The following is a guest post by Scott Zimmerman, CEO of ETCHUS.
Many of us put in lots of hours every day to improve ourselves and our businesses. Whether it’s learning new processes, educating yourself on SEO, or even starting a one-minute video.
We find ourselves finding people with similar interests. For most of us, we find people both on the path, as well as people that already understand what we are trying to learn. When I discovered Dennis Yu and his one-minute video mantra, I was a skeptic.
Long-story-short; I did some testing and quickly became a believer.
I even stepped out of my shell and reached out, which is something I would never in a million years normally do. When Dennis asked me to consider writing an article about some of the cool projects we worked on this year; I was flattered, honored, and totally excited to share our story.
We were at a point in our lives where we were working in corporate America and dreaming about breaking free and doing something more fun and creative. Elana and I would make a decision that would change the course of our lives forever.
We decided to purchase a laser engraver. It was very expensive and we had a loose plan that we believed one day would free us from our corporate handcuffs.
No risk, no reward…. right?
And so it began.
We gutted our home garage and got it all set up and ready to go.
Literally, one week before the new laser showed up, Elana would learn that her position at her corporate job was being eliminated. Rather than start a new job search, she made the decision to go all-in, and a funny thing happened.
Our business quickly began to grow. It may have started with a car community, our neighbors, friends, and family, but it would quickly start to spread from there.
We thought we knew a lot, but we had so much to learn. We set up a Shopify store, an Etsy store, a Quickbooks account, and then we waited for the phone to ring – but the reality is, we were making the calls.
We stumbled upon SEO. Talk about a minefield of information overload! We met with a few “experts,” but didn’t get warm and fuzzy.
Our business has so many verticals, and everyone we met with was telling us to focus on one area. That just wasn’t right for us. If we had focused on one item to make it easy for the SEO people; we wouldn’t be writing this right now… because we would be out of business.
We ultimately got focused, but not on what you think.
We looked at our buying habits. We found that when we, as consumers, made purchases; we relied heavily on reviews.
Google, Yelp, and Amazon have conditioned all of us to this behavior. We were relatively new to our space, we felt like we had to undercut the market slightly to win the business. We knew we had the best customer service going, but what good was customer service if you don’t have clients to serve?
We took a chance and focused heavily on our Google My Business profile and more specifically (this is the focus part), our Google Reviews.
What happened next was amazing.
Our clients were receptive. Specifically, those that would come into our location and engage with us.
Over the course of 18 months, we went from 0 reviews to 159 reviews (at the time of this writing), and have maintained a 5-star rating throughout.
Our clients rely on us for thoughtful promotional products, laser engraving, cerakoting, firearm decorating, golf club restoration, glass engraving, UV printing, stickers, and tons more.
I’m not gonna lie. We have a hard time focusing, we just love making cool things and making our client look and feel good.
And then… And then…. No More and then….
Things were moving along pretty well. We were encouraged to join a community of entrepreneurs and service professionals. Reluctantly, I would give it a shot.
This ended up being a good move because I would end up coming across a man (commonly referred to as the Godfather of SEO) by the name of Dennis Yu. I watched his pitch on this Facebook for $1 a day and was like… heh… this kind of makes sense. Much better than the $20 a day everyone else was telling me I had to spend.
I tried some of his techniques and saw immediate results. Check this out, these are two recent posts that we boosted on Facebook for $1 per day. We didn’t ask for anything and didn’t have any actions. Only wanted to raise awareness of what we can do.
The image above is of a campaign we ran to reach people interested in Golf. More about this project below.
The image below is of a campaign related to our car part business. This was a video showing one of our laser engravers in action. Our target audience was an automotive crowd that we have some influence over. Look at the difference!
So then what happened?
What happened next, during what has been perceived as a terrible year (2020), we would experience extreme growth within our business. We were able to pivot and adjust to the economic climate and continue doing business.
Shopify is only one of our sales channels, but we felt it would be important to show this. We added some products, but also reworked our website (www.etchus.com) to not only show products better but also do a better and cleaner job of highlighting our services.
We did not expect this to happen but look at these metrics. We are nowhere near the largest store on Shopify, but we like the direction where this is heading. We also recognize we have to put more focus on our traffic coming from direct search!
So what is some of the coolest stuff you have done?
2020 was a year that no one saw coming. Many of us are now happy that 2020 is finally in hindsight, and only in hindsight can we get a clear vision of what has happened and what we have learned. There were lots of negatives and lots of positives.
