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Re: Got the product, now how to get sales

Postby yo » January 9th, 2018, 2:27 pm

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Yah, doing it tastefully is the trick.

Re: Got the product, now how to get sales

Postby junglebrodda » January 9th, 2018, 6:24 pm

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iab wrote:
yo wrote:2) The picture of you is also a little intimidating. Knowing you through core77 and instagram I know it suits your personality, but think this is the first time someone is introduced to this concept and to you. You want to imbue them with confidence and trust. I would go with a more conservative picture of yourself.


While I understand your pov, and I don't know the shoe market in any way, shape or form, I think it should be that picture or no picture at all.

This is a new company brought up by the little guy, not some corporate goliath trying to be hip. The picture used is genuine, and that is what I think is important to the success of any startup. Phony can sustain a brand for only so long. That picture can be a great representation of the brand, and while I agree there can be risk with it, there also can be reward.

I would make sure everything aligns to the "mad scientist" value proposition. I personally think you have a good start, but it is something that should always be in the design process and go through a lot of change in the early years.



yo wrote:
iab wrote:
I would make sure everything aligns to the "mad scientist" value proposition. I personally think you have a good start, but it is something that should always be in the design process and go through a lot of change in the early years.


I think the "Mad Scientist" positioning is another great way to go. I love that idea actually. I'm not getting that though in anything other than that one pic. You could carry that through everything, the branding, proposal put your photoshoots with beakers filled with plastic 3d printer material, calipers. Giffs of the 3d printer in action. Play it up. Make it a story. Make it so people share the website.

holtag wrote:And I'd actually prefer going the bespoke craftsman route. I guess the website doesn't convey that huh? Hmmm, that is definite food for thought. Thanks again for chiming in, I need all the help I can get!


Another good way to go. Again, play this up though. Show images of yourself measuring peoples feet with a denim apron on. Get the branding to align with that.

What I get from the current branding and website with lots of 3d renders is clean and designerly. Even the name, Fused, is very trendy designer sounding. Just make sure all of the elements align, from the design of the product itself to the brand mark in the upper right corner of the site. Tell one story.

It will never be perfect, nor should it be, but I think the presentation can be more aligned to your vision. Look for ways to minimize cognitive dissonance.


it is interesting to see the different perspectives/takes, didn’t really consider the branding angle...mad scientist, bespoke craftsman either could definitely give a little more flavor to the site, does it really need to be consistent? both would add/convey something interesting but not necessarily at odds with the other...though assuming a good/thorough representation of either, how much would it change the perception of what is actually on the site? would either make people more likely to go in on a kinda expensive proposition? should what is being sold, customizing a product, be tied to a “personal brand” at all? why not create multiple personas to showcase what is possible?
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Re: Got the product, now how to get sales

Postby rkuchinsky » January 10th, 2018, 11:51 am

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A few thoughts.

First off, cool, concept and congrats for getting out there and actually making something!

1. ...That being said, it seems to me, it's obviously more an experiment or personal project since you seemed to launch something without the foundation of business case/plan, marketing plan, etc. Which kind of confuses me the now questioning for sales. Is this a business or something for fun or exploration?

2. Product wise, I think you have something interesting, but visually I'm not sure if feels as contemporary or "designed" as it could be. Look at the Adidas Futrecraft stuff or any of the recent sport lifestyle trends and compare level of detail, shape, materials, colors ,etc.

3. Branding wise, as mentioned I don't think there is good alignment between what you are offering (product/service/experience), your personal brand and the story. The name and logo is very tech/big brand, but the product is mid level refinement and reads more like a student project, and your story and craft are more experimental and if anything art-based.

If you are more interested in the bespoke hipster look, this is an all together different direction.

Checkout for example the Shoe Surgeon- https://www.theshoesurgeon.com

4. To also consider in all this if you are looking for a better business opportunity and brand position, is the target market. WHO is buying it? WHY are they buying it? This will affect everything from price point to design style, to brand, colors, look and feel etc. Right now I would wonder who would want this? It doesn't look premium or aspirational, it's not really on trend fashion hype beast/lifestyle, it's maybe art or something in the hackerspace?


