Lesson of the Jitterbug

The advertising budget for the 2012 International Custom Rod Building Exposition was 30% greater than last year.  With the economy in most areas still dragging, I felt the need to do all I could afford to ensure we’d still have a great turnout. As it turns out, the additional advertising paid off – we set a new record attendance.


Overall sales were up, as you might imagine would be the case with more people attending. But the distribution of those sales was anything but equitable this year. As I talked with the vendors Saturday evening and on through the day Sunday, I found an interesting parallel between sales and product offerings – the ones who reported an increase had brought new and exciting product, while the ones who reported a decrease seemed to have the same stuff they bring year after year.


If you follow sales trends this won’t surprise you. In the general fishing tackle industry most companies feel the need to introduce at least one new, groundbreaking product per year in order to stay even, let alone get ahead. In fact, as I recall, it was this very thing that resulted in the creation of the famed Arbogast Jitterbug once upon a time.


Just prior to attending the 1938 or 1939 main sportsfishing industry show, company founder Fred Arbogast found that he had nothing new on tap. In order to at least have something to create a bit of excitement, he cut the end off a broomstick, rounded it over, and attached a curved, hammered lip cut from a coffee can to one end.  The plug hadn’t even been tested to any real extent prior to the show. But the rest is history.


In the sales business there is no sitting still. You’re either innovating or you’re falling behind. The customers will spend money. The only question is, what are you doing to ensure they’re going to spend it with you?


Tom Kirkman