When the novel coronavirus was declared a pandemic, 3D-printer solution provider Markforged took action: Company leaders asked customers and partners in its digital community to help its team make reusable face shields for medical professionals.
Engineers at the company first designed a shield, then open-sourced the blueprints so anyone with a Markforged printer could make masks themselves. The company provided free spools of material to those who pledged their assistance.
Three months later, over 6,000 masks were made across the brand’s community. Ultimately, the company strives to have 20,000 printed and donated globally.
This initiative showed how a tech company can leverage and strengthen its digital community in a time of crisis. Markforged gave its community a task to rally around that provided real-world aid while increasing brand awareness and customer touchpoints in the process.
The key to the campaign’s success was remaining “human” throughout it all, VP of Marketing Michael Papish said. Fighting the urge to add to the noise and capitalize upon stress-inducing COVID-19-related content ensured their marketing efforts remained authentic and direct — and were that much more powerful.
What was the most important strategy you used to build a digital community around Markforged?
Follow the users. We are lucky to have customers who are passionate about our product and excited to share learnings with other users. Our strategy is simple: we meet the users where they are and support the community by answering questions, offering suggestions and providing news. Today, this community exists primarily within a Facebook user group, Reddit and several Twitter threads.
We put out a call to action to our digital community to help make face shields.”
How have you recently leveraged that community to connect with customers?
Customers are using our industrial 3D-printing platform to fight COVID-19 by making personal protection equipment, critical medical devices and mitigating supply chain disruptions.
In March, we put out a call to action to our digital community to help make face shields. We designed a reusable face shield in conjunction with Boston medical professionals and used our cloud printing platform to push its digital design files to all of our customers and partners. To date, more than 6,000 shields have been produced and donated by the community.
What are your team’s most important considerations around the current tone and messaging of your content?
Be human. This is a stressful time for all of us. As marketers, we are trained to activate the emotional parts of our audience’s brains. We decided to use this power wisely during the pandemic and only invoke COVID-19 when we have something relevant to say. Otherwise, we try to be direct and authentic and avoid adding to the emotional firehose in our marketing.