The marketing thread

Okay all, this has been touched on in hundreds of threads but I can’t find one dedicated to it.

@dan could give the exact % as they did a survey but suffice it to say a large number of us plan to make at least some money with our Glowforges and there are a lot of people here that are already successfully running their own businesses that can be a huge help without giving away anything.

So have at it. What works and what doesn’t. I know this will depend on the widget but I want to leave it vague to get just as much participation as possible.


Disclaimer: This is just based on my experience and opinions so take that for what it is worth, I have founded a few startups and most of them failed, but some of them were successful. :slight_smile:

If you are first starting out, one of the most important things I can recommend is understanding what value you are bringing to your target customer base. That and knowing who your customers actually are. It doesn’t matter what platform you use, make sure you understand who you are selling your products to and why they would want to buy them. Knowing this information can help you build a detailed product catalog with great categories and keywords that make sense to your target audience.

How do you find your target audience and discover what will make them want to buy your products?

Understand your Target Area Market (TAM, which customer base you are targeting. Hint: Start REALLY small) and establish good customer archetypes/descriptions. If you understand who your target customer base is and what drives them to buy products like yours, then you are on the right track to having a product or business that adds value.


  • Who is your customer (Male/Female, 18-30 years old, fathers/mother, Science fiction lovers, etc…)?

  • What are their pain points (they have a hard time finding trendy t-shirts that are plus sized)?

  • Who influences your customer (friends, media, television, books)?

  • If the influencer is a person, what is the archetype of the influencer (Male/Female, 18-30 years old, fathers/mother, Science fiction lovers, etc…)?

Write your assumptions down for those questions. This is important: Everything is an assumption until you have validated it with real customers.

Now, this is usually the hardest part for a lot of people… Talk to potential customers that fit within your assumed archetypes. Keep it simple. Ask questions that are in the present and past tense, never future tense.


  • [Good] How do you currently purchase your t-shirts?
    Answer: Usually Online.

  • [Good] What are some issues you have when purchasing t-shirts online?
    Answer: I have a problem finding plus sized sci-fi t-shirts .

  • [Bad] If we created an online store where you could purchase t-shirts, would you use it? (These question generally provide no value and can distract you from your goal which is recognizing a problem or pain point your customer has)

Once you have a clear understanding of who your customers are and what pains they are currently facing, you can now target your product catalog to those customers. Use keyword services to target popular keywords that those customers would use, create descriptions and titles for your products that appeal to your customers.

Using the above someone could for example target plus sized customers looking for funny, trendy, sci-fi t-shirts as they were very difficult to find for that customer base.

At least that’s a start, it gets WAAAAY more in depth than that. :slight_smile:


Haven’t started any companies before, but here’s my plan anyway. Hopefully it’s not too naive.

I hope to appeal to the educational field. Pre-K, maybe kindergarten. Every year there are various professional development conferences and what have you around the area. They usually have a vendor area. Over the next six months (didn’t learn of the existence of the Glowforge until well after the crowdfunding, so am solidly in the pre-order catagory) I want to continue developing product ideas, put together marketing material, and do research. I’ll have together a list of local conferences to start and get a table at these events. This will give me a very targeted audience. Many of the customers will be spending money from their child development center or school district or whatever their organization is rather than their own funds. I hope for this to work in my favor.

The other thing that I hope the Glowforge puts in my favor is customization. Especially in the early years of childhood, customization can provide better individualization in the classroom. As they move on in years it becomes less import, but not completely unimportant. I guess that’s more of a child development thing than a marketing thing, though.

I want to have lots of business cards or brochures or what have you to hand out there, of course. The other tactic I want to use is cold mailing/e-mailing. I’d be looking up the addresses of local centers and schools and sending stuff. I know that the response rate can be really low on this kind of thing, so I don’t want to invest too much in it initially.

I’ll use what I learn on this thread too, obviously! The above reply was a good start. I don’t want to get too complicated too fast, however. So the “WAAAAY more in depth” stuff will have to wait. Maybe in seven months I’ll get into that.


A quick suggestion to you would be to find your local Chamber of Commerce and become involved. You will network and meet a lot of great people that are willing to help out wherever they can.