Hope this all helps. I've been working in footwear for 18 years and have been working on creating a modular footwear brand for the last 3 years so know the space very well. It's a difficult thing to balance something new for the sake of something new with fashion/lifestyle and also technology. Mostly I believe the tech needs to be a means to an end (a way to get the look/fit/uniqueness you want ie. NikeID), or something so different it's aspirational in and of itself (ie. Adidas Futurecraft). Anything in between is kinda a deadzone or a gimmick.

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Re: Got the product, now how to get sales

Postby holtag » January 12th, 2018, 6:40 am

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Yay for more insightful responses. This conversation is making me explore different directions, and unfortunately I'm the kind of guy who needs to feel out what works best for me. Great!

Pity we're not focusing on sales hacks for the up and coming though. Who thinks I should try a kickstarter campaign? :wink:

And just a heads-up, I think I might have gone a bit rambly further along. Sorry!

With regards to what has been discussed so far, the common ground seems to be my struggle to decide on making FUSED either a 'company' or a personal 'brand'. For example, up til now, when the company speaks on the website or instagram, I use the 'we' form and tone down the language used. I feel all this might make it easier for potential customer to trust that they will get a good product. But I'm also someone who hates faking anything. Thus I try to be upfront on the website about FUSED being a one man business. Mixed messages much?!

The faking also ties into the personas mentioned (mad scientist, artisan), I don't think I'm comfortable with theatrics. The current website design and language tone is a good representation of who I am, and I am up for fleshing that out more with quirky and eclectic styling of future lifestyle photos.

Put in other words, on the one hand:
It will never be perfect, nor should it be, but I think the presentation can be more aligned to your vision. Look for ways to minimize cognitive dissonance.


On the other:
mad scientist, bespoke craftsman either could definitely give a little more flavor to the site, does it really need to be consistent?


I'm leaning towards the latter but it is all a balancing act. Then again, as designers we like everything polished, but that shouldn't stop us from working with unfinished prototypes to get things going.

-

And Richard, you are another designer whom I have great respect for. I love the designs you've done for Skora. And as can be expected, you are asking great questions!

1. You are right, this all started as quest. I needed to find out if I could print shoes, and in the process, if a product designer with a 3d printer can attain financial independence. Feetz is doing it in silicon valley start-up style, but I felt their shoes were not really attractive (I still don't). I found a brand called Prevolve, with my same development approach and a two year head start, but they hadn't made much headway yet. So I saw an opportunity, to develop a product and a production technique on a modest sum, and possibly be just ahead of the curve and in a position to surf it. Something that I'm sure many a product designer has wanted to do at some point.

It really is that simple. Business cases and marketing plans are great, but if you don't have a working product, what's the point? That probably sounds naive but all I've done is product design, not business development. And I had a healthy dose of confidence that if I could get it to work, the shoes and production method would be intriguing enough to merit further development with outside help. That's where I'm at now. I do think it is a business, but maybe not a BUSINESS. lemme ask you, is it not possible to make a profit while experimenting and having fun?

For example, If I stay a one man brand, I break-even at about 30 pairs/month, which sounds achievable. I'd then like to cap production at 50 pairs/month and keep it there.

Or I might want to grow a bit more, up to 200 pairs/month, with a small office and two employees.

Is there any good reason to grow bigger in the first couple of years? Please do call me out and educate me, a life of contract jobs does not prepare one well for running a business.

On that note, the Shoe Surgeon is a great example of a route that feels more natural to me than a bigger business, and one I hadn't thought of until now. Thanks!

