June '20

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G R A P H I C S - P R O. C O M 2 0 2 0 J U N E G R A P H I C S P R O 7 7 if you even want to get into this market. There are also plenty of production chal- lenges to master as well. Explore this busi- ness thoroughly before jumping into it. If you do jump in, go with both feet. The benefits can be significant, but understand ADA signage is a business unto itself. Another way to expand your laser busi- ness is by adding capabilities that are not as- sociated with typical personalization equip- ment. Woodworking, metal forming, and leather crafting all provide products that appeal to the personalized gift and awards business. Other crafts include jewelry, bookbinding, and framing. Some product examples include high- end custom metal awards, which appeal to the extreme sports market, and motor and auto sports markets. Wood products include custom cutting boards, wine bottle holders, shadow boxes, and pet and human urns. There are a lot of leather products to be personalized with graphics and text for firefighters, police officers, and the military. Adding the skillset and equipment to hit these craft areas might be the right move for your business. Another way to accomplish this is to find gifted crafts people who you can create a partnership with to expand your product base. EXPAND YOUR MARKET AREA The last way I'll cover to grow your business is to expand your market area. This can be as simple as including the next surrounding town or expanding out to a whole region. Your challenge will be getting to know your potential customers, getting product in front of them, and delivery. You may need to add sales and customer service talent and perhaps a delivery person and vehicle. Shipping supplies and per- sonnel may also be needed. This can be a costly and risky challenge. Expanding areas in moderate increments is the safe way for- ward. Expanding well beyond the regional level is also possible through the internet. Offer a specific set of products with a fairly wide appeal or a specialty product that is unique that may not have a large market, but one you can more easily capture. For specialty products, locating chat rooms or forums where the special mar- ketplace congregates is key. Participate in conversations or perhaps advertise if it's al- lowed. If you do participate, be careful you follow the rules and not come off as only pushing product. Often our expansion comes from saying yes to a customer's request to make a cus- tom product for them or from a hobbyist wanting you to personalize a product they made for a friend or sell themselves. This is a great way to find an expansion opportu- nity or a person to partner with. I suggest before getting too deep into a new product line or making a major equipment invest- ment that you spend the time writing a thorough expansion plan and doing the needed research up front. A customer's enthusiasm (and yours) can be infectious, just make sure you step back for a few moments and think it through. Take baby steps to make sure the opportu- nity is right for your business. GP BOB HAGEL and his wife, Dana, own Eagle's Mark Awards & Signs, offering a full line of personalized products using laser engraving, sand etching, and full-color UV direct print on products. They have offered awards, recognition, and signage products to organizations for more than a decade in the South- ern California wine country. He can be reached at 2 0 2 0 J U N E G R A P H I C S P R O sonnel may also be needed. This can be a costly and risky challenge. Expanding areas a specific set of products with a fairly wide

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