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June 2, 2016

How has your pond business been so far this year? If you are unhappy with your pond product sales and think that Home Depot or the Internet have destroyed your backyard pond business, consider the following: Home Depot stocks a limited number of pond products, generally not well displayed. Although the Internet is a true competitor to pet stores, for the first-time garden pond hobbyist, their local pet store is a real option.

Why is that you ask? Because they drive by your store and know where you are. They may be buying their dog food or other products from you already, so why not pond products, too?

If you don’t advertise your seasonal offerings, only customers who already visit your store will know what is available. I was talking to a retailer the other day that sets up a pond in her store every season and displays the support products on an endcap nearby. She was lamenting about how poorly the category was doing for her this year and wasn’t sure if she would continue to go through all the trouble of setting up a special pond display next season.

I was disappointed to hear that, so I asked her how she advertised the pond category during the season. She replied that they set up a nice display every April through the end of August. I suggested that she might consider advertising and was told that she couldn’t afford the expense, especially since her pond business was failing.

After that conversation, I’ve given the garden fish pond category a lot of thought and would like to put forward some ideas for those stores that are experiencing lackluster sales in ponds and pond accessories. The following are some inexpensive advertising concepts that might help build sales and bring new customers in at the same time.

It is never too late to talk with your distributor to see what they have to offer in the way of discounts to help you compete. The best practice is to assume that there are promotional programs available. Also consider contacting the manufacturer, especially if you are supporting a specific line of products.

Look for manufacturers who offer MAP protection and, if necessary with those that don’t, negotiate better pricing to help you compete with internet stores.

If you have an online store yourself, put your seasonal categories on the opening page advertising a promotion that you have arranged with your suppliers.

Advertise your pond program on your store’s Facebook page and if you don’t have one, have an employee, family member or friend set up an account so they can add content, especially your store specials including your seasonal items.

If you have limited display space and can’t dedicate an area to set up a pond (or even if you can) consider adding pond videos to your website and Facebook page. There are hundreds of videos available online. Also check with your pond product suppliers for what they have available.

If you can’t find pond posters from your suppliers, go to the Internet and google ‘garden ponds’ and choose large images to create signs or posters that will give your customers inspiration, posting them in your store near your pond display. Also offer links to the images if you have an online presence.

Most importantly, use your storefront as an advertising vehicle. For very little money, you can go to a local printer and have a vinyl banner made using images available from your pond suppliers promoting the advantages of a garden fish pond, saying something like, “A Beautiful Garden Pond Will Enhance Your Life! Available Here.”

Rather than assuming you can’t compete against the big box retailers or online vendors, consider working with your distributor and manufacturers on pricing, making the effort to advertise the category beyond what you have done in the past.

Remember, even if you can’t set up a live pond display in your store, that doesn’t mean you can’t sell pond products. It’s not too late to go after pond sales. There are still several months left in the season, so create a pond product endcap today and try some of the simple advertising ideas above. You never know; you might energize your pond sales!

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