2. As for the product quality, and knowing the materials I'm working with, I'm ok with doing 'low res' designs that clearly show 3D printing artifacts. For now. With my entry-level printer, there is a sort of machine signature, making each shoe slightly different. I also take pleasure in making the shoe as one piece, with minimal post-processing and the ability to easily recycle the shoe after it's worn through. If we are talking future production methods that show promise for a more sustainable model, this is definitely one of them. But currently, it's still a crude tool, which too me has it's own charm. Also, chasing the refinement that a production big brand shoe has, would probably kill my enthusiasm. And regarding the big brands, I'm sure all the best concepts are being kept a secret because doing just a 3D printed midsole seems a bit of a cop out to me, considering the toys they get to play with.

3. That said, you make an excellent point here. I do aspire to give potential customers the same security and service as a big brand. My product is a Model T compared to contemporary shoes (same comfort though, promise). And I would like to keep the experimental nature of the current quest. You're going to tell me I can't have it all and be successful, right?

4. Hah, so true! I originally thought my target market would be sneakerheads. They regularly buy new shoes, seem swayed by innovation and want to stand out. I was wrong though, most of them are incredible brand loyal and don't really want to stand out. I'm now leaning towards techwear personally, but I'm taking January to figure out what FUSED will be, so if you have any target market suggestions, I'm all ears.

Regarding those modular shoes, Miix much? I am looking forward to the launch! :)

Re: Got the product, now how to get sales

Postby Kershaw » January 12th, 2018, 11:28 am

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I'd like to second the photography comments above. Also some good lifestyle shots would go a long way.

To be honest, none of the designs really "inspire" me to pursue a purchase at $170. I would take the opportunity to really design some unique looking shoes that take advantage of 3D printing - Design details that you wouldn't be able to get otherwise. If the shoes were more surface/texture rich and there was a better transition between the "outsole" and upper I would be all in for a pair.

I would love to see designs built for "casual" vs "Outdoor" as well as some unique themed offerings. Why not print a shoe that looks like something completely different?

The customization is the ticket here - Building a nice custom builder is going to bring it home for the user experience.

The shoe is a blank canvas - Play that up!

Re: Got the product, now how to get sales

Postby junglebrodda » January 12th, 2018, 1:56 pm

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rkuchinsky wrote:A few thoughts.

First off, cool, concept and congrats for getting out there and actually making something!

1. ...That being said, it seems to me, it's obviously more an experiment or personal project since you seemed to launch something without the foundation of business case/plan, marketing plan, etc. Which kind of confuses me the now questioning for sales. Is this a business or something for fun or exploration?

2. Product wise, I think you have something interesting, but visually I'm not sure if feels as contemporary or "designed" as it could be. Look at the Adidas Futrecraft stuff or any of the recent sport lifestyle trends and compare level of detail, shape, materials, colors ,etc.

3. Branding wise, as mentioned I don't think there is good alignment between what you are offering (product/service/experience), your personal brand and the story. The name and logo is very tech/big brand, but the product is mid level refinement and reads more like a student project, and your story and craft are more experimental and if anything art-based.

If you are more interested in the bespoke hipster look, this is an all together different direction.

Checkout for example the Shoe Surgeon- https://www.theshoesurgeon.com

4. To also consider in all this if you are looking for a better business opportunity and brand position, is the target market. WHO is buying it? WHY are they buying it? This will affect everything from price point to design style, to brand, colors, look and feel etc. Right now I would wonder who would want this? It doesn't look premium or aspirational, it's not really on trend fashion hype beast/lifestyle, it's maybe art or something in the hackerspace?


Hope this all helps. I've been working in footwear for 18 years and have been working on creating a modular footwear brand for the last 3 years so know the space very well. It's a difficult thing to balance something new for the sake of something new with fashion/lifestyle and also technology. Mostly I believe the tech needs to be a means to an end (a way to get the look/fit/uniqueness you want ie. NikeID), or something so different it's aspirational in and of itself (ie. Adidas Futurecraft). Anything in between is kinda a deadzone or a gimmick.

