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  #1  
Old 11-01-2011, 11:29 AM
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Are knife magazine ads worth the investment any more?

This subject comes up all of the time from our clients. The basic question is, "are knife magazine ads worth the investment these days?" Speaking as someone who currently advertises in most of the mainstream publications, I have current and historical experience with this subject. But I wonder how many of you have examined the return on your investment from a pure analytical standpoint? If you have, what can you relate to our readers?

Consider these questions when replying...

1) How much does a print ad really cost?

2) Is it okay for an ad to simply expose your brand, or should it break even financially (or even make money) to be a worthy business investment?

3) Do you consider the inferred lifetime of a publication, or should the value be calculated on the cycle that you're paying for?

4) How important is the content of an ad, relative to the ROI?

5) If you request that the magazine draft your advertisement copy, should they share the responsibility for it's success/failure? (why or why not?)

6) Am I asking the right questions, or is there something else to consider?

I have some opinions that I've formed over many years of tracking our print ad investments (which I'll give later), but I'm interested in your opinions first?

What do you think?


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Old 11-03-2011, 07:35 AM
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Very pointed and valid questions. Most viewers, I am suspecting, do NOT have this experience to offer direct input.

That said, neither do I. Although my work is related. I often shoot images for maker's/dealer's ads.

Subscribed.

Coop


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Old 11-03-2011, 07:38 AM
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First off, I do not advertise in the rpint magazines. Mostly because I am simply tto small to make it worthwhile. If the ad worked I could not meet the orders. But I do read most of the major knife mags.
Unless your ad is one of those that force the reader to stop and read it, it is mostly a waste of money. I have seen a few ads that make me stop and say " WOW that is an incredible knife, I wonder who made it" but othe than that ads are simply clutter on the page. In the past ads were an available search altermative but that is no longer a use with the advent of Google etc.
Steve


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Old 11-04-2011, 12:42 AM
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Excellent replies, both of you! Although you are both coming at the subject from two different interests, you've each struck a blow to the head of the nail.

Let me say, up front, that I don't presume to be the ultimate print ad guru. In fact, I only have one basic criteria when it comes to defining the success of an ad campaign. My strategy is similar to creating a perpetual motion machine. What I would warn everyone about, when reading this discussion, is to consider everything said here. But make a decision that you feel is right for you, when it comes to creating, testing and perpetuating any marketing campaign.

In this vein, let me also say that I don't believe that the major knife magazines have a guru on their staff, either. Or, at minimum, they're blatantly throttling it back when it comes to the staff chops that they present you with to assist you with creating and producing a successful campaign. You should always spend your own money?never let an ad rep do it for you; unless you want to part with it quickly!

Not only am I of the opinion that they don't have the chops at the ground troops level. My personal feeling is that they have one direct interest in your ad campaign, regardless of the magazine, regardless of the industry. That is, to get the maximum portion of your print ad budget for their publication at all times. I'll bet many advertisers will agree.

Let?s get going?

Jim said,
Quote:
Most viewers, I am suspecting, do NOT have this experience to offer direct input.
- That?s what the magazines are banking on. They realize that most people don?t have a clue about what they?re doing, or what results it produces. A real advertiser won?t pay a nickel over what the ad is truly worth. (We?ll discuss ?worth? later, if anyone is interested.)

Jim also said,
Quote:
Although my work is related. I often shoot images for maker's/dealer's ads.
- In no other place than a commercial ad does a product image have so much worth. If a normal image is worth 1000 words, then an SBC image is surely worth 2000 words by comparison. The magazine will take your money whether you provide a good image or not. The same thing applies to the layout and the content, and we?ll deal with that over the course of the thread.

