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Marketing your business?


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What do you do to find new customers. Are there any things you do to keep old ones?

I have a single line yellow pages ad under patternmaking and had one for blacksmith. I have not had a single call that I am aware of from the Patternmaking ad, every six months or so I would receive a call from someone looking for a farrier. In 5 years I got 1 small job that I lost my shirt on and a $10 or $20 point an axle for a pry bar job from the blacksmith one, thus my cancelling it. I placed a small ad in a monthly Canadian, steel and machinery newsletter "The Steel Marketplace" two times for a few months. The first time I got one job from the ad which became a repeat order for 4 years running and was a VERY profitable job after I worked out the bugs on the first order(and replaced the flypress with a hydraulic press). The second time I ran the ad last summer I got no resposes.

The two ways I have been most succesful at marketing are cold calling industrial customers (lots of rejection or lack of response as well) and referals from members of OABA as I am one of the few members doing industrial work in the association.

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I had one of those yellow page adds, the ones they give you with a business phone line. In 6 years, I've had one call looking for a blacksmith to make a table. My add was under General Contractors and Furniture Makers. Now my business phone is a cell phone , been that way for about 5 years. Yellow pages are obsolete, they just don't know it yet. When was the last time you looked something up in the phone book?

I'm also interested in what people are doing to market their wares. I'm going to be working with a business development coach over the next few months. She is going to help me define and target my market among other things. I've been word of mouth for so long I can't remember the last time I had to cold call. Times have changed I'm afraid.... and they don't seem to be getting any better.

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I think mine is pretty much all word of mouth.. I have a couple good people who send me work.. many years ago I impressed the lady at the front desk of the powder coat shop I use with a railing with forged roses in it.. It really wasn't that great but she liked it so she started sending people my way.. one of those people was an architect doing a 10 million dollar home I ended up doing about 70K worth of iron in... I also have a friend who is a welding instructor at a local trade school... People are always contacting him, he sends many my way... And big contractors I have worked for have referred me to friends and what not.. I have always had enough work without trying to seek any out all the way up until I hired my son full time... Now trying to keep us both busy I need more work.. I had a really good first part of the year but this last few months has been really slow..( I attribute part of that to being so busy earlier that I didn't chase any work, now I am caught up with not enough to do....)

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Yellow pages are obsolete, they just don't know it yet. When was the last time you looked something up in the phone book?




Maybe I am just a Luddite but I used the paper yellow pages just the other day. If I am looking for a supplier I often try to use their ad as a basis as to whether they are suited to what I need. If I am going to be a major customer I may call the guy with the big ads, if I am small potatoes to them I often try and use the smaller companys. I often use the online yellow pages as well, but often you can tell more about a company from the paper pages.
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Maybe I am just a Luddite but I used the paper yellow pages just the other day. If I am looking for a supplier I often try to use their ad as a basis as to whether they are suited to what I need. If I am going to be a major customer I may call the guy with the big ads, if I am small potatoes to them I often try and use the smaller companys. I often use the online yellow pages as well, but often you can tell more about a company from the paper pages.


You`re a Luddite John,a Luddite who practices wishful thinking.You paid for your add in the pages so you felt beholden to use them to look for others who had done the same. ;)

How many of the 20-30 year old professionals(the folks looking to spend all that corporate money now)have you seen flipping thru those pages?Even up here in Maine,if you can`t find it on that little electronic box you pull out of your pocket then they don`t know about it.Once they use that stylus and punch in your location most of them even have a GPS to tell them when they made a wrong turn trying to get there while going around traffic.
It`s a brave new world out there John.CRAZY but brave. :blink: :blink:
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Have to agree,the yellow pages are a waste of $$$ .We call on any one that could possibly use our services and leave a large[4x5]card as well as a regular card with a photo of something half way related to their line of work that we have done. Seems to work . Lee from NYS land of taxes

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I have a Yellow Page add, a 3/4" colum add under welding and a line add under blacksmithing and it does very well for me. The add has been payed for in the first month sense I started running it. There are a lot of Yellow page books out there now. I made sure I ran mine in the official book for the local phone company. Alot of my customers I get from here are seniors and over 50.

