Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Working Designer Wednesday: Finding Your Niche

I know many of you have been anxiously waiting to see what Kate (Floret Cadet) has to say about Finding Your Niche…so welcome back, Kate…

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I took an advertising copywriting course a few years ago, and have found one central thing they taught us to be really helpful as I think about starting my business: Before you try to sell anything, you should have a particular statement completed in your head.

You don’t have to use the copy anywhere, but it will really help if you keep this statement in your back pocket, to position your business and define your niche.  The goal is to identify a unique feature of your product or service, and then to define how that feature translates into a benefit for consumers.

The statement goes:

X is the only product or service that provides/does Y (feature), so you can Z (benefit).

Some benefits will seem pretty concrete at first– like time or money saved.  In these cases, my copywriting teacher would always push us to drill down into the benefit.  What is the real benefit to saving money or time? Being able to spend it on something else, or doing something else, that you love.

You don’t have to state that your flowers will save lives or change the world, but the benefit that stems from your unique feature should ultimately have to do with emotional satisfaction or fulfillment.

Applied to floral design, examples for completing this sentence would be:

    Flowers Of Omaha is the only wedding floral design company in Omaha with a “coastal style.” We source varieties that other local florists don’t to provide designs inspired by the most current wedding blogs and magazines, so that fashion forward Omaha brides can have wedding flowers that truly reflect who they are.

    Feature – Coastal style

    Benefit – The bride feels unique and special

    Jenna from The Earth Laughs In Flowers is the only “green” special event floral designer in Albuquerque.  She uses only organic, local flowers and rented or repurposed containers, so that you can have a special event that reflects your values as an individual or as an organization.

    Feature: Eco friendliness

    Benefit: Pride in your impact / choices

    Kim’s Flowers And Gifts is the only flower shop in Baton Rouge that also provides classes, supplies and support for brides interested in creating some of their own wedding flowers.  Brides can have fun making their own centerpieces, trust a pro with their personal flowers, and save money that they can spend on making their other wedding dreams come true.

    Feature: DIY support

    Benefit: Money for the bride to spend on other things so that her wedding can be more full of things she loves

    The English Rose is the only flower shop in Boston with a Victorian floral design sensibility.  All designs, like its signature true herb and flower Tussie Mussies, are rooted in the Victorian “language of flowers” and all deliveries come with a card explaining their meaning.  With The English Rose, you can send or carry something uniquely meaningful.

    Feature: Victorian floral design sensibility

    Benefit: The feeling that you are truly expressing yourself

    Magnificent Flowers is the only floral design studio in Austin that specializes in Indian and East Asian weddings. With a florist who is already well versed in making the customary designs of those cultures, a bride’s time and energy will be freed up to focus on other things that are important to her rather than educating a vendor.

    Feature: A cultural specialization

    Benefit: A feeling of security, confidence, or calm during your wedding planning process

Even if you don’t fully define a benefit, just focusing on completing the first part of the statement for your business could be enormously beneficial – you should know what sets you apart, and if you don’t have that sort of a niche yet, consider carving it out. Look around, from a customer’s perspective, to see what is missing from the local offerings.

You don’t have to only offer to do whatever you define as your unique feature, but being known for something specific- being the first or only person who other vendors think of when they encounter customers with special requests or a distinct vision- could really kick start a business.

In fact, the East Asian / Indian example above was inspired by Marci of Entwined Design, who graciously gave me tons of advice and encouragement when I was first thinking of starting to do weddings on the side.  Although she does weddings of all types, she fell into a similar cultural weddings niche to this one and it’s been a source of constant referrals for her.  She echoed all of this wisdom from my copywriting class when she told me that every florist would be smart to find a niche or specialty.

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images via Entwined Design

That’s it for today – I’m off to think about what the unique feature of Floret Cadet will be (no, I have not completed this statement for myself yet, though I am kicking around some ideas!)

P.S. I came across this class, a two day “Floral Entrepreneurs Weekend” course at the Portland Floral Design Institute, that is all about finding a niche.  It covers the creation of a business identity and blueprint, a marketing plan, a financial plan, and embracing new technology, all for floral business owners looking for their niche.  It looks pretty cool – I might be a taker!

http://floraldesigninstitute.com/page002.05.00.00.htm

 Botanical Brouhaha readers: below are a few niche florists you might want to check out per Kate’s recommendation:

http://greenfloristchicago.com/ and don’t miss this page: http://greenfloristchicago.com/greener-wedding-flowers/

http://www.anastasiaehlers.com and don’t miss this page:  http://www.anastasiaehlers.com/#!__do-it-yourself

http://www.handmakerofthings.com/

http://www.faxongreen.com and don’t miss this page: http://www.faxongreen.com/about.html

Thanks so much, Kate! So much helpful information…so much generosity in sharing…

Happy Wednesday!

7 comments:

Laurie (Fleurie) said...

Thanks Kate and Amy for sharing this valuable information. New and established florists can look to this info to guide and improve their businesses. I took an entreprenuership class last year at our local college and it was very helpful in defining the features and benefits of my business.

anastasia said...

Wow, thanks for sharing my site! Full disclosure here, the DIY flower parties I do seem like such an obvious niche--and it's true, nobody else does it in my area--but I seldom think of that service in those terms. I've spent a lot of time and thought trying to define my niche by style instead of services, so it's easy to overlook what's right in front of me.

We have a great community of floral folks around here; if you need help with your niche, I'd say to pose the question and see what others think stands out.

Marci Gerlach said...

I love that Kate is sharing the knowledge she is learning to other florist in hopes of growing their business. We all can learn so much from each other and I for one am always looking on ways to improve. :o)
Thanks Kate and Botanical for all your daily goodness!

Mimi said...

Amy, Thanks so much for this informative series. Hearing Kate sharing her own experiences on these topics was very generous and helpful to us all. Love the floral design websites you shared as well!

Mimi said...

Kate, Thanks again for sharing what you've learned with us.

Liz Rusnac said...

This was great Kate! Thank you!! Hey if anyone wants to attend the January class in Portland, I'm totally up for attending and splitting the discounted cost for 2 people! :)

Flowers by Carolyn said...

I am a graduate of Floral Design Institute and highly recommend them.
Thank you for you insights, I love hearing from other designers.