Steve said?
Quote:
Unless your ad is one of those that force the reader to stop and read it, it is mostly a waste of money.
- You are correct. However, I would add that, ?an unread ad is completely worthless?. And, I would also add, ?that the worst kind of all is an ad that everyone reads, but is detrimental to the business it represents.? I would rather have an ad that goes un-noticed, when it might contain images that make me look bad, or have statements that cause the public to perceive me as a bozo, etc. I call these, ?Killer Ads?. The funny thing is, if you call any of the major knife magazines and ask them to do an ad for you, there is a high probability that this type of ad is what you?re about to invest in. It?s not their fault, it?s yours as the advertiser. (more later)

Steve then said,
Quote:
I have seen a few ads that make me stop and say " WOW that is an incredible knife, I wonder who made it" but other than that ads are simply clutter on the page.
- I call that, ?a good marketing investment.?

He then said,
Quote:
In the past ads were an available search altermative but that is no longer a use with the advent of Google etc.
- A brilliant observation. In fact, I contend that there isn?t a magazine publisher in existence that wouldn?t give you a free ad for you to agree to keep your mouth shut about what you just said. (oh, the roads we will travel in this forum ? for those who are in this to win.)

My goal will always remain to maximize return and minimize risk and loss.

Comments?


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Old 11-04-2011, 01:46 PM
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Alex - This thread immediately caught my attention when you started it. I'm eager to learn whatever I can as the discussion progresses and will share my observations and prejudices while at the same time remaining open to being educated based on facts.

Like Coop, as a knife photographer I think about ads, marketing and images all the time. However, for several reasons I will share as this discussion develops I have to date declined to purchase print advertising for my knife photography business.

Based on maker feedback, the popularity of KNIVES Annual and forum buzz I know that great knife images sell knives. Every knife image we make constitutes an advertisement whether it's published in print or on the web. It is my unproven theory that makers are far better off purchasing professional quality images of their knives than purchasing basic print advertising - especially at current market pricing.

We photographers are, IMHO, virtually giving it away. Makers bear the actual costs and we give the images to the print publications for use at their pleasure. Publications pay nothing for the images we send them and have no interest in cost-sharing. Why should they, since they're getting all the quality images they need for free. Great images sell magazines just as well as knives!

A new paradigm is needed that reflects what professional knife images are really worth to all parties who benefit from them - magazines included - a paradigm that is win-win for all and economically sustainable for all. I hope this discussion will help shed some light.

I'll continue my comments within the structure you provided. Should my responses sound like I'm stating facts, please be aware that they are just my opinions and may therefore be incorrect or off base.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KNAdmin View Post
The basic question is, "are knife magazine ads worth the investment these days?" I seriously doubt it.

1) How much does a print ad really cost? A properly designed print ad probably costs less than nothing because it works. A poor ad has potentially huge hidden costs if the potential customer is put off. A neutral or 'invisible' mediocre ad probably costs what one pays for it.

2) Is it okay for an ad to simply expose your brand, or should it break even financially (or even make money) to be a worthy business investment? It is my understanding that 'image spots' which simply tout a brand are worthless. It's the message conveyed by the ad that's more important.

3) Do you consider the inferred lifetime of a publication, or should the value be calculated on the cycle that you're paying for? The ad cycle matters since ads should evolve over time and not remain static. Periodicals have a 'shelf life' and are basically disposable so the ad cycle is an opportunity to keep an effective ad fresh.

4) How important is the content of an ad, relative to the ROI? See my response to #3 above.

5) If you request that the magazine draft your advertisement copy, should they share the responsibility for it's success/failure? (why or why not?) You began to address this in your post above and I agree. Looking at BLADE magazine layout and design over time reveals that only the cover gets true professional attention. The insides of the magazine, while functional, regularly feature elementary layout and design gaffs consistent with low budget - lack of good color management, incorrect image orientation and overall lack of 'flow' cover to cover.

6) Am I asking the right questions, or is there something else to consider? Something else to consider: What are the actual publication subscription and retail magazine outlet numbers? We can't get this information from the magazines! Thus all our speculations about the worth of an ad are undermined. With this in mind - what are the growth dynamics for the magazines as compared with the web as regards marketing and promotion of goods and services in the knife world, now and in the future?


