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View Full Version : If you made knives, how would you market them?



mr drinky
01-23-2012, 10:13 PM
Edit: I've edited the content out. Free for all. No content post.

P.S. Edit: I had stuff in about Cut Brooklin, Quintin Middleton, Kramer, R!chm0nd, and Scmidt Brothers -- what's up with those boys??

k.

Pensacola Tiger
01-23-2012, 10:25 PM
I'd pay someone from the New York Times to shill my knives in the Sunday magazine. :D

Eamon Burke
01-23-2012, 10:27 PM
All those guys kick ass at marketing. Yesterday, I showed my wife websites of many different knife makers, and ^that^ is literally a complete list of every one she said "I like that" or "that looks good".

ajhuff
01-23-2012, 11:17 PM
I'd hire someone in marketing.

-AJ

tk59
01-23-2012, 11:29 PM
All of the above. Nice pics displayed in a very public way along with a few words by someone with widespread credibility.

Bryan G.
01-23-2012, 11:29 PM
I had a conversation with Colin in brief about the value of something he made. Part of my conversation was a large part of the equation of how valuable something is, is your thought behind what you've created with the material. Ultimately the material has no value, it's what YOU do with it. You are selling yourself, whether you are selling food, knives, cars, houses, whatever it may be. You're selling yourself and the thought behind your work. The more connection people have to you and your work, the more successful you will come to be. And having a connection to people you will know what markets there are. If you're BSing people, it will come to light eventually. May not be today, may not be tomorrow, but it will come to light.

The beautiful thing I've grasped is the true innovators don't even give a $h!9 about the commercial markets and visualize their own thing and push the envelope on how things are done. This is how I would market a knife or any product. Look at what everyone else is doing and instead of trying to be like them, look for a venue they are not tapping into at all. So many are stuck in the past ways of doing things and as technology is advancing, many are happy to work with old ways of doing things unwilling to take advatange. The internet and the way apps, phones and etc are advancing, certainly this is the new era. Who is going to be the first to create a knife app for custom knives? The food trucks are tweeting where they are going to be and selling out everyday. Build interest in knives and do the same with a knife truck. Go hang out in nice kitchens in your area and give out knives to try and befriend the chefs, this will ALWAYS work if you're positive minded no matter the times. Crazy ideas, maybe. I didn't even think about those but for a second. When we have a bunch of places and a lot of people know who I am, I'll market everyone's stuff and put my name behind it no money down ... well ... payment in knives, nobody ever pays me in knives :)

Kind Regards

Bryan

Lefty
01-23-2012, 11:30 PM
Rick's idea makes the most sense to me. But, barring that, I'd do a quick passaround here, build a clean website, then get some buzz in a good Food Industry, like New York, Montreal, or Chicago (read the reviews if you don't believe me), by handing out a couple trial knives to really solid Sous-Chefs.

Bryan G.
01-23-2012, 11:34 PM
Yep, straight to the source is always the best. You cannot fail at that. Remember it's not just your knife you're selling though. Don't be a douche. A sour person will kill a great product any day of the week. If both are on point, success is only a matter of time

slowtyper
01-23-2012, 11:39 PM
Sell to yuppie foodies

kalaeb
01-24-2012, 12:12 AM
You really have to identify your demographics first. Each medium and the way that medium is used is driven by different demographic basis.

So far I can think of only one person who has succesfully bridged many different groups...

Johnny.B.Good
01-24-2012, 01:46 AM
I'd pay someone from the New York Times to shill my knives in the Sunday magazine. :D

+1. Look at how much time we have spent discussing the Cut Brooklyn video. That is invaluable press.

I would put a great deal of work into my website (including text, photos, and video). Cut Brooklyn is a great site. Very clean/stylish/modern and easy to navigate. Jon and Sara have a great site too (cool logo, lots of high resolution photos and videos). Marko looks like he is putting together a nice site (I also like his new logo/maker's mark).

I would probably try to be a presence on the forums (again, Jon does a great job with this; always helpful, but careful not to push his own products too strongly).

Little things are important. I love how Jon and Sara package their products (black tissue paper with JKI sticker and handwritten thank you notes from Sara).

Social media of course (Facebook and Twitter).

And if I had the cash, I would consider advertising with Google. I work for a small/private graduate school and we spend around $15,000 a month with Google during admissions season to get our name to the top of the search results page for certain key words. I am convinced that it is money well spent in our case (would have to do some research on what it would take to compete in the "kitchen knife" key word arena).

