Too often, a business starts out with a great purpose and foundation of ideals only to be corrected by natural market forces. 3M started out as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, which had nothing to do with adhesives or Post-it notes. Nokia started out as a paper mill. In both instances, the companies morphed into what they are today as a result of identifying target markets and profit opportunities.
As a service provider we need to clearly understand who our customers are. I get the sneaking suspicion that most providers don’t really know who they’re trying to target with their laser scanning business and, as such, implement a rather helter-skelter marketing effort. This is very evident at conferences when attendees are always looking for someone who’s found the honey hole for laser scanning.
I would suggest that more companies need to find their target markets—maybe two or three—and work to develop them. How? The first step is to identify the players in that space and work to educate them on the technology. What can laser scanning do for them? How can you provide a solution to a problem? How can you provide value? This needs to be followed closely by constant vigilance … find reasons to stay in front of them. We’ve made that mistake more than once. We do a great job educating the target client, only to have someone else bid their work nine months later and we never had the phone ring.
If you’re going fishing, you know what you’d like to catch and you choose the right bait. I’d suggest that growing your business should implement that very simple strategy as well. Who are you targeting and why?
Customer Relations Manager—or CRM—is typically a software tracking program, and there are many to choose from, that allows you to track your target markets and clients. It is a tool that should be implemented for anyone in your organization who has customer contact. It allows you to identify the progress of your business relationship with your client from marketing, revenue, and personal relationship building foundation.
Furthermore, when used correctly, it will help you clearly see what markets are profitable and where your success is coming from. And doing so should help you dial in your marketing and growth efforts.
It’s been my experience that we have a tendency to overwhelm clients with what laser scanning can offer them. We get excited to tell them about point clouds, software, 3D models, and sometimes forget that we need to keep it really simple. It’s possible to impress the client about the technology but still forget that if you don’t provide them with the ability to implement it into their company all you’ve done is provide water cooler conversation.
I’d suggest the best method for developing your products is to ask a lot of questions up front. What has been their experience with laser scanning? What is their level of experience in 3D? What software do they use? What’s the existing workflow? What is their specific goal on the project? What’s the ideal situation?
With the answers to the questions, show them the workflow from start to finish. Don’t just provide them with a deliverable—rather, you need to act as their consultant from start to finish. Create a partnership with the client and you’ll get more of their work.
Can we do that?
In identifying your offerings, you need to understand what your capabilities are internally. Do you have the staff and the knowledge to give the client what they want? If you don’t, then don’t fake it because it will blow up in your face. And one explosion will leave a scar for life. And the better you understand your capabilities, the more you’ll be able to dial in your target markets.
I’m a pure capitalist. I believe in making as much money as possible. To do so, it’s important your team understands where you make profit. Notice I used the word profit; not revenue. Do you know what type of jobs make you the most amount of profit? Are you using job costing analysis to identify your home runs? At the end of the day, this is a labor business. If you can understand your cost basis—employees, software, hardware, scanners, rent, overhead, marketing, etc.—you have a chance to make it. Some confuse revenue with success. Spinning your wheels to drive revenue instead of focusing on the profitability is only giving your team practice.