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Marketing Your Abilities To Make 3D Carvings

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1 Marketing Your Abilities To Make 3D Carvings on Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:03 pm


Senior Carvaholic
Senior Carvaholic

Marketing Your Abilities To Make 3D Carvings

Posted: Friday, December 12, 2008

James Booth

As a Vector Art 3D user you will be familiar with how low-cost and easy it is to create dimensional parts with your CNC machine. Sometimes this is not so easy to communicate to your customers. We often get questions regarding the best way to promote that a company can create carved dimensional parts. This is a particular area of interest for people just starting out with a CNC carving business or those looking to expand their current activities to include more dimensional work. In this article we will discuss some basic ideas of how to show your customers that this is something you can offer them and also some notes on making your sample parts.

Communicating what is possible
For most people it is very hard to imagine the concept of a CNC carved part or to understand how it might be possible for you to do this for a particular application. The only way to get your customers to understand what you are trying to sell them is to show to them examples of the finished product. This may sound obvious but we have met CNC owners who claim their customers do not want dimensional parts but once they start to actually show they can do it are surprised at the response from established contacts who did not know it was even possible.

Ideally you want your customers to be able to pick up and touch the finished parts as this is the best way to engage the customer’s imagination (and wallet!). Let’s look at some ways you might show actual-finished parts to your clients:

1. Showroom
If you have a shop that is visited by clients then having a showroom of parts is a great way to illustrate what you can do. Even if you do not have space for a dedicated showroom, then at least have samples on the walls of your office or shop.

2. Sample Case
If you have salesmen who work for you or you tend to be the one to visit your clients then you should create a case of samples. A dedicated case is a lot better than just carrying the separate parts as it is only one thing you need to remember to take (or you can leave it in your car), you can make it so the parts are protected from damage and it looks more professional.

3. At your customers location
It may be that you have a product for which you do not have contact with the end user. For instance you may do 3D carving work for a cabinet shop that does not have a CNC machine (or 3D capability). In that case you should make some suitable samples that they can display at their business location or in their showroom to show to their customers.

4. At friends, families, clubs etc.
The value of accidental referral and networking cannot be underestimated. So it may be that gifts for friends and family which you made with your CNC may have their friends asking who made it and looking to pay for one themselves. This may also work in places like your local church, golf club, favourite restaurant etc. if you make something as a gift or donation to a fund raiser. As such it is important to at least have a sticker with your contact information on anything you make or ideally carve a logo, phone number or website into the back of the part.

In situations where it is not possible to have the actual part it is still effective using photographs or even images of computer models, here are some options for showing the parts using an image:

1. A Web site
Having a nice looking website can be a great place for customers to find you but often it is more useful when used as a portfolio/catalog which you can direct your clients to look at. Carefully consider your website as it reflects your business and so it can be well worth spending the time or money on a professionally designed one. It is worth nothing that the whole of the Vector Art 3D catalog can be added to your website for your customers to choose from. This special tool costs nothing to use and does not have the Vector Art 3D branding or pricing so is an ideal way to provide your customers with the choice of carving options. To set yourself up for this then go to the Vector art 3D website, log-in to your account and look for the link which says, “Apply to have an online catalog”.

2. A Brochure/Catalog
Creating a brochure can be a good way to show what you can do if you’re potential customer base is unlikely to use or find you on the internet. This can also be used to do a direct mailing or leave information at companies who sell your products to their end user. Remember the quality and design will reflect on your business so if necessary it may be worth paying a graphic designer to do the layout for you. Make sure the information will not date quickly to ensure you do not have to do reprints too often.

3. Case Studies
One of the best ways to legitimize what you can is to write up a short article on a customer job you have done. This will allow someone reading it to understand the process and what you can make. It will also give you an opportunity to get priceless testimonial from someone of a job well done. This could simply be something printed and given to customer, on your website to read or if formatted correctly be used to send to trade magazines as a potential article(press release) or at least to local papers and magazines. You need to make sure that the job is representative of what you do and what you want to do and also that you have the customer’s permission to use it for this purpose.

4. Advertising
Certainly showing pictures of finished parts in advertising can be effective. The hardest part of this is limited space to show a variety of choices or to explain the “story” of what you do. One of the most effective ways to get around this is to direct customers to a page on your website where you can show a lot more info. For an advert make sure you pick an example most likely to appeal to the typical reader of the publication or website to catch their eye and make them want to follow the link to your site.

Making the Samples
One of the most important aspects of showing dimensional work is making samples to help sell the finished product to your customer. As well as providing you with samples of your work there are many other benefits to creating these parts. As this is so fundamental to showing off your work we thought we would include this “Top Ten” list of suggestions to consider when making your samples:

1. Carve the free samples from Vector Art 3D
Other than some of your time and material this does not cost anything to do, just use your existing software or our Free Vector Art 3D Machinist to create toolpaths to carve these as standalone part or to add decoration to a product you already make.

2. Choose a selection of VA3D models to carve which make sense for your clients
In next month’s article we will discuss some points to help you look at what type of work applies to your business. To start with though we would encourage you to choose a few models from the website which you know will apply to your current clientele. These may be traditional flourishes, animals, nature scenes, religious artwork or anything which appeals to your particular customer base. Picking 3 or 4 items is a very low cost way to get hold of high quality artwork to make your samples to show your customers. If you want a real mix of models to make samples at a low cost you may also look at our $99 Starter Collection.

3. Make two of anything which looks good
If you get a job from a customer then you can always cut another one for your own sample set, if applicable you may need to get permission from your customer to do this, if for instance it is a copyright design or logo.

4. Consider pricing jobs in exchange for testimonial, photos and case-studies
When you are first starting to offer 3D work to your customers then it can be prudent to offer to do the work at a discount or just to cover your costs (or even perhaps for free) in exchange for customer testimonial, photos, case study etc. This helps to build up your sample resources and marketing materials while doing real work.

5. Make gifts
As previously mentioned, gifts in a relative’s house may be a great way to get referrals, so as you make gifts for people make sure they look really good and have a record of how to contact you on the back.

6. Added value to a non-dimensional job
You may look to add a little extra to a regular customer job which currently does not have any dimensional components. You could make a little extra gift or add some dimensional carving as a bonus “extra” for that customer. This probably will cause the customer to refer you “as the company that does more than they expected” and will help to differentiate you from your competitors.

7. Keep Quality High
Badly designed, cut or finished parts will not sell your services (even if it is for a relative).

8. Only make samples of things you want to sell to others!

You should only make samples of parts which you enjoy making or are profitable to create. Otherwise you will be advertising something you do not want to make!

9. Make samples with different material options and finishes
This allows you to show the customer the different options available and also when applicable to up-sell them to a higher value product.

10. As you make samples it will help you to develop skills such as:
Software/Design and Toolpath Skills
Production Knowledge (tooling, setup etc.)
Material Knowledge
Finishing practice
Accuracy when estimating

Many Vector Art 3D customers find jobs that include 3D carving are the most interesting and profitable work they do. Throughout 2009 we will aim to bring you other articles on all aspects of carving 3D work to help you develop this side of your business (or hobby). We hope that you found this article useful and welcome feedback, questions and also suggestions for future subjects -


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