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effective marketing strategies?

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by The_cutting_edge, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. The_cutting_edge


    May 25, 2009
    (not sure if this would be the best place for this post but had a look through the page directory and to me this seemed the best spot if not MODS please let me know where would be a better spot for it)

    I am looking for effective marketing ideas. I made myself a website and have had it re-worked by a friend of mine who is a commercial web designer. I have a facebook page for my knives and also a personal one and I link to my website via status updates a few times a week. I had a bunch of basic B&W buisness cards made up and hand them out whenever an opening is presented (I dont want to seem pushy) There is a local metal art show and sale coming up at the end of september that I have been invited to attend (not sure if I can swing it) I have no issues selling my work to local floks who are able to stop by and see and touch my knives. but I want to expand my customer base before I totaly saturate my local market then have to think about it. I am fully aware that making knives will never make me rich and famous but for it to be self funding or perhaps someday to pay the bills doing it would be more than I could hope.

    At first my website was getting between 20-50 hits a week with a few emails, but no sales.
    I would notice an influx of page hits on my site when I posted about the site in FB but now not nearly as many, still no sales.
    I have had success with my buissnes cards generating quite a bit of intrest in the form of emails and a few orders.
    Word of mouth has been my best resource toward generating site hits, emails and orders.
    How do you guys market, not just your product, but your sites and yourselves?
  2. Frank Niro

    Frank Niro Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 10, 2000
    Sounds likje you have most everything covered except attending knife shows I only did a local one , dropped out, but am going back again even if it's to help support the group. I have been told that repeated returns to to the shows can help make sales happen. As well posting your prices in your web site for a particular knife shown may make a difference. You may hope the by the inch thing might be better but in my opinion just provides confusion and frustration Frank
  3. Vulcanite


    Jan 16, 2009
    Nice site. I would like to do something similar. perhaps have some pages or links to you tube videos that explain the particular design elements of a given model of knife and why the are good for whatever task.
  4. Don Hanson III

    Don Hanson III KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 3, 2002
    Custom knife shows.

    Ad in Blade magazine.

    Post knives for sale here in the Exchange.
  5. peter r

    peter r

    Jun 8, 2009
    what don said.

    and be a nice guy for real. everyone makes a nice knife, but most would rather buy from a nice guy. let people know you appreciate them buying your knives.
  6. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    I have a pretty nice website. No sales to speak of come from it. I hand out business cards. Again, I've sold maybe 3 of 1700 knives to local's who I gave cards to. They are hard sales, and low profit because the local buyer isn't knife savvy and has to be educated in order to pick a knife. For example, local buyers commonly ask for guthooks, which I will not make. They don't know anything about my style, and what makes my knives special. The local gun/pawn store carries my work, but have not sold even one even though they've had the knives since Bladeshow. I advertised in a magazine once. Lots of calls, but not a lot of sales, and all custom order kind of sales, which I no longer do. I have had a spread done in Tactical Knife Magazine. Same as the ad really. Lots of calls from guy's looking for 'the one' knife. Very detailed descriptions. Very hard to please and lots of increased overhead.

    I sell a lot here at Bladeforums (Thank you Spark). I sell a lot to dealers. I sell a lot at Bladeshow every year. (Thank You Lord for every sale!) I made over 700 knives last year, and feel very blessed that they are selling. But a lot of marketing outside forums IMO just isn't necessary. What is necessary is to actually pick a forum that interests you, read and participate there, and develope web friends. If you're just here to do business, its hard to draw folks to your work. And its a deal too compared to even one magazine ad.
  7. Patrice Lemée

    Patrice Lemée

    Aug 13, 2002
    The website looks good. As people have said I am pretty sure websites are a good way to show your work to potential customers but not really a direct marketing tool.
    I haven't done it myself yet but I heard that having Coop photograph some knives and submit them to the magazine is a good way to get your knives out there.
  8. Rick Marchand

    Rick Marchand Donkey on the Edge Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 6, 2005
    Sell on the Forums.
    Attend Custom Knife Shows and engage customers, browsers, makers, collectors, etc...
    Enter into every contest/challenge you can.
    Pics, pics, pics ...... post, post, post!
    Get professional pics done by Photographers who are in the magazines (Sharp by Coop and Point Seven are da bomb!)
    HELP OTHERS as much as you can. You get what you give.

    My forum presence far outweighs my website's reach... as would be expected. You would be hardpressed to get the kind of traffic that a site like BladeForums can offer. But it is very important to have that personal site, too. Facebook was a smart move. That is fast becoming the thing to do for small businesses.
  9. Fiddleback

    Fiddleback Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 19, 2005
    You can make a forum name for yourself simply by giving Rick Marchand hell.

    No S***. It works.
  10. Rick Marchand

    Rick Marchand Donkey on the Edge Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 6, 2005
    I accept.
  11. Bastid

    Bastid Goat herding fool and resident vermin breeder. Staff Member Super Mod

    Feb 27, 2001
    From the point of view of a long time collector. These are what I look for.

