As a novice or mature custom modeler there is this issue of finding customers. Depending on where a modeler may hang out there is quite a bit of competition around and finding good paying customers can be a challenge. However, by following these five steps for finding great customers I will share how to not only get great customers but create some really cool relationships in the process.
1- Be weird. Seriously! Because of the internet it has never been easier to find customers. But because of the internet there a millions of choices on where and from whom to buy. On my website it should be no mystery that I am harvesting super freak. From the types of products I create to, videos, and some blog posts I’ve written I love it all. That interest of mine resonates with others and because of my passion I attract crowd just as “weird”. I have a friend in California that is moving from 1/64 to 1/50 scale road construction equipment. If he continues to be a seller of this type of model I am sure he will do very well. Why? Because he loves it and can share his love of these machines with others. So be weird. Whatever type of model totally takes your attention for hours on end, indulge it and be the best you can be at it. Others with that same interest will find you.
2- Decide which customers to serve. While I serve a variety of people, I love serving a custom cutter or a person that has been on the harvest run. I do not have any interest in churning hundreds of items. No I my interest is serving people that do not want just a nice model, they want a memory. When my customers talk about their models to their friends I want them to say “I drove that”, or “we ran these in our crew”. When people ask me about my business what I describe to is not just models. I tell them, “I recreate what people use. I made service trucks for Paul in England; I sent combine trailers to my favorite BTO (big time operator) in Colorado. I sell memories. That is so cool. Be specific who it is, what they do for a living, what kind of income they may have, every detail so products can be created for them.
3- When the ideal customer is identified it is time to figure out where your customers are. With the internet it is has never been easier to connect potential customers to our products. With that said, it is not good enough to build a website and wait for people to show up. That will fail. So will a social media page the sees no interaction from the builder/seller. Like Facebook pages, then interact on pages where your customers hang out. For example, I love serving custom cutters, so I am engaged in the US Custom Harvesting Inc Facebook Page. I am also a member of that organization. I also like Harvester web pages, leave comments on and engage with people who also share this common interest on my own page. The goal is not to build it and wait on people. The goal is to interact and connect people to great ideas and products. Of course there are toy shows. This is great place to connect people in a tangible way to your ideas and products.
4- Be real. Better yet, be passionate. If any builders use the web for any part of their business, being weird is the only option. Add to that, your customers want to know you. Who are you, what interests do you have, what experiences can be shared about the products being made and sold? My webpage has an optional intro video with me in it on my front page. I share why I am doing what I do and where my passion for wheat harvest came from. The internet begs for authenticity and transparency. A phony can be sniffed out in seconds online. Share your story and be real.
5- Separate yourself from competitors with over the top customer service. There are a million little things builders can do that cost little or no money and make a big difference in the sale. I bought some decals from Nomax Custom Decals. His packaging for his decals is over the top classy. He does not have to go to the great lengths to package them so well but he does and I keep going back. Other model dealers I use I merely ask for what I want and if they have it, I just instruct them to ship it. They do not gouge me on price, the shipping is fair and a wonderful feature, FAST. Sure they could wait a few days and bulk ship a hundred items at once but within a couple days of ordering I am in business. That service costs them nothing and makes a huge difference to me.
So to recap, the best way to get great customers is 1-Be weird, 2-Decide who to serve, 3-Be where your potential customers reside, 4- Be real, 5-Separate yourself. These five steps are not a magic bullet and will not give you microwave results. No these steps are designed much like a crock pot. Work hard putting a bunch of good stuff in, wait awhile, and the payoff is delicious. Good customers for all.
Love to have your feedback. Leave comments in the comment box. Thanks so much, Eric