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  1. #1
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    Default Shop advertising

    Since my shop is new, I need info on the best way to spend my advertising money. Before everybody says ďword of mouth is bestĒ, I know it is, but Iíve got to get some clients before they can tell people about me.

    In your opinion, is my money best spent on a website, billboards, radio, tv???? Iím thinking a billboard on the interstate would be best.

    I know Iíll also have shirts, hats, pens, and other stuff like that

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    A website would be great. I've never thought of using a billboard, and that would be great if it's on an interstate or heavily traveled highway. Once you get some customers and if you do quality work, then the word will spread quickly. A friend of mine started that way and after a short time, because of his quality work, he was getting work just from recommendations. Facebook is good also, I know a few shop owners that use it.

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    What customers are you trying to target?
    In other words, what kind of shop do you have?

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    Quote Originally Posted by HMFIC View Post
    Since my shop is new, I need info on the best way to spend my advertising money. Before everybody says ďword of mouth is bestĒ, I know it is, but Iíve got to get some clients before they can tell people about me.

    In your opinion, is my money best spent on a website, billboards, radio, tv???? Iím thinking a billboard on the interstate would be best.

    I know Iíll also have shirts, hats, pens, and other stuff like that
    Subscribed, I'm in a similar situation and have considered the billboard idea as well, I already have a website

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    As someone who is usually on the buying side of things, every machine shop I've 'brought in' somewhere I either knew through prior work, or they showed up to introduce themselves. I've introduced a few places to Xometry and Protolabs in the past few years, but that's really a different product than most people want to sell.

    I don't think that a billboard would get me to even check out your website, to be honest, but you never know. 99% of machine shops websites are only useful to me for their contact info, too -- I rarely find that they effectively communicate anything about the quality of service. Most big shops have token websites because they really aren't critical to business development.

    IMO, showing up and talking to someone is the best choice. If you truly don't have time for that, calling will at least save you the driving time. LinkedIn may even work these days.

    Make friends with some engineers or people in purchasing. Very rare that one can't convince the other to pick a particular vendor.

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    Search the archives, it's been covered a few times.

    Mostly it boils down to not even having a public sign or phone book listing,
    because you might as well just call yourself AFAB meaning "anything for a buck"

    "Machine shop" ? Grandma brings you a lawn chair to repair, nut job "inventors"
    bring you free energy machine jobs (and want free work).

    Post up what machines and capabilities, and someone can help you.

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    it depends a lot on what kind of work you're trying to do. I practice reverse advertising. I try to hide and stay out of sight. Why? My experience in the past was, the only people looking for a new machine shop are people who either owe money to every other shop in town, or people who no other shop in town will tolerate.

    I know a couple shops who advertised, and all they got for their troubles was a flood of Harry Homeowners needing a part made for their lawnmower or a custom made screw for a doorknob.

    I would steer far away from mfg.com, but I know a couple guys that use xoemetry. They say it pays crap, but if you've got an open machine it's better than nothing.


    Best way to drum up some work is to just go out with a pocket full of business cards. A little tip I used years ago. Check out the want ads. Shops looking for people are the busy ones.

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    You need to build that network before you go out on your own IMO...

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    As an occasional user of contractors, I see a lot of signs on shops in industrial parks, and also signage on pickup/utility trucks operated by the folks in question. The latter can be pretty cheap these days, and I have made more than one phone call on the basis of a truck sign.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sfriedberg View Post
    As an occasional user of contractors, I see a lot of signs on shops in industrial parks, and also signage on pickup/utility trucks operated by the folks in question. The latter can be pretty cheap these days, and I have made more than one phone call on the basis of a truck sign.
    Signage on your vehicle is quick and easy way of advertising. I wouldn't go the route we did(full body wrap) again, but it did get people's attention and lot's of interest. Every ball game I took the truck to, I would probably hand out 10 or 15 business cards just due to the interest in the truck.

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    I'm another one that likes to fly under the radar..

    I used to work in a shop that the owner thought it would be
    a good idea to run a small ad in the yellow pages.. What
    a waste of time and money.. CONSTANT calls, CONSTANT!!

    Can you resurface the head on my toyota. No we aren't
    that kind of machine shop.. Well what else does a machine
    shop do?? All day everyday, automotive calls..

    And then the inventors.. There have been a few that understood
    and knew that it wasn't going to be free, but most assumed
    that it cost literally nothing to make prototype parts...
    And most wanted you to do all the design work for them..

    And farmers.. Farmers are a pain in the ass, they are CHEAP!!!!
    Their stuff is always dirty, oily, disgusting and rusted, and so
    far beyond functional that reverse engineering can be a trick...

    Knock on doors and network.. Make sure everybody knows what you do.
    If your wife has an afterwork function (aka PARTY), make sure you go,
    and talk to everybody.. Join the local model railroad club, historical
    society, old car club, model aviation club....

    I met my favorite customer in a bar.. A lot of trades guys go
    there in the afternoon, and they know EVERYBODY..

    And knock on some doors.. I made a decent chunk of change making parts
    for outdated printing machines at an independent office supply/printing
    company.

    There was even a deli that was fun to do work for, never a lot of money,
    a $100 here, $60 there, but every time we fixed something for the guy,
    he would always come just before lunch time with cash and a giant
    party sub, sodas and sides, enough to feed the shop for lunch, and
    leftovers for the afternoon evening guys..

    I know talking to people sucks, but its something you have to do..

    EDIT: After saying all that, just make your own product(s), and not
    have to deal with any of that.

