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Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?

Posted by Eric Young 
Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 12, 2013 06:32AM
In the last month or so I've had 2 conversations about my 3D printer in which the other person referred to it as a 'Makerbot' when it's actually a RepRap Tantillus (you know, like how some people refer to copiers as 'Xerox machines', or tissue paper as 'Kleenex'). I'm not anti-Makerbot, but it's my impression that their marketing has more to do with their success than the quality of products they're putting out. This makes me want to see RepRap get the public notoriety that I believe it deserves, so I've been thinking a bit about ways to leverage the community towards that end. Here's the best line of thought I've had.

1. Guerilla Marketing can be pretty powerful when done in a unique and interesting way. Having a large number of geographically distributed 'cells' can help for many types of Guerilla Marketing, so RepRap has an inherent advantage there. Here's a thread speculating on the number of RepRaps and RepRappers: [forums.reprap.org]
2. Almost all RepRappers have the ability to make 'awesome stuff' on their printers.
3. It's pretty darn inexpensive to print and give away small parts. There are some awesome small designs floating around the OSHW community.
4. People love free stuff, especially when it's a surprise and especially when it's awesome.
5. So what if RepRappers were to start printing out small, awesome parts to give away for free and putting them in unexpected places where people will come across them inadvertently? Or maybe less random locations where people would see them not so inadvertently, though I think that makes the experience of finding it less impactful. Maybe we could paper-print little tags to distribute with each part that say "This awesome thing is free for you to take and was made on an Open-Source RepRap 3D printer. Visit RepRap.org if you want to get into 3D printing.", or something along those lines. I imagine it would be most effective to target locations where technically inclined people are likely to spend time.

Does anyone think this might be something worth trying? If you would want to be a part of it then please say so, that way interest can be gauged. Or does anyone think it's a particularly bad idea to try this sort of thing? Any improvements, thoughts, critiques etc. are welcomed and appreciated.
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 12, 2013 07:12AM
How about printing an embossed QR code onto a surface of the object, then fill in with ink as appropriate before leaving it to be found. QR code would point back to a page on the wiki or something with suitable reprap evangelistic content and an explanation of what the campaign was about.

You'd have to watch out the community doesn't get the "litterbug" brand though.

Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 12, 2013 07:21AM
... usefull tools or interesting toys for kindergartens primary/elementary schools?

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 12, 2013 09:39AM
If someone ever calls one of my non-MB machines a Makerbot, I shall challenge that person to a duel!
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 12, 2013 10:01AM
How about making some travel bugs for Geocaching?
I know ALOT of people doing that anymore!!

Custom all metal CoreXY
- Duet 2 Wifi w/ PanelDue 7i
- 330mm x 360mm x 500mm
- 750w Silicon heater

Custom Mendel90
(Backup printer - Old reliable!) - Sold
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 12, 2013 10:42AM
Eric Young Wrote:
> I'm not anti-Makerbot, but
> it's my impression that their marketing has more
> to do with their success than the quality of
> products they're putting out.

Pretty much. I think Makerbot really screwed up when they decided to not play to their strength (marketing), and went down the hardware path to nowhere.

I really like this idea. Especially the QR codes embedded in objects. it should be fairly trivial to embed this in an object.

As an example of the level of interest:
I threw a birthday party for my daughter this past weekend and was bombarded with questions about 3D printers when people saw the stuff that I had made for the party. People just couldn't comprehend that this tech even existed until they saw the printer working, then their heads exploded with thoughts/questions/possibilities. Then I showed them a dispenser funnel that I made for doing confectionery work. They all thought the same exact thing - widen the outlet hole of the funnel to make a pancake batter dispenser. So they got to see that you can make whimsical and practical objects. But if I had a bunch of swag to give away it would have been a real plus.

But I'm down to donate some filament and machine time to a viral marketing campaign. Not really in a large city, but I can print some stuff off and send it for a campaign.

I had a marketing class a while ago, so I know it's important to choose your target audience carefully. Techno-hipsters are already aware, so who else? Families with small children or school administrators as VDX suggests? I like that. But how to get these bits of swag into their hands? That would be kinda difficult to engineer an 'organic' experience, but maybe something a bit more structured for that audience. Tech demo at school one day? That certainly has possibilities - I think printrbot did that and it was pretty successful. Maybe target niche audiences first? HS drafting/CAD/architecture classes, then drilling down into the curriculum from there shouldn't be hard.

