Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #41

Trade Show Marketing: How to attract people to your booth with gifts/giveaways and promo products

lasercutbowtie

Setting up at a trade show so that your brand can have maximum impact is important, not only to ensure that you get noticed on the day but also so that your presence is memorable beyond the trade event itself. Promotional products and giveaways are a great way to create these interest and memory triggers, so let’s take a look at how to get the most out of this essential trade show marketing tool.

Understanding value

Choosing what to use as a giveaway item at your booth will only work for your brand if it has value – both in terms of being cost effective for your company and also a sense of value to the potential customer. While it might be nice to give away iPads or other fancy items, most companies simply don’t have a budget that stretches this far! A small, interesting keepsake is more realistic; and that is where laser cutting services can best provide unique customized solutions for your brand.

Quality vs quantity

Setting a budget for your promotional products (and, more importantly, sticking to it) will free you up to focus on developing more effective solutions for your brand. Being cost effective is important but that does not mean you have to be cheap! Your brand is more likely to make an impact if you can increase the desirability of giveaway items by being selective about who they are handed out to, rather than flooding the floor with cheap promo products that have no meaning or context for the recipient.

Targeting booth visitors based on criteria that promotes common ground and also business opportunities sets up the exchange for your valued, quality item. The result will be something that is a real conversation-starter both at the time of interaction on your stand and also when they return to their co-workers after the show.

Be interesting

Visitors to your booth need to be enticed to take a closer look, and clever promotional products are a good way to get peoples’ attention. For laser cut trade show giveaways, this could mean something that is particularly useful, and/or something that is incredibly unique. If your promo item comes under either of these two categories, then chances are it will make it further than the unfortunate (and inevitable) post-show purge when so much mindless event collateral gets tossed in the trash.

Don’t forget Branding

While we are talking here about trying to do more than the obvious solution of plonking your company logo on the side of a pencil, it is important to ensure that your company branding is a part of the promotional product outcome. Laser cutting services like Ponoko’s Personal Factory are a good way to incorporate branding and brand messaging in clever and unique ways that will help your promotional products have brand recognition and lasting value.

Variety

Preparing your trade show campaign with more than one promotional item can ensure you are ready for unexpected outcomes on the day. You may have come up with a clever, unique solution… only to find that the stall across from you has also been clever and unique to the point where attendees find it difficult to distinguish between the two! Providing more than one item means you are more likely to have something truly unique in the sea of booths at the show.

Another possibility is that your killer promo idea is so successful that supplies quickly run out, leaving you with just a smile and a handshake to offer further visitors. You are less likely to run out of giveaways if visitors to your booth can choose between a few options. If you do happen to run out of one of them, you will have a backup or two to ensure awareness of your brand is effectively passed on.

Planning ahead

All of the above tips won’t count for much if your timing is off. Be sure to plan your promotional products with enough lead time to design, source and/or produce the items. While laser cutting services do have a quick turnaround, planning ahead will mean you can get the most out of the versatility that laser cutting can provide.

Try to fit the following into your pre-event workflow:

– Start with a test run to prototype your solution before committing to the final order. For many laser cut solutions the first step is to mock-up your design on paper with a desktop printer!
– Next, send through a few variations to your Personal Factory to further test and refine the laser cut/laser etched designs.
– Allow enough time for the finishing touches. Depending on your design, laser cut items may need to be cleaned, assembled, or inserted into packaging.

Keeping on top of this will give you the confidence that your promotional product is ready for the public by the time the trade event comes around.

Ask for help!

The friendly staff at Ponoko are not only experts when it comes to the technical side of making laser cut promotional products, they are also capable designers and clever thinkers in their own right. So if you have an awesome idea for your next trade show but are not quite sure how to make it happen, do get in touch at any stage of the project to see if we can help you reach a successful outcome.

How have you had success on the floor at trade events using the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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Cashing in on the Wedding Industry: Laser Cut Cake Toppers

How Etsy sellers are finding success with generic wedding cake topper designs

laser cut wedding cake topper livelovedesigns1

Wedding celebrations often take the best parts of a party and do them bigger and better than ever before. Weddings are a big deal, from the dress to the venue, to the dancing and of course that all time favorite… the wedding cake. And what better than a laser cut cake topper to top off the most extravagant of celebratory desserts.

Why use laser cutting for wedding cake toppers?