Marko Tsourkan
01-24-2012, 02:04 AM
I'd pay someone from the New York Times to shill my knives in the Sunday magazine. :D

An expensive proposition, but is certainly the way to go.

M

JBroida
01-24-2012, 02:20 AM
+1. Look at how much time we have spent discussing the Cut Brooklyn video. That is invaluable press.

I would put a great deal of work into my website (including text, photos, and video). Cut Brooklyn is a great site. Very clean/stylish/modern and easy to navigate. Jon and Sara have a great site too (cool logo, lots of high resolution photos and videos). Marko looks like he is putting together a nice site (I also like his new logo/maker's mark).

I would probably try to be a presence on the forums (again, Jon does a great job with this; always helpful, but careful not to push his own products too strongly).

Little things are important. I love how Jon and Sara package their products (black tissue paper with JKI sticker and handwritten thank you notes from Sara).

Social media of course (Facebook and Twitter).

And if I had the cash, I would consider advertising with Google. I work for a small/private graduate school and we spend around $15,000 a month with Google during admissions season to get our name to the top of the search results page for certain key words. I am convinced that it is money well spent in our case (would have to do some research on what it would take to compete in the "kitchen knife" key word arena).

hey... i write thank you notes too... just people cant read them because my handwriting sucks

Johnny.B.Good
01-24-2012, 02:24 AM
hey... i write thank you notes too... just people cant read them because my handwriting sucks

Why would anyone want a thank you note from you when they could have one from Sara? ;)

JBroida
01-24-2012, 02:30 AM
lol... anyways, back to the subject at hand...

ecchef
01-24-2012, 02:53 AM
Do whatever Kramer does. It seems to be working for him. :wink:

Larrin
01-24-2012, 08:42 AM
Marketing has never been the bottleneck with my dad's knives.

l r harner
01-24-2012, 08:54 AM
i coudl market more but its not really hurting me after all i make more then jsut kitchen knives and like to keep things interesting in the shop

sorry guys but if all i made was kitchen stuff i would be burned out in a year

tgraypots
01-24-2012, 09:33 AM
Start small. Sell to friends and family. Hone your skills. Build your clientele slowly as your skill set progresses. Tell your story. Tell your story. Tell your story........

NO ChoP!
01-24-2012, 11:58 AM
Marketing is about creating a buzz. Not only attracting people, but keeping them interested. Having a stale website, that never changes will never draw people back. Social media is huge today, as are email lists through the likes of Constant Contact. It doesn't take deep pockets, just creativity. Events, newsletters, pictures, videos, updates, etc... attract attention.

WillC
01-24-2012, 12:53 PM
I find it very hard to market my artistic blacksmithing work. I used to get the best results from using very specific searches for google adwords like Gothic porch or sculptural railings, copper water feature, etc and linking to a relevant page of my website. I used to pick up more ideal customers that way, who want quality and are willing to pay. Adwords just got more expensive and less effective for me, that combined with no-one really spending the money on architectural stuff. I had about a years worth of work evaporate on me at once when things started to get tight.
With the knives I'm enjoying the mobility of it more. the web seems to work more powerfully in favor of knives, as there are so many groups interested, location is not so important. U-tube attracts more attention for my knives than the blacksmithing stuff. Would be great to get some media PR, but with no money this approach could only be opportunist with me. Contacting media chefs and the alike.
The daily telegraph phoned me once, they obviously thought because I make fancy things I must have some fancy loose change. Needless to say they couldn't work with the limited budget of 50 to run any sort of add for me. They mentioned 15K, which made me laugh quite loud down the phone.:D
I plan on doing some of the big food shows in the uk in the summer. I enjoy face to face promotion and in the right place it can be powerful promotion. I'll be watching this thread with interest though, I could use some tips. :biggrin:

wsfarrell
01-24-2012, 12:54 PM
The smallest color ad in the NYT Sunday magazine goes for $47,000, link here (http://nytmarketing.whsites.net/mediakit/uploads/rates/RateCard_Magazine11_EW32.pdf).

A better idea would be to have a website and SEO it up the wazoo. As an example, do a google search for "devin thomas petty." The top *three* results are the same site, and it's not devinthomas.com.

