Aside from website/forum posts, where should a builder advertise?

Terry McInturff

40th Anniversary of guitar building!
Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
7,082
Assuming a proper marketing budget, where do you readers think a builder should advertise....banner ads, prints ads, etc.
Name the publications, banner ad locations that you suggest...if you have a suggestion.
Many thanks!
 

Millul

Member
Messages
934
I'd say a few print adds never hurt - even better, print reviews of the builder's instruments (Guitar World, etc...all the major magazines, and I'd say the major ones from other countries as well).

I personally cannot stand banner ads, but maybe it's an effective method of getting the message through?

Being present on all the major forums/websites is a must nowadays...
 

Whitecat

Member
Messages
1,810
I read very few guitar magazines anymore, personally. Print reviews are good and interesting to me though, but I won't buy a magazine to read a review of the guitar if I'm not already interested in that guitar, so you'll have had to have piqued my interest elsewhere to get me in that door.

Small builders seem to get quite a bit of traction out of Facebook if they can build it up. If you have a 'Page,' fill it up with pictures of builds going out the door (behind-the-scenes, in-progress shots are great too), and videos where possible. Mirror those posts on Twitter & Instagram where you can as well.

You can pay FB a bit of money to push those posts out to people who are interested in other boutique (or major!) brands or have a demographic you want to target. Get enough traction going and you may find you no longer have to pay - people love sharing guitar pr0n. I've noticed that a few of the builders I follow are probably getting enough likes and shares that they haven't had to give Facebook a dime - but in the early days you may have to consider it.

However, it will take work! Someone's gotta be pushing out content every day and even if you're not spending money on the actual ads on FB, you may need to spend that marketing money on a community manager/social media person. You need to stay in people's goldfish-level memories and keep them engaged without being annoying.
 

bumblefingers

Member
Messages
322
Not sure if I'm your target customer or not, but I'll tell you where I come across such things.

twitter
TGP
guitar aficionado, fretboard journal
destroy all guitars, wilcutt, wildwood, cr guitars, etc.

I don't do facebook and I don't like the mass market guitar magazines. Plus I think the buyer of the guitarworld etc isn't your target demographic.

I think the demos that DAG does, is brilliant marketing. I'm not sure they are all that useful to selecting a guitar (YMMV), but as a marketing tool are powerful. Maybe sharing some of the cost of beefing up the marketing offerings of your dealer network.
 

Headstock

Member
Messages
197
For me I would say instagram, twitter and facebook where you should post often imgaes of past, or recently completed as well as in progress guitars. The more followers you get the more present your work will be in their minds.

For publications I would look to Premier Guitar (Digital and Print editions) and Guitar Interactive (Digital, not sure if there is a print edition) As these digital editions are free, I would imagine there is a good set of potential buyers there. Then you would probably want to be providing guitars for review/spotlight as often as feasible.

The right artist endorsement can help as well.

Having said this... I know I have seen your advertisements, artists with your guitars in hand, etc and this was way back. So even if I haven't bought one of your guitars, I for one knew of you and your work before coming to this site or other guitar forums.
So your marketing efforts do work and have reached people, the next level is always the conversion from prospective customer to actual customer... which is much harder to accomplish that achieving brand/builder awareness in my estimation.
 

s2y

Member
Messages
19,602
I know of a few one-man shops that more or less rely on their customers doing the advertising. Zero dollars spent on advertising and they're able to keep busy.
 

hotpaul

Member
Messages
432
Over the past 5 years I've probably spent $10K on gear and none of it has been influenced by traditional media. I couldn't tell you the last time I picked up a Guitar World or other magazine. What has influenced my purchasing process is two things: word of mouth and my own eyes & ears.

In this day and age every guitar, amp, pickup manufacturer should have a professional presence on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook and then SEO the crap out of it. The fidelity is not the best, but it still is your best option for presenting your product. Places like SoundPure, ProGuitarShop have an excellent presence on YouTube and I rely on their videos to get me in the ball park of what a product sounds like. But these are retailers. How hard/expensive is it to get a semi-decent pro to spend a few hours cutting a demo? If I was a manufacturer, that would be the first place I would start. I know guys like Lance offer a very professional service and their videos play a part in my decision making process.

