Random sample

By | September 3, 2019

Do you know somebody that wants to be a writer? W.I. Media is participating in the Magazines Canada internship program, and we are looking for a candidate to learn the business of trade magazines done right. The successful candidate will serve a four-month internship beginning in October, and can be a mature person from inside our industry. The position is full-time, offers a home-office/flex-hour protocol and pays $14 per hour. Interested prospects should send me a resume and cover letter, along with writing samples, if available. 

As you may know, a few years back we told our readers we were going to stop our annual, November Readers’ Survey.” By then, I was sometimes getting four or five requests per day to “review,” or “survey” a product or service. I hate it, so I’m not going to do it to others and we quit. 

Kerry Knudsen

And why not? When Steve took the survey data on the road, it was generally met with indifference. Like me, most of our potential advertisers had become jaded, mistrustful and disinterested toward surveys, believing they are manufactured data. 

To me, this was upsetting. Properly done, surveys are valuable tools used by virtually every responsible marketing organization above the local level. Further, our surveys showed, for example, that over 2/3 of the market, 67 percent!, spends less than 15 minutes with our competitor, Woodworking, and 37 percent don’t even open it. Conversely, 71 percent spend more than 15 minutes with Wood Industry and over 12 percent file it for future use. If true, that is damning evidence and extremely valuable marketing information. But there’s the rub. Is it true? If it is, and it is, then the risk in not believing is huge.  

Your agencies and underlings have heard “figures don’t lie, but liars figure” from other media’s reps, and underlings have little to gain by studying surveys. Why bother? It’s not their money. For the most part, if they can report pages and ink instead of market response, they can be heroes for getting a discount, “free” editorial or a picture on a story. But a magazine is not a market, and the ONLY metric that matters is audience response. That means surveys. 

Each of our surveys reports its methods right up-front. But here’s where the eyes glaze, and I know why. I used to work with a salesman that demanded surveys done by a specific company. The reason, he said, is that with surveys, “you get the answers you want.” That makes the survey a lie, and you know it, and I know it, so I did not participate. 

Let’s look quickly at methods in an understandable way. You can cut this out and paste it: 

  • You need to define your market size. Who do you want to sell to? In our case, we have 14,000 recipients that represent the secondary wood-processing sector in Canada. If you want to reach that market, that is your “target.” 
  • You need to decide what confidence level you want in the results. We typically ask for 95 percent confidence. 
  • You need to know what margin of error you are willing to accept. We accept +/- 5 percent. 
  • You need a statistically valid sample size. The calculation for a statistically valid sample of a 14,000 market with 95 percent confidence and a 5 percent margin of error is 374. 
  • You need to select a random sample or declare your bias. We do not bias. We choose random. 
  • You need to estimate your response rate. Ours is a blistering 12 percent. Our readers respect us and respond, which is why we took a break to not wear out our welcome. To get 374 responses at a 12 percent rate, we need to blast to 2,876 random recipients. 

There is a fly in the ointment for marketers. If you do not have a 12 percent response rate, you have to adjust your random sample to get the 374 responses to be valid. For example, we have a 12 percent response rate, but what if we had a more “industry standard” 3 percent? Then we would need 18,700 random recipients to get a valid sample, and there simply are not that number of recipients in the entire market of 14,000. That is why our competitors are shy of surveys. 

We do our surveys by-the-book, and we have both the training and experience to do so. They are valid, even though they are not kind or favourable to the competition. On the other hand we are legally bound to be accurate, and our regular advertisers know they get the access we promise to an energized, loyal and responsive market. 

So the question is this: should we bother your customers, our readers, with a new survey, if nobody is going to benefit from the effort?  

We think so, but need to hear from you on this one. Do you care what your customers think? What their concerns are? Where they’re going? If so, do you think Wood Industry will tell you the truth, and do it in a statistically valid, verifiable way? 

The market does. Here is a chart of a survey with your customers’ responses done by-the-book.

Further, I have never done this before, but below this column I have pasted a bunch of notes your customers and potential customers have sent in. I am have worked on both sides of the border in consumer, trade and association magazines for 45 years, and I have never seen anything like it. It is rare to get even one or two comments a year in a trade book. We have done our job. We have attracted the market. In fact, I invite our competition to provide you with even four such comments on their magazine. This is the voice of the buyers. 

