim and a straight-razor shave may be welcomed. How you position your business is partly the result of the kind of business you want to open, but it’s also related to the market you choose to enter.
This is just as true for products as it is for services. When disposable cash is readily available, high-end jeans may be a successful offering. But if hundreds of companies begin offering variations on that theme, a store may not make the kind of impact it needs to survive. Blank page entrepreneurs must employ the skill of prediction — they must to be able to peer into the future and look carefully at the present in order to choose how to present their offering and their brand. Your brand must find a niche that meets an existing need but neither copies existing businesses nor injects itself where it’s not needed.
Faced with a massive food truck movement, Paul wondered how he could break out of the crowd without opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant. His offering — gourmet sandwiches, snacks and desserts — was as good or better than most, but he wanted to find a way to distinguish himself.
The food truck park where he based his operations was already home to a dozen competitors. Every patron was lured in several different directions, and the jumble of competing options made it difficult to create a strong mental image in the minds of a defined customer base. He noticed that the wooden picnic tables that filled the food truck park were uncomfortable. The park also could get quite noisy, as customers with dogs and kids would choose this option over the quiet of an indoor restaurant. These factors dissuaded some customers that wanted a more comfortable atmosphere.
Since trailer park customers were already dining al fresco, Paul decided to get his customers out of the trailer park and into some more picturesque surroundings. He created a section on his website to offer Paul’s Picnics.
- He purchased several dozen picnic baskets, each fitted with table service for four, along with everything else a customer might need — blankets, glassware, cloth napkins, and little handheld bells.
- In emails to his existing database he announced that, for a few dollars more, customers could place an online order and have their meal delivered to one of five downtown parks at a specified time.
- One or more company representatives showed up at each park prior to the lunch hour to take care of guests, setting up blankets in all the best spots and handing out orders as parties arrived.
- As each guest finished, the staffer “bussed the blanket” packing everything back up to take back for cleaning.
- Small bells were presented to each party, and could be rung when guests needed drink refills or other services.
- Paul invited local musicians to come to the parks and play guitar or violin music for a small stipend, along with whatever tips they could collect.
- The service was also offered during the winter months; customers could request an indoor picnic delivered to their offices.
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