Direct Mail is King!

What if you gave a party and nobody came? Well, it would obviously be a huge disappointment after going to a lot of work and trouble. And yet, this happens more often than not where rod building events and gatherings are concerned.

The #1 problem in getting rod builders out to an event or gathering lies in marketing. How can you reach a truly large number of rod builders?  None of us likes to spend money that need not be spent, and yet, the reliance of free advertising blurbs on internet forums just doesn’t get this job done. Not even remotely.

I remember when I was gearing up for the first International Custom Rod Building Exposition in High Point – the first one where we were totally on our own. I’d watched other event organizers rely almost totally upon internet advertising to promote their own events. And I’d seen the low turnouts at each and every one of them. I failed to believe that the events themselves were necessarily at fault, and decided instead that the means of advertising and marketing was flawed. “How do you reach the most rod builders? remained the question.

Being involved in publishing, I was well aware that the very best response you generally expect is about 2% of those your advertising campaign reaches. So if I wanted a thousand rod builders at the Expo I’d have to reach at least 50,000 of them.  I knew the internet would never account for more than a few hundred builders, and even that was a stretch. Just 2% of that amount would only net us a few dozen builders (which is what most events marketed on the internet were getting).

I began courting Cabelas for their TackleCraft mailing list. It took some doing, but I got it! Just their previous 6-months worth of rod building component buyers netted me over 30,000 names and addresses. The RodMaker Magazine subscriber list had over 35,000 all total. Eliminating as much crossover as possible, we mailed large format postcards extolling the Expo, to just over 45,000 rod builders. And we got our 2% and more – over 1500 custom rod builders attended that first stand-alone Expo.

Direct mail is still king. This has been proven so many times in the rod building industry in this past decade alone that I’m amused that so many continue to overlook it.

Tom Kirkman



  1. Joe Spencer on September 14, 2010 at 1:51 am

    Thanks for another great post on the oft-neglected business side of rod building. It’s nice to see bits of wisdom from your success story.

  2. Ruben Morra on October 5, 2010 at 6:47 pm

    You have done a well job on this topic! Direct mail is the big secret of all successful mail or online order companies. Postal mail is still the best way to reach the most people the most effectively.