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Old 11-07-2011, 11:52 PM
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Buddy, I figured that your well-struck points would get some discussion going here. I wanted to give it some time to see where it led, before I stepped on my own thread. However, something occurred, to me after having a related conversation on the phone today with one of our customers.

It may be that those who are reading this, who have skin in the game, are either (1) throwing money at their print advertising and are too embarrassed to admit that they don't really know if it's effective or not, or (2) afraid of being ostracized by the print media for taking a public position in a thread like this. In either case, read on and don't feel pressured to reply.

I totally agree with your points about falling into the trap of continually providing the magazines with an endless supply of free images. Of course, if it's part of your service to your clients, then there is a positive reason for it. Also, if you consider your own career as a photographer, then exposure = credibility, which hopefully gets parlayed into more business for you. However, understand going in that the magazine is the one making money off of the production. I think that we should start a thread later where we explore this in more detail. For now, let's focus in on the subject of print advertising value.

Quote:
The basic question is, "are knife magazine ads worth the investment these days?" I seriously doubt it.
Leaving the issue of creating a detrimental advertisement on the sidelines for now, my position is hardcore when it comes to measuring advertising effectiveness. I work off of the principal that, ?ads should break even or, preferably, make money". I measure this on an ad-by-ad basis. If I pay $100 dollars for an ad, then I expect it to make $100+ back, period! If it doesn't, then I first examine the copy (more later), then the publication. The next step that I make is to change the copy, as well as downsizing the ad to fit within the revenue that it created. This is over-simplified, but it creates a framework that can be mathematically addressed, grown and expanded. In my opinion, this is the key to success in all advertising. There's a lot more to this that we can deal with later, but to add to your answer...

Quote:
2) Is it okay for an ad to simply expose your brand, or should it break even financially (or even make money) to be a worthy business investment? It is my understanding that 'image spots' which simply tout a brand are worthless. It's the message conveyed by the ad that's more important.
You are correct. "Brand recognition advertising is for those who want to be a the laughing stock of my boardroom." If you're working in my advertising department, you have one task that you're job is measured by...?are you building new market?"

Quote:
3) Do you consider the inferred lifetime of a publication, or should the value be calculated on the cycle that you're paying for? The ad cycle matters since ads should evolve over time and not remain static. Periodicals have a 'shelf life' and are basically disposable so the ad cycle is an opportunity to keep an effective ad fresh.
I disagree. If an ad continues to bring in responses after the publication cycle, that's unexpected interest on the investment. In my approach, I expect the value window to equal the payment cycle. It's the great myth of the publishers that a magazine has value beyond the issue date. I don't disagree with them, but I'm not willing to use that in an ROI calculation.

Quote:
4) How important is the content of an ad, relative to the ROI? See my response to #3 above.
What I wanted to relate here was that any ad that isn't designed to illicit a response is useless. (There is much more that we can discuss on this point...)

Quote:
5) If you request that the magazine draft your advertisement copy, should they share the responsibility for it's success/failure? (why or why not?) You began to address this in your post above and I agree. Looking at BLADE magazine layout and design over time reveals that only the cover gets true professional attention. The insides of the magazine, while functional, regularly feature elementary layout and design gaffs consistent with low budget - lack of good color management, incorrect image orientation and overall lack of 'flow' cover to cover.
Think of the ad reps that you know in this business. Can you name one that could sell you a knife?

What are they going to do, ask one of their graphic artists (ex printing company employee) to draft your campaign? (you're better off asking for business card or flier design).

Once you start thinking about this, you'll realize that the odds of true marketing knowledge go down significantly the farther you get away from the publisher. I doubt that person is handling very many campaigns at most magazines.

Quote:
6) Am I asking the right questions, or is there something else to consider? Something else to consider: What are the actual publication subscription and retail magazine outlet numbers? We can't get this information from the magazines! Thus all our speculations about the worth of an ad are undermined. With this in mind - what are the growth dynamics for the magazines as compared with the web as regards marketing and promotion of goods and services in the knife world, now and in the future?
I don't know why, but I have a tendency to read posts in reverse. When I read the above, I laughed my ass off.

