Many would believe that all it takes to get a laser engraving business of the ground is to purchase (from a reputable retailer such as Needham Coding) the laser engraving equipment and gain some skill in its use. If that is all there is to it, then there would a laser engraver in every block, but that just isn’t the case. Yes, the right equipment is needed. Yes, you will need to learn how to efficiently, effectively and artistically use said equipment. However, those are but two of the factors needed to turn a laser engraving hobby into a laser engraving business that generates revenue. Unfortunately, most laser engravers find these crucial skills hard to develop and master.
Those who take up the craft of laser engraving are, in the most general of terms, skilled technicians or artisans, in a matter of speaking. They usually have mix of artistic and mechanical inclinations. They are good with their conveying abstract ideas and manifest those into the physical world through their hands. But, business success is not solely dependent on technical aptitude. There is the market to consider, people and customers. And, these require soft skills which, once again generally speaking, most laser engravers are lacking.
With the tools and skills an engraver can provide a high quality service that is difficult to find elsewhere. However, determining the exact service or product to bring to the market, now that is the trick. To be blunt, the answer lies in those willing to spend the money, the customers and consumers. A laser engraver should be in constant contact with their consumer base, asking them questions about wants, needs and requirements. They should also be actively engaging with their peers and industry leaders to know what trends are developing, whether that be in what techniques are selling or what people are requesting.
Then there is the matter of the customer. Just like in any other business, customers should not be seen as an ATM or cash dispenser. They should be treasured and respected. Instead of seeing them as a quota target or walking dollar sign, laser engravers should build relationships, not only with their existing clientele, but with everyone they meet. They are in a business where literally anyone can be a future customer. The best relationships are not transactional, they flow both ways and they last. Calls to clients should not just be to acquire another order, they could be a call to say thank you, or ask for feedback.
Finally, laser engraving is one of those businesses where word of mouth marketing is still very much relevant. In most cases, business growth depends on a very satisfied customer telling their coworkers, friends and family about the quality of craftsmanship and service they received. Do not be afraid to ask to be referred. In fact, once you know without a doubt that a client is very happy with your work, ask them if they know anyone that may find value in your work, then ask to for an introduction.