R


the back & forth in this discussion has been really good, learning a bit more with each response about how folk both analyze & articulate perspectives


holtag wrote:Yay for more insightful responses. This conversation is making me explore different directions, and unfortunately I'm the kind of guy who needs to feel out what works best for me. Great!

Pity we're not focusing on sales hacks for the up and coming though. Who thinks I should try a kickstarter campaign? :wink:

And just a heads-up, I think I might have gone a bit rambly further along. Sorry!

With regards to what has been discussed so far, the common ground seems to be my struggle to decide on making FUSED either a 'company' or a personal 'brand'. For example, up til now, when the company speaks on the website or instagram, I use the 'we' form and tone down the language used. I feel all this might make it easier for potential customer to trust that they will get a good product. But I'm also someone who hates faking anything. Thus I try to be upfront on the website about FUSED being a one man business. Mixed messages much?!

The faking also ties into the personas mentioned (mad scientist, artisan), I don't think I'm comfortable with theatrics. The current website design and language tone is a good representation of who I am, and I am up for fleshing that out more with quirky and eclectic styling of future lifestyle photos.

Put in other words, on the one hand:
It will never be perfect, nor should it be, but I think the presentation can be more aligned to your vision. Look for ways to minimize cognitive dissonance.


On the other:
mad scientist, bespoke craftsman either could definitely give a little more flavor to the site, does it really need to be consistent?


I'm leaning towards the latter but it is all a balancing act. Then again, as designers we like everything polished, but that shouldn't stop us from working with unfinished prototypes to get things going.

-

And Richard, you are another designer whom I have great respect for. I love the designs you've done for Skora. And as can be expected, you are asking great questions!

1. You are right, this all started as quest. I needed to find out if I could print shoes, and in the process, if a product designer with a 3d printer can attain financial independence. Feetz is doing it in silicon valley start-up style, but I felt their shoes were not really attractive (I still don't). I found a brand called Prevolve, with my same development approach and a two year head start, but they hadn't made much headway yet. So I saw an opportunity, to develop a product and a production technique on a modest sum, and possibly be just ahead of the curve and in a position to surf it. Something that I'm sure many a product designer has wanted to do at some point.

It really is that simple. Business cases and marketing plans are great, but if you don't have a working product, what's the point? That probably sounds naive but all I've done is product design, not business development. And I had a healthy dose of confidence that if I could get it to work, the shoes and production method would be intriguing enough to merit further development with outside help. That's where I'm at now. I do think it is a business, but maybe not a BUSINESS. lemme ask you, is it not possible to make a profit while experimenting and having fun?

For example, If I stay a one man brand, I break-even at about 30 pairs/month, which sounds achievable. I'd then like to cap production at 50 pairs/month and keep it there.

Or I might want to grow a bit more, up to 200 pairs/month, with a small office and two employees.

Is there any good reason to grow bigger in the first couple of years? Please do call me out and educate me, a life of contract jobs does not prepare one well for running a business.

On that note, the Shoe Surgeon is a great example of a route that feels more natural to me than a bigger business, and one I hadn't thought of until now. Thanks!

2. As for the product quality, and knowing the materials I'm working with, I'm ok with doing 'low res' designs that clearly show 3D printing artifacts. For now. With my entry-level printer, there is a sort of machine signature, making each shoe slightly different. I also take pleasure in making the shoe as one piece, with minimal post-processing and the ability to easily recycle the shoe after it's worn through. If we are talking future production methods that show promise for a more sustainable model, this is definitely one of them. But currently, it's still a crude tool, which too me has it's own charm. Also, chasing the refinement that a production big brand shoe has, would probably kill my enthusiasm. And regarding the big brands, I'm sure all the best concepts are being kept a secret because doing just a 3D printed midsole seems a bit of a cop out to me, considering the toys they get to play with.

3. That said, you make an excellent point here. I do aspire to give potential customers the same security and service as a big brand. My product is a Model T compared to contemporary shoes (same comfort though, promise). And I would like to keep the experimental nature of the current quest. You're going to tell me I can't have it all and be successful, right?

