In Search of a Value Proposition for a Pet Jewelry Business

Here’s a question that was sent to us by one of our subcribers:

“I listened to your value proposition segment online. I found it very helpful as I have been struggling with my value proposition for quite some time. I have read books on branding, etc. and still struggle.

I was wondering if you could give me your opinion or feedback on my proposed value proposition? I went through the steps and tried to narrow it down to a 4 x 6 card and sentence as suggested.

I am starting a new business selling jewelry for pets. I know, it sounds strange but the market has really developed for pet necklaces, collar charms, etc. The competition is growing and becoming fierce. Even larger pet distributor companies are devoting pages in their catalog to pet jewelry.

The main reasons that women buy pet jewelry is to pamper their pets, call attention to their pet and their own fashion style. The pieces are conversation starters.

Most of the competition (most smaller companies with their own set of designed pieces) sell jewelry in a range of sizes such as “fits necks 7 – 9 inches.” Many of the companies make the pieces to order but also wholesale the pieces so their designs have to remain consistent for a year or more to service orders from distributors.

My value proposition would be that we provide “custom” jewelry designed specifically for their pet assuring a perfect fit. Basically, my designs are different than the competition but I would say not necessarily better looking. Using “custom” as a value proposition is unique right now but it wouldn’t be hard for the competition to offer specific sizes and say the same thing in the future. Is there any value in being the first company to say they provide “custom” sizing?

My other idea is to provide one-of-a-kind pet jewelry pieces. No design would be duplicated so the owner would be ensured that their pet had an original design. These would be made to order as well in custom sizes. This would require an enormous amount of design work.

I took your advice and studied the key words searched for most often in Wordtracker. Pet jewelry is such a new idea that most searches for “pet jewelry” are actually people looking for people jewelry with a pet theme so the key words were deceiving.

As you can see, I am operating in a fiercely competitive market and am really struggling with a value proposition other than “custom” sizing. I do know that owners with very small and very large pets would appreciate “custom” sizing.

Do you have any feedback on my value proposition? If so, I would greatly appreciate it!”

Our answer:

You have some excellent questions here, and seem to pretty much recognize most of the weaknesses inherent in your business.

In terms of creating a strong value proposition, your biggest weakness is that you have a business which is wide open to competition. Any company that has an existing presence in the pet market can jump in at any time.

As can regular jewelry companies, custom jewelry companies and individual crafts people.

Will creating custom jewelry defend your position? Probably not, as it is something any of your competitors can choose to do also.

Will creating one-of-a-kind pieces help you? It might. But each piece had better be very, very good. Why do they have to be so good? Because creating one-off pieces simply shifts your market focus, and you will still be faced with plenty of competitors…many of them being talented crafts people.

On the face of it, there are two ways to go forward from where you are now.

1. Create a huge business that makes money through high volume sales with slim margins…by getting your products on the shelves of Wal Mart and the like.

2. Do the opposite and establish your name in one or more tight niches.

Assuming you don’t have deep enough pockets to choose the first option, I’m going to let my imagination run wild here on option two…just to illustrate the point.

Here are some niche ideas for you:

a) Pet jewelry for golf fanatics. (Where the designs reflect the passions of the owner.)

b) Pet jewelry for fans of Oprah Winfrey (check out her earrings)

c) Pet jewelry for gardeners (All those nice flowers)

d) Pet jewelry for rock star fans

e) Pet jewelry for motorcycle fans

f) Pet jewelry for computer geeks (A good use for old computer chips. They’re shiny too!)

You get the idea. The jewelry for the pet becomes an expression of the owner’s passion.

When you work within a clearly defined niche, better things start to happen.

First, you reduce the size of the “pond”…so you can be a big fish in a small pond, rather than a small fish in a big pond.

Second, you can start adding a forum and customer photos to your site and build a real community.

Three, you can do your level best to get a celebrity or two to buy your jewelry. (A celebrity sportsperson, entertainer, gardener.)

Four, you can create designs that are funky enough to get attention from the media…through press releases, radio interviews etc.

And so on.

The thing is, with a niche you can separate yourself from the generic pet jewelry business and become known as THE source of pet jewelry for one or more niche markets.

Suddenly, you are no longer bland, but exciting.

People start talking about your site, blogging about your site and so on.

In addition, when you match pet jewelry with some other niche theme, such as golf…you are opening up whole new promotional opportunities with regard to search engine optimization and PPC advertising. Not to mention placing ads in golfing magazines etc.

As I mentioned…this is simple “imagination run wild”.

But the core message here is that you would find it easier to create a strong value proposition for your business if you worked within one or more niche markets.

It will always be hard for you to prosper in the very competitive and generic field of “pet jewelry”.

It will be much easier for you to become known as THE place to get pet jewelry for people who have a passion for golf, for example.

We hope these ideas help spark some productive thoughts for you. Keep us in touch with your progress.

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