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I have a Yellow Page add, a 3/4" colum add under welding and a line add under blacksmithing and it does very well for me. The add has been payed for in the first month sense I started running it. There are a lot of Yellow page books out there now. I made sure I ran mine in the official book for the local phone company. Alot of my customers I get from here are seniors and over 50.



The phone books may work in areas where the "grey beards" hang out.My daughter in Florida says they work pretty well down there too,as long as you have them do your add in LARGE PRINT. :D
Old dogs like me rarely carry a cell phone,never mind mastering the new tricks they all seem capable of these days.I use the phone book too,but I also have little to no expendable income. :(
Up here in Vacationland an add in the local papers works better than the phone book.Folks down the Ha-ba can pick up a paper easier than they can find and decipher the local phone books hiding in those rental cabins.The ones in the motels are usually missing pages. <_<
Most every convenience store,gas station,grocery store,hardware store and boatyard around here has a bulletin board where you can post an add or pin up a few cards if you can find room.These work well during the summer.The video store is a good spot too.
Surprisingly(maybe not to others),I evidently look like what the tourists think a local should look like and the "dock crawlers" have been known to hail me and ask(sometimes even when I`m working on someone else`s home)for my advise as to a reputable local craftsman.
I usually try to send them to the ugliest,most heavily tattooed(and usually the nicest) fellow I know,they need all the help they can get.My buddies return the favor.
We`ve found the tourists like a good story they can tell friends about the local wildman who they met today almost as much as a job well done.
In a strange way,it comes down to knowing and tracking your target market.Greybeards get large print phone book adds,yuppies and gen-Xers get websites,tourists get wildmen.Find out how your prospective customers get their information and that`s the best way to communicate with them.
One thing about dealing with them after they come thru your door.Have plenty of pics of your work with you standing in the pic or preferably you making or installing the work.
If the shop is quiet and clean for some reason some folks just don`t trust your word that you can do what they want,they need proof.Many times all it took to seal the deal was to heat some steel,pound out something simple for them to take with them to think about and within an hour I had a call back scheduling a time to drop off the deposit.Pre-made won`t get you that,actually seeing you and your gear in action will. :)
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I leave my contact information at building supply centers, hardware stores, interior designers, general contractors, and online stores that "sell that kind of stuff." I find that marketing is easier if I let other people do it for me. I get business for general contractors and they get business for me. Facebook has been a VERY valuable tool also.

To sum up: Network, network, network...

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I ran the yellow page ads for yrs. Welding,fabricating,CNC cutting,blacksmithing. Cost over 7yrs over 5K
Income under 1K. Now the 3 block ads will be 1 one liner. Word of mouth and leaving cards everywhere works for me.
Have a deal with 2 portable guys I refer them portable work they send me CNC and aluminum work. The web seems to work if ya can build your own site or get it built cheap.
Ken.

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The web seems to work if ya can build your own site or get it built cheap.
Ken.


Ken, I forgot to mention my website. I did it myself with zero programming skills at intuit.com. They registed my domain name and provide free templates for sites. It's cheap, quick, and easy.

Intuit's Website Builder

I hear they're considering a new tagline for their advertizing: "So easy even a blacksmith can do it". :P
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Ken, I forgot to mention my website. I did it myself with zero programming skills at intuit.com. They registed my domain name and provide free templates for sites. It's cheap, quick, and easy.

Intuit's Website Builder

I hear they're considering a new tagline for their advertizing: "So easy even a blacksmith can do it". :P

Hi John, Will catch up to ya again one of these days. Took the wife down for the 2nd glass class and again to pick up the annealed piece. Got to visit with Tim and Carrie but you took both days off.
Ken.
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Lots of good idea's here. and it is interesting how what works for one person does not for others.