4. Hah, so true! I originally thought my target market would be sneakerheads. They regularly buy new shoes, seem swayed by innovation and want to stand out. I was wrong though, most of them are incredible brand loyal and don't really want to stand out. I'm now leaning towards techwear personally, but I'm taking January to figure out what FUSED will be, so if you have any target market suggestions, I'm all ears.

Regarding those modular shoes, Miix much? I am looking forward to the launch! :)


i know a few people that were able to get their kickstarter projects fully funded, a couple were even able to form brands by way of it...i can't say if any really turned it into a business, though that may eventually be their plan, most had/have full-time day jobs & were creating/hustling on the side and then decided to give it a go. one thing that i can remember from one of their experiences was that under (or over) estimating demand can be really costly, so being up front about what & when you can deliver is super important...and ultimately you could still be in the same place, even if the kickstarter is successful...there a quote i read recently:

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

i think it is a kind of generally applicable axiom, there are usually a few ways that all kind of "successful" things have parallels and conversely an almost infinite bunch of ways that things can fall apart...i think what has been pointed out, in order to limit that variance, is that you kind of have to decide what you want this to be, for whom it should be, and maybe that helps you define how it should be?

Kershaw wrote:...To be honest, none of the designs really "inspire" me to pursue a purchase at $170. I would take the opportunity to really design some unique looking shoes that take advantage of 3D printing - Design details that you wouldn't be able to get otherwise. If the shoes were more surface/texture rich and there was a better transition between the "outsole" and upper I would be all in for a pair....

Why not print a shoe that looks like something completely different?

The customization is the ticket here - Building a nice custom builder is going to bring it home for the user experience.

The shoe is a blank canvas - Play that up!


looking at the other mentioned 3d printed shoes companies, what stands out is they all seem somewhat experimental but surprisingly don't really offer all that much customization or difference to current shoes, at least in terms of using the process to make what wouldn't be possible otherwise (besides ease of manufacturing i guess)...it would probably be a huge effort, but creating a deep(er) shoe customization experience would definitely be a key point of differentiation, but then it probably makes the product even more niche but possibly more valuable...i think even for those that are really into shoes/sneakers, it is still kinda rare to use things like nikeid or miaddidas to "design" their shoes
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Re: Got the product, now how to get sales

Postby holtag » January 16th, 2018, 5:50 am

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Thanks Kershaw and junglebrodda for the replies! Yeah, when you're stuck, putting up a thread in core77 is definitely a good option. The conversation will help you explore lots of different approaches and hopefully help some others wit the same struggles too.

I've built out the product customizer further, there are now way more textures to choose from, as well as 4 different outsole. I've still got a few small things to improve (like the thumbnails), but I can focus on some other stuff too. I hope the options allow for different enough shoes, and I would like some feedback if anyone is willing to try: https://fusedfootwear.com/collections/custom-sparks.

Regarding shoes that look like something completely different, they have their value and I hope to get to more extravagant designs at some point. Truth be told, I already have some ideas in the pipeline. But with limited time and money, one has to make choices. It seemed more reasonable to me to first focus on a wearable mainstream shoe before loosing myself in experimentation.

And from a technical point of view, there are quite a few limitations when 3d printing with a single nozzle fdm machine. Overhangs are a big no-no for example. You wouldn't have those limits with an SLS or DLP machine, but they are out of my league. And as mentioned, I kinda prefer the KISS principle. I do hope to stretch the limits of my fdm machine in the future, by combining filaments in the same print and speeding up the process.

To take all those possibilities and pour them in an understandable software platform that anyone can use to design a shoe, well that is WAAAAAAAY beyond what I can currently do. Nor what I'd be interested in to do myself, it would need peeps way more skilled at coding. But let's focus on the coming months first.