I also would not suggest paying money for a table at a conference unless you really have your ducks in a row and are willing to start bringing in potential clients/customers. It’s an investment that rarely pays off for younger startups and that money would be much better spent elsewhere. Instead attend the conference and network, it puts you face to face with your potential customer base. Those events usually have blocks of time set aside just for networking. Go there with a lot of business cards. :slight_smile:

Another side note: Email marketing is great if you have a mature list of customers to work from, but nothing beats actually getting out and talking to people. It’s free. Just takes a little time.

My favorite quote from a brilliant entrepreneur:
“There are no facts inside the building so get the hell outside.” ~Steve Blank

Good luck and don’t forget to have fun!


Recognizing this is a very good start! The further the distance from one own’s pocketbook the spending occurs, the greater the opportunity for premium revenue. (On the shady side, this is where $6 Cokes come from - government purchasing agents!)

Don’t stop in thinking about products, solve these customers’ overall problems. It doesn’t matter if you have a great product if there are a ton of other pain points in getting your product. How do they have to pay you? If they have to pay with POs and all you take is cash, that’s a problem. Absolutely build a great product, but go all the way through the process and remove all the friction for the customer. In the end, you may have a mediocre actual product, but you’ve taken the time to make it painless to get the sale. That’s added value to your customer, too.


Have you prototyped this product yet? Like “dog-ugly-kindergarten-macaroni-art-looking-science-fair” prototyped it yet? Even if you make it out of cutup cereal boxes, make a quick analog of your product and get it in front of people - kids, teachers, parents. Do it a dozen times in real life and make tweaks and boil it down. I guess my point is there is always a danger of things being perfect in your head, and if you can spend the next 7 months ironing out the majors kinks you aren’t even aware of yet, you’ll be ready to go when your GF hits!

Best of luck to you! Keep us all posted on what you are making!


I’m still hoping this thread will explode but if it doesn’t, it will have been worth my OP just for this response.



Suggestion: Come up with the shortest sentence that gets your customers excited. For Robot Turtles, it was “a boardgame that teaches programming to preschoolers” (not even technically a sentence). It marketed itself. Glowforge was much harder because we never found the perfect sentence.


Aaaaaand this is why you are a CEO, and I make big rocks into little rocks.

So, you’re saying for my knife sharpener for instance, “the shortest distance between a dull and a sharp knife,” or something along those lines?



It depends who your customers are. If they’re people who don’t own a knife sharpener, they may not know why they want one - so it’s something like “For $25, be a better chef”. If they know they should sharpen but don’t, it’s “Sharp knives. No need to procrastinate.” If they are hobbyists, maybe it’s “what if your pocketknife was as sharp as a razor blade”. I don’t know, just riffing - it’s going to depend on what gets your customers’ juices simmering.


Breaking down the robot turtle “sentence”: a no-fluff statement about what it is and what it does.

People have very short attention spans nowadays so Dan’s sentence quickly describes the product and its objective/purpose. If that line interests you, you’ll seek out more info for the how.

I feel like “the shortest distance between a dull and sharp knife” is kind of fluffy and cute - maybe more of a slogan than a catch phrase.

When sharpening knives, I think about sharper, faster and easier. Maybe even something like that: B#, A knife sharpener for sharper knives, easier and faster.

I have more on your original question that I will try and post later.


One of the things that got stuck in my head from a very young age is that dull instruments that are meant to be sharp hurt a lot of people: dull knives, axes, chainsaws, etc. (due to the extra pressure that must be exerted to do the job causes a higher potential for accidents).

That aside, I’ve had good luck with Survey Monkey to get actionable data for ideas. Survey making is kind of an art (or maybe a science, I don’t know) to get actionable data though.

In my experience, surveys shouldn’t be extremely long or verbose.

Surveys should have responses that you can obtain data from. (How likely are you, how strongly do you feel, etc.)

On the flip side, fill in the blank or your own response can be a wonderful data collection tool - IF you are willing to really interpret the responses and find themes. More often than not, you’ll find themes in open responses. Break those down into categories and you have actionable data (and maybe a one off response that is golden).

If you’re selling something, you’re in sales. That means overcoming objections. Find out what those objections may be and then a way that overcomes those objections.