The next place would be to actually create a demo program. As a consumer thinking about plunking $2-$5K down for a niche product that I may have not had the chance to play in person, I would gladly pay $50-$100 to demo a basic version of a base model guitar or amp for a couple of days. Then I box it back up and send it back to you. If I dont, you charge my credit card. The beauty of this program is that you quickly build up a group of people that have hands on experience and can become your word of mouth marketing on places like TGP, AGF, Facebook and Instagram.
 

K-Line

Vendor
Messages
8,383
Is there such a thing in this industry without a $25K budget per year? I have done the print ads, waste of money. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TGP have been the best I have encountered.
 

scott

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,945
I've found Facebook to be absolutely useless. I've got almost 2700 likes and I've never had one person so much as email me from Facebook. Not one single inquiry in over a year. People like the pictures and comment but not a single order or message. Any messages I get are from people trying to sell me something.. I still update it just to have the picture out there though. Haven't tried Instagram or Twitter. My brother has a very successful beard comb business and he has had the same experience with Facebook.
All my business comes from word of mouth and I'm backed up for a year right now.
 

fretnot

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,360
I've found Facebook to be absolutely useless. I've got almost 2700 likes and I've never had one person so much as email me from Facebook. Not one single inquiry in over a year. People like the pictures and comment but not a single order or message. Any messages I get are from people trying to sell me something.. I still update it just to have the picture out there though. Haven't tried Instagram or Twitter. My brother has a very successful beard comb business and he has had the same experience with Facebook.
All my business comes from word of mouth and I'm backed up for a year right now.
Twitter can be a better resource than many people realize...it's very easy to hit your target audience with a decent ad campaign, and then you can easily get more followers organically. Giveaways/contests are also great, as they can go viral rather quickly. Print ads are meh, especially in the internet world. Also, the type of product really matters here. If you're selling high end acoustics, advertising in Death Metal Monthly might not be as good as hitting up the Martin guitar forum. Advertising on TGP, and several of the more popular forums is a no brainer. Getting a review or two, and getting them into the hands of the right people helps too. :)
 

David Myka

Member
Messages
549
My business exists entirely by word of mouth. I don't spend a dime and my backlog is 6-18 months depending on the season. I do have a Facebook page and post maybe every 2-3 weeks when I have something to show (which is mostly commissioned work and not for sale). I keep thinking about Twitter and Instagram and plan to integrate all of into a new website so that my posts replicate everywhere automatically. Otherwise it takes too much time. I haven't paid for print advertising but it seems to work well enough. I had an article in Premier Guitar magazine and booked up 6 months of work in the following 2 weeks. As great as that was I can't afford to be taken away from my work like that. I prefer the longer, slower organic approach that I can keep up with as I prefer to answer the phone myself and still have time to be at my workbench.

~David
 

whoismarykelly

Oh look! This is a thing I can change!
Messages
8,051
I've found Facebook to be absolutely useless. I've got almost 2700 likes and I've never had one person so much as email me from Facebook. Not one single inquiry in over a year. People like the pictures and comment but not a single order or message. Any messages I get are from people trying to sell me something.. I still update it just to have the picture out there though. Haven't tried Instagram or Twitter. My brother has a very successful beard comb business and he has had the same experience with Facebook.
All my business comes from word of mouth and I'm backed up for a year right now.
When I find a business on social media I figure out their email address and them send them a message that way rather than through social media. So its possible that people have found you on facebook but emailed you directly instead.
 

scott

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
4,945
When I find a business on social media I figure out their email address and them send them a message that way rather than through social media. So its possible that people have found you on facebook but emailed you directly instead.
Ive asked, not one single person. Facebook has been useless to me. Ive asked around and for the most part everyone Ive asked say the same thing.
People like when they see things in their newsfeed but the majority of them don't go any farther than that. Some people have 14000 likes on their profile. The are just like collectors. There are a quite a few that like and comment regularly so it might turn into a sale down the road, who knows. I don't really need the work right now, Im as busy as I want to be but I was surprised.
Most of my work lately has come from past customers or guys that have played or owned a used model. All my old guitars are bringing the people in. They have even sent guitars back for a setup or in one case a refinish. Its kinda cool actually. I like seeing how they hold up.
 

twanglish

Member
Messages
43
having a usable, attractive, and frequently updated webpage should be a priority. Professional photos as well as sound/video seem like worthwhile investments.

