Branching out into the consumer market

cwade440

New Member
I purchased a 60W Epilog laser engraver a little more than a year ago to enable us to cut acrylic letters, etc. in house. And while we certainly use the machine for that purpose (general signage and letters), I'm finding a really big opportunity moving from B2B to the consumer market. Anybody else tapping into this trend? Here are a few things we recently completed from wood "posters" to hang on the wall, chef's easel for cookbooks, and cell phone covers.
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cwade440

New Member
I never found personalized single items to be worth the time. Seems like there are better ways to spend time.
One of the interesting dynamics for me has been that most of my end-user customers are my business customers. I make them aware of what we can do, and it's been really easy to cross sell them for these things that become birthday gifts, Christmas presents, anniversary gifts, etc. So the customer acquisition costs are virtually nil. It's pretty cool to be cutting a vinyl boat name on the plotter out of one side of the computer while simultaneously sending the same design to the laser to engrave a set of glass tumblers with the boat name and hailing port for the same customer.
 

equippaint

Active Member
One of the interesting dynamics for me has been that most of my end-user customers are my business customers. I make them aware of what we can do, and it's been really easy to cross sell them for these things that become birthday gifts, Christmas presents, anniversary gifts, etc. So the customer acquisition costs are virtually nil. It's pretty cool to be cutting a vinyl boat name on the plotter out of one side of the computer while simultaneously sending the same design to the laser to engrave a set of glass tumblers with the boat name and hailing port for the same customer.
Test the water and see but what Ive found with the general consumer off the street is that 1 out of 10 are so demanding, critical and needy that it literally sucks any enjoyment you have right out of the business. Custom stuff is even worse. They'll like the design and whine about the phone case being too heavy, or they drop it and blame you for their broken phone. Then go on facebook and tell every other a-hole they know (they run in packs ya know). B2B is where its at if you like your sanity.
 

ddarlak

Go Bills!
One of the interesting dynamics for me has been that most of my end-user customers are my business customers. I make them aware of what we can do, and it's been really easy to cross sell them for these things that become birthday gifts, Christmas presents, anniversary gifts, etc. So the customer acquisition costs are virtually nil. It's pretty cool to be cutting a vinyl boat name on the plotter out of one side of the computer while simultaneously sending the same design to the laser to engrave a set of glass tumblers with the boat name and hailing port for the same customer.

To each their own, I find it a waste of time.
 

InstantOneMedia

New Member
Those look pretty cool, especially the Koi phone cover. For reasons mentioned above, I wouldn't focus on custom work. Instead, pick a few designs, produce a small run, and list on Etsy, Amazon, Amazon-Handmade to test the market. Then, when they start selling, get ready for the Chinese knock-offs.
 

cwade440

New Member
Valid points all. Thanks for the input. For me, this is really about increasing revenue from the existing customer base. And so far, so good. There has certainly been some spillover to the true custom/one-off market too. Granted, this is still fairly new to our traditional B2B model, but consider the cat phone cover shown. That customer sent me a photo of her black cat and wanted a phone case done. It doesn't get any more custom than that! Some quick PhotoShop tweaks, drop photo into existing frame design, place cherry phone cover in the laser and hit send on the computer.

Now consider the landscaper who comes to me for vehicle lettering. Doesn't have a logo and wants me to come up with something appropriate. Loves Autumn oak leaves and fonts that aren't too plain. Fine. Some back and forth via email, and he's happy with the simple treatment we came up with. Lettered his dump truck and pickup.

They're both custom jobs. True, I billed a bigger percentage of the project for design to the landscaper, but with significantly greater investments of time and materials. The margins on the consumer stuff is eye popping. Am I ready to jump both feet into the consumer market? Heck no! But I'm going to focus on the easy stuff, which seems to be cross selling existing business customers. Give me 6 - 8 months to see if it's worth the effort...
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Gene@mpls

New Member
We do more gifts [spiffs- I orginally wrote spliffs, but that is a different thing altogether?] for good customers than anything else. Otherwise it is what I want to do for me.
 

equippaint

Active Member
Valid points all. Thanks for the input. For me, this is really about increasing revenue from the existing customer base. And so far, so good. There has certainly been some spillover to the true custom/one-off market too. Granted, this is still fairly new to our traditional B2B model, but consider the cat phone cover shown. That customer sent me a photo of her black cat and wanted a phone case done. It doesn't get any more custom than that! Some quick PhotoShop tweaks, drop photo into existing frame design, place cherry phone cover in the laser and hit send on the computer.