I like using survey tools to branch the survey depending on the responses - do you sharpen your knives? Yes, goes to question 3. No, goes to question 2 where you can find out why and get data from 2 types of people - those that sharpen and those that don’t.


Forge ahead with Glowforge.


Survey tools are great! But you are absolutely correct, you have to design them with an extremely scientific approach.

I will say… for me… All the survey data in the world isn’t going to mean as much as data gathered from face-to-face interactions with real potential customers.

I think surveys are the most powerful when you already have an active customer base to work from. They can help fine tune your product to meet the needs and solve the problems your customers are facing. @Dan and the Glowforge team did a great job with their survey’s in this respect.


Once again, access to you and this forum is worth my investment until my GF arrives.
Seriously, my partner in this is like you. I refer to people like you and him as “social engineers”, I can make stuff, and after iterating enough I can make it nice, but I have a hard time selling ice water in the desert.


Being the guy that needs extreme coaching in marketing I had never even considered that there is a difference between a slogan and a catch phrase. You illustrate the difference very nicely.


I’m the same, as a craftsman or artist I’m not too bad, but at marketing the result - I suck!
I consistently under bid my work, and inspiration for marketing falls just short of having to do my taxes.


Awwww man, i really hate marketing questions, cause it’s so different with every product.

The questions to ask yourself:

  1. Does my product fill a need that is currently unrepresented? Or is it something that is desirable? Both?
  2. Who are my primary customers? How many of them are there? What would motivate them to purchase my product over another similar product? What percentage of my customers can I reasonably expect to purchase my item?
  3. What is the best way to reach my customer base? (Word of Mouth/Local Shows/Flyers on windshields in parking lots/Newspaper & Catalog Ads/Internet Ads/TV Ads/QVC) Can I meet the demand with broader advertising?
  4. How can I make my product look more desirable than the competition? Is there something that makes it better for a certain demographic than others? Is it less expensive?

Those are the broad categories that fit for any business startup…in the case of the sharpeners, having experienced one first hand, I have a recommendation for your target base…

There are a thousand knife sharpeners out there already, (I know because I’ve bought them), but yours actually works, and very well.

This next bit is extremely politically incorrect so if you are easily offended, switch off now…

Women generally do not like to use knife sharpeners, as opposed to men. Men treat their pocket knives like the fine tools that they are, with frequent honing. Women actually use knives a lot more on a daily basis for food preparation, and since the need of the moment is to get the chopped onions into the stew and get to the next item on the agenda, the edges on their knives suffer for it greatly. (Also, most of the cutting boards that we use are totally wrong for knives.)

You need to market two versions of your sharpener - one to men for keeping their blades honed and sharp for field dressing that buck… Big, hefty, manly…no real man should be without one.

And market a smaller more delicate version for kitchen use for the ladies. Something un-intimidating and cute, that doesn’t take up a lot of room in her overstuffed utensil drawer that will still put a razor sharp edge with just a few strokes on the paring knife she’s using on the carrots. (Ladies like cute, and they like being able to sharpen quickly when they need it.)

Heck you could even offer them as a matched set…and I’ll bet those would sell very well as wedding gifts.

(Well, that’s what I’d consider doing anyhow.)


She cooks, I clean.
Every time I put the knives away, I check to see they are sharp, and keep them that way.

Speaking of checking the edge, people have different methods for that. A lot of people feel the edge with their fingertips. Your sense of feel is not that great.

In sharpening metal gravers where you push the edge, I learned to just lay the edge on a fingernail and very lightly push. If it is sharp it will bite immediately with zero slip.

The same works for a knife. Just lay it on a nail under its own weight and lightly push sideways. Even a slightly worn edge will slip, if it is sharp it will bite.

Same is true for scissors. Place a hair (or thread) on the blades and very slowly close the scissors. At the point of contact with the hair, if it is pushed at all before it cuts they need work.
You almost need magnification to see that perfectly.




Yeah, I wish I could leave my shop after a project looking like a grenade went off in it, and return to see the fairy of cleaning and putting away had visited…:ribbon:

That’s OK. There is a replenishment fairy that keeps food reappearing in the kitchen!