Which really means business development, and the reason I started the thread. It's been slowly helping me to crystallize my preferences. But for what it's worth, it hasn't provided any direct answers, nor was I expecting them (sure would have been nice though). I'm leaning towards making FUSED more synonymous with my personality, meaning I would be more outspoken about being a one-man show, a single product designer with a 3d printer trying to create something new. Hopefully that will serve as an aspirational model, though I guess that should depend on FUSED' success. :lol:

As for the design direction, I think techwear is a very interesting niche, and the most likely direction for me to take. It's is slowly going mainstream in brands like Y-3 and Nike ACG, and the innovation and waterproofing fits well with 3D printing. And having made the modular shoe that I'm offering now, I do think that concept is hard to present and a more outspoken design will be better for brand recognition.

I'm curious where you all see opportunity for 3d printed footwear. Extravagant as in Haute Couture, or maybe more like a promotional product?

That still leaves me with surviving the next few months, either through sales, finding a business partner, getting accepted into an incubator or doing a kickstarter. I have noticed that my being aware of dwindling funds is negatively affecting my decisions. As in, I'm hesitating to spend on growing sales and the brand. Like doing a good photoshoot to get some lifestyle pics for example. Knowing it is half the battle though!

Re: Got the product, now how to get sales

Postby yo » January 17th, 2018, 6:22 pm

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Did you see this on the c77 front page? http://www.core77.com/posts/71778/Maker ... nning-Shoe

Re: Got the product, now how to get sales

Postby holtag » January 17th, 2018, 11:33 pm

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I just did Yo, thank you for sharing! And the author did some amazing work, really impressive! Hope to teach myself Grasshopper at some point :roll: :lol:

Re: Got the product, now how to get sales

Postby louis leblanc » January 20th, 2018, 12:34 pm

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I don't think my opinion is very different from the consensus of this thread. I think you need to find the customer and brand in a way to appeal to that crowd. It seems like you have a proof of concept, you have the manufacturing part, you may not actually have the product. You may need to change a lot of things to bring this to a marketable product.

What you're offering currently feels more like a tech demo/science fair project than a consumer product. I don't think the product has a lot of appeal past 3D printing nerds. And I doubt 3D printing nerds would be likely to buy shoes or represent a large sustainable market.

For one, the shoe doesn't really take advantage of 3D printing in a meaningful way. The product was designed around the limitations of 3D printing but don't really offer anything a regular shoe doesn't. I think the current customization options aren't great either. It's kind of a hard UX problem to give customers the possibility of doing meaningful customization vs giving options that will actually be used and not creating yourself a bunch of work to test out the combinations.

I would personally suggest looking into a very niche market rather than the broad pitch you're currently doing. While marketing to the general footwearing population, it's very difficult to justify a high price. So profit will come from volume and from what I can see scaling up will be extremely difficult with the setup you currently have. IE if your product somehow ends up on Hypebeast, I don't see how you'll be able to fulfill orders in a reasonable time span. I'm sure there are specific needs that could greatly benefit from your experience in manufacturing 3D printed shoes.

Maybe look into orthopedics and helping people with disabilities. In those market the customization would make you shine and you might be able to have a higher charge due to the specific nature, the fact there is little competition and there might be some subsidies/insurance money in there.

Maybe water sports could benefit from your capabilities as I'm guessing your shoes don't have an issue with water (though some plastics don't deal that well with water...). Maybe high performance rowing shoes. Or kayaking shoes that are also ok for hiking and don't look silly when you're just chilling around with them. Maybe you could come up with really comfy swimming fins.

Anyhow marketing wise, TOMS and Crocs come to mind as being in a similar space as you are. General everyday shoes that don't fit existing categories.

I would agree on learning Grasshopper/parametric. I think it's about the only way you'll be able to get meaningful customization on the shoe and truly harness the possibilities that are opened to you by 3D printing. Also have a look at https://shapediver.com/ for your customization. It's able to take your Grasshopper definition and turn it into a web customization app.

Image

Here's a mid sole I made fairly easily with Grasshopper. Hit me up if you want to talk shop.

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