Where is the average custom rod builder? Iâ€™m talking less about geography and more along the lines of where youâ€™d be most likely to run into the bulk of those who practice this craft.Â Where does the mainstream craft reside? Because I deal with two vastly different mediums, the internet (www.rodbuilding.org) and the print industry (RodMaker Magazine), I have a good idea where the mainstream craft actually resides.
Many folks these days think the mainstream custom rod building craft, and those who participate in it, are centered around the internet. But thatâ€™s a very inaccurate assessment when you take a hard look at the number of builders active on the various rod building forums combined, versus the total number of builders known to practice the craft.
If you take every rod builder whoâ€™s actively participated on an internet forum by making a post of some sort in the past year, youâ€™re only talking a few hundred. Of course, there are more lurkers than posters, but even still, add up every single registered user on every single rod building website and youâ€™re still only talking about a few hundred people.
RodMaker Magazine has over 15,000 rod builders on its current mailing list – that’s several times over the total number of builders active on all the internet forums and chat rooms combined. And yet, even those 15,000 represent but a single digit percentage of all the custom rod builders out there.
Per the registration cards from the International Custom Rod Building Exposition, less than 1 in 10 of the roughly 2000 builders who attend each year learned about the Expo from the internet. The overwhelming number report that they heard about the Expo from the direct mail postcards sent out prior to each yearâ€™s event. Most say theyâ€™ve never visited any internet rod building website.
According to a study performed by the ASA about a decade ago, there are somewhere in the neighborhood of 300,000 people who will build their own fishing rod in any given year. Granted, not all continue in the craft for very long but as some fall away others take their place. That number would seem to remain fairly constant. So where are they?
Big, successful companies donâ€™t get that way by doing stupid things. Cabelas continues to print and mail hundreds of thousands of their specialty TackleCraft catalogs each year (and millions of their general product catalogs). Mud Hole Custom Tackle and Jannâ€™s Netcraft are two of the few that continue to print and mail thousands upon thousands of component supply catalogs each year. They certainly wouldnâ€™t take such a huge expense if they could simply reach the majority of the craft via the internet. But they canâ€™t and theyâ€™re smart enough to realize it. In fact, the most successful rod building component supply houses are the ones that continue to publish and mail print catalogs.
The fact is, the smart money knows that what you see and read on the various rod building websites, forums and chat rooms compromises but a tiny segment of the overall, far larger, mainstream custom rod building craft. If youâ€™re involved in the rod building industry and have lately focused most of your marketing resources on the internet, youâ€™re missing at least 90% of the business. For now, the bulk of the mainstream rod building craft isnâ€™t to be found on the internet. In fact, 90% of the craft, or better, will never read this precisely because it’s appearing on the internet. Ironic, huh?