JBroida
01-24-2012, 01:45 PM
seo can get expensive too though for the non-computer-nerds out there

stevenStefano
01-24-2012, 01:50 PM
I'd take over an entire knife forum and have the mods delete any threads that disagree with what I have to say or make me look bad

Joking aside, what about getting some TV Chef to use your knives? I think a lot of people assume TV chefs know about knives when clearly nearly all of them don't. Some up and coming guy on the Food Network or something like that so it wouldn't cost much.

JBroida
01-24-2012, 02:06 PM
i think theres also a balance point where you have to figure out if you just want to sell knives to sell knives or if you care about where they go to and how they are used. Not that one way is better than the other, but i think its an important factor to consider.

Marko Tsourkan
01-24-2012, 02:14 PM
The smallest color ad in the NYT Sunday magazine goes for $47,000, link here (http://nytmarketing.whsites.net/mediakit/uploads/rates/RateCard_Magazine11_EW32.pdf).

A better idea would be to have a website and SEO it up the wazoo. As an example, do a google search for "devin thomas petty." The top *three* results are the same site, and it's not devinthomas.com.

Getting an ad in NY Times magazine is expensive. A cheaper way is to pay an agent to arrange a write-up. Cost of an article will depend on a number of words used, and in paper like New York Times, it would cost thousands.

Less expensive ways are forums, website, knife shows, world-of-mouth, and door-to-door (restaurants).

M

Larrin
01-24-2012, 02:48 PM
A better idea would be to have a website and SEO it up the wazoo. As an example, do a google search for "devin thomas petty." The top *three* results are the same site, and it's not devinthomas.com.
Using a search engine ranking finder site (to avoid the use of my previous searches, location, etc.) I get that devinthomas.com is number 3 with a search for "devin thomas petty." I also get devintomas.com as number 3 with my own google search, and I get three different websites, not just one.

edit: We're also on the first page for searches like "damascus steel" and "damascus kitchen knives." But of course "custom kitchen knives" would be a more important general search and you can't find devinthomas.com until page 2. The specific searches like "devin thomas damascus" all come up number one as you would expect.

mgax01
01-24-2012, 03:41 PM
As a partner in a rather large SEO company I can say Larrin is right. For example "Chef Knives" gets 250,000 searches per month and surprisingly the competition is pretty low in terms of well optimized sites. I'd aim to rank for those types of phrases and make things like damascus secondary. You get to the top of Google for "Best Chef Knives" and thats a whole lot of orders coming in.

And of course forums like this one and the affiliates out their with their "review sites" and you should have a good chunk of the market.

Larrin
01-24-2012, 03:47 PM
As a partner in a rather large SEO company I can say Larrin is right. For example "Chef Knives" gets 250,000 searches per month and surprisingly the competition is pretty low in terms of well optimized sites. I'd aim to rank for those types of phrases and make things like damascus secondary. You get to the top of Google for "Best Chef Knives" and thats a whole lot of orders coming in.

And of course forums like this one and the affiliates out their with their "review sites" and you should have a good chunk of the market.
But of course my dad is a unique case since he manufactures damascus steel and that is a large portion of his business. It's what made him well known in the knife business.

NO ChoP!
01-24-2012, 04:56 PM
In the restaurant business we send out "press releases" to all local media; newspaper, local news stations, magazines, blogs, etc... announcing upcoming events (again, creating a buzz). We often get lucky and get a little blurb in the local paper, sometimes a spot on the morning news show.



We have also traded for services. Many local papers/ magazines are small, singularly owned businesses. We have traded $900 in gift certificates for $900 worth of advertising. ***Our catch: We gave them 18 $50 certificates that could not be used with other offers, so that meant 18 seperate visits, where they were sure to spend more than $50!!! Win/ win for us!!

ajhuff
01-24-2012, 08:13 PM
I can remember failing my way through electronic circuits in college. I already had a year of foundry experience. The TA was asking something about digital logic circuits of which I understood nothing. I started laughing out loud and he wanted to know what was so funny. I said, "I don't need to know how to do this, if I have a circuits problem, I pick up the phone and call an electrical engineer!" Which is a pretty true statement.

If I wanted to plod a long and chip away my way into a market, especially on the cheap side, I would do everything that has been posted. All of it is excellent advice. But, why try to guess the best way or re-invent the wheel when I could hire someone who specializes in social media, or online videos, or marketing, etc? Heck there are more people with marketing degrees than have jobs; you can find someone to do the work. If I wanted to market a product, any product, and I wanted to bust into the market NOW, I'd get the right people to get the job done.

