Working with two very different mediums within the same craft gives me somewhat of a unique perspective on rod building demographics. One thing I remain sure of is this – the mainstream rod building craft is not centered around the internet. At least not yet and from my perspective, it wonâ€™t be for a long time to come.
Occasionally Iâ€™ll do a cross reference between the forum database (www.rodbuilding.org) and the magazine mailing list (RodMaker).Â I’ve never found more than a 10% cross over. The folks who use the forum and the folks who take the magazine are not even remotely the same folks!
The actual numbers are interesting too.Â In 9 years the forum has gathered just over 7,000 registered users. In 14 years, the magazine has gathered just over 85,000 subscribers. A staggering difference even when you factor in the slightly longer period in which the magazine has been around. In fact, if you were to take every active user on every internet rod building forum and chat room combined, you wouldnâ€™t likely come up with more than a few hundred rod builders at best. Toss in all the registered lurkers who view but never post and you might stretch that figure out to a couple thousand. Maybe. Conversely, RodMaker holds a constant readership of over 15,000 rod builders. Again, a staggering difference.
Most component supply dealers stopped printing catalogs a decade ago – choosing to focus solely on internet based businesses.Â But the largest and most successful component supply companies continue to publish print catalogs. Why do they continue to spend so much money printing and mailing all those catalogs in this, the internet age? Simple – theyâ€™re smart enough to know that the bulk of the mainstream rod building craft isnâ€™t centered around the internet. Most builders canâ€™t be reached via the internet – theyâ€™re simply not there. To reach them you have to go the direct mail route. I find this to be true where the International Custom Rod Building Exposition is concerned as well. Less than 10% of the roughly 2300 who attended last year listed the internet as their source for information on the Expo.
Sure, most rod building folks are aware of and certainly use the internet, but they donâ€™t spend a great deal of time there. Not the vast majority at least. The rod building craft is far larger than many imagine – but youâ€™ll only find a tiny slice of it on the internet. Companies and individuals who are seeking to market to, or participate with the mainstream craft should keep the big picture in mind.Â When you focus all your resources on the internet, youâ€™re missing 90% of your potential market.
Tomorrow – where the rod builders live…