Now consider the landscaper who comes to me for vehicle lettering. Doesn't have a logo and wants me to come up with something appropriate. Loves Autumn oak leaves and fonts that aren't too plain. Fine. Some back and forth via email, and he's happy with the simple treatment we came up with. Lettered his dump truck and pickup.

They're both custom jobs. True, I billed a bigger percentage of the project for design to the landscaper, but with significantly greater investments of time and materials. The margins on the consumer stuff is eye popping. Am I ready to jump both feet into the consumer market? Heck no! But I'm going to focus on the easy stuff, which seems to be cross selling existing business customers. Give me 6 - 8 months to see if it's worth the effort...
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It sounds like something that you enjoy and want to do so id say go for it. You have the equipment already so the worst thing thatll happen is that the reality of the work doesnt match your expectation. If you dont try you will always wonder.
 

cwade440

New Member
We do more gifts [spiffs- I orginally wrote spliffs, but that is a different thing altogether?] for good customers than anything else. Otherwise it is what I want to do for me.
I think they're legalizing that stuff here soon, so we'll see about the spliffs!:D
 
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pinkiss

New Member
in business theres three terms solving a problem,nice to have and actual need. designs look amazing, and depending where you are based i know i see a lot of similar stuff in every new coffee shop that opens, and weddings birthdays etc is your market, thou with the first one its really hard and im still trying to figure myself how to reach potential customers before they go to someone else to get items designed and bought.

but if you have that and promote it alongside your signs you will fall into that nice to have category, but need for it will be often miss rather then hit.
 

visual800

New Member
another pinterest or etsy product. although what you do is cool it just wont pay the bills. One thing to learn is you cannot depend on people. You can post this on FB and 300 people will oooh and ahhh and say "I WANT ONE"....they never come thru
 

Texas_Signmaker

Very Active Signmaker
I just got an order for 200 8"x12" coros. Artwork came in camera ready and I subbed out to s365. Customer gets it delivered for free, there in 2 days, and I profit $1100 for about an hour of back and forth and ordering... I enjoy outsourcing!
 

HDvinyl

Trump 2020
I just got an order for 200 8"x12" coros. Artwork came in camera ready and I subbed out to s365. Customer gets it delivered for free, there in 2 days, and I profit $**** for about an hour of back and forth and ordering... I enjoy outsourcing!
I hope your customer finds this thread. Why post numbers on open threads?

Just another thing this site will teach you in life, keep your money out of your mouth.
 

cwade440

New Member
another pinterest or etsy product. although what you do is cool it just wont pay the bills. One thing to learn is you cannot depend on people. You can post this on FB and 300 people will oooh and ahhh and say "I WANT ONE"....they never come thru
I would definitely NOT want to be starting a business and trying to compete in the Etsy/Pinterest space. Way to crowded and pricing is stupid low. Ever do an Etsy search on Truck Lettering? And in the boat lettering world, there are DIY customers who shop the Boat US design and order online tool. Those are not my, or I would guess, your customers. I don't want to compete in the lowest price wins space.

Again, the sweet spot for me is existing customers, and for the most part existing artwork/designs that have already been done for other projects with the same customers. My biggest opportunity seems to be cross-selling to my existing base. NOT trolling for new customers in an already crowded marketplace. Granted, it's a micro-niche, but after 15 years in business there's a pretty decent customer base to tap.
 

Gino

Premium Subscriber
I hope your customer finds this thread. Why post numbers on open threads?

Just another thing this site will teach you in life, keep your money out of your mouth.

The safe categories are no longer in existence. The new regime did away with them. The only way is to become a premium member. Fat chance of that happening.
 

ikarasu

Active Member
I don't think the money is there. The online market is so over saturated, tons of sellers from countries with a $3 an hour minimum wage, everything is slightly above cost... Just doesn't seem worth it.

Now we do stuff like this for our customers who ask... We don't advertise, or rely on it as business income .Its usually just a bonus, or even a freebie for our good customers. After printing boring traffic signs / warning decals all day, sometimes it's fun to have a customer come in with their $300 blender and ask for it to be wrapped, or something we just don't ever do normally, a nice change in pace.
 

cwade440

New Member
After printing boring traffic signs / warning decals all day, sometimes it's fun to have a customer come in with their $300 blender and ask for it to be wrapped, or something we just don't ever do normally, a nice change in pace.
Couldn't agree more!
 
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