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I think our prices are reasonable... People always want things cheaper of course, but we price fairly competitively, so I don't think that's the problem. I'm wondering if using non-internet based promotions would help? Maybe some magazine ads? Sometimes I wonder if we're not doing anything wrong at all, and there just simply isn't enough market segment to warrant the kind of sales we're looking for. That would lead back to trying to break into more corporate type sales instead of individual hobbyists. But that's really a whole different ball game, and I'm honestly not sure how to approach that. We've been contacted a few times by people involved with gov/mil procurement, but they were fairly low level. When it comes to that kind of stuff, I get the feeling your image starts to matter a lot more than when you're selling to private individuals. I worry that our image may be a bit too small-time for those types of customers. Maybe that's unfounded though.
Sometimes I do think there's more room for growth with hobbyists as well though, because I will often see people ask for advice on what product to buy for a certain application, and our company rarely gets mentioned by the people who answer... Not as much as I'd like to see anyway. Sometimes I think it's really hard to get customers to break out of old habits and try something new... I guess I'm looking for the secret that makes you become that 'go to' company for certain products, to the point where when people ask for advice on where to get something, other people refer them to us a good portion of the time. I see other companies that do get that kind of rep, but it's just not us yet.
At this point, I'm just looking for suggestions I guess.
Thanks for any ideas,
It doesn't matter these days how big / small you are, as long as you can deliver and inspire confidence.
Maybe your image does not inspire confidence.
Sometimes price can affect an image. A too low price can suggest a home made solution vs a solid trusted product.
Steady growth is good for business, it enables the business to allocate resources for forseen growth. Fast growth can lead to growing pain such as cash flow, lower profit margin even eventual collapse if not properly managed.
There are two types of marketting:
- Conventional: Corporation has gobs of money and runs a multi million dollar add.
- Guerilla: Small guy/ corporation with little cash but lots of time to think up of ways to get noticed and generate sales.
I believe you and I fall in the Guerilla category.
Running adds can be effective if well tergetted or futile if it is run for too short a period of time or is poorly targetted. For me at this point running adds would be a sure way to drops bundles of money with little Return On Investment.
Have you considered a pay per click campaign? It can be measured for effectiveness and does not need to be costly.
Have you considered posting new products regularely on the lists you speak of? Say, 1 new product / month?
Feeling like you've made it? You won't feel like you've made it... ever.
I had the blues the other day - it happens when working by myself for extended periods of time and sought advice from an olf friend. He replied, you've got food on the table? The bank is OK, your business is growing? What else do you want?
Self starters and entrepreneurs, seldom sit back and tell themselves they made it. We are making it ... NOW!
You are talking about branding. Every product you make, print your name on it in BIG letters. Think TOMMY HILLFIGURE - The letters are so big, there's little room for a sweater underneath.
I'm not sure if it will comfort you but branding can take 20 years or more. Unless you got gobs of money - Think Apple IPod - 4 years.
I will often see people ask for advice on what product to buy for a certain application, and our company rarely gets mentioned by the people who answer
Perhaps you and your employees need to be the ones answering those questions. You don't have make it completely one-sided either, mention yours and a competing product, just become the defacto go-to guy and then you may become the go-to company.
How do you think so-called experts get that label?
They just answer lots of questions and provide a lot information, usually as easy as that.
Start a newsletter, forum or blog (maybe all 3!) and get people to subscribe.
Because you don't seem to have the answers you need it's probably time to find out and then make an action plan to be THAT place they go with WHAT they want every time. Start a SURVEY and ask everyone you encounter online, on the phone or in person a) where (else) they go, b) what (else) they look for, c) and why they go to those places over you such as price, quality, branding, whatever.
Not that hard to do if you really want to do it.
[edited by: incrediBILL at 2:46 am (utc) on July 9, 2007]
As for the age range, we are all over the place. Mostly male of course, but it can be anywhere between teens and retired.
As for the age range, we are all over the place. Mostly male of course, but it can be anywhere between teens and retired
The average age of a ham radio operator is probably about 60 now. Decades ago nearly every high school in the country had a radio club; now almost none do.
I've noticed that Radio Shack has virtually stopped selling electronic components lately (resistors, ICs etc) Heathkit shut down 20 years ago.
Building computers was popular in the late '70s and '80s. I don't think our high school even has a computer club these days.
As an electronic hobbyist, I know the group is OLD! i guess there's some interest in robotics nowadays, but that's about it.
Hello? What about the PC hobbyist? Pretty booming business from what I see. Maybe not down to the component level but there's certainly a active sales business in assemblies like mother boards and video cards!
When I was a kid, I knew several old guys who were just like "Doc Brown" in Back to The Future.
As jsinger mentions people enjoy overclocking their PC, but little else. My cousin had a crytsl radio set for his birthday whihc I put together for him. I don't think people are interested in electronics like they once were.
I still enjoy having a tinker with various things (mostly seeing what i can power using solar and wind), and still spend hours in Maplin (big UK electronics score), but haven't got the time for much more.
Radio has never really appealed to me, but I know of one person who used to use it a lot, but again time now prevents much in this way of things.
Mobile phones, for instance, have become so small, they might be comfortably integrated into watches. Supply me with a chique belt containing an additional accumulator for my notebook: I'd immediately buy it. If I am informed correctly, such an accumulator might even be built into your shoes with a piezzo-generator loading it, while you are walking.
Think of school-children cheating tests by communicating via some bluetooth applications secretely built into their shirt-sleeves. The RFID-technology, by means of which in the near future you will do your supermarket-checkout on your own, definitely demands some hacker tools hidden in a button;)
As I mentioned elsewhere, I want access to the information stored in the internet wherever I am, if ever possible without carrying two kilograms of electronics under my arm: I expect my notebook sooner or later be integrated into my glasses. At current state with a mousepad on my belt and a keyboard built into my sleeves, but maybe a more innovative interface might even directly read my brain-waves and transform it into action.
Just some few spontaneous ideas. Electronics is far from dying out.