View Full Version : Could really use a Marketing Mentor!

Luke Phillips
09-18-2007, 9:48 AM
If there is anyone willing to share insights/advice on building the business/marketing, please PM me - looks like I'm getting a pink slip from my full-time job and it's time to get my little operation off the ground. The previous threads on the subject are of course, very insightful and helpful, but I really need to hear from some of you folks that have taken the plunge and done okay (guess I'm a bit nervous?). Anyway - many, many thanks to all.

Mark Winlund
09-18-2007, 10:29 AM
Hi Luke.... sorry to hear about your layoff. After being in the trade for 30 years, it is hard for me to remember what it was like to get a paycheck! At any rate, in no particular order, are some of the things I learned:

1) You have to believe in yourself. If you say "I can't do this", then you will most certainly fail.

2) Be prepared for mistakes, and mistakes cost money. I had a second shift job to pay for my early mistakes.

3) Know your living expenses, and cut them to the bone. A family makes it much harder to go out on your own.

4) There are costly types of marketing, and cheap (sometimes free) types of marketing. Expensive: Newspapers, display ads in the phone book, radio and TV. Low cost: Word of mouth, inserts in local publications, cooperative displays in other businesses, free samples, and promotional activities. This last can be very effective. Promotion is defined as "public attention that you don't pay for". Make the signs for a local public or charity project, and get pictures and write up some facts for the local newspaper. An award of thanks for a returning vet. Display signage for a local museum. (many influential people are on museum boards)

5) If you have a family, involve them in the business. Everybody can be involved, even if it is only handing out flyers. In my early years, I bought an offset press to print my own flyers to save money.

This could be the subject of a book (and there are lots of books out there on this subject!). I am sure that many people will jump in with advice. I will repeat my first bit of advice: Believe in yourself, and don't give up!


Mitchell Andrus
09-18-2007, 1:02 PM
First, you'll be running a business, not making stuff that people will want to buy. If you forget this, people won't know you exist.

Second, find a need and fill it. Forget about creating the need - even the Madison Ave guys don't always get this right, and you don't have the time to develop the next ipod or 'bottled water' phenomenon.

Third, it will take a year to see a dime in profit, plan accordingly. I've got a quarter page ad in the next issue of Woodworking magazine. It costs $650.00 per issue. I run different ads in four different magazines - Advertizing is expensive and lead times run two months or more. Seek out the free stuff.

Third, If you plan on competing with the little old ladies selling homemade stuff at the church fair, forget it. They'll cut your throat.

As Mark said, buy some books.

Having said all that, On monday I shipped 45 custom engraved picture frames to a firm... I made $180.00/hr, $4,050.00 in about six days. BUT.... I have over 300 hours into creating my new website, and 11 years in the business. It all evens out.....

Luke Phillips
09-20-2007, 10:41 AM
To Mitch and Mark - many thanks for the advice and words of encouragement! I'm hitting the streets with my catalog and business cards!:)

James Rambo
09-20-2007, 9:37 PM
Luke, Locally we have a group that goes by the letters S.C.O.R.E.. It stands for something like the Service Corp Of Retired Executives they teach classes and mentor individuals to run their business to make a profit. Check the phone book in your area.

Mike Null
09-21-2007, 5:40 AM

You have an interesting concept for your web site but my first priority would would be to finish it. In my case all of my new business comes from the Internet so my web site is vital. (it's not finished either)

I have seen a lot of people struggle with a product related concept and have tried to stress to those who ask that laser engraving is primarily a service and i feel strongly that it must be marketed as such in most cases.

You can look at Mitch's site and say it doesn't apply to him but he has created a viable marketing and product strategy over a period of time.

I am especially interested in what I call the commercial aspect of engraving vs the retail. With commercial and wholesale accounts there is repeat business. There is also the possibility of larger orders as well as much less time spent with the client per job.

Almost all of my commercial account business is from the Internet.