When marketing and selling your 3D printing services, one thing seems pretty obvious. The public is beginning to catch on to what this technology is all about, but there are still many hurdles to jump when it comes to educating people about the advantages of 3D printing. So let’s review some tips from Toronto’s Matt Belo, Brand Manager and Prosumer Solutions at Objex Unlimited 3D Printing Studio, about how best to represent the expanding 3D printing technologies and your own unique business capabilities in a growing market.
1. Have some 3D printed samples handy. Having some 3D printed items that are the most closely related to the commercial interests of your client is a really good idea:
“For example, if your customer is in tool and die making, 3D print a jig or a fixture. If your client is an automotive designer, show how they can design and build inexpensive 3D-printed car parts from a 3D scan. Show display companies a 3D-printed booth mock-up. If they’re willing to give you an STL or CAD file for test printing, that’s even better!”
Also ensure you include the full range of materials, such as metal, carbon fiber, wax, nylon, and rubber, and the full range of color options too. This will give them a much better understanding of exactly how you are capable of helping them, fitting their needs as closely as possible.
2. Know relevant industries. There are more and more industries getting their feet wet in 3D printing: medical, education, defense, green technology, engineering, aerospace, automotive, consumer goods, art and architecture, etc. Knowing the businesses in your immediate geographic area will help you understand how far-reaching your own 3D printed services can expand. Also, other good leads can be found by investigating “tradeshows (booth design), display companies (indoor/outdoor, POP), ad agencies (2D artists), industrial and commercial prototyping, packaging, marketing firms, premiums and incentives.”
If you know the needs and activities of your surrounding business community, government, and non-profit sectors, you will be better at showing them how 3D printing relates to them.
3. Know how your 3D printing services can compete. There’s a big boom in smaller businesses offering 3D printing services, but you need to be aware of exactly what you can provide potential clients. It’s not a good idea to think that because you have purchased a 3D printer for under $2,000 that “can jet plastic and produce small, monochrome objects with extremely simple shapes, but not a lot of durability” that you can offer a potential client everything they need. Knowing what your own hardware can accomplish, and a willingness to work with a more experienced 3D studio as a partner, will expand your clientele list. Expensive machines that print functional parts, full-color models, and objects with more complex geometries are less limiting, and your input on the design and printing process will still be a valuable contribution to the overall project.
These three general tips are an excellent way to polish your 3D printing entrepreneurial spirit with practical considerations that relate to many kinds of services and industry demographics. You can also find a wealth of information online, beginning with Objex Unlimited 3D Printing Studio’s own website, which includes equipment, services, information about the company, and more resources. Tell us your thoughts on this information in the 3D Printing Tips forum over at 3DPB.com.