If you’re interested in another survey, we’re in. In fact, we are going forward with a survey in November. As usual, we will not ask who is about to buy a CNC router and send you their names. That is just another one of the amateur methods the trade media has used to create disrespect among their buyers and make our industry shrink.  

We appreciate comments from you, as well, and once in a while we allow an advertiser to pay for a question at the bottom, clearly marked as a paid question, and that advertiser gets the answers. The advantage is that it comes under our name and reputation. The disadvantage is that it is clearly marked and it comes along with our survey, but is not part of it. They will respect you if you pay for their thoughts. They will not respect you if you try to hide a sales motive under a social one. 

WMS issue closes on Sept. 9. Contact Stephen King at 416-802-1225.

Contact me to let me know your thoughts on W.I. Media readers’ surveys. Not “readers’ surveys;” W.I. Media readers’ surveys. 

I rarely agree with your editorials, but I REALLY enjoy reading them! 

I really enjoy the editorial and I hope you continue writing as you have in the past. 

I enjoyed your editorial once again.   

Kerry, Please add one more fan to the list of those who anticipate the arrival of your column! 
I applaud your points of view and how you express them with an appropriate mixture of criticism and humor. 

Kerry, I love you!  

As always, very well said, Kerry.  

Awesome commentary. Reminds me of Machiavelli saying we all use our eyes to see but few have the ability to touch. And fewer still stand up to the popular opinion of the time. I do not know the direct quote, but this is the meaning. Very appropriate for the times we live in. 

Thanks again for your article. FYI.,…I forwarded it to several people yesterday. 

The most ‘Right On’ article I’ve read in a very long time! 

WOW!!! I was searching for a review on the Multicam 8000 Series 5-axis CNC router and I found this!!! Fantastic editorial and it absolutely “Hit The Nail On The HEAD!!!” How do i subscribe to your magazine. 

Thank you for the editorial ‘Pause the panic button’. It is both fair and clearly stated. 

Kerry, I truly enjoy reading your articles. You can tell it come from the heart. 

This one has struck the proverbial nail dead on! I wish I could have said it as well. Thanks. 

I have no clever words of wisdom to impart . I wanted you to know that I enjoy your editorials and look forward to reading them . 

Thanks, I always enjoy reading your column. You generally educate me on most topics and I really enjoyed this one. 

Hear, Hear, Not only does Kerry have something valuable to say about the woodworking industry, he also has his finger on the pulse of the New Millenniums.  

Kerry, i have always enjoyed your writings as they offer a fine balance between our (small) woodworking world and our reality surrounding that. You have a comforting way of giving the reader insight and hope regardless of how crazy things are. 

What a great read! It pretty well sums up what so many have experienced and feel and do not put in writing. 

Thank you Kerry for supporting and standing for our industry!! We really appreciate it!! 

Thank-you Kerry for saying it as it is 

We have retired but enjoy Kerry’s articles and keep up with the industry. 

I could read Kerry’s writings all day. He is such an informed and intelligent writer. 

As always I enjoyed your editorial.  

Your words today have moved me, your words have left me thinking of our situation, the troubles we’ve encountered and the glory we’ve received. I’m glad I have taken the time to read your article today, it has given me new life.I agree with your comments today, trust matters, it truly does. 

I just want to tell you guys that over the years I have thourouly enjoy the articles in wood industry and it’s all right to be a little political Kerry.  

Love the editorials. 

Thank you for standing up for the industry. 

I need to take a minute and voice my appreciation for your excellent commentaries.  I look forward to your email commentary and magazine and have been influenced by your point of view. It is nice to see that the stupidity that seems to be epidemic in political and economic venues these days, is being recognized for what it is. 

The editorials are the best. 

Don’t lose the originality of your editorials. I always enjoy reading them! 

I reiterate: the editorial is the best part of the magazine. Not the fact that it can be controversial, but the fact that you say things others are scared to say. Way too many in the mainstream media present only one side of the story.  That’s fine if it’s presented as opinion, but not so good if presented as news.  Keep up the good work. 

Kerry Knudsen’s ass-kicking articles. 

I like the whole magazine, but my preference goes to the editorial. 