Then, generate links to that webpage from (in some order) word of mouth, forum posts, positive press and notable players.

I could imagine that getting your guitars demo'd or played by big time players might be a more rewarding use of advertising funds than buying banner ads.
 

jamess

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
3,496
I think one of the most efficient ways small builders can advertise, and for free, is by keeping a regular supply of in-progress pics to their customers who then in turn get excited about their guitar and share it here and via other social media. The customers happily do half the work! Who doesn't click on a progress pics thread to see what is going on? It's part of why we are here. And that gets a conversation going and others thinking about the builder in question.

Of course there needs to be a balance because a builder can't spend all of his time snapping and emailing photos, and there are periods in the build process where wood is settling or finish is curing and pictures aren't really appropriate. But other than his time it is free advertising that goes a long way.

All this in my opinion, of course.
 

Scott Auld

Administrator
Staff member
Messages
12,337
I've found Facebook to be absolutely useless. I've got almost 2700 likes and I've never had one person so much as email me from Facebook. Not one single inquiry in over a year. People like the pictures and comment but not a single order or message.
Ive asked, not one single person. Facebook has been useless to me. Ive asked around and for the most part everyone Ive asked say the same thing. People like when they see things in their newsfeed but the majority of them don't go any farther than that. Some people have 14000 likes on their profile.
You do understand, right, that when you advertise on FB and they tell you how many people were targeted, that they can show your ads to a bunch of eyeballs in India & Indonesia and that counts (to them) as having done their part?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oVfHeWTKjag






BTW to the OP, Terry: I hate all ads so I'm not the right person to tell you where to advertise. I'm probably in your target demo but I hate ads. All of em :)
 

Kid Tele

Member
Messages
387
I've found Facebook to be absolutely useless. I've got almost 2700 likes and I've never had one person so much as email me from Facebook. Not one single inquiry in over a year. People like the pictures and comment but not a single order or message. Any messages I get are from people trying to sell me something.. I still update it just to have the picture out there though. Haven't tried Instagram or Twitter. My brother has a very successful beard comb business and he has had the same experience with Facebook.
All my business comes from word of mouth and I'm backed up for a year right now.
Scott, this is how it usually goes for me. I read through the small company Luthiers section of TGP. If over a fairly long period of time I start seeing a lot of posts on a particular builder that I am not familiar with, I will start clicking on the threads out of curiosity. If the build interests me, I will usually go to Youtube to check out some demos and then to the luthier's webpage.

If extreme GAS sets in, I will start searching heaven and hell for more info and reviews anywhere I can find it. I like it when a builder is active on Facebook. I tend to follow my favorite builders who post there actively. It is never the source of my interest, but often the guitars I see posted there will push me over the top.
 

fretnot

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
2,360
Ironically, many moons ago I was searching eBay for a McInturff, and I came across someone selling a Heatley Modern, as they keyword spammed McInturff in the title, which is how I found Scott's work. Funny how things work out sometimes. I first found Terry's work in a small shop in Philly, so that was a physical introduction, rather than an internet or print ad. I still have the original McInturff brochures.
 

dougk

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,066
I think you are expecting too much and at the same time, not giving enough credit to places like Facebook, Instagram ect.

