I Need To Be More Social

By Lloyd Graff

Noah had a long conversation yesterday with a young fellow machinery dealer who says he is “crushing it” this year. His secret sauce is social media. 

I listened to the conversation for 20 minutes before I wearied, but I have little doubt he is doing well. There is something to be gained for most businesses, including ours, by using social networks to reach the newer players in the machine tool world, from Montana to Morocco.

Believe it or not, I am writing this piece with a drawing pen on an 8×11 sketch pad. It’s the way I connect with the page and hopefully the reader. I send the finished pages, photographed by my iPhone, to Ridgely Dunn, who works for TMW. She types them into a computer and sends the copy back to me for editing. Laborious, very old school, but I can afford it, and it still works for me. We all need to find our own medium.

I do recognize that sending magazines through the mail and relying on flyers and catalogs to advertise used machinery is too sluggish and yesterday if you hope to “crush it,” whether business is jumping like right now, or you’re in survival mode like in 2020. 

In a Google and Amazon World, your customers and potential workers are not going to wait for you and I to wake up.

You have to compete with the shop owners who hire videographers to interview the people bringing their parts to life, and show plant tours to make their businesses unique in the marketplace.

You probably need a few videos on your YouTube channel with several thousand views to make you a credible player against cheap Chinese competition. Your competitors will be doing it soon if they are not doing it now. 

As travel becomes more expensive and laborious while COVID-19 continues to plague the world, we will have to use media and social networking to win the game. 

I am not thrilled to observe this shift from pen and ink to the metaverse. Right now, our businesses are prospering, even as the tide pulls us along. But to succeed in the end, we will have to compete with the people who are willing to focus not just on tooling and coolant, but the social networks and media outlets where younger people spend time, and you can’t just do it from 8 to 5. You have to keep going after the workday is over, while you could be watching Monday Night Football. 

And talking sports, the big money today is in online fantasy football and betting. ESPN is yesterday’s game. 

Machining people run their CNC lathes, lasers, and robots, and manufacture exquisite metal pieces. The problem is that other firms have similar machines and clever people and adequate capital to compete with you every day of the week.

What they lack is your uniqueness, and that is what social media can convey. It can connect you with other unique people who are hoping to reach you.

I am bewildered by all of the computer stuff, but what I do understand is the importance of networking, of reaching those people who need you and who you need. Today you can search and find them all over the world. 

You might not know how to use the maze of electronic highways at your disposal, but there are more people available out there who can navigate this stuff than there are capable machine operators. They work by the hour, and they can do their thing in their homes and when they are out of class. 

If you miss this opportunity, your competitor will connect the dots that you didn’t even know existed.

Question: Have you found customers through Instagram or other social media?

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3 thoughts on “I Need To Be More Social

  1. Normalot

    You are so right Lloyd. You may not be able to do it yourself, but you better be ready to engage the people who can if you want to compete today.

  2. Joseph Pare

    You are describing exactly the nightmare that wakes me up sweating every night.
    For me, I want to hold a magazine in my hands, be able to flip it back and forth. I can make connections between equipment and processes, I don’t get shunted between Linked in, reddit, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, What’s App, the absolutely unfair situation of not having an egalitarian platform like yellow pages, which now is like Google, you really have no idea who/what your options are, current Yellow Pages don’t give you 1/4 of the vendors or potential customers that were always in the yellow book, regardless if they bought a full page ad or not.
    I still have NO idea what all the # hashtags are for or what to do with them below a profile on Linked in.
    I know that we are being funnelled against our will to only see people who will buy “clicks”, which change everyday.
    Xometry, which just bought or was sold to some other aggregator, and if there are purchasing agents who never started with relationships, they pick whoever can deliver 10,000 Stainless Steel Rats by the next day.
    They are hurting their company by not wasting the time to hear experience, which might actually result in being what the buyer getting what he actually wanted versus an agent who told Xometry, who just types it into a first come first served, except that now, these aggregators are teaming up with companies that have three rows of CNC’s two hundred feet long and are cherry picking jobs, getting and eating their cake. That is simply human nature.
    Couldn’t I just have a website, a page where my NAICS codes are listed, and then You Tube to show products. And, yes, a chat function, but one that stays away until I’m ready.
    Maybe even without streaming backgrounds of pine trees and mountain bikes and rugged guys who work hard and play harder with skies on top of the Suzuki mini suv, and if I was a train wheel refurbisher, he could hang one around his neck just as he falls into raging rapids, uploading selfies as he is drowning?
    I’m just sayin…


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