Let’s take a look at what makes a good topper, and see how successful Etsy sellers are making the most of what laser cutting has to offer. Pictured above is an example of a laser cut bride and groom silhouette from LiveLoveDesigns7, which neatly captures the elegance and romance of a traditional wedding celebration.

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Laser Cut Silhouettes

The silhouette theme is well suited to laser cutting, with the versatility and precision that is able to be achieved. Forms are easy to identify and silhouettes communicate an enhanced energy through the simplicity of the unknown; the information that is not being shown.

This can be seen in the two examples above from True Love Affair. On the left, the happy couple are lucky enough to share their wedding day with their kids, and on the right, the exuberance and romance of the new bride and groom’s interaction cannot be denied.

laser-cut-wedding-cake-topper-collage-1

A sense of fun

While the elegance of a bride and groom in traditional wedding dress and fancy suit has broad appeal, the formal ceremony is not for everybody. Making a laser cut wedding cake topper is an opportunity to communicate your playful side. Here we can see some romance in the rain (above, left) by Cake Topper Design that may suit a wedding in Seattle, and the dancing family in the example from Wedding Cake Name (above, right) are really tearing it up on the dance floor.

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Another fun approach is to make mini-figures of the bride and groom. While not quite as precise as if they were 3d scanned and printed, the cartoon character versions from NGO Creations (above, left) are very cute and playful. It doesn’t have to be an actual representation of the bride and groom – many themes and lifelong favorites can also become wedding cake toppers thanks to laser cutting! Chances are this fun topper from Coral Mint Design (above, right) wasn’t the cake from Mickey and Minnie’s actual wedding…

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Mixing laser cut materials

By using different materials for a laser cut wedding cake topper, further context can be created. The bride in white is matched by a groom in full dinner suit in this graceful ornament from Cake Topper Design (above, left). Enhancing the use of text with a warm red love heart from Coral Mint Design (above, right) is eye-catching and romantic, just right for a wedding cake.

Most of the designs shown here have been laser cut from acrylic, which is a good choice for something you’re sticking into your dessert as there is little chance it will impact the flavor or health of your wedding guests.

Personalised cake toppers using laser cut text

For a more personal touch, having names, initials or other identifying aspects of the happy couple custom laser cut is another option. Here we can see two examples; one with ornate text from Coral Mint Design highlighting the newly shared surname (below, left) and another approach taking romantic inspiration from the ever-romantic Jack Johnson song Better Together (Holiday Cake Topper, below right).

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The cake toppers that we have highlighted here are just a taste of the diverse range available from savvy Etsy sellers. With as many as 2.5 million weddings annually in the US, these laser cutting entrepreneurs are on the right track by directing their creativity towards this vibrant market segment. Perhaps you can find success too, using the Ponoko Personal Factory to top off the most memorable of matrimonial desserts!

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #42

Targeting the Golf Enthusiast CEO

laser cut golf putt marker

Those hard working executives at the top of the corporate ladder need to balance their business brains with some serious leisure activities, and as every CEO knows, the golf course is a great place to escape from the pressures of the office. Golf related goodies are always popular with corporate types, and this opens up a number of opportunities to introduce laser cut promotional products to tickle the fancies of the golf enthusiast.

Genuinely useful laser cut golf accessories

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Pictured above, a laser cut divot repair tool available on Instructables incorporates a magnetic disc marker that would be an ideal surface to add laser etched logos and personalized messaging. The divot repair tool is a simple device that can take many forms, so long as the functionality of the prongs is not compromised. Use laser cutting to get creative and customize a truly unique golfing accessory.

Tee markers are also a part of the group dynamics on the golf course, and as with the divot repair tool, what happens above the ground is quite open to interpretation. The brightly colored examples here from Boyd Golf (below, left/center) show how laser cutting makes it easy to follow a golfing theme. Using the same approach to suit particular corporate clients with branded imagery, logos and text can give a personalised feel to the laser cut golf accessory.

Golf themed products

laser-cut-golf-ideas

Golf themed products are a lot of fun as well. The reliable source of quirky products Vat19 has a neat Sportula (above, right) on offer, giving the trusty BBQ tool a golfing makeover that is sure to be a talking point at post-game drinking networking events.