There is no growth in the print magazine world, especially within the knife industry. They're dying! They are so bad off, in fact, that they've abandoned their print publishing model and have started invading the web. The problem is, they are finding it much more difficult to trade in that which is already free.

Although there is a reason to consider print advertising still. It's not that it has no value, but you have to know where it is and how to get at it.

Here?s a good question?
Does anyone believe that you can get ink without advertising?


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Old 11-08-2011, 09:40 AM
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Lightbulb

Fantastic discussion. Illuminating, as this subject is worthy of hours of discussion and learning points.

I advertise in EVERY knife magazine and periodical all the time. Part of the legal responsibility of the publishers is to give photo credits to the submitted images IF THEY WEREN'T PRODUCED BY THE MAKER THEMSELVES, OR THEIR OWN STAFF.

To that end Buddy and I have a credit or 'ad' listed at the bottom of any qualified photo. You have seen my work everywhere.

It's this reason that I don't go further with ad submissions beyond this. For the amount of work I need (and can handle) at present, I'm covered enough. That's me. Make no mistake, a SharpByCoop name credit is an ad.

As much as the web is impacting exposure and offering free 'ads' through searches and viewed posts, I am finding that knifemakers, in particular, still think that seeing their photo listed in a PRINT magazine is the Holy Grail to them. Like it, justify it, or not, this perception is real.

To this end, it is imperative to my clients that I ensure I submit their images to the magazines. Part of the cost of my work is the extra time for this time-consuming inclusion.

On one hand I am completely in agreement with Buddy that we are 'giving' it away to the publishers. They truly benefit from this library of selections.

On the other, I am paid by every single maker, whether they make it in or not, for this service. (This is part of the discussion that Alex mentioned is valid, but deserves a separate topic. I'll finish this here.)

A few things I've learned in observing ads in magazines: eye-grabbing images and short, quickly-readable text are paramount to a successful ad. We skim through and are given microseconds to focus in on effective displays. Or, we flip the page.....

The person in charge of the layout has FAR more control over its effectiveness than we are aware.

This also brings about an important point: Will an editor pay closer attention to a maker for an article inclusion if they advertise with them? There are plenty of sharp makers and images to choose from.

I say ABSOLUTELY yes. In fact I have had private notes from one editor in particular who grouses when I send him photos from makers who never ever step up and pay. Unfair? They are also human and territorial and have corporate mucky-mucks to report to.

Those that do advertise will probably get more traction. This is business, not philanthropy.

Getting ink with no ads: Yes. It boils down to generated interest. I suggest to any maker that my submissions is 'leading the horse to water'. If they follow up on their own with a personal note and show why they are unique, which separates them from another equal maker, then they will get the interest of the editor, and ultimately the selection/inclusion process.

More thoughts later.

Coop


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Old 11-08-2011, 09:52 PM
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I'm strictly a hobbyist, and although I sell an occasional knife to keep me in supplies, I'm no where near the level of production and sales where I would even begin to think about advertising.

That being said, I participate or at least lurk in most of the knife forums, do web searches to look at knife designs and find newer makers, etc. I rarely look at magazines. I dropped my subscriptions several years ago, and if I peruse the mags any more it's for the above reasons--to see if there are any new makers that I might be missing, new designs, etc.

I usually scan through the ads because they usually have photos of knives.

But an observation I've made is that there are makers that advertise in paper media that, to my knowledge, have never developed a significant web presence. I've not seen them in any forum, and in a few cases there wasn't even a website listed in the ad. (I can't recall any of the names now, so what does that tell you?). The ads at least suggested that the makers were fairly well established (e.g. "over 25 years as a maker. . .") and they've been successful enough to keep advertising. Maybe these makers are anachronisms--still following the old advertising model, and being successful "enough" at it to stick with that model.

