How 3D printing is shaping the future of marketing
When 3D printing first appeared on the market almost 40 years ago, the equipment was clunky, costly and out of reach for the average business owner. Although it has come a long way since then, 3D printing may still be years away from complete commercialisation. Nonetheless, many different industries are already making good use of the ground-breaking technology marketing being one of them. Here's how 3D printing has changed the future of marketing.
Why 3D print?
Although 3D printing hasn't taken the world by storm as quickly as many people expected, its impacts are still underway. Over the past 10 years, the technology that makes 3D printing possible has advanced significantly, offering better quality, improved speed and a wider breadth of materials. Today, you can 3D-print anything from tools, to clothing and even food items.
At the same time, printing equipment and production costs have become more affordable. So much so that 3D printing now has the potential to outbid mainstream manufacturing, especially when it comes to the production of intricate and highly customised pieces. Wohlers Associates predict that the 3D printing will soon make up 5% of the global manufacturing industry, which equates to a $640 billion market share.
3D print marketing
3D printing opens up a whole new range of possibilities to distinguish yourself from your competitors by building a more memorable brand experience and stronger customer relationships. Here are some ways to include 3D print in your next marketing campaign.
1. Testing new products
Thanks to 3D printing, brands can easily create prototypes for a fraction of the cost of having it done by a commercial manufacturer. It's faster, too, making it suitable for projects with short lead times, and allows for multiple iterations should you want to create multiple versions or start over.
This means that brands can directly involve their audience in early product development. For example, you could promote a new product prototype on social media, ask your audience for active feedback and optimise your product according to the results.
2. Printing props
3D printing your marketing props for exhibitions, trade shows or even commercials can give you a lot more creative freedom, cut pre-production time and even some of the overall production cost. One great example is UK online property platform Zoopla's 2017 ad campaign. In just one week, their creative agency 3D-printed 20 tiny shells with houses attached to them that were realistic enough for real hermit crabs like those featured in the ad to feel comfortable in them.
3. Running competitions
3D printing can also be used to increase audience engagement through marketing initiatives like competitions. The German car manufacturer Volkswagen, for example, invited people to design their own miniature Polo online. The 40 best designs were printed and exhibited in Copenhagen and one was even turned into a real-life Polo. In the end, the winners were able to take their 3D-printed designs home.
4. Out-of-the-box promotions
In some instances, 3D printing may even allow you to skip the production process entirely. Warner Bros Studios did this when promoting the movie, The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. They shared a 3D blueprint for the Key of Erebor, an item featured in the movie, online so fans could download it and have it printed at a location convenient to them.
5. Adding customer value
Belgian insurance service DDV used 3D printing to address a common issue: lost keys. DDV customers could download and use an application to scan a copy of their house key and save it to a secure server. If needed, they could take the file to a local 3D printer and have their house key reprinted, saving them the money and headache of replacing the locks.
3D printing allows marketers to dream up productions and campaigns that once seemed impossible to realise. So, it may be time to rethink your strategy and see how 3D printing can take your marketing campaigns to the next level now and in the future.