Laser cutting enables you to be creative in the ways that you engage with your client’s penchant for golf accessories. The Ponoko Personal Factory makes this easier than ever before! Let us know your golf-related laser cut ideas in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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How To Make Your Own Laser Cut Precision Tools

Taking measures into your own hands

Just Add Sharks Laser Cut Caliper

How do you know if your projects are as precise as can be? While we can get a certain level of control by squeezing our fingers together and taking an educated guess, sometimes you need the cold hard facts. That’s where measuring devices such as vernier callipers come in handy to narrow down the numbers.

Inspired by some 3D printed measuring tools they had seen, the guys over at Just Add Sharks fired up their lasers to cut a set of fully functional callipers (above) from 1.5mm birch ply. The components were laser cut and glued together, and then to round things off an additional set of radius guides (below) allow for internal and external radii to be checked for accuracy.

Just Add Sharks radius guides

Looking for a fun weekend project? The files for these laser cut precision tools can be downloaded from the source article at Just Add Sharks, so head over there if you’d like to make your own laser cut measuring guides in your material of choice from the Ponoko Personal Factory.

via Just Add Sharks

Where Should You Sell Your Laser Cut Products? Maker’s Markets vs Online Selling

Custom-made items are steadily gaining popularity. But you probably already know that by now. If you’ve ever thought about selling your laser cut products, now is the best time to do it. There are a lot of channels you can try for testing the waters of selling your products. The two main channels are online selling and selling in a physical location.

Online makes it easy to expand distribution and sell products. Even in this space, there are several channels to choose from. As a maker, you can set up your own store. Buying your own domain, getting hosting and putting your site together is relatively easy if you have some coding skills. If not, you can always buy turnkey solutions or get easy-to-setup sites like WordPress or Shopify. There are also DIY-friendly retail sites such as Etsy which have made it easier for artisans, woodworkers or metalworkers to sell online.

Then, there are maker community conferences usually called Maker’s Markets or Maker Faires. The first Maker Faire started in San Francisco and New York but are now becoming more commonplace across the globe. These events are also drawing in crowds by the thousands. According to Make magazine, the attendance of about 74,000 in 2009 grew to 120,000 in 2013.

So how do you choose one over the other?

It really depends on your skills and your comfort level as a seller. Skill-wise, selling online requires a bit of technical knowledge. If understanding terms like html, hosting and FTP seem out of your league, then start with face-to-face selling via a Maker’s Market. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are uncomfortable chatting up with potential buyers or pushing to close the sale, then an online channel might be your best bet.

There are also several benefits to consider. Online selling means less overhead cost. There is no need to rent out a both or set up your physical store, pay for utilities or hire people to maintain your retail space. Another important advantage of online is selling is the wider reach. Over 1 billion people worldwide use the internet today, reaching them is a matter of knowing how to market your products online. Analytics software also makes it easy to measure the results of any activity you do and attribute success to the right campaign.

Selling in a physical store, on the other hand, gives you the opportunity to talk directly to your target market. You can easily find out their feedback and take note of improvements you need to make without conducting complicated surveys or focus group discussions. As a maker, you also get instant gratification when you hear good reviews about your work and can be quite exhilarating and inspiring.

That’s our take on both selling channels for makers. Have you tried selling your products online and in Maker’s Markets? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

Cashing in on the Wedding Industry: Laser Cut Invitations

How Etsy sellers are finding success with Laser Cut Invitations

etsy wedding laser cut lovepop

Every year, around 2.5 million weddings are celebrated in the US. Chances are, the guests who attend these weddings are not being invited via text message! The traditional paper invitation continues to be the chosen method for soon-to-be nuptials.

But that does not mean they are limited to plain old (or even fancy) printing. Clever designers have been using laser cutting to create novel wedding invitations, and then turning a tidy profit thanks to the thriving marketplace for all things Wedding on Etsy.

Why use laser cutting for wedding invitations?

Familiar graphic themes from traditional wedding invitations can be reinterpreted using laser cutting with Ponoko’s Personal Factory. The delicate forms of lace and filigree patterns, floral motifs and artistic whimsies are no sweat for a laser cutter. Even better, laser cut details on wedding invitations allow for layered effects, overlays with color reveals and hints of further artwork or information within folded content.

Laser cut invitation examples

The wedding invitation is an opportunity for couples to introduce their guests to the flavor of their upcoming celebrations. Let’s take a look at a few examples that have been made available by designers selling their laser cut invitations on Etsy.