My 2 cents.

:D

-AJ

mr drinky
01-24-2012, 11:13 PM
Using a search engine ranking finder site (to avoid the use of my previous searches, location, etc.) I get that devinthomas.com is number 3 with a search for "devin thomas petty." I also get devintomas.com as number 3 with my own google search, and I get three different websites, not just one.

edit: We're also on the first page for searches like "damascus steel" and "damascus kitchen knives." But of course "custom kitchen knives" would be a more important general search and you can't find devinthomas.com until page 2. The specific searches like "devin thomas damascus" all come up number one as you would expect.

But Larrin, once Devin Thomas the WR for the Redskins retires, you will automatically move up to the top ;)

With that said, I like Jon's point about just selling knives to make money and caring about selling knives to the right users. That was kind of what got me thinking about this. At first I was wondering why we don't see Burke, Devin, Pierre or any of the other makers here in the pages of Bon Appetit, the NYTimes or any other big-time publication, but then I thought: "Would they want that? Or we really want that?" I'm not sure what the answer is, but it crossed my mind. PR like that can change a business pretty quickly (for good and bad).

When I was studying econ, they made the point that there is always a place for inferior, lower-quality products. The world needs medium and poor quality products too at lower prices. If the only option we had were the best, most expensive TVs, then there would be a lot fewer TV being watched in this world.

Just getting back to the marketing, I would probably focus on the really big/good blogs. Something like The Kitchn or some of the really big cooking blogs. Loan them a knife and offer to sharpen it for them for a year for free. Blogging cooks talk to thousands of readers every week and take nice pictures.

k.

Eamon Burke
01-24-2012, 11:17 PM
Well, if you are a custom maker, you are making a timeless product, and need to have a steady stream of work. But not too much, because your quality will suffer. So you backorder, but if your wait list is 3 years, and people get pissed and write you off, 3 years is plenty of time for people to change their minds about what is good and what isn't. I think if I were a Bob Kramer I would consider the massive backorder a blessing, but perhaps a bigger curse.

ajhuff
01-24-2012, 11:31 PM
I was once on a board of directors with the president of Inductotherm (http://www.inductotherm.com/). He told me never give anything away for free. What's the value of something you give away? Nothing. I've never forgotten that lesson.

-AJ

Lefty
01-25-2012, 08:54 AM
There's nothing wrong with a nice write-up in a big magazine. You can always tell people that due to high volume of requests, you are pausing your waiting list, but will be making "x" amount of knives for the general public to purchase, in the meantime.
A nice write-up can act as some positive attention, rather than a marketing opportunity. While we love the work of our favourite makers, we must remember that every single piece they put out is scrutinized past the point of any other knife in the market. When we make something for someone else, we put a lot of ourselves into it. To discover something didn't go over well is hard, because it means that we failed at something. It can be something incredibly minor, but that doesn't mean that the mistake won't eat at us (the maker/cook/creator).

AJ, i don't agree with your last post. From a business perpective, you could argue this to be true, however, free samples work, trials work, and on our side of the world, passarounds work. Every single maker who has done a passaround has learned huge lessons as a result of them putting their work in multiple passionate people's hands. At the end of these, what will happen with the knives? Will they be given to a friend? Donated to a young culinary student? Tweaked and sold at a discounted price? Who knows....

Johnny.B.Good
01-25-2012, 02:51 PM
Another thing that is given away for free by many here is their time (answering questions, offering advice, etc.). I'm sure that many of the vendors would be here for fun (at least some of the time) whether they were in the business or not. I agree with the old adage that time is money, but there is a value (however difficult to quantify) in getting one's name out there and establishing oneself as a generous, patient, trusted source of information, goods, or whatever.

DeepCSweede
01-25-2012, 03:16 PM
I was once on a board of directors with the president of Inductotherm (http://www.inductotherm.com/). He told me never give anything away for free. What's the value of something you give away? Nothing. I've never forgotten that lesson.
-AJ

AJ, I can't say I really agree with you either. I often give advice / initial meetings and even sometimes some initial work to some of my clients for free as a good will gesture. I also give discounts to some of my best customers and in the last couple of years as the economy has taken a hit, discounted some of our long term client work. People remember that and will be loyal to you because of it. I think that is what a lot of the vendors on this site have done with their advice and there is a lot of loyalty to them because of it.

ajhuff
01-25-2012, 03:25 PM
You're not disagreeing with me but with Paul. :D he was a far more successful businessman than I ever was or will be. I disagreed with him at first also but over time saw his wisdom to be sound. BTW, a passaround is more like a loan. A discount is not a giveaway nor is a gift. What he was saying was that with rare exceptions, giving away product or services for free with the goal of future sales is not wise business practice.

