posts tagged with the keyword ‘marketing’

2012.03.07

Marketing is your job

Rule #9: Marketing is your job.

Marketing you say? Hell yeah, I got this one…

I mean, marketing is all about making things look good, right? Check this out:

The Button

OK, I’m only slightly kidding. I know marketing is more than just pretty pictures, and making things look good, but I do believe that’s definitely a part of it. Just look at the stuff that Evil Mad Science or Adafruit does. They both do their best to provide good, clear photos of their products. Check out the Make Flickr Pool. Some photos are really terrible, and others are really well done. I’m much more likely to view a photo and read about a project if the photo is awesome. (Awesome photos can also help you get in the roundup.)

I may have a bit of an edge, because I’m sort of a photographer, but even if you aren’t, there are some great tutorials online to improve your photography no matter what you shoot with (even an iPhone!) and if it’s really important, find someone to take good photos! If you can find a maker who would take some great photos in exchange for a free widget, send them the widget. A good set of photos go a long way.

OK, enough about photos… on to the other parts of marketing.

You should be blogging about your progress, and tweeting, too. Take pictures and videos of every milestone, and post those. Use every opportunity to talk about your work in progress and get people excited about it, which will not only start to form a community around it but will also build demand for it.

That’s all marketing. Community management is marketing. Tutorial posts are marketing. Facebook updates are marketing. Emailing other Makers in related fields is marketing. I suppose what I’m doing right now, writing this list, is marketing.

You can have the greatest product in the world, but if no one knows about it, you may never sell one. Marketing is sharing, it’s telling your story. It’s also hit-n-miss, and there’s no formula to make sure your marketing is effective, but you need to do it anyway.

I’ll also add in this little update: I created a store, and have already sold one unit. Starting slow, right? I’ve not opened it to the general public yet, but invited a few interested people to order. I’ll ramp up a bit and see how it goes. As for the rules, the next one is not fun…

(See all the posts in this series: Begin, Stock, Buy Smart, Basic Rules, No Leeway, Be Open, Community, Manufacturability, Marketing, Shipping, Lessons Learned, The Real Costs.)

2012.01.23

MakerBot Industries

I meant to write this post about a month ago, but writing it now just validates the points I was going to make anyway, so read on!

Back when I wrote 3D Printing is the Future, I mentioned a number of companies, including MakerGear, Ultimaker, and of course MakerBot Industries. Four months later, I’m going to update my thoughts on them, and specifically focus on what the MakerBot folks do in the area of marketing.

Wait… Marketing? If you read the piece in Fast Company you’d know that MakerBot Industries doesn’t do marketing:

… When I speak with MakerBot’s Keith Ozar, he seems offended when I refer to such undertakings as “marketing.” His background is in underground music promotion, and he joined MakerBot when the company advertised a “marketing experimenter” position in early 2011. MakerBot doesn’t really market at all, he counters; it actively participates in the community the company seeks to both cultivate and create, involving “people who are creative, people with imaginations.” That means a presence at Maker Faire-style events, where hardware hackers congregate, and more recently at comics conventions and the like.

Here’s where I haul out the disclaimer: I work at a marketing company. I also market myself, and the things I do. Almost everyone does, even if they don’t call it marketing. If MakerBot doesn’t want to call it “marketing” I’m fine with that, but let’s be honest, that’s what it is.

With that out of the way, let’s look at the marketing that MakerBot does…

MakerBot Web Site

MakerBot has a web site. Hmmm, that’s nothing special. Let me rephrase that: MakerBot has a good web site. Their web site clean, well designed, and organized. There’s a store, there’s info on the community, including links to User Groups, Twitter, Flickr, Google Groups, etc. as well as a link to Thingiverse. Their support page has a lot of links to their wiki, and then there’s the blog.

The MakerBot blog isn’t just some “look at me!” thing where they talk about themselves (though it has been a lot of that lately, due to the recently launched MakerBot Replicator.) The blog also highlights things that members of the community are doing/making. And the blog is updated very often. Very often. That’s key.

Ultimaker

When the Ultimaker came out I heard a lot of talk about how much better it was than the Thing-O-Matic, and it may be better, but take a look at the Ultimaker web site. It just looks like a blog, and as of my writing this, it’s been over a month since it’s been updated. And before that it was a month and a half. I know blogging takes time, but for a small company it can get you the most bang for your buck when trying to tell people about your product.

MakerGear

In the world of RepRap, reprap.org is packed full of information, but if you want to buy a RepRap kit, MakerGear is a pretty well known and respected seller of the Prusa Mendel kit. They also recently came out with the MakerGear Mosaic, which is their own design, and is a capable machine from all I’ve read.

Visit the MakerGear web site and let me know what gets your attention… if anything does. There is a “What’s New?” link on the home page, that links to a page with a post that was written nearly two months ago. (With a typo in the title.) I’m a MakerGear customer, and I think they’re a good company, but I wish things looked a bit more professional. For a first timer visiting their web site (or the Ultimaker site) I don’t think they’re going to be impressed.

But then, maybe these companies don’t want to impress people. Maybe they’re only targeting the alpha nerds, who know the inside scoop, and think that MakerBot is for people who don’t know better, and the real desire is for servicing a niche market. If that’s the case, then that’s fine… I honestly don’t know.

So besides the web site, what is the “MakerBot Marketing” you ask? I’ll just throw a few things out there.

MakerBot: has good photography, has good videos (including MakerBot TV), they have a curriculum for schools, are behind Thingiverse, they’ve implemented an Artist in Residence program, did the Project Shellter thing, scanned people’s heads, and on and on.

Some of those things take a bit of money, which smaller companies may not have, but there’s no shortage of clever ideas, some of which are relatively cheap, and if it gets people talking about you, isn’t that what you want?

So yeah, MakerBot Industries does marketing, and it may be marketing on their own terms, and in their own way, but in the end, if people find out about you, and keep hearing about you, that’s building your brand, and that’s worth a hell of a lot.

Here’s the thing: You can have the greatest product in the world, but if no one knows about it, you won’t have any customers, and no customers equals no business, so marketing is important… even for nerdy 3D printer companies.

(Oh, there’s one more thing that’s key to MakerBot’s marketing effort, which I’ll probably talk about in another post.)

2010.11.23

Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

The most amazing thing about Glee is not the music. No… it’s definitely not the music. It’s the marketing. It’s the packaging. It’s the selling. It’s the buying.

If you’re looking for a musical revolution, please don’t look at Glee. I’m pretty sure it’s not a musical revolution in even the most relaxed definition of the term.

(But what do I know about music, or about revolution… I tend to over-analyze things.)

Enjoy the show…

Goodnight!

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