Is print media worth it for a newer maker? Maybe, maybe not. As Coop pointed out it's still considered the grail--how many makers get congratulated each month for getting a 1/4 page write up? It's still accepted as an unofficial stamp of legitimacy. And, how many newer makers have we seen over the last 5-10 years that have been featured in say, Blade, only to have their demand temporarily skyrocket and put pressure on their production capabilities? Does this suggest that there is still a significant readership, or at least, the buying community--and not just the maker community--also views the print recognition as a grail/sign of legitimacy? Ironically, look at how many makers post images, or at least a reference, of their latest print article or magazine cover, ON THEIR WEBSITE.

If a maker is going to advertise, then it is worth their while to invest in a comprehensive campaign--website, forum presence, social media, show presence, etc.--where it can be determined whether or not print media has a role. Not every maker is on the web, and I would venture to say that it's highly likely that not every customer is either.

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Old 11-11-2011, 01:18 PM
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Great discussion...and well worth the admission!

Jim said,
Quote:
I advertise in EVERY knife magazine and periodical all the time. Part of the legal responsibility of the publishers is to give photo credits to the submitted images IF THEY WEREN'T PRODUCED BY THE MAKER THEMSELVES, OR THEIR OWN STAFF.
Jim, I would argue that you are one of the only photographers out there that maneuvers the credit statements into a legitimate advertisement for your business.

While I wouldn't argue that "photo by Joe Blow" isn't an advertisement, in the strictest definition. I would argue that "photo by SharpByCoop.com" or "photo by 1-800-call-jim" is more likely to produce the desired result, namely a potential customer contact.

When I say, "advertisement", what I "personally" mean is...
A message designed to generate a deliberate response.

In this sense, turning a photo credit into a literal road map is a much better strategy than assuming that someone will be able to find you through blind luck. Others may argue that, "Everyone already knows me. So they'll know how to contact me." But, I would argue that, "advertising is the art of getting people to act". And specifically, "getting them to act now and in a controlled way". Also, I would argue that the art of building a market is adding new market share to what you already have. Therefore, the road map must exist in order to assist the new prospect.

Further...

When I say, "in a controlled way", what I mean is not "in a bad way". I'm referring to making sure that the visitor doesn't simply go to Google and type in "Sharp by Coop" or "SharpbyCoop". Those can be hijacked by smart geeks, where the search can be redirected to a competitive query result, prior to getting to Jim's site.

Jim also pointed out,
Quote:
A few things I've learned in observing ads in magazines: eye-grabbing images and short, quickly-readable text are paramount to a successful ad. We skim through and are given microseconds to focus in on effective displays. Or, we flip the page.....
Very true!

Nathan made some great points...

He said,

Quote:
But an observation I've made is that there are makers that advertise in paper media that, to my knowledge, have never developed a significant web presence. I've not seen them in any forum, and in a few cases there wasn't even a website listed in the ad. (I can't recall any of the names now, so what does that tell you?). The ads at least suggested that the makers were fairly well established (e.g. "over 25 years as a maker. . .") and they've been successful enough to keep advertising. Maybe these makers are anachronisms--still following the old advertising model, and being successful "enough" at it to stick with that model.
This point deserves a thread of it's own. But, my question would be, "how many of those makers are running ads that are far larger and more expensive than the results that the ads actually produce?"

I'm leading up to a conclusion that I've drawn, which will be backed by over a decade of print ad study. I'm referring to study that spans across many of the dealers, makers and organizations that you currently see in the magazines that we're referring to. I had a phone call today with a very smart knife maker. Our conversation touched on this thread and I told him what our analysis had produced. When he heard the result and the conclusion, he laughed. Once he heard the result, and had his laugh, he said, "That's probably true."

The fact is, the real truths in this life are just like that; they are so simple that they'll make you laugh at yourself for missing them, even though you have stared at them in the face your whole life.

We'll get to this later...

