As I write this, businesses everywhere are suffering from the broad consequences of lockdown measures.
With people kept at home due to the global pandemic, many companies just can’t operate and are having to go into hibernation or shut down entirely — but there are many types of businesses that remain in operation because they don’t teem offices.
3D printing is an industry that can remain in operation reasonably well in these challenging times.
While it’s difficult to keep massive facilities open due to how many people need to staff them, a combination of automation and home-viable printing technology means that you can keep taking commissions and shipping out prints with minimal disruption.
However recent weeks have gone for you, you can still grow your 3D printing business throughout the rest of 2020. You just need to get your approach right. To that end, let’s go through 5 things you should do to keep moving towards your goals:
Promote a signature product
Growing through conventional upselling might be tough at the moment, and it’ll be hard to line up big contracts when most companies are postponing such arrangements until things settle down.
You need to stand out and start tempting prospective customers, and a great way to do that is by designing, creating and promoting a signature product: something eye-catching that will get your content a lot of views and interest.
Replicating something from a TV show, movie, book, comic or game is a solid idea. It could be something complex but doesn’t need to be: a great example of something that’s iconic and incredibly simple is the Warp Pipe from the Mario games.
Find something like that, recreate it, and offer it as a way of getting people interested in your business.
When social restrictions are eventually relaxed, such a product would be great to show off at real-world events.
Make it as accurate as possible and produce it in limited quantities: you could even sell it in person at a premium price (mobile POS is relatively easy now) because people will pay remarkable amounts of things associated with geek culture.
Be more active on social media
Now that everyone is spending so much time at home, social media has become even more popular than before — and it was already a huge time-sink for workers everywhere.
With the amount of traffic on offer, it’s not something you can afford to overlook. It’s not as though anyone’s going to be visiting your office in person, after all.
Not only should you be continuing to talk about what you do (and giving a clear indication that you’re still in business), but you should also be commenting on everything that’s happening at the moment.
I’m not suggesting you get political or say anything controversial: instead, just make it clear that you understand the current context and acknowledge that people’s needs have changed in a significant way.
Offer to help with publicized projects
With people having so much extra time now, creativity is on an upswing, and they’re getting started on cool new projects that can be done at home: some are working on cosplay items, trying to look like their favorite characters, while others are trying to innovate fun gadgets. Wouldn’t 3D printing be useful for such projects? It would indeed: so why not help out?
Keep an eye on what people are talking about through social media, and when you spot someone with a good following working on something that you could get possible help with, reach out to them to suggest a collaboration.
Even if you can just contribute a small part to the effort, they’ll give you some valuable publicity by mentioning it.
It could then lead to bigger and better things, as you might discuss further projects that you could work on together or even an improved version of that first project.
Show how versatile your service is and how willing you are to have some fun, and it’ll help your brand get noticed.
Try new methods and materials
No business is perfect, and even if you’ve carefully honed your craft, there’s still more you can do. Why not take this time to try new methods and printing materials?
If your business is stable then you have the finances to invest in it, and if your orders are down then you have the time to invest in it. Either way, growth is about more than efficiency and skill: it’s also about versatility.
Think about all the technologies that fit into what you do and the new avenues that open up with each passing year.
Do some reading, test some new techniques, carry out some calculations to determine how you might price things…
View it as an opportunity to go back to the drawing board and get ready to relaunch the new-and-improved version of your business.
Add a design to your service
Credit: Simone Fontana
Speaking of adding new methods, do you focus on the manufacturing side of the 3D printing process? If so, you may be missing a trick, because printing businesses can seriously improve their profits by also serving as designers.
Those who want 3D prints don’t often know how to design them, and those with the skills might have no clue what they’re looking for.
As a 3D-printing professional, you must have the design skills, so why not bring them to bear?
Get involved in the creative side of the process and you can charge more and have a greater opportunity to impress each client. It will also reduce the instances of being handed impractical designs to attempt to bring to fruition.
The business world of 2020 is a perilous one indeed, but 3D printing is a robust industry and can still flourish. Try these suggestions to grow your 3D printing business as the year continues, and you might be surprised by how far you can go.