5 Marketing Ideas Using 3D Printing

By | March 28, 2016

3D printing has been compared to the light bulb, the steam engine, and cars and airplanes. It’s not just a new way to manufacture things. It changes the way we do things. It’s changes the way we manufacture, the way we design. It changes the nature of logistics. But what about marketing?

When we read about 3D printing, the focus is largely on the manufacturing process and how products can be made faster and, in some cases, less expensively. It is on changing the cost and speed of manufacturing by eliminating traditional distance, warehousing, and manufacturing inefficiencies. In this industry, however, we care more about the use of 3D printing for brand building and creative marketing uses. This is something we read much less about.

It’s time to start changing that. So I decided to do a Google search on “3d printing for marketing” and see what I could find.  I came across five very interesting applications that, for this post, I adapted for potential use by printers and MSPs. Perhaps some of these will spark the next great idea for you.

  1. Offer 3D blueprints for popular items to make at home.  This can be functional (“Lose your breadmaker paddle? Don’t sweat it — or miss a single delicious loaf. Take this blueprint to your local 3D printing location and have one made before you can say ‘What’s for dinner?'”). Or it can be fun (“Come in for a test drive of our new [insert car make and model here] and take home the blueprints for a 3D printable model of your new car!”).
  2. Use it as part of a client’s rewards program. Instead of offering “buy 12 get one free” or rewards points towards product, try offering something really cool and different, such as a free 3D model of themselves, their home, or their family members. This approach was used by Coca-Cola in Israel and British supermarket chain ASDA.
  3. Enable clients to create personalized versions of their customers’ favorite products. This is a strategy currently being offered by eBay through eBay Exact.
  4. Run a 3D printing design competition to promote your brand.  Promote it through print, email, and social media. Let the popularity of 3D printing bring greater visibility to your brand.
  5. Instead of selling products to customers, let them co-develop products with you. One example is Disney, which allows its customers to develop their own mechanical toys.

These ideas can be easily adapted into a wide variety of market verticals and customer business models. Will you be the one taking these ideas to them? Or will you wait for someone else to do it?

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