Maybe we can target grocery stores or supermarkets? Leave not-so-random objects sprinkled throughout the store - things appropriate to where they are placed? Toy octopus in the applesauce? Bottle opener in the beer aisle? Etc. That would get these objects into the right hands pretty easily - just place them with products the target audience buys.

Another possibility - what about taking some of the art scans, printing them and then placing them in museums for people to find and take home?

I think the big thing will be coupling people's interests with the possibilities offered by 3D printing and reprap. Once that happens people will be sold.

- akhlut

Just remember - Iterate, Iterate, Iterate!

Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 12, 2013 10:56AM
Hey Eric, I feel the same way about RepRaps. They deserve so much more credit and attention. I am throwing an idea that could be Internet friendly and could become viral. But it is centralized and therefore a person (or more) has to coordinate it.

Let's say we have a design of a scale building or something interesting, something a bit large. This object is broken down into many many parts. Each one of us prints a part of those and all are sent to the coordinator which will put it together and it will be awesome!!! It can go viral in no time and it will be a great exposure for the RepRap community.

Of course there are some things to consider like:
- Who designs the object
- What level of accuracy should each part have
- ...

Or something on those lines...
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 12, 2013 12:26PM
It seems to me RepRap builders/users tend to be the really knowledgeable tech people in any bunch. The every day person could not do what we do here. Guerrilla Marketing for RepRaps doesn't seem like a necessary or even usable idea until we have enough open source hardware out there where the average person with no tech experience can slap together some modules and put in some phillips head screws and be done. Even the software has ways to go before it's ready for the masses.

I do however agree that the project deserves as much attention and credit as can be had! I see these things for what they are: Endless possibility.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/12/2013 12:30PM by xclusive585.
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 14, 2013 03:26AM
We should come up with a series of printed objects (changes yearly?) that demos how awesome RepRep is. Find a way to make the object show that MakerBot is a RepRap rip off for extra gravy winking smiley
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 14, 2013 03:31AM
Maybe said object could have something like "not printed on a MakerBot" somewhere on it.
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 14, 2013 11:10AM
Idolcrasher Wrote:
> Maybe said object could have something like "not
> printed on a MakerBot" somewhere on it.

"Proudly created on Open Source Hardware" (and software in some cases)
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 14, 2013 01:46PM
Sorry to post a new topic and then go MIA for 2 days... crazy death spiral of car problems had me all tied up.

@Zedsquared - I like the QR idea a lot, but don't see a way to do it easily..maybe someone has a good method for applying them? Maybe they could be printed on paper and adhered?. Agree about the litterbug issue too, hopefully if the things that are printed are neat enough it wouldn't be seen as littering. I grew up in Southern California surf/skate culture and an accepted way to start up a company in that industry is to plaster stickers of your logo everywhere you surf/skate, that way others who go to the same spots see them and become familiar with your brand. It's vandalism technically, but not looked at in that light by the majority of the community in SoCal.

@VDX - I like your educational route idea a lot. It has a feeling of social improvement that's more in line with the RepRap ideals I think. Seems it would take a bit more individual effort to coordinate with schools, but would be worth it IMO if people wanted to do it. I wonder what types of educational items we could make? Guess I could search TV to see what's out there already. Keeping the items small helps a lot I think since printers are so slow.

@xclusive - Be sure to slap them across the face first, that way they're more likely to agree to the duel. Your point about RepRappers tending to be more tech-knowledgeable is an important one IMO. Identifying specific locations where these types of people frequent is probably something to focus on.

@Mogal - I think the Geocaching idea would go really well with this concept!

@Aklhut - Amen to coupling peoples interest with the capabilities of RepRaps. I really like the museum concept, though I kind of wonder how that would be looked upon by the public?

@Demetris - That's a really cool idea! Seems like it could be something that, if awesome enough, museums might be interested in. If you have any ideas on something really cool to make let us know, I'll give it some thought too. That would be a very interesting design project.

@Idolcrasher and xclusive- I'd personally prefer not to mention Makerbot at all, but part of this concept is that individuals could do whatever they want and I'd take no issue with people saying that sort of thing. Maybe I'm thinking of this in the wrong terms, but I'd like to see the RepRap 'brand name' obtain it's own place in the public mind. I think that saying "Made on Open Source HW" is not enough because it doesn't give people an easy name to associate with. Identifying the freebie parts with RepRap gives them a specific place to go if they're interested.
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 22, 2013 12:35AM
What does "A RepRap" mean? I don't think there's enough agreement on that topic to set up an us-vs-them campaign.