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For a more traditional approach, the floral lace effect of this invitation cover (above, left) by Dorothy Rovensky hints at the fine papercraft of past elegance while introducing a contemporary feel. Extending on this theme, the modern illustrated artwork using laser cut negative space as a decorative frame (above, right) by Lavish Laser demonstrates another approach, where the cardstock containing ornate printed text is laser cut as a secondary process.

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Setting the scene for a romantic wedding, the Laser Cut Love Story (above, left) by Celine Designs captures a moment of romance in an intimate silhouette.  The multiple folds of DotLaser’s invitation (above, center) uses silhouettes of a country wedding scene to help set the tone for an upcoming ceremony. Also envoking the special moment in silhouette (above, right) is this example from madebyloveaustralia, where additional color highlights the laser cut artwork.

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Laser cut invitation covers are a popular way to add elegance without departing from the traditional printed invitation nestled inside. The double floral folds from Stunning Stationery (above, left) and single fold from Cartalia (above, center) let the recipient know there is something special inside, as does another example with a modern leaf pattern (above, right) also from Cartalia.

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Designers and artists familiar with laser cutting also love to cut and etch into wood. These two examples from Aniri Art (above) add a playful twist with the recognisable visual hallmarks of laser cut ply.

Another technique used by successful wedding invitation designers on Etsy is to create 3D effects from slotted laser cut assemblies. We can see this technique represented very nicely with the Willow Tree Love Scene popup card from LovePopCards, featured at the top of this post.

Weddings are a time where happy couples specifically set out to make an impact as they share their big day with friends and family. As we can see from the collection of samples available for sale on Etsy, designers are catching on that laser cutting is a clever way to contribute to this growing industry. Can you think of interesting ways to incorporate laser cutting into your wedding invitation designs? Let us know how you’ll make laser cut romance in the comments below.

Spend $50 or More at Ponoko, Get a FREE $50 Making Voucher

An Independence Day Deal For The Independent Designer

Independence Day Promo - Laser Cutting Promo

The independent designer’s favorite deal is back! This summer, let’s celebrate Independence Day with a FREE $50 making voucher.  

To Get Your $50 Making Voucher:

  1. Log in to your Ponoko account. If you don’t have one, sign up for free here.
  2. Place a $50 minimum order at the Ponoko US or NZ hub.
  3. Type ‘JULY16’ in the coupon box while checking out, and we’ll email your $50 Making Voucher.

Things You Should Know:

Offer good for making stuff with laser cutting at Ponoko. Showroom or sample store purchases do not qualify. $50 minimum does not include shipping. Other coupon codes or vouchers cannot be used with this offer. Offer good at Ponoko US and NZ only. Offer also valid for Ponoko Prime accounts. Offer starts 8:00am Pacific Time on June 4, 2016 and ends at 11:59pm Pacific Time on July 4, 2016.

About The Free Making Voucher:

Promotional voucher redeemable until Sept 4th, 2016. Promotional making voucher is good for a future laser cutting order, not the initial $50 order. One promotional voucher per account. (Making Vouchers are good on making costs only.)

Ideas for Creative Agencies & Brands – #40

Laser Cutting for Memorial Day

laser cut and etched american flag

Taking a moment to step back and honor the fallen on Memorial Day brings US citizens together on the last Monday in May each year. Amongst the paraphernalia that goes along with this sombre event, perhaps none is more powerful than the American Flag. The iconic Stars and Stripes make a bold statement that is instantly recognised across the globe, and the clean graphic composition of the flag lends itself well to visual reproductions using laser cutting.

Sharing in a show of National pride can take many forms, and through laser cutting we are able to add creative and eye-catching mementos to the Memorial Day caché.

Laser Cut Flag Stencils

memorial day laser cut flag stencil

Pictured above, the READYMAN American Flag Card is a no-nonsense, seriously tough keepsake made from 301 stainless steel. It can be used as a tracing template or as a decorative object in its own right. Continuing on the theme of using laser cutting to create an American Flag stencil, there are numerous clip-art options available for free online. We thought this dynamic flag-in-motion (below, left) captures the mood well. Another approach from Hollywood Toys & Costumes (below, right) is to make three stencils, one for each color of the red, white and blue.

memorial day laser cut flag stencils

 

Laser Cut Ornaments

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While The Laser Place has a neat hanging ornament featuring the US Flag (above, left) on their Etsy store, amongst their other products you can find mementos of different branches of the armed forces. Laser etched cork coasters (above, middle) provide an example of how iconic Service emblems and badges can be incorporated into your celebrations. Also from The Laser Place, the laser cut wall plaque (above, right) is a more permament fixture that has been laser cut and etched with a layered 3D effect.

