Woodworkers find success in providing specialty products to a selective clientele.

 

Whether it happens as the result of careful planning or just by chance, some custom woodworkers find themselves specializing in a narrow product range that appeals to a select market. By focusing on these specific products, woodworking businesses find a niche that can allow them to succeed even in difficult economic times.

Niche marketing offers some distinct advantages for woodworking business owners. Since the product is unique, it will usually stand out well and appeal to customers desirous of quality workmanship. Additionally, the niche-marketer is usually not competing against many other companies for the same market. Finally, the niche-marketer can often charge a higher price for his product, as his customers are often those with the financial means and willingness to pay for specialty and custom-built items that they cannot find elsewhere.

However, there are disadvantages. For one, you have a much smaller market to work with. Marketing can be more challenging and require more creativity in reaching your customer base. Once contacted, these high-end customers are often highly demanding and will expect to get their money’s worth. Also, because these products are of a unique nature, it often requires special skills, education, training or knowledge to produce them, which may be more difficult and time-consuming as well. Also, while a higher price can be charged, the cost of the materials may be higher as well.

For this issue, Custom Woodworking Business spoke with woodworkers who are involved in various degrees of niche marketing. Shoji Woodworking specializes in providing an unusual foreign interior design product to American customers looking for something different in their homes. Vintage Trailer Conversions serves the exclusive horse show market with its custom-built horse trailers. Finally, Apple Valley Woodworks, while not technically a niche-marketer, found a one-time niche when its local police department needed help. Apple Valley’s story serves to show that even traditional manufacturers may be inclined to fill a niche when necessary.

Challenging, but rewarding, niche marketing can be a way for a smaller shop to compete in a market filled with imports and assembly-line-built products. It also allows a craftsman to specialize in producing unique, often hand-made quality items that garner a worthy price, while providing personal satisfaction. Niche marketing can also be an area a traditional shop may explore as a sideline to its regular business.

Cross-Cultural Inspirations

Shoji Woodworking’s Japanese-style sliding doors let users work with light and space.

 

Home on the Range

Vintage Trailer Conversions allows people to enjoy the feel of their own homes with them on the road.

 

Securing a Niche

The police department received a grant for specialty communications equipment to be used for large disasters.They had a Ford Expedition SUV to put the equipment in, but had no way to safely and conveniently house it.

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