reitenger

Advertising your products or services

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Just curious as to what those of you making money (or trying to make money) are doing to advertise.

 

Also curious as to the type of products you produce compared to the advertising you do.

 

Also would like to know how well you think the advertising you have done has paid off for you.

 

Most of the stuff I do tends to be gates and railings along with a few things for either ornamental or decorative.  On the welding side of it I do structural as well as gates, railings and fences as well as whatever sub work I do.  Have a couple of projects in the works that should allow me to completely be in my own shop all the time and trying to get some ideas on what advertising is worth the money and what advertising is a waste.

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Most "adverisement" in our line of work comes from either word of mouth, internet web site, craft fairs and demo's.  I know one smith who gets a lot of his commisions through the craft fairs.  Advertising in the media is expensive, this isn't a big income buisness.  The last thing is getting published in a magazine (or if your lucky, make a TV program).  Other than that you have to tackle getting recognized like smithing.  Heat and beat.  :rolleyes:

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Greetings Reit,

 

That's a tough question..  I operated a shop for 16 years and found most of my customers found me from word of mouth .  I did do a few things to stimulate interest and attention to my shop..   I made up some goofy looking sunflowers  ( yuck yard art ) plugged them into the front lawn of my shop next my sign with an anvil...  Worked well but be prepared for all the off the street trade..  Another thing I did was to make a simple 3 ft diameter sign that simply stated IRON WORK.. that I hang off the edge of my building..  Another is to communicate with other artist and invite them to your shop.. Wine and a show and tell goes a long way..  I wish you success.

 

Forge on and make beautiful things

Jim

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Word of mouth and business cards. I get almost all my new customers thru references from others I've don work for in the past. Many times it's because I left them 3 or 4 business cards and they hand them out to friends and coworkers who need work done. The rest usually either see me working and ask for a card, or on a few rare occasions have stopped by a table I have set up and picked up a card.

 

With a business card they have a physical item with a number to call. I probably loose more customers because they forget how to contact me when they need something else done 4 or 5 years later. Recently I've started looking into  sending out greeting cards at the holidays to try and get my number back in their hands and remind them that I've done work for them in the past. We'll see how this turns out.

 

I'm also always looking for people who will help promote me. Probably more useful for your welding work or gates than other things though. Stopping by builders,  GC's and construction guys may help get you jobs. Contractors frequently need things welded up or repaired. It's not glamorous work, but it can often be "found" money in the evenings, weekends or when it's slow. A good friend of mine got in with a pool company. He used to do decorative stamped concrete and the pool guys often referred customers looking for something special to him. He in turn often referred work to another friend who does custom gates and railings. Customers who want special concrete work often aren't looking for cookie cutter gates and rails for their patio, steps or pools. So in a way the pool guy is getting my friend gate work indirectly. I think the pool contact came from when the pool guy came around one day and asked if my friend wanted some extra dirt or knew where to get rid of some locally. They then got to talking about what my friend does and that worked it self into a good relationship for everyone.

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Building a business is no different than anything else I have discovered.

 

the problem usually is that people aren't willing to put in the work to make it a reality

 

"You always need to work to work"

 

advertising is a hit and miss thing and it takes years to develop it to make it work, if you cant make it work its likely because you have done something wrong.

 

everything is a process and it will take about 2 years to develop a really solid plan and tweek it to make it work you have to keep at it, as soon as you think you have a great plan and its working effectively you should be working on creating a better plan because someone else is believe me.

 

 

word of mouth takes time to build up and you will need to advertise to get the initial customers, the yellow pages aren't really effective

 

people search for things on the internet its where you should be getting exposure, it will cost money and take time but if your not on there you wont be there for the people looking for your service

 

even really high end customers have people employed to search out things,

 

The main thing that makes a business a business is the fact it makes money, if it doesn't its just a hobby even if your really good at it

 

I think its pretty funny because most trades people will have huge investments in Tools, Trucks, Shops, Years of Life Invested in Knowledge,

 

Yet they spend no time on a proper strategy to get business, or spend money on advertising.

 

if you cant figure it out yourself hire a professional,

 

I would expect to spend about 5-10 thousand per year,  considering this the average price of one of my job's if luck is on your side it wont take much to make it better than it is a waste of money

 

you can cut it down to about 2 thousand if you do a lot of work yourself

 

That being said I spent a lot more money than that myself this year, I could not honestly tell you that the advertising is the direct source of my work, it just comes in.

 

Try to think in the mind of others, what would you be doing if you were wanting to buy a driveway gate or railing, would you do a lot of searching and thinking if you were going to spend about the price of car or something....

 

I bet you would, and what would you expect or want to see from a contractor?

 

You have to decide what are your goals and expectations, this will determine what you want to do, when your spending on advertising and  you cant keep up and already far behind, then what are you going to do?

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Thanks for the input guys

 

I put in the hours

The work is coming in the door

The finished product is going out the door in a timely manner

At the end of the month, all of the bills are paid and I have money in my pocket.

Any tool entering my inventory is paid for, so overhead is kept low.

 

I have a production project in the works that will add to the money coming in on a somewhat steady basis.

 

Problem is that I am hungry, so I am researching new avenues to bring in more work. 

 

The website is in the works, the yellow pages are dead and pricey so I figured I would throw some money into the wind after Christmas and see what it blew back my way.

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Sounds like a plan,

 

Doesn't matter what you do, the more effort you put into thinking about it and making a plan the better it will turn out

 

I think if you pick something and focus on one service or product you can produce really well which is in demand is a good bet.

 

Say advertise railings or gates or whatever you want.

 

maybe buy yourself a good name online with keywords

 

if you can buy the top name related to your area "city"-railings.com"

 

use google adwords if you don't mind spending money on it.... probley about $300 per month

 

You need a good page it make it worth awhile.. I would hire a professional paying $2000 is worth it for a professional website,

 

after you have a few cheaper ones you realize that it would have been better to just get the best one you can afford.

 

flyers and newspapers and mail outs aren't likely to be so effective, if you make a quality brochure and mail it to specific professionals you may have better luck with that.

 

its all an experiment anyways, it costs money but eventually you will have something even if its just the knowledge of what not to do.

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I feel that my 2 cents are warranted here.

 

When I first decided to smith professionally I struggled with the same issues as most smiths, how can I get commissions? I tried advertising, web , trade shows, and sometimes even craft shows. I found that this attracted home owners and builders. Both groups tend to nickle and dime you to death. Home owners want what you have to offer at bargain basements prices and builders want it cheap and try to leverage you by informing you his buddy next door, who has a welder, can do it cheaper. This is all well and good for hobby smiths but if you are planning on making a living this is not a good path; it gets old fast.

 

A friend who is commercial artist suggested that I target architects. This made a lot of sense to me they are, after all, the ones who create the concepts of the buildings being built. Home owners often see some things in architectural magazine they think they love which does not fit their home. You can waste a lot of time trying to tweak their design to make them happy and it will never fit. Builders ideas don't coincide with the home owner the next thing you know you aren't getting paid. Architects know what custom work should cost.

 

So how to make the architect connection ? Like any other professional organization they have their get togethers , agms, etc. Usually, more interested and driven architects tend to take interest in these meeting, these are the people you want to know. Approach the organization and ask if you could present. You will get better quality commissions than anywhere else.

 

Brad

 

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I used the yellow pages for years and it worked for awhile but now I agree with you it's dead. My web site has worked. Google works also about $50 a month for key word searches in your area, which will put your company and web site on first page. Truly like others have said, time in your business = word of mouth and client list with returning customers.

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