For now, let me ask everyone to participate in an experiment. I would like for you to help me produce a list of all of the print magazines that we know of that include in some way knife industry information. Or, those print magazines that someone might advertise in. Once we have a list of the players, we'll create some surveys to see which ones are rated as the "most read", "most subscribed to", "best content", "best photographic presentation", etc. This will help us examine public perception in real world terms, "the peoples choice awards", so to speak.

I'll start with the below:

1) Knives Illustrated
2) Blade Magazine
3) Tactical Knives
4) American Handgunner
5) Shotgun News
6) Guns
7) Cop Magazine
8) Knife World
9) Knives Annual
10) American Bladesmith Journal
11) Man At Arms


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Old 11-13-2011, 05:27 PM
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I've been around the knife world for a while, and based on my personal experiences, there is no doubt in my mind that for the average custom maker, advertising in any of the knife mags is at best non-effective, and at worst a horrid waste of money. That is partially because the majority of subscribers are makers themselves. (the results for somebody like Alex may differ greatly, because most of the magazine subscribers being knifemakers, are looking for the items he supplies)

I my early years I advertised in all the Mags of the time.....Blade, Knives Illustrated, Knife World, and the now defunked Fighting Knives.

I NEVER received an order as a direct result of the advertisement in a magazine. I have however, receive my fair share of orders when I, or one of my knives appeared in an article within the magazine, and was advertising with that magazine at the same time. (I always ask customers how they found/chose me.)

The magazines KNOW that advertising by makers isn't effective. It is a mechanism to generate revenue for the magazines. How do I know this? Let's just say that I keep in contact with key people on most of the magazine staffs. Another indicator is the "trade off" that all of the magazines make. That trade off is that those who spend the money on advertising are given the ink within the magazines.

About a year ago I was working on exposure, and called each of the magazines, and asked the question "Hey, it's been a while since I've had a photo in your magazine....what does it take to get published with you?"
Without fail, the immediate responses I got from each was... "How much have you spent on advertising with us over the past year?"
In one instance the individual had a somewhat snotty attitude and I asked "So, your telling me that in order to get any photos in your magazine, I need to be a paid advertiser!?" "Sounds like Blackmail to me." I was told..."That's the way the game is played."

Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to paint the magazines as doing anything underhanded, they are simply looking out for their own best interests, but it does illustrate where the printed magazines fit into the over all scheme of things these days....which is WAY down the ladder in terms of "bang for the buck".

Look at all the knife mags these days....they are filled with ads, mainly from knife companies, and if you're observant, most of those advertisers are contained within the few actual articles that appear within the mags. Furthering the notion of "pay to play".

There was a time when I subscribed to ALL of the major knife publications, mostly to keep up on trends, but after I realized that the magazines only cater to those who spend the most money on advertising, I also realized that they were attempting to "set" the trends for their best advertising customers, rather than be objective. Right, wrong, or indifferent, that just rubs me the wrong way. Besides I realized that I would look at the magazines while walking back from the mailbox, throw them under the coffee table, and wouldn't look at them again until my wife would say.... "What are you going to do with that stack of magazines.

Guess I got a bit off course Alex. More to the point.....I view any form of advertising just as I do a knife show. To be considered successful, it must pay for itself, and in my experience that just does not happen for the average knife maker where printed magazine ads are concerned.


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Old 11-13-2011, 09:43 PM
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Really illuminating info and discussion here. Much appreciated.

Ed, you are layin' it on the table - the truth.

Alex - The American Bladesmith Journal maybe, or Man At Arms?

The current issue of BLADE Magazine has reached most subscribers - February 2010.

The issue is 100 pages including covers. 62 pages contained advertisements and the majority of those were dominated by ads, including many full page ads, even multi full page ads. 38 pages were without advertising.

The ad that most stood out by actually getting my attention enough to draw me in was on p. 53 - an A.G. Russell ad that asked, "What's in your pocket?" That question hooked me but the rest of the ad was also compelling - a version of "See knife" then "Buy knife" - seeing via a good product photo and buying because the contact and purchase info was right there. Pretty slick.