Here's what I use it for:

Facebook and Instagram ESPECIALLY are the easiest, fastest way to keep customers with work in progress apprised of how things are going. It's not that they see something of theirs every day, far from it but I tend to hit it at major points in the progress of the guitar. This kills two birds for me: It's much faster and easier than sending an email or making a phone call and it also shows that I'm at work every day to not only my customers but potential customers. This is important and I'll come back to it later. Plus, both are free. So I can put up as much crap as I want without working about hosting fee's, bandwidth ect. Not that I try to spam but it's nice to have something up every day. Facebook is a mixed bag for me. I have 11.5k followers and generally get 5-25 comments on each photo we put up. Have I sold guitars because of facebook? Absolutely. Have I picked up dealers from my postings and general fans sharing it? Yes.

What's the ratio of time to reward on there? LOTS of time, very little reward. But it's more sales than I would have without it so I keep at it. Again, it doesn't have to cost anything. The rub is, it used to be much more effective before Facebook's IPO when suddenly if you want it to really grab people, you need to pay for it. I do find that occasionally we pay for posts we really want to spread wide (important announcements, one off guitars, dealer plugs). Sometimes it's worth it, sometimes it's not. It's still far less than even the cheapest print advertising budgets I've had in the past.

Facebook is a great place to put up things that I wouldn't want to put up on our website every day, ie progress pictures, tips/tools/tricks, ect. Our Website has a IG gallery feed that updates automatically so I really do get the best of both.

Here is the major difference: When I promote at shows, we really push FB/IG over our website. The main reason is, if I promote my website, I get a spike in traffic but unless you email or call me, that's all I get. With FB/IG I get a person and a name for every "like" we get. That opens up communication not possible on the website. Before Facebook made you be friends with your fans to send them a message (or pay a dollar for each message for "spam" reasons) I used to try to once a week go through all our new "fans" and send them a simple thank you message. THAT sold guitars with better time / sale reward than anything I've ever done. FB screwed us on that and it also unfortunately is at the point now where it would require 1 person to do this all day long. You can still do it but if you aren't willing to pay, your messages will sometimes go to spam ("other"). Still, it was very effective and I still get replies sometimes months after the initial message. This was my most effective tool.

The downside to FB (and IG) is your post will drop off quickly for most people. So again, if you are selective when you post and what you post, it can be an effective tool to augment your website.

Instagram is my new favorite. It's quick. It's easy. It's light on text, ad's or spam. We post a lot on there. Again, we treat the hierarchy like this: Best pictures or most important info = Website, somewhat important updates or recently completed guitars = facebook, day in day out stuff and all of the above = instagram. I love IG. It's kind of my wavelength. It's slowly becoming a more effective sales tool as well. The pedal guys seem to rock IG.

Over all, the name of the game is customer interaction. The downside is, you put a LOT in your end with little reward sometimes. Facebook tends to be the stomping ground of the "fiscal complainers". I'm not saying that it's poor people rather the overwhelming majority of your posts will have "Oh I'd totally buy that if I wasn't broke" (or any numerous variations on this theme) posts. Occasionally you'll get a "I really want this" to which you'll waste some time sending them a message only to get the same "I'm so broke" reply. You also get people who will occasionally argue with your prices. I rule my FB page with an iron fist. If you insult my product or me, you get banned. This is a handy feature. It's way easier than trying to justify, reason or rationalize with someone who is just there to troll.

Again, we sell stuff too and that generally has to balance out the time wasted.

Lastly, this is an important thing. In wake of the recent events (tmg/vertex ect) showing that you're at work, working on something every day (within reason) can be extremely comforting to a customer who isn't sure about you. With many of us going to direct sales or never truly having enough dealer coverage to hit every market, that reassurance can be very comforting to a customer who has spent any sum of money.

Like all advertising (and it is advertising) it can be difficult to point to any of them and say "this has been effective". What may work for me may not for you. All I know is I've done print, event sponsorship, joined forums, exhibit at shows, ect ect and there is no real magic bullet. I do know that my FB/IG presence has been a major marketing tool that I can use for every medium of advertising to reach out to my current and potential customers though.

edit: not to sound like some young kid who is all about social media... Twitter is the one I have no patience for. I'm too old for it. I use it (but it basically just mirrors my FB and IG posts) but I'm terrible at it.
 
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