-AJ

WildBoar
01-26-2012, 12:31 PM
My company is in the professional services industry. We have performed work at a discount for some new clients, and trimmed fees for other long-standing clients every now and then. And what we have found is the new clients always expect the lower fees, and often shop around when we give them proposals later on at what are the normal market rates/ fees. And some long-time clients have shown a lack of loyalty even after we have reduced fees; that is often due to changes in personnel at the client's office, changes in condominium board personnel, etc. Cutting fees rarely has led to more business for us, and can leave us losing money on projects, as our costs are all in salary and overhead.

What works best for us is to charge resonable fees. It results in some potential clients walking away, but at the end of the day they probably were not clients we would like to have for the long-term, because we are a business and exist to make enough money to keep our employees employed, pay all of our bills, and make something for ourselves since we take all the risk and put so much of our own time into the company.

With that being said, our fees are substantially less then a couple competing firms, yet more then some others. We provide a level of quality and thoroughness that none of our competitors can consistently match, while charging middle-of-the-road fees.

There is not much allowed as far as advertising (severaly restricted by the state licensing board), so almost all of our new business comes from referrals. This has been more then adequate to keep our workload sustained every year since I joined in 1987, except one year the Fed Gov't did not pass a budget for almost a year and all Federal projects in our area came to a halt.

Provide your customers with a quality product, charge them reasonable fees, and they will be your best source of advertising. It's a slow way to build a company/ operation, but spending a ton of $$$ advertising your business means those costs will jack up the price of your product and chase some buyers away.

JMJones
01-26-2012, 03:56 PM
The point was made that you are not marketing your product as much as you are marketing yourself. One very fundamental aspect of marketing is to market yourself and product in a positive manner at all times possible. I read several knife related forums on a regular basis and can think of so many instances where makers are hurting themselves and reputations by being arrogant, combative, negative, obnoxious, ect while interacting on these public forums. Most makers are friendly, helpful and easy to interact with and I see this as a baseline. Some go the extra mile and put a lot of truly constructive time and energy into the forums and this surely gains them some customers. In the same light, the people who are “acting out” are definitely losing potential customers. I know there are makers that I would not purchase from based on this, despite how much I may like their finished product.

half_hack
01-26-2012, 05:15 PM
never give anything away for free. What's the value of something you give away? Nothing.

Actually, the value of something given is priceless.

I'm being a bit tongue-in-cheek. I agree with the gist of your comment, but like some of the others disagreeing with you, i've kind of come to a slightly different conclusion. For me, free is ok (given certain parameters eg: I like the person/client, it's for a good cause, etc...), but I never discount my rate; it's all or nothing.

Discounting leads to deal hunters, as WildBoar pointed out, and they're the worst customers. they'll nickel and dime ya 'til the cows come home.

if ever I made knives, i would hope to never have to market anything, other than having a nice website. Just stay true to my craft, post nice pictures, sell to nice people, and watch the line grow through word of mouth.

don
01-27-2012, 12:39 PM
Depends on what the goals of my business are, but I'd use pass-around/reviews + search engine optimization + social media to increase discovery:

1) Pass around my knife and ask for reviews. These reviews should appear on people's personal blogs or popular and well established Internet forums.
2) Within the reviews, I'd ask for one keyword to link to my website and one keyword to link to one social site (ex. my sub-forum on Kitchen Knife Forums).
3) As people purchase and review the knives, I'd ask for 2) in their reviews.

To increase engagement, I'd use email marketing. I would build a customer email list and send periodic and meaningful emails or newsletters to my customers. A well written quarterly review is good. 1) What I've been up to, 2) New things to expect, 3) Interesting industry trends, and 4) Tips on knife skills or maintenance.

To re-engage previous customers, I'd send a very very short survey and a limited time offer on my product. From the survey, I'd understand why my customers are no longer purchasing knives and the limited time offer would provide that extra nudge that some of us need.