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    I may be too old school, but I would think the first thing would be to get listed in the places where people are going to look for machine shops. That would include the internet and the yellow pages. And there are many versions of the yellow pages today. I have personally used the yellow pages to find shops for work that I needed to farm out.

    Many suppliers have bulletin boards where you can post for free. Places like Lowes, Home Depot, hardware stores, tool suppliers, metal suppliers, even grocery stores. I like one of those notices which have a bunch of tear off phone numbers so the potential customer does not have to write anything. Include your shop name with those phone numbers and check frequently to insure that tear-offs are still available and your post is still visible, not covered up by newer ones.

    After that, I have seen machine shops advertised in many places but do not have any numbers as to which worked and which didn't. I have worked for advertisers and they always keep track of the results from their ads, one way or another. Some places you may want to try:

    Radio
    Newspaper
    Local TV or cable

    And you can take some slack time to go around to the local businesses that may have need of your services. Introduce yourself to their purchasing dept. or to the people who are likely to be involved. Make an 11:45 appointment and take them to lunch where you can talk for a while, but don't get boring on shop talk. I had many a free lunch in my purchasing days. If they have a receptionist, that person can often steer you to the right person or persons in the company. If not, then just ask whoever answers the phone. You have to eat anyway and the cost of an additional lunch is probably less than any other paid ad you can think of. And you will be talking directly to a qualified, potential customer. Buyers like to be wooed. And it is tax deductible.

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    billboards work! or, make me work (our bread and butter item). radio is close second in dollar in to number of people connected to, and then targeting and so on.
    What is your target market? Where are you in Arkansas? Are you capable/willing to do repair work?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobw View Post

    I used to work in a shop that the owner thought it would be
    a good idea to run a small ad in the yellow pages.. What
    a waste of time and money.. CONSTANT calls, CONSTANT!!
    Ad has to have large print with:

    $150 MINIMUM

    That keeps the free-loaders away.

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    With billboards or truck/car signs, that are going to be viewed while driving, I would suggest that you get a phone number that is easy to remember. Like 1-xxx-1234567.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rons View Post
    Ad has to have large print with:

    $150 MINIMUM

    That keeps the free-loaders away.
    That's bull when you're trying to get started and don't know what's out there. You can always say "No" when they show up at your door and, most likely, you're not prepared to even DO the job because you don't have the knowhow or the right equipment to start out. You can't be proud and picky at the start. Working cheap for a while makes more money than most advertising will return anyway.

    I've done thousands of jobs valued at less than $100. A few come by that are worth a lot more, but sitting on my hands waiting for them would be pretty boring, and I wouldn't be getting in those thousands of hours of practice at the trade.

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    Quote Originally Posted by HuFlungDung View Post
    That's bull when you're trying to get started and don't know what's out there. You can always say "No" when they show up at your door and, most likely, you're not prepared to even DO the job because you don't have the knowhow or the right equipment to start out. You can't be proud and picky at the start. Working cheap for a while makes more money than most advertising will return anyway.

    I've done thousands of jobs valued at less than $100. A few come by that are worth a lot more, but sitting on my hands waiting for them would be pretty boring, and I wouldn't be getting in those thousands of hours of practice at the trade.
    Then you can waste all your time saying no all day or helping the ones with light wallets figure out what they want. Enjoy.

    If you read read bobw's 11 the situation is not a startup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bobw View Post

    I met my favorite customer in a bar.. A lot of trades guys go
    there in the afternoon, and they know EVERYBODY..
    Anecdotal & slightly OT, I "met" one of my top two "customer"s two decades ( and likely more ) back, in rec.crafts.metalworking. We had been bouncing into each other in various "forums" throughout the years. Even right here, in PM. About two years ago we started working together. He's since become one of my favorite people to help for the no nonsense, straight forward, common sense approach of his work and communication. Interestingly enough, I actually came to know 5 people from RCM, in person over the years. Good relationships, all.

    To the point, though - We have not ever advertised. Ever. Every single bit of business that we have gotten has come either from direct referral of satisfied customers, or happenstance discovery of a picture of our work.

    The part that boggles me completely is that we receive emails from customers asking if they can have or purchase a shop shirt. That one always stuns me. I doubt I will ever understand that one. Of course, that might actually qualify as advertising... Hmmmmm.... LOL.

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    pens and crap is a subset of advertising which is a subset of marketing. Standard doctrine is figure out a marketing strategy based on your product/market mix - i.e. what you do and who you expect to sell to. imo its a big mistake leaping at the idea that advertising where the focus should be instead of say direct calls to purchasing agents and or old fashioned shoe leather. That is going to be way more effective then a pen give away, depending, but I don't know what your market is. (farmers or fortune 500's) so its hard to say.

    Next, just about all marketing has had it cage rattled by social media (which includes things like this forum), web pages, videos etc. You have to figure out how to use that..... a web site is probably where you'd get most bang for the buck and absolutely has to be present, even if you decide direct sales calls are best. They will look for and check your web site if they are interested. How do you react when you're interested in a business and find out there's no web site?

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    Ok, first Iíd like to say thanks for all the info.

    Iíve tried knocking on doors. Mist places have a security guard. When I stop there, they ask if I have an appointment. I donít. So they say they canít let me in without one. Then I ask who I need to talk to and whatís their phone number so I can call and set up an appointment. They tell me that they canít give out that info. Now what?

    After a couple weeks of that, it gets old. So now Iím trying to figure out how to make them look for me! The billboard idea seems to keep coming up. If I decide to go with that, the one I get will be onInterstate 40! Thatís one of the busiest roads in the county.

    Please keep the comments coming.


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