For most consumers, engraving is a service that's performed when the need arises. People do not seek out engraving unless they have an actual and unfortunately urgent requirement. There are some exceptions to this rule and a few wise engraving companies that have taken advantage of our natural impulse to buy point-of-purchase. "Things Remembered", the chain engraving and gift store, has done an excellent job of merchandising popular gift items while offering engraving services. They are located in well-lit malls, have attractive window displays, and accept a wide range of walk-in engraving requirements. Their success can largely be attributed to the fact that they offer the engraving service as "personalization" of the gift items they sell. Everyone, who receives a pen, lighter, key ring or toasting flute wants a name and greeting or message applied.
Since engraving services are not usually an impulse purchase, you will need to do some proactive work to promote your products and services.
Here's a list of ideas to help you get started in promoting your business from within.
If you have a retail type business, show samples of your best work. If it's trophies you feature, show a wide enough variety to cover your capabilities and various price points. Remember, never display seconds or less-than-perfect work. This is not the kind of impression you want to give a potential customer.
If you have a retail location with storefront windows, place a variety of items in the windows that face the street. Passers-by do not want to see the back of your products. Aim the most interesting items right "between the eyes." Your display needs to send a message about the products you offer and, at the same time, be interesting to look at. An eye-catching display will entice the potential customer to stop and take a look at your products. Find creative ways to bring your display to life. Seasonal changes work well and are not over-burdensome. If there is traffic in the area after shop hours, you may want to illuminate the display into the evening hours for that little extra "free" advertising.
Don't limit your display to just your windows. You may be able to share space with other shops in the area. You can create a cooperative venture with other distant business owners where a little window or display space may be used.
Make up a display of the types of letter-styles or fonts you can engrave. Use the material swatch kits you get from manufacturers or make your own to display the kinds of materials you work with.
Keep in mind that every option you display creates another possible combination. If you're worried about being asked to do something you can't handle, only show those you are comfortable with and can readily provide.
If possible, create the display in a way that it can be easily updated as new materials become available and you gain experience. For example, you could Velcro your materials for easy removal and arrangement. Most importantly: Keep the display fresh and colorful!
A large quantity of engraved samples can be placed in a three-ring binder and displayed on the counter. It's also something that can be taken with you if you need to leave the shop to see a prospective customer. If samples do not easily fit into a binder, use photos. A good 35mm camera will do the trick, and if you take the time to prepare an attractive binder, it can do the selling for you. If you're busy helping one customer, it may be just enough to hold another until you can give them proper attention. Check out the local florist or caterer for ideas. They use a binder to show off items that they cannot always have available or easily display.
This is an especially useful tool if you're in the plaque business. Sometimes a customer needs to get ideas, ideas that you know look and read properly. The problem is your customers can't always think of the right words or visualize the layout. If your engraving software allows output of the job to a laser printer, this may be a way to start a library of samples that customers can refer to.
Put a label with your shop name, address and phone number on the back of your products. Stickers are inexpensive and will help the customer to find you the next time they need an award. But be tasteful: Do not put it anywhere it can be seen by someone who is not actually looking for it. There are plenty of stock labels available from companies such as Brady or Avery. These labels will fit most printers, and many word processing programs can format the label type by number, so set-up and printing are easy.
Samples of the stock clip-art or logos you have can be made into a binder or displayed. Engrave the favorites and make a good sample board. Remember: The customer can't buy it if they don't know you have it. If you do a job for a customer that involves a unique logo or design, get their permission to display a sample.
Offering specials serves two purposes. First, it can help move slower-turning inventory. Second, it can promote seasonal items such as Christmas ornaments, Valentine gifts, Mother's Day gifts, etc. This is also a good way to keep your displays fresh and interesting, as mentioned above.
A few good words from a customer can inspire and build confidence in a new or potential customer. Just make sure you get the permission of the customer that provided the kind words about your work and display them tastefully.