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Old 11-14-2011, 07:51 AM
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Maybe it isn't a magazine, but the Knives Annual needs listing. This one is important to my clients. (Produced by the same corporation: FW Media that produces Blade magazine.)

To NJStrickler's point: There is a maker of renown: George Cousino, who's sharp little ad is a fixture in Knife World every month. For as long as I've noticed. Eyegrabbing photo, with just the right amount of info.

Apparently it works for him? And no web presence that I am aware.

To Ed's point: Why are ads not effective for knifemakers? Advertising as a generality can't limit one set of clients as ineffective. I submit the ads were ineffective?

I'm more confused now than when I started - LOLZ!

Keep dangling that carrot in front of me, Alex.

Coop


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Old 11-14-2011, 11:23 AM
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:53 AM
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Quote:
To Ed's point: Why are ads not effective for knifemakers? Advertising as a generality can't limit one set of clients as ineffective. I submit the ads were ineffective?
I'll recant a bit by saying that there are some makers who have had, and do have success advertising in the knife magazines. But it is all relative to the individuals expectations. I've spoken with some who consider their ads successful if they sell one $300 knife off of 6 months worth of advertising......so that would be approx. $1,600 (on the low side) worth of advertising cost to garner one $300 knife order.....I don't consider that a good return.
For a LONG time, knifemakers have limited themselves to advertising in Knife publications......that is the "generalized rule" that I spoke of.

Statistically, over 75% of the subscribers to knife magazines are knifemakers, which is why I believe it to be a less successful media for knifemakers who advertise. Knifemaking Suppliers, photographers, and other related vocations will often find much higher success rates by advertising, simply because 75%+ of the readers are seeking the goods/services those entities offer.

When knifemakers branch out, and advertise in magazines that are traditionally not considered "knife" publications, the result are often very different. The trick is to figure out just which publication(s) are "knife hungry", along with being the only, or one of very few knifemakers who advertise in that particular publication (whatever it might be). There are a ton of variables......what level of knives does an individual produce? Does it fit the audience of a particular publication? For example, a higher end maker might see success by advertising with an upper end magazine such as "Side by Side", which is dedicated to those who collect/use very high end double barreled shotguns and rifles, while a maker who produces lower end knives would likely be ignored by the readers.

One instance that stands out in my mind as a major advertising success, is my good friend Steve Kelly. He won 6 months of advertising in Blade a few years ago (a drawing at the Blade Show). He placed the ad, and got a factory deal with the now defunked Marbles company. As Steve tells it, the then owner of Marbles was browsing through Blade, and liked the photo and tag line that Steve used. BUT! That was/is one of those "one in a million" things.

I wholeheartedly agree with the Knives Annuals. I'm not sure I agree with paid advertising in it, but it's a no brainer to be listed in each and ever one.


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Old 11-15-2011, 09:41 AM
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I've been reading through this thread with a lot of interest to see what other full time makers were thinking. Though I see ads from many of my friends in the various knife periodicals, I have never used them to promote my business. Like most custom makers, I have a very limited ad budget and feel that there are other avenues that will give me "more bang for the buck".

I have always felt that the purchase of a custom knife is not simply the buying of a product but also, and just as important, it is the purchase of "a piece of the man who made it". For this reason I believe that spending a good portion of my ad money on meeting the knife buying public first hand (through shows, hammer-ins, etc.) is much better spent than it would be on a magazine ad.

The other avenue for my advertising budget that I have used over the years has been on the fees of a professional photographer for quality pictures of my work. It is no secret that the photographers who specialize in custom knives have a much higher success rate on getting their pictures published than anyone else would. Publishers like to use known commodities when it comes to photography and money spent with a photographer who gets published regularly has been a productive means of promoting my business for years.

I try to keep an open mind when it comes to my livelyhood and would welcome any differing or additional thoughts on this. I realize that this wasn't aimed solely toward knife makers but the thoughts may apply to knife related professions as well.

Good thread Alex!

Gary


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