While there is a ton we worked on throughout 2020 (including getting to do some work for a small company called Amazon!), one other area we never expected to be playing in was Golf.
Since some of the golf club work we did was pretty custom, we wanted to share 5 of the projects that we were proudest of this past year. Every project has a story!
- The TRU2 Copper Head Putter
While we were up in Oregon at Cerakote HQ working through our Advanced Certification Course, we stumbled upon some custom pigments that can create some really cool effects. As with all of our products we strive to create the “WHERE DID YOU GET THAT” moment.
Our client told us they wanted something unique that had never been done before. This is the result! Every time someone sees this putter, they ask about it. It’s almost the ultimate ice breaker on the golf course.
- The Bengals Putter
A good friend of mine has been following our business. He has always been a huge supporter of what we do. He reached out after seeing some of the wild custom putters we have done and told me he wanted a Bengals Themed Putter.
We decided that even though we weren’t Bengals fans (sorry….) we were up for the challenge of bringing this putter to life, and this is what we came up with!
- The Kryptec Camo Putter
With this putter, we wanted to see just how far we could actually take our craft. We didn’t have a client in mind for this. It was solely to test ourselves and to have some content for the ‘gram.
This putter required a ton of stencil work and quite a bit of technique. Kryptec has been a popular pattern in the firearm world, and we wanted to see it as a golf club. Usually, camo remains fairly hidden, however, this one really stands out. This is what it looked like!
- The PXG Mexican Flag Themed Club Set
Our client was looking at multiple different options for his clubs and didn’t know where to turn. His high-end PXG clubs were all beat up and needed to be restored. He wanted them changed from chrome to black, but the unique part here was that he wanted the clubs color-filled to match the colors of the Mexican Flag.
These came out awesome. We were totally stoked with the results.
- Bombs Away
One day while driving down 635 in Dallas, TX, the phone rang. ETCHUS, this is Scott!
On the other end of the phone was a guy named Fred that lived in Hawaii. He found us on Instagram and wanted to have us create a custom-themed putter for him. We were both surprised and excited all at the same time.
When Fred actually shipped us the putter, things got real. It was a LAB Golf putter, and one of the oddest shaped putters we had ever seen!
After a week of agonizing about how to put a bomber plane theme on this putter, we finally called Fred. He made it much harder than it had to be by giving us full creative control! So we decided to knock it out of the park.
Ya see, we didn’t know Fred from a hole in the wall. We just really wanted to do something cool for this guy that was giving us a shot! On this putter, you will see a ton of detail. From the bombs and the rivets that were all laid out by hand; to the tag sequence that was lightly laser engraved through the Cerakote. The numbers just so happen to be Fred’s birthday.
Short story long, when we were finished; Fred was speechless. Somehow, he was able to get on the phone and speak with us. He told us that he had contacted some friends at LAB Golf, and that the CEO would be reaching out to us.
Here are some pictures of the finished product.
So now what?
We hope this story inspired you to do something, to take action, to get creative, and to think outside the box.
You hear people all the time say that if I can do it, you can do it. The reality is, this is true. The quicker you push yourself out of your comfort zone, the quicker you can learn.
You will make mistakes. You will fall. You will get back up. You will learn. You will push harder. You will achieve your dreams.
Thanks for reading. Tell us in the comments one things (or more if you have it), that you learned about or did in 2020 that you think will have an impact on your business or your life for years to come!
One more for good measure! 🙂
Scott Zimmerman is the CEO and Co-Founder of ETCHUS. ETCHUS is your #1 Source for Cerakote, Laser Engraving, Branding, Strategy, and Design. Scott is a contributing author to Our Blog called “That’s What’s Up”. The Blog is focused on everything from super cool projects, interesting collaborations, and tips & tricks on all kinds of different topics. Now That’s What’s Up!
About the Author
You can find him quoted in major publications and on television such as CNN, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, NPR, and LA Times. Clients have included Nike, Red Bull, the Golden State Warriors, Ashley Furniture, Quiznos-- down to local service businesses like real estate agents and dentists. He's spoken at over 750 conferences in 20 countries, having flown over 6 million miles in the last 30 years to train up young adults and business owners. He speaks for free as long as the organization believes in the job-creation mission and covers business class travel.
You can find him hiking tall mountains, eating chicken wings, and taking Kaqun oxygen baths-- likely in a city near you.