A Niche, Then Conquer!
Looking for a
quality baseball cap? Hey, it's easy. Check out the material and
workmanship. Grab a color you like, and maybe a team logo. You don't
even have to try it on! Thanks to the little strap in the back, one
size fits all. A marketer's dream.
You can still
buy baseball caps that are sized. But they cost a good deal more and
you have to buy in quantity. That little strap put a lot of cap
manufactures flat out of business.
You see this
happening across the spectrum of manufactured products.
There is need
now and then for me to spend serious time in the kitchen. Which
includes washing dishes. I found a great sponge some years back. Dark
green on one side with a roughness to it that really does a number on
a pot or frying pan. The other side is yellow, a more typical kind of
manufactured sponge. Softer and thicker, it's great for polishing off
the heavy scrub. Each lasts about a month, longer if you don't mind
some frayed edges.
The last batch
I bought looked identical to what I had been getting. But they don't
last but about a week. And they do not do nearly as good a job, which
means more work. No doubt I paid less, but in the long run, the
cheaper version may cost me more. Yet they will likely put the
original manufacturer out of business.
Pay For Quality?
My answer is a
resounding, "Yes!" If I can find the original sponge
mentioned above, I will buy it without even a glance at the price.
It's a tool that simplifies a task. When it comes to tools, I want
the best, for they last longer and make the job easier all the while.
A lot of people feel the same way.
of any kind can become the basis of a profitable niche market. Sized
baseball caps sell only on style and comfort. Thus this is not as
good a starting point. There are not nearly as many people willing to
pay twice the going rate for comfort as there are who will do so for
A Difficult Task
niche is tough to do. But those who intend to succeed on the Web into
the future, must find and conquer one. They must become the dominant
name within it. They must provide great content that demonstrates
expertise, over-deliver with quality products, and provide extremely
high levels of support to all.
Do I Start?
offline world, independent merchants have been forced to join hands
with large suppliers to the extent many are not free to stock in
areas which conflict with the wishes of the suppliers. This may be
most obvious in your local hardware store. Most of the stock comes
through Ace Hardware or True Value Hardware.
When the owner
of the store you favor says, "We can't get those any more,"
he usually means the supplier no longer handles the item. And because
of agreements, he is not free to go elsewhere for it. More than
likely, the supplier has replaced what you want with a less expensive
product that may or may not measure up to its predecessor in performance.
Quality Is Available
The drill bits
available in your local store are not very expensive. But they are
not great tools. Those who use bits regularly as a part of their
work, may pay twice as much as you will pay. But the bits they buy
will outperform and outlast their less expensive cousins many, many
Stores And Niche Marketing
Tools are a
major item in a hardware store. But the store's target is Mr. and
Mrs. Average Consumer. Most do not need great quality and would not
pay the greater price even if the better item was available. But some
would. Therein lies the key.
local hardware store may find it unprofitable to stock professional
tools, may even be prevented by contracts from doing so, many
customers would like the option to buy better quality.
The Web makes
it possible to profitably offer only the best. The few who would buy
top of the line in a given shop if it were available are collectively
a target of considerable size.
back I discovered bricks of fire starter cubes. Just touch a match to
one, and you can ignite a pretty good sized chunk of firewood,
provided it is split. Joy! No more kindling. No more nursing things
along. No frustrating restarts. Just stack it, add a cube, and touch
it with a lighted match.
years back, the hardware store changed brands. (Translate: Supplier
changed brands.) They look the same. Cost the same. But it usually
takes several matches. (And scorched fingers!) Further, it often
takes several cubes.
I can almost
hear what you are saying. "Stuff and nonsense," would be
one of the kindlier remarks. But a successful Web business can be
built upon just such a simple tool.
If you live in
a city, a fire in the evening is likely not a necessity, only
something that adds ambiance to other activity. For those who live
with the first snowfall of winter lying about them until spring, a
fire is often much more than a luxury. Most everyone who lives in the
foothills of the Sierra Nevadas as I do uses a wood stove throughout
the winter. Many have no other source of heat.
Okay, so there
are a lot of people who start wood fires. But fire starter cubes? Get
serious! Where's the buck in this?
Got What I Want?
If you can
provide good fire starter cubes, the kind I have not been able to
find locally for many years, I will visit your site once each year as
a minimum. Think of the accessories you can offer me when I do.
All sorts of items in which wood can be stored.
Moving wood is
a pain. An effective dolly or cart would be a great help. Something
that moves easily over icy snow will be in great demand in some places.
Few would buy
a stove from you for most need the support of installation. So turn
this to your advantage. Let your expertise regarding stoves become
the central core of your site. The differences between stoves are
enormous. And defining a best choice according to needs is extremely difficult.
Along the path
to expertise there are many helpful resources. Company sales
presentations and specifications are a good beginning point. Write a
good article about a particular stove, then call the company and ask
for someone to read it before you publish. Most will jump at the
opportunity. And you will discover details of importance overlooked
or not available earlier. You may even take this first contact into a
drop shipment arrangement for an occasional sale. Do it right, and
advertising revenue can be generated.
back to other products you can offer, add the best wax for a tiled
hearth. Brick bracer. And all it takes to keep a stove looking great.
And something to deal effectively with those bugs that sneak in with
Then there are
teapots to be perched on top of the stove, to add a bit of welcome
humidity. Tools to clear the ashes within the stove. Then there's
chimney cleaning gear.
attractive pillows for the pup. which keeps the carpet clean. And
something for the cat as well, though I've no idea what.
above notion has merit, it is flawed in that it is seasonal. Were I
to tackle this, I would probably search for another niche that was
summer based, and work this through another site. Maybe barbecues and
Tools came to
mind because I like good ones and they are not easy to find. Since
lots of people feel the same way, this is a good starting point. Cook
ware comes to mind.
Yes, I know
the Web is loaded with cook ware shopping malls. But have you looked
at the products? They are virtually all the same. There is not only
an opportunity here to sell quality, but to sell specialty items.
What's out there now kind of reminds me of baseball caps in a way. We
hope you agree that a eight inch frying pan is as small as is needed.
Since I only
fry a couple eggs at a time, I'd rather have a five inch pan. Show me
one of quality and I'll pay your price.
Copyright © 2001 Bob McElwain; All Rights Reserved
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