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Differentiate From Your Competition

January 6, 2011



One of the most significant actions that you can undertake in business today is to differentiate yourself from your nearest rivals. Distinguish your company by articulating your core values and culture, and tell a compelling story. One way to accomplish this is through branding and another way is through visual representation / merchandising. It is imperative that you bring out the luxuriousness and romance of the products.


This same concept applies to everyone who is creating an outdoor living space. You want to set the mood for a gathering, whether it be just family and friends or a lavish party. In the same way that you set a table to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas or prepare for a New Years Eve extravaganza you need to design a plan, implement the objective and develop your story which will include, color, touch, form and artisanship.


Now is the optimal time to get underway. During the time that you are changing your floor layout from Holiday to spring or keeping warm inside your home while winter gives a demonstration of its power, devise your strategy. Do you want to add sparkle, warmth, sophistication, and style? Will the setting be contemporary, transitional, classic, old world, tropical, romantic or fun? Whichever style you want to emulate can be accomplished with preparation.


For storeowners, you can choose to redesign your entire floor with individual vignettes set up to reflect the story behind the product. Or you can simply make a focal point in your store the main attraction by creating one dynamic vignette to capture your customer's immediate attention. The key ingredient to any vignette is the story, once formulated you add the elements that will produce the desired impact.


The elements are the details that polish off the plot. One key feature is the fabric. Choose a color that enhances the story line as you consider texture and coordinates. Accompany the fabric selection with a fashionable outdoor area rug. Draw attention to a seating environment with decorative outdoor throw pillows and an outdoor throw blanket. Add a coffee table book relating to outdoor cooking and entertaining or of faraway places.


Melamine  Accessory  plate  PLATE  Barware  BBQ  Italy


If you are creating a dining vignette, set the table with glassware and serve ware in the genre of the story. Add permanent botanicals inside and fragrant plants outdoors. Feature lighting in the form of an outdoor chandelier, table top candles or outdoor lamps.


Music will liven up any gathering so be selective as you reinforce the story. Wall décor and garden accents add the finishing touches.


Develop this space outside your home as you would inside. Don't skimp on the finishing touches that create a perfect outdoor entertainment setting.


If you are a storeowner these essential elements can be an additional add on sale item, if you choose to add another category, such as glassware, tabletop, area rugs, lighting, books, candles, barware, grill accessories, specialty food, serve ware, pillows, throw blankets, and fabric to your inventory. Or you can choose to purchase these accessories for individual vignettes that you either reuse or sell once the vignette is remodeled.


The key to distinguishing your company from your competition is to tell the story of why you are here and what can you offer. Communicating your mission statement visually will intensify your image.


Now while you may agree with the need to merchandise differently you may not have the imagination or ideas to execute this strategy. This is the time to hire a designer or creative buyer to accomplish this goal.


You want your customers, family or friends to have an emotional attachment to your store, vignette or outdoor living space, so they will desire to return over and over again.


For more ideas and suggestions or if you simply have a comment, join the discussion by leaving your thoughts below.

These are my outside views...Marcia Blake