    1. Carry and use your knives.

    2. Passion towards your profession and other makers progressing.

    3. Go to shows when you can and have at least a few knives for sale at the show (not before the show, but just a few at the show.)
    The reason I say that is to let people who have not seen your work see it.

    I also like all the other suggestions listed so far (well maybe not giving Rick grief).

    4.For longevity sake, leave hype to your customers. Make each knife better than the last and let the knife speak for itself. When it comes to over the top marketing, in just about about every case I have seen the over the top stuff might be successful for a short time, but in the long haul it has done more harm than long term good than the temporary flash in the pan.

    YMMV. (Just because it is my opinion, it may not be the right thing for you.) :D
  12. Daniel Fairly Knives

    Daniel Fairly Knives Full Time Knifemaker Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 9, 2011
    Great information guys!

    Make great knives

    get them out there

    listen and have good communication

    I have a loyal customer base and I would say up to 75% of my sales are repeat business. My knives can be unusual but they still sell because they work very well and I back my work.
  13. Don Hanson III

    Don Hanson III KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 3, 2002
    Very Well said, Gus!!!

    BTW, I finally got around the making myself a pocket knife. :eek:
  14. The_cutting_edge


    May 25, 2009
    Thank you all for the great info.
  15. Tom Lewis

    Tom Lewis

    Feb 24, 2000
    I don't think there is any thing better than going to shows. The Blade Show is the best. Most knife collectors want to see a face behind the knife.
    When you are at the show, be nice to people. It gets tireing answering the same questions over and over, but keep a smile on your face. Some knife makers sit behind their table and snarl at people.
    Get the customer to pick up a knife. That's the first step in selling.
    Some customers want to be left alone and just look and others want to talk. Develop a understanding of when silence on your part is the best option, but be avaliable to answer questions.
    Back when I was going to shows, I bought the book "Salesmanship for Dummies" it had a lot of good ideas in it that I used.
    When a customer does buy a knife, try to get their address and e-mail. Then next year if you go to Blade, send them a free pass and tell them you are looking forward to seeing them again. Use the e-mail to send out pictures of current knives you have just made.
    Repeat customers can really help your business.
    You never know when being nice to someone will really pay off. When I was just starting out I met a customer at a small Gun and Knife show. He bought my entire stock of 30 knives. He paid $50.00 apiece (This was in 1982), which I thought was a low price, (But also my early knives left a lot to be desired) but it gave me money to invest in machinery and my knifemaking took off from there. This person remains a good customer. he bought five knives last year for Christmas.
  16. james terrio

    james terrio Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket Moderator

    Apr 15, 2010
    Go where the money is. It's not going to come looking for you - and that includes websites. The internet is not marketing magic, despite what the search engine companies want you to believe. The vast majority of magazine readers look at pretty pictures, order free catalogs, pester custom makers with time-consuming questions... and then spend their knife budget at WalMart or Cabela's.

    That means having a presence on forums and at shows - these people already know what they want and are looking to put some cash on the table. My website is essentially a reference resource for potential clients to learn how/why I make what I make, not a retail outlet. Use your real name and be yourself online and at shows, warts and all.

    For goodness sakes, if you fall behind or goof up an order, come clean ASAP. Do so in public. "Look, it's my responsibility, I'm on it, here's what I can do to fix it for you" goes a long, long way. Making excuses, telling sob-stories or just hoping a problem goes away will haunt you. No one cares if you got divorced or your dog died, they want their damn knife.

    Make mostly knives that you would actually use or collect. Bizarre custom orders can be fun and help keep bread on the table in lean times, but too many "options" gets tiresome real quick, eats up a lot of time and money, and doesn't really distinguish you from anything other than a machinist who's not charging enough. (seriously - call a local machine shop or tool-and-die factory and ask for a quote on one or two blades or guards - you'll be stunned at the cost. Knifemakers work cheap in comparison.)

    Carry your own. Every day. Use it, abuse it, break it, and figure out how to make it better. Be open about that. I've gotten orders based on that alone.
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2012
  17. The_cutting_edge


    May 25, 2009
    I'd like to have my own name as my forum name, this is the only forum I'm active on that it isn't. When I first signed up here I had no idea how much I was going to love making knives, never thought I'd be selling them. I tried to have it changed when I got my knifemaker membership, I didn't know it was going to cost me more $ on top of the membership. next year when I renew my membership I'll cough up the extra cash.
    I dont see myself attending Blade or really any shows south of the border from me anytime in the forseeable future but I'm planning on joining the WCKA so I can attend their annual show in Kamloops (my old stomping grounds)
  18. Rick Marchand

    Rick Marchand Donkey on the Edge Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jan 6, 2005
    I think it's only $10 or something, right? That's like one Happy Meal, bro!

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