I love your editorials. 

I also look forward to Kerry Knudsen’s editorial – sometimes he makes me laugh, sometimes I agree with his opinions, and sometimes he raises my eyebrows.  The common thread with Mr. Knudsen is that he is always entertaining, and I always look forward to read what he will write about next.  Keep it up.  Great publication. 

The first item I always read is Kerry Knudsen. I just love the way he says things and does not seem to be scared of anybody in the industry.  

Kerry Knudsen’s column – best part of the magazine and I forward it to a manufacturer in the U.S. 

I like the original Editorial by Kerry and some others by Paul Epp etc.  However, above all, I want to see Kerry’s thoughts! 

Keep the editorial, absolutely. 

Your editorial in the September / October issue was probably your best in a long time. They are always excellent, mind you, but this one rings a bell to a much larger audience than the wood industry community. I have enjoyed reading your prose once again ………… a little more this time. We should all say ”thanks for the reminder”. Please continue ………. 

Well done and said  I always try and read your great writing  Keep it coming 

Greatly enjoy the editorial comments although I almost always disagree with Kerry’s personal views.  

Kerry; ..I always look forward to your articles …..they are very enriching 

Kerry: I have always looked forward to your columns as they are so relevant to real life. This one hit me in the “feels”, as I too have been there done that.  

Enjoyed your article…I will pass it along….Keep up the Good Work… 

Kerry, you should post this elsewhere where it can get to a bigger audience! 

Kerry — Thank-you for speaking the truth… very insightful commentary.. and we look forward with anticipation for help from our Canadian friends, neighbors and brothers… we all benefit. 

I really enjoy reading your articles  And your writing 

love reading your stuff; I see children’s book or anything requiring beautiful descriptions 

Kerry, You’re in the wrong profession. Please run for the leadership of Canada. You have my vote and I’m sure the rest of Canada. 

Kerry: As usual I really enjoyed reading your commentary. Two things: 1) I love your observant sense of irony & humour 2) Touche! …looking forward to the next one 

Love your article  well written 

I love reading your takes on what’s going on in the world. Very entertaining/pertinent.  

I really enjoy reading your letters 

After reading this article, it is clear as to why I read all of Kerry Knudsen’s articles. They are a masterpiece of understanding the issues and then relaying them in a very concise fashion that is now very lacking and this word skill now being almost extinct. 

Great article! I love your commentaries – tell it like it is! 

I’m not used to reading something that resembles truth. Do you have a hidden message? 

Great commentary as always.  

Wow! I agree with so much of your commentary on the war. Always enjoy reading your column. Please keep it up. Make people think. 

WOW if that wasn’t a rant I don’t know is! How lucky you have an avenue to rant at. I agree with everything you said. 

Interesting column. I give you credit for putting it on paper. Love it! 

Please add one more fan to the list of those who anticipate the arrival of your column!  

I applaud your points of view and how you express them with an appropriate mixture of criticism and humor.  

Enjoy the opinionated editorials. 

Love Kerry Knudsen! He’s authentic and says it like it is . Absolutely love him! 

Always enjoy reading Kerry’s editorials, even if there are a few things in them sometimes with which I don’t always agree.  

I love your editorial. 

Enjoy the commentary by Kerry, he has a very good perspective of things.  

Hi Kerry;  I like your thots .  

Excellent editorial once again!  I really enjoy your articles.  Not only is the content excellent but they are also very well written. 

Very well done.  I hope everyone reads it as I believe more & more of us are getting tired of no consequences, and no one being accountable for their  actions. 

You’re a great writer with a fantastic grasp of our language, with wit and energy to match. 

What a great read!  It pretty well sums up what so many have experienced and feel and do not put in writing. 

Thank-you Kerry for saying it as it is  

Well said. Thank you for standing up for truth and justice. 

Thank you Mr. Knudsen for expressing your perspective, one that I wholeheartedly agree with.  

Well, I’m glad SOMEONE had the time and guts to come out and say this in a well-crafted article 


Amen!! Very insightful! Keep up the great work! 

Well done 

Once again Kerry – spot on. I read your commentary because I expect to hear the truth. 

Kerry I love your editorials!!! 

