Can I Tour Your Shop on Google Maps? (And Other Things You Could Be Doing Online)

Posted by: 5. May 2016

Emily Probst of Modern Machine Shop recently covered an unusual new form of online marketing with Gilman Precision’s virtual shop tour using Google Maps’ Street View function. In her blog, Probst shares the path Gilman took to move away from showing off its shop floor with YouTube videos (which didn’t allow virtual visitors to explore on their own) and instead partner with a Google-certified photographer to put together the composite images necessary for a high-quality Street View tour, as seen below. 

According to Probst, it’s already paying off: “The company promoted the virtual tour through an email blast, which saw significant growth in its open rate for that particular mailing,” she writes. “Moreover, the shop is already getting feedback from customers that didn’t realize it had certain capabilities. Business opportunities are already in the works.”

Read the full blog here for more tips toward creating a Google Maps tour of your own facility.

The story is a good reminder that when it comes to the big wide world of the World Wide Web, machine shops have plenty of options for getting their names out there and successfully marketing as well as building up credibility and community engagement. Let’s look at a few ideas.

  • Update your website. If your shop has a website (which it should!), it’s never a bad idea to perform an audit to appraise its effectiveness. Visitors to your site form an impression about it (and your shop) in something like 0.05 seconds. It’s worth it to partner with a professional web designer or firm to make sure your site doesn’t come across as dated or confusing.

  • Start a company blog. While you’re looking over your website, consider starting a blog that can chronicle company news as well as provide a source for smart technical articles that can distinguish your shop as not only effective at making parts, but also as a credible source of knowledge. A good example of a small-time blog with regularly posted and interesting content is the one run by Digital Machining Systems.

  • Increase your social media presence. The idea of social media’s efficacy for business is met with skepticism all too often. If you’re not convinced that social media could be valuable to your shop, check out this column from MoldMaking Technology or some of the books making their case to the skeptical business owner. A couple of paths that go beyond the usual suggestions of starting Twitter, Facebook or YouTube accounts might include:

    • Getting involved on Reddit. Reddit, a sort of message board that uses a voting system to determine which posts are most visible, includes several subreddits devoted to practical discussion of machining by machinists: /r/machining, /r/metalworking, /r/CNC, /r/Machinists and /r/LeanManufacturing.

    • Posting shop photos to Instagram. Instagram is a good platform for posting photos around the shop of employee antics, events, action shots and videos of machines, as well as examples of finished parts. A great example is Saunders Machine Works, a Zanesville, Ohio, job shop whose Instagram gallery hints at the personality and zest of the company.

What is your shop doing online at the moment? Any plans for the future? Share them in the comments or on Twitter @Techspex.  

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