What other Memorial Day mementos can be customised for your clients using the Ponoko Personal Factory? Let us know in the comments below. For more ideas for Agencies and Brands, see the other posts in the series.

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3 New Materials To Inspire New Projects: Peel & Stick Veneers

Sticker Products

Need something new to inspire your next laser cut wood project? Can’t find the right material that offers flexibility and versatility? Check out our latest additions to our material selection. The wood design on these peel & stick veneers offer incredible detail.

The premium grade real wood veneer has a pressure sensitive adhesive backing. The veneer is quite flexible along the grain and can be applied to curved surfaces. They’re great for jewelry projects, to stick on to acrylics or to create amazing 3D stickers. Your imagination is the only limit to you how you can use the walnut, bamboo amber and bamboo blonde peel & stick veneers for your next laser cut wood project.

Click on the images below to get all the details on our new premium peel & stick veneers.

Peel & Stick Veneer – Walnut

Walnut has rich, chocolate hues, auburn undertones, and beautiful grain patterns that make it appealing as material for projects that need stronger color contrast.

laser cut wood veneer

Peel & Stick Veneer – Bamboo Amber

Bamboo has a beautiful fine grain which may have some visible joints on the surface to break up the grain — giving it a unique appearance. The Amber version has a  golden brown color, a great choice for neutral-looking jewelry projects.

laser cut wood veneer - bamboo amber

Peel & Stick Veneer – Bamboo Blonde

The natural occurence of joints on this other new bamboo is also a welcome break from the fine grain. It has a golden color that is a few shades lighter than the Amber version.

laser cut wood veneer - bamboo blonde

 

 

We’d love to know your ideas for things you can make with these new materials. Comment them below.

Tools For Enhancing Your Laser Cut Product Photos

If you’re trying to sell your laser cut products online for the first time, there are a few things you need to know. Factors like having the right content for your product description and having amazing pictures can greatly influence your success as an online seller. Whether you choose to sell your products on Etsy, in your own store or any other online seller, it is important to remember that your potential buyers only have images and words to rely on. If you’ve made your laser cut prototype with Ponoko, you’re already on the right path. Having that physical product (or at least a photo of it)  to show your potential buyers is a must-have.

So, let’s get started with getting your product photos to look stunning. After all, they say pictures paint a thousand words. These tools — both free and paid — can help you highlight your products:

  1. PicMonkey – This free browser-based tool can do a lot of things — it makes it super easy to add filters, effects, text and do some awesome overlays. One of the more useful features for product photos is collage, which you can use for showing different angles of the same product in one frame.PicMonkey - Laser Cut Product Photo Editing
  2. FotoFuze – Clean up the background of your image and set it against either black or white. This way, the focus is on your product and nothing else. Plus, an all-white product makes it look more professional. FotoFuze - Laser Cut Product Photo Editing
  3. FotoFlexer – Another free tool you can use by uploading images to the web where you can easily retouch photos or add effects. Aside from the usual choices such as posterize, grayscale or sepia, you can also use lomo, comic, patchwork and more. FotoFlexer - Laser Cut Product Photo Editing
  4. Fotor – It’s cheap at $39 per year and you can use it directly on your browse. You can also try it for free if you’re not sure you want to pay an image editing tool just yet. It has some pretty amazing features such as the High Dynamic Range (HDR) tech which brings out the true colors of your photos. The HDR tech also lets you combine photos with different exposures into one cool image.
  5. Pixlr – This is a popular tool that can be used on the web, as an app or downloaded on a computer. It can be used to work in layers, transform objects, add overlays, borders and more.
  6. GIMP – The GNU Image Manipulation Program or GIMP is the free equivalent of Photoshop. While it doesn’t quite have all the bells and whistles as Photoshop, it’s good enough to help you with basic image clean-up. This needs to be downloaded to your computer.
  7. Photoshop Express – Who doesn’t love Photoshop? If you do but can’t really afford the license, get the next best thing: a free app! If you’re shooting your product photos with your phone, this can help crop, fix red-eye, reduce noise and more.

There you have it! A short but sweet list of free/nearly-free/you-gotta-pay tools to help you come up with professional or fun-looking photos for your laser cut items.