Leave the marketing to the people who take RepRap concepts and make viable consumer products with them. That doesn't just include Makerbot. They might be great at marketing, but the RepRap community is great at coming up with cool technology. Play to your strengths.

All the time, I see non-technical people getting excited about a RepRap. The builder stands there with the completed, working product, and proudly announces some cheap cost between $400 and $800. Maybe they'll even mention the high cost of some other famous 3D printers. The non-technical person doesn't really understand. They see a completed machine, amazing results, and some average looking person. There is no easy way to communicate the amount of time, knowledge, pain, and skill that went into building this one-off device.

So the non-technical person goes off happily to find a RepRap. And in a very short time, becomes extremely confused and disillusioned with the whole idea.

The "marketing" RepRap needs to do, if any, should be aimed at the technically-minded people who can contribute to the project. It's fun to show off cool stuff you made, but it's practically meaningless to leave some object to be found by a random person. RepRap isn't a brand with general appeal. People who commercialize RepRap ideas and put together simpler kits can manage their own brands.
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 22, 2013 08:34AM
I have been asked the following questions too many times to count:

"Why are you building a 3D printer at work, doesn't seem relevant to engine design"

"It's pretty cool that your work allows you to take stuff away you have printed on their machine"

It annoys me that people automatically assume that this isn't something I could do at home in my spare room. I do however love the jaw dropped look on their faces when I politely say "no, I designed and built this machine from scratch at home"
I know that in my upcoming book, "3D Printing for Dummies" in the popular-press series by Wiley, I am dedicating the last quarter of the book to RepRap as the force behind the explosion of new additive manufacturing technologies. In this, I will show readers how a RepRap operates and can be assembled because so many new variations are really just larger/specialized versions of the RepRap from construction fabbers to micro-scale manufacturing systems. RepRap as a concept is brilliant and I wanted to make sure attribution is given to Mr. Bowyer and his creations. I will be chatting about the book on my personal blog (http://kkhausman.com) as each chapter completes the editing process, and would love to hear from everyone about their own experiences with RepRaps and the multitude of other 3D printer variations that seem to spring up almost daily on Kickstarter, indiegogo, etc.

Kalani Kirk Hausman
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 22, 2013 04:29PM
... recently a couple of new books about possible impacts of AM (Additive Manufacturing) to our daily life were published or translated -- some sort of media hype was suspected with bigger audience, but really interesting to observe it in action grinning smiley

What's your main focus? - do you have you some preliminary infos?

Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org] -- Deutsche Facebook-Gruppe - [www.facebook.com]

Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 22, 2013 05:14PM
An idea is to just take your printer to the closest design school, put it on a desk and start printing...My guess is that you would have to be answering questions for a couple of hours..

In my understanding guerrilla marketing and viral marketing and very close to each other, and the powerful thing they can achieve is to make people talk about the product, service or idea it promotes.
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 22, 2013 11:42PM
I think one thing going against RepRap mindshare in the public is the name. It makes sense to us but when you explain what "RepRap" stands for (if you can remember off the top of your head!) peoples eyes glaze over. Then you say "it's a 3d printer" and they go "oh, why didn't you just say so?"

Say what you will about what they have become but MakerBot has a good name.
Re: Guerilla Marketing for RepRap?
February 23, 2013 07:05AM
The ones who suggested to bring RepRap printers to educational institutions are not far off in my opinion.
I study and work at an art school where the lab / workshop instructor I work under got funding for 10 Mendel90 printers. The goal was to let groups of students build one for their classes (the design classes sort of had higher priority over other departments, but other departments like typography, time-based media etc. were also represented).
Initial interest was so overwhelming that some who could not build a printer in the official program decided to buy kits and parts from their own money and build some themselves (with our support and instruction). Now, the student to printer ratio is about 70:1...
This was two or so months ago, but word about the self-built printers spread like crazy. I don't know whether the students mainly think of the printers as printers per se or are aware of the RepRap origins of the Mendel90. Still, I do my best to make sure that they know what they are dealing with. And yes, we also had some who referred to 3D printers as MakerBots. They were quickly silenced and vehemently corrected.
Further, I don't think that "negative press" like comparing (better) RepRap output with MakerBot output aggressively is beneficial. Maybe it's just me, but whenever I see a campaign in which one manufacturer claims that his products are much better than that of the competition, I tend to be extremely put off by that and attribute this advertisement strategy to a sort of desperate attempt to get / increase market share.
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