PROTOTEC GmbH & Co. KG supports its customers in the development, design, and additive manufacturing of custom products – from prototypes through single and serial parts. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the established marketing channels and distribution were particularly undermined. To acquire new customers today, 3D printing experts rely increasingly on online marketing. Torsten Wolschendorf, Managing Director of PROTOTEC, explains in this interview how the company was able to extend its reach thanks to wlw and why the Internet remains the main instrument for him in new customer acquisition.
Torsten Wolschendorf, Managing Director of PROTOTEC
Mr. Wolschendorf, what does your company specialise in?
At PROTOTEC, we are experts in 3D printing. Our know-how ranges from the production of prototypes to the design and development of components through the manufacturing of serial parts. We support our customers throughout the entire process – from the initial consultation right to the finished product. With various 3D printing processes, precision casting, metal casting, and vacuum casting, we offer a wide range of production processes and materials, from which we can offer our customers highly customised solutions, depending on the product and requirements.
Which challenges do you think you'll be faced with in the future? Or: Which developments do you expect to see in your sector?
We strongly expect to see an increase in series applications. We're also very interested to see which developments there are going to be in terms of new and existing materials. And in terms of new 3D printing and system technologies which will enable us to offer our customers higher quality and more efficient products in the future.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are you investing more in online marketing, and therefore in Visable too? For example, are you shifting your trade fair budget to your marketing budget?
Yes, in this respect, the pandemic has changed things a bit. When trade fairs were cancelled, we began focusing more on digital channels for sales and marketing. Since far more of our work is also done online due to remote working, etc., this development is going to continue.
What role does the Internet play in the sale of your products?
A very big role – for us, the Internet is actually the main instrument in new customer acquisition. In particular, our presence on wlw and other online search engines (Google, etc.) plays a major role here.
Has the number of inquiries noticeably increased?
Our profile on wlw gives us a high level of visibility among relevant buyers. The posted top rankings are very helpful for brand building and we consistently appear at the top of the search results. Accordingly, many customers tell us that they found us via wlw.de, including startups, who need someone to help them implement their product ideas for example. This proves wlw is really a good point of contact for research – regardless if the searched company is already established or at the very beginning.
Do you have any suggestions for improvement, e.g. special features, that you think would make wlw even better in the future?
I'd like to see more transparent ratings, such as the number of searches in the different categories. Or additional options for analysis by the business intelligence department.
Which marketing activities are you working on right now? Or: Which marketing activities have you stopped doing in the last few months?
Social marketing is becoming increasingly important for us. We haven't really used channels like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, etc. very much up to now and accordingly posted little content. But we've started to exploit and develop these channels to boost awareness and visibility of our company. On the other hand, we've started publishing less content and placing less ads in trade journals.
Additionally, which topics are you working on right now?
Like many companies, we are increasingly boasting the value of sustainability. Both we and our customers are becoming more sensitive on the topic, naturally reflecting the need for environmentally friendly products. For example, with 3D printing, we are capable of generating building materials through lattice structures and design optimisation, ensuring a minimal use of materials. That saves weight and resources, without compromising functionality. Moreover, in most cases, optimising weight and resources also leads to CO2 reduction in the production process or subsequent application.
Mr. Wolschendorf, thank you so much for talking to us.