Loved the article Kerry, in Australia a politician some years ago went to the polls with the catch-cry “Keep the bastards honest” Methinks your piece goes some way towards this unattainable goal. 

Well articulated thoughts, and accurate to a fault, in my opinion. You put into clear words and phrases, what has been slowly occurring for many years, with the past two years in overdrive ! 

Great article and some very valid points. 

Kerry, I get so many emails and online magazines that I barely get to scan them and often delete them without even a glance, but I always look forward to your editorial. Thanks for continuing to speak the truth – whatever the topic. Unfortunately, most of those who need to hear what you have to say are never going to take the opportunity. God Bless!! 


Kerry I always look forward to reading your insightful commentaries/stories about our industry. The recent article is a testament to the “evolution” of the world wood industry.  

Thanks for your thinking even though I generally disagree with you. 

I enjoy reading your editorials and the truth should win in the end. 

I loved your article and couldn’t agree more on all your points.  

Thank you Kerry Knudsen, I enjoyed and agree with your article.  

Well Sir, You have done it again… written an article that challenges us once more to consider Reality. 

Your ability to communicate is amazing and you kept my attention down to the last Mark Twain quote. I couldn’t agree more with your commentary. Anyway, thanks for taking the stand you did. You are a brave man! 

It has been a long while since I have read anything so well said and honest! 

Your article was right on., You made your points very clearly and I applaud you for taking the time to make what you feel is the right thing to do–and I for one agree with you. Thank you for your thoughts. 

Kerry, I just read your editorial titled Labor Pinch Point and immediately signed up for your news letter. 

The editorials by Mr.Kerry are outstanding. 

Hi Kerry, I truly enjoyed your article ’the heart of a liberal’. It is very insightful and lots of common sense. Common sense seems to be lacking these days especially in politics. We have moved from rational to emotional decision making, from unbias news to propaganda, from scrutenizable science to settled science (that’s an oximoron). If western civilization was something to be proud of at one time, our elites are now bent in destroying it. We came out of mob hanging and assasination of kings only to plunge back into mob shaming and character assination. We are told by Justin that we are finally united (<40%), no one is muzzeled and sunny days have arrived for every one (Note: you 60%+ it’s your fault that you see clouds rather than sunshine, just embrace the new god and all will be sunny).  I supposed he has forgotten that he barred any pro-life from running as a liberal (ok not muzzeled but exterminated from the party, that so much a better and more open minded scheme than that of Harper) . So inclusive isn’t it! What is even more frustrating is that we have emptied the closets of xxx (sorry our totalitarian regime with it’s propaganda machine will not alow me to name them) and shoved in the closets the scocial conservatives because apparently they are not allowed to have a representation or even a voice in the public or political arena. Keep the good work 

Would like to see more comments on your editorial, we find them inspiring us to react. Are you getting a lot of feedback, if so please publish. 

The editorial is great! 

Great articles and EXCELLENT editorials ! Keep up the GREAT work. 

I enjoy reading the commentaries by Kerry Knudsen, and hope you retain it. 

I enjoy the editorial views whether I agree or disagree with them. I like the fact that I do not always agree with the editor’s opinion, but like the way he presents his views. 

Sorry, but I enjoy the editorial content. You don’t always have to agree but more times than not, the comments are right on. It is thought provoking and informative. 

I always enjoy Mr. Knudson’s writing. He is not allowed to ever retire! 🙂 

I like Kerry’s attitude, spirit, and efforts. They are a breath of fresh air in the print world 

I enjoy the editorials. 

Keep your editorial.  I always enjoy Kerry’s expositions. 

I would very much like to meet you. We feel much the same. 

I like your magazine, and especially your editorials.  Very well written. 

Kerry’s commentary’s keep me interested in your magazine.  

I always read Kerry Knudsen 

Always enjoy reading Kerry’s editorials, even if there are a few things in them sometimes with which I don’t always agree. 

I love your editorial. 

Enjoy the commentary by Kerry, he has a very good perspective of things. 

I enjoy your editorial comments! 


Continue the editorial comment . Always the first thing I read . 


Kerry’s editorial is what keeps me coming back. Whether I agree or disagree, I always find they are well written, long enough to give me something to consider, and short enough that I don’t have an excuse to not find the time. 

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