Reaching the Craft

There’s still a lot of work to be done compiling the results of the Rod Builders Survey that mailed in the Volume 14 #3 issue of RodMaker. Just over 4,300 survey forms have been returned, of which about half have now been tallied. From that number, certain facts are already apparent.


I’ve always believed most rod builders don’t frequent the internet rod building websites much, if at all.  My guess was that only about 10% of the active rod builders around the world ever view a rod building forum or chat room. Viewing the survey results thus far it turns out I was wrong – it appears that almost 20% of active rod builders at least occasionally view or participate on rod building websites. Of course, that leaves the other 80%, the vast majority of the craft, that do not. Which is still what I have long suspected.


This explains why rod building dealers, events, etc., that rely solely on the internet for advertising, marketing, product sales, etc., don’t fare anywhere near as well as those dealers, events, etc., that engage in the print and direct mail mediums. For the time being, that’s the only way you’ll ever reach the majority of the custom rod builders. The internet just won’t get the job done. And this is the reason why 90% of the advertising I do for the Expo takes place in print magazines and via direct mail.


It’s fair to wonder why so few rod builders are active on the various internet rod building mediums. Well, at least until you take into consideration one other interesting fact from the survey forms – over 90% of all custom rod builders are over the age of 50. Those generations didn’t grow up with a cell phone in their ear or a computer on their desk. The internet has never, and likely never will be, a large part of their lives. If you want to reach them, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way. Smart dealers, event promoters, marketers, etc., understand age groups and demographics and work accordingly. If you want to catch fish, you need to fish where the fish are. If you want to reach rod builders, you must reach them via the mediums they use.


Tom Kirkman



  1. EdSabatini on September 19, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    It is your close knowledge of rod building data and demographics that allow your event to succeed where others fail. I have watched others make the same mistakes over and over and then wonder why they cannot draw a good crowd or make the builders aware that they are even having a show. Advertising, advertising and advertising are the three most important aspects and you have to spend enough money to get the word out there. Free posts on ‘net forums just ain’t gonna do it.

  2. CarlH on September 20, 2011 at 4:51 pm

    Your right about the age of most rod builders. Walking around the Expo last year I noted that most of the builders were gray headed or bald. Older guys from fifty up. Saw some younger builders but not very many. With that many builders all in one place you can assume it was a good representation of the people building rods and their ages. Not a good sign for the future of this hobby.