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I run an ornamental iron shop, or rather I did. Some years back I had several homebuilders who would regularly send work my way. One is nearly out of business and at least two others are completely gone( I have been out of the business for a few years) I had developed a customer base before by doing some work for a home show, and generaly bugging the hell out of everyone on the homebuilders assoc list. I have tried direct mail flyers before, with very limited response. I have done some cold calling in the past , also with limited success. I found things a lot easier when there were people who knew me and my work! I have missed the big home show for this year and dont think I want to go through that again. I have been astounded by how completely the reputation i had built has evaporated! I don't want to go through cold calling again and dont like printing and mailing flyers to people who just toss them. I put a pair of nice printed catalogs together but the cost of distributing them is astronomical! Is there a particular aproach to builders that would be least rude, and most effective?

- Jason
 

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Are you looking to market only locally? Since many of your products could probably be shipped easily enough, and skilled blacksmiths are not real plentiful, you could be very successful marketing on the Internet and have a vitually unlimited potential. It's not the fast track (no instant success like some may try to tell you), but it will work very well if done correctly.
 

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How about doing a smaller community-based show in an area where you would like to work. Maybe a craft fair or community carnival. Market to the end user (the homeowners). They can then request your products from builders. I don't know about your area but in ours there are not many homebuilders actually building. You may need to look for a different market altogether.

To be honest, though, I really think you will need to work hard (as you did before) to build up your company's name and reputation in the building community again. Unfortunately, we all forget very quickly. You could network with the remaining builders through association or chamber of commerce groups. I think a flyer would be a great idea to re-introduce yourself.

You could also do a "re-lauch" of your business. Something to the effect that you are back in business in the area. Showcase some of your prior work and the builders who requested it (assuming they were highly respected in the area). Contact some of the homeowners who own homes with your product. Take photos and get quotes from them about how the pieces have held up and how lovely they are. Get that info out into the community through press releases. Maybe even a blog about how to use ornamental ironwork in the home. With lots of pictures, of course.

I'm not sure what type of ornamental ironwork you do but if you do things like railings, consider approaching some concerete contractors or brick masons that you could partner with. When they build porches, stairs, etc., they will need some railings. How about high-end deckbuilders, too?

Good luck and I would love to hear how you are doing.
Regards,
Annette
 

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In my opinion New homes is not always the best market to throw all your eggs into. Just like you there are a ton of subs that went under when the housing market crashed. It is always hard to start over, but evaluate different places that could use your expertize then diversify.

If you are determined and willing to get out there and talk to people you will succeed. Face to face networking has keep me going.

Good luck

Mark
 
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