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Using grassroots marketing to spread the word about your Shapeways shop

Even though additive manufacturing has been around for decades, the concept of 3D printed consumer products is still relatively new to most people. Pete, our fearless leader and CEO, often says that "feeling is believing." What he means is, once people touch and interact with a 3D Printed product from one of the Shop Owners or Makers on Shapeways, they begin to understand the infinite possibilities in product design this technology opens up.

So how does this relate to the Shop Owner Challenge? Each and every one of you has the power to spread the spark of Shapeways and the magic of 3D Printing in your community! The more people who know about the wonderful things you and the Shapie Community create, the more people that will come to our site and buy your products! Today's challenge is brought to you by me, as in my life before Shapeways, I started a guerrilla marketing company and love cultivating brand ambassadors. This 365 Heart Napkin holder by Marc van Megen is a subtle example of how 3D Printing can find its way to your dinner table. 

No one starts a great business without the support of their friends, family and extended network

There may be a few superhero-esk outliers that defy this rule, but this holds true for most of us. The people that already like you are probably the most likely to like your products (or at least boast about the fact that you've started a "3D Printing Product Design Company" on Shapeways). Empower them to spread your good word by letting them interact with your designs. The more they know the better story they can tell about your shop. How can you do this?

Have a Dinner Party!

You don't have to cook to be able to have a good time, but often a big long table full of food doubles as a great display space for your models. This Candleholder by Virtox is a great example of something that could easily make it on to your holiday dinner table without feeling too obvious.

These Tapas Spoons by GA Design would be great for a 3D Printing dinner party!

Get Your Products out into the Wild

Designer SenorPlumas takes this seriously with his Hobgblet, perhaps starting up a conversation with his neighbors about 3DP (okay, this might be a stretch, but you see where I'm going here).

My friends have actually started making a game out of "what is Savannah wearing or carrying that is 3D Printed?" I make a point to wear something 3D printed every time I leave the house (with few exceptions) and you should aim to do the same! Even if your models aren't in the wearable category, I bet there's a way you could mount a model in your car, attach something to your Work ID keychain, display a 3DP friend up on your desk or otherwise show off your awesome work. If you haven't figured it out already, let me tell you, EVERYONE is interested in 3D Printing and wants to talk about it.

Bring a 3D Printed Hostess Gift

Next time your buddies invite you over for a football game, season finale or party of any sort, bring some of your work to leave behind! The more people that can be talking about your Shop, the more customers you will inevitably have. Your friends will evangelize for you, and they won't even realize they're doing free advertising for you. You can bet they'll buy the next model from you, it will be be worth the nominal upfront cost.

Sandstone Gift Cat by WillTheLoon.

Give Shapeways! Share the Spark! 

This holiday season, customize gifts for your friends and family! One of the coolest things about 3D Printing is that you could make the same style of gift for everyone on your list, but customize each one to their preferences or initials like this ring by lensman.

The more people see and feel your products and familiarize themselves with Shapeaways and the evolution of 3D Printing, the better for all of us. I am confident that if you start making a concerted effort to tell people about what you do and how the process works, you would see results in revenue.

Every time someone encounters your work, you should have a strategy for future communication with them handy. Whatever your preferred method of communication, email, facebook, twitter, your website or through ESP, make sure you have a way to reconnect with everyone who enjoys your work. 

Consider this the first step in starting an epic following of your design work and generating big sales in your Shapeways Shop. Speaking of, have you written your marketing plan yet? 

Who will you teach about 3D Printing next? 

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