As IWF approaches, I want to take a break from my series on helping buyers of 3DL components and focus on a few ways the industry can improve customer awareness and maximize our potential. As those of you who’ve been reading regularly know, I spend a fair amount of time keeping up with internet activity relating to 3D laminating. In addition to extensive use of Google Alerts, I’m active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google + and, yes, even Pinterest.

I’m truly enjoying the interaction I’m having with individuals, ranging from homeowners to those in the design community. But do you know what the most discouraging part is? I’m not finding you there! Though the call to engage using social media is coming from all directions, our industry remains terribly under-represented in all of the major outlets. In a nutshell, we’re anti-social.

I know what many of you are thinking. You’re having trouble seeing how all of this can really help you. After all, you don’t sell to the end user.

This is pretty basic guys. How many ads have you seen from companies that don’t sell directly to you? The food industry doesn’t rely on grocery stores to create demand. Stores want to carry what the public is already demanding. Your potential customers, regardless of what they produce, generate orders based on demand.

What do you think they’re likely to do if their customer shows up with a picture of your product?

Here are a few opportunities you may be missing out on:

Facebook

Let’s use a cabinet door supplier as an example. You may not reach a lot of your customers through Facebook, but your target market is. I’m finding new cabinet shops on Facebook on a regular basis but very few door suppliers. What would happen if you started posting attractive photos of your product and started building a following, beginning with your current customers and employees? How about asking your customers to submit photos of kitchens that use your products and having a “customer of the week” promotion? Those photos will begin to be seen by people outside your customer’s market. Any chance you might receive a few calls about your doors?

I have a client whose business is still nearly 40% down from their peak before the recession. When I talked about Facebook their immediate response was, “Our customers aren’t the type to hang out on Facebook.” My response was simply, “Are you happy with the amount of business YOUR customers are bringing you?” Here’s an example of how good Facebook business page looks.

Twitter

Would you like to reach architects, designers, interior decorators and even some cabinet shops? Twitter is a great way. I’m building a real nice following in this area but, once again, I see very few of you there. If you are just getting your Facebook page off the ground, Twitter is a great way to promote it as well. Post your product photos to your Facebook page or blog and link back to that photo in your tweets. Consistently devote 3 to 5 hours a week over several weeks and see what happens. Here’s what a professional Twitter business account should look like.

Speaking of Twitter, I will be tweeting at IWF with an emphasis on things of interest to 3D Laminating. Follow me or use the hashtag #3DLaminating to keep up. You can also use #IWFAtlanta as well as  #IWF2012 for the latest show news from Woodworking Network.

Next week we’re going to talk a little about Pinterest and how it’s not just for fashion or recipes any more. I witnessed something truly amazing a few months ago that should open your eyes to the opportunities that are being missed. Check back in a week… unless you’re happy with the business your customers are bringing you.

 

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.