When I started CNCROi.com, I didn’t have a business plan, I had a book and in the process of writing that book, I thought about how to best go about acquiring customers from my business.
Here I am, my first “shop” in my parent’s garage where I shared a laser worth as much as the house housing it with another car.
This is how CNCROi.com began, no customers (fresh off the plane after being away for almost a decade), a book, a laser, a CNC Router and PASSION!!!
I had written many books previous but what I was in the process of doing was transforming my way of thinking from a virtual one, selling digital files around the world to people who had what I was becoming to actually having my own machinery and providing a SERVICE.
That first year was tough, I was lucky to get the contracts I did, this website was nowhere near what it is now, the client list very slim and like Tesla, I had to focus on the high-end stuff first, although it took longer to get, it paid far better than the guy wanting a watch engraved with his name.
We’ve since moved twice, the space I have now, the tools and the equipment after 3 years, much less the customer base, is light years ahead of what I had way back then.
I’m very proud of what I’ve accomplished and although marketing isn’t something I’ve ever NOT done, I never resorted to just spamming people into submission.
What I’ve done to grow my business is to essentially create myself as a bookmark in people’s minds, sharing what I do via this blog and offline.
I call it “Sales through Education” as, at least to me, what I do is fascinating!
I’ve never had a customer come into our current shop and look at our work and be bored, they want to know more, they want to touch and feel the results of our work.
It’s quite different from my CNCKing.com days where everything was totally virtual, from the files to the 3D animation.
Let me state clearly that my approach, like this website and CNCROi.com in general is a long play game, it’s a marathon and not a sprint!
Some customers have “known me” in person for 3 years before doing business with me, I tell them what I do, learn about what they do, send them samples of my work and as a result, build myself up in their mind as to our capabilities and proven over time that we are worthy of their attention and ultimate, their business.
Of course, many of our customers have projects right away for CNCROi.com to produce, we “meet” and the project is gone to the post office within 24 hours.
Both approaches are fine, but I’m not spamming people, I’m not bothering them, I’m letting them know who I am and I let my work speak for itself.
When I ran CNCKing.com, I took the same approach, I let the work speak for itself as I realized that if people needed me, they’d let me know.
I didn’t need to be in their face yelling for the sale or trying to close the deal.
It does take a while for larger companies to turn around, the biggest problem I had when I started my business is that people and businesses couldn’t believe the capability I was demonstrating to them, hence doing these THOUSANDS of videos and blog posts to prove it.
It takes time to build people’s trust and even longer to gain their business.
I’ve also attended endless trade shows, some were complete write-offs, others got me regular clients, it’s impossible to tell until about a week after the show.
Some people come to your booth and realize you are the best thing since sliced bread and can’t help but talk endless projects with you… only to never hear from them again.
Other booth visitors you don’t even remember them visiting it and they end-up giving you a massive contract, it’s just so random!
I often get asked “how did you start” and the answer is always the same, “I just started”.
You have to get the word out, and after three years, I’ve managed to do this without ANY advertising, we are not in any publication that doesn’t matter and highly focused on clients who have both joined our ranks and could benefit from our services over the long hull repeatedly.
The challenge is always the same though, managing cash-flow, the first few years, I had to ignore this as there was just so much other things that needed to get done but as we keep on growing, managing cash in and cash out (sort of speak) is just as important.
All of our projects are custom, but with suppliers, customer quote requests and the like, the challenges are more complex as we keep on chugging along.
The capital equipment costs also go up as our projects get bigger and higher volume.
The material get more specialized (and expensive) and our timelines get extended to reflect the changing dynamics of CNCROi.com.
One thing that has remained the same is the fun I have, regardless of where I am, I’ve become well acquainted with the local post office, sometimes visiting them everyday of the week to ship packages to CNCROi.com customers far and wide.
I keep getting reminded at the completely lack of marketing understanding when I visit websites like FaceBook and LinkedIn where people say “hi” and then right away, try to close the deal without understanding what I do or how I do it… much less how using them could benefit my business.
Sending out endless emails and doing cold calls just doesn’t work anymore, the only thing it guarantees is that I’ll never do business with you because I will have forgotten all about you the moment I press SPAM in my email and hang-up on you mid sales pitch.
I’m not sure what schools are teaching their “marketers”, I graduated University with a degree in Biology and Geography, but whatever it is, it’s at least 30 years behind the times.
When you cold call somebody now, it’s a bother, when you email somebody with irrelevant information, it’s a waste of time.
Patience and building relationships is the way forward, not spamming people… especially business owners who have enough on their plate before you intruded into their mind.
If you look at this entire blog post, I taught you something, I showed you some neat stuff but nowhere there is a sales pitch much less a boiler room level of pressure to do business with CNCROi.com.
I’ve told you what I do, where I began and a little about where my company is going.
You know immediately if you need me or not right now but I’ve shown you enough to keep me bookmarked in your mind for when you do need me.
When you do, CNCROi.com will be here!