Get yourself listed on Google Maps. It's free, it tells folks where to find you, how to contact you, and they even host photos of your work, for free!

My Google Maps link #1

My Google maps page

Did I mention that it's free? ;)


It appears I am already on google maps as a blacksmith. How did you get yourself on there and how do you set up the google maps page? I would like to set myself up for forgings as well as most of the work I do is industrial.
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because I manufacture tools, I have a manufacturer's rep who I pay a percentage to, while he markets the tools that I make. This saves a lot of time and energy marketing my business.



I would love to hear more about this way of marketing yourself. How did you set yourself up with this rep? Does he sell these tools to retailers for you or is he selling to end users? Can you sell direct yourself or must everything go through the Rep? Does he get a cut of any custom work that comes into the shop? This is a way most of us don't think of selling but I am sure has many advantages. Dealing with customers can eat up a lot of time particularly smaller items at a retail level.
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Lots of good idea's here. and it is interesting how what works for one person does not for others.
No matter how hard I try, I can't make my forge come up on google maps.




It appears I am already on google maps as a blacksmith. How did you get yourself on there and how do you set up the google maps page? I would like to set myself up for forgings as well as most of the work I do is industrial.

No matter how hard I try, I can't make my forge come up on google maps.
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I still use the yellow pages, as I find them faster. Flip it open to the section and a quick scan will get me the info I need. I don't have the internet on my cell, and sometimes trying to find something on the internet is just a series of rabbit holes.

I also prefer a regular catalog over an website for my machine shop tooling. Again I find it easier to find what I need. With a website, if you don't search correctly you may not find what you want, even though they have it.

With that being said a really good website can do wonders for a business.

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  • 2 months later...

The yellow pages approach is a mass marketing solution, which does work, but for a different kind of business. You aren't in the mass market business, you aren't trying to sell 10000 $10 widgets, you are trying to sell 10 $10000 widgets.

For what its worth based on my experience not as a professional blacksmith (because I'm not) but from my real job, which is also not mass market, the best advice I ever heard was to scour around in appropriate places to find one guy whose pants were on fire. Then figure out a way to put that fire out (solution #1, sale #1). If you can do that, he'll be so grateful, he'll do two things: he'll tell one other person about the problem you solved for him (solution #1, sale #2), and he'll let you solve some other problem you have (solution #2, sale #1). Then your second customer will let you solve the same problem (solution #2, sale #2), will tell a third customer (solution #1, sale #3 and solution #2, sale #3) and so on and so forth.

Again, assuming you keep solving problems, it'll escalate from there, each customer will tell people about the things you have done for them, and will let you solve additional problems. It'll also help you to refine your ability to solve these problems. As Grant said, this isn't about selling products, this is about solving problems. Its also worth noting that this approach can backfire if you don't actually solve the problem, so you need to be darn sure you can solve it, and at a price point the customer can live with.

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Just read an interesting bit:

"Making art is all about you and what you have to say to the world.

Marketing your art isn't about you. Marketing is about your audience and potential audience."

Alyson B. Stanfield

Think about that one a while...

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  • 4 months later...

I still use the yellow pages, as I find them faster. Flip it open to the section and a quick scan will get me the info I need. I don't have the internet on my cell, and sometimes trying to find something on the internet is just a series of rabbit holes.

I also prefer a regular catalog over an website for my machine shop tooling. Again I find it easier to find what I need. With a website, if you don't search correctly you may not find what you want, even though they have it.

With that being said a really good website can do wonders for a business.


I have used the yellow pages 3 times now in the last 2 months for different things. I tend to agree that it is sooooooo easy to scan the yellow pages than to search page by page by page of a computer that if you don't type in the right parameters you may not find something that they do carry. Technology can be a double edged sword in some ways. But I do agree about getting yourself out there in as many ways as is possible, Like Google Maps, Facebook, YouTube, Your own Web Site, etc.
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