I opened my remarks last May at the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies with a question: “What would the industry (media) look like if everything we thought we knew was wrong?” I reasoned if that were true, then we could expect a decrease in readership, a decrease in revenues, a decrease in profits, a decrease in editorial resources and titles would close. All those variables being in place and evident, I went on to discuss how to make a magazine that serves its industry and gets rewarded for it. And no, it’s not the internet.

Kerry Knudsen

Up next, I have been asked to join the national task force for Magazines Canada to rewrite the Code of Reader and Advertiser Engagement. This is the document that tells publishers that they should not have advertisers writing their editorial, give away ads for favours, sell editorial, conceal ad messages inside editorial, etc. However, as you know, the dirty little secret among publishers, virtually none of whom have ever been an editor, is that the free speech protections our culture values so highly allows salesmen to grab the title Publisher and then bugger the audience until they leave.

We intend to fix that. The need for advertisers to reach an audience should be self-evident. The need for the audience to know about advertisers is equally clear. However, the ham-handed, self-destructive, monkey-see/monkey-do school of preaching by the blind is killing magazines, killing advertisers and killing industries, and there is a way to stop it. More on that, another day.

Next January I will be on a panel, again for Magazines Canada, discussing the very important issue of how advertisers can make the best impact on their intended markets, and how magazines can facilitate that without turning over control to the most arrogant suppliers. Following on from the ASBPE presentation, this panel will also focus on ethics as a business model that not only works, but defeats the sandbaggers.

For those of you advertisers that have been following Wood Industry over the years, this is a salute to you. Our business model has consistently provided an energized, loyal and responsive market while the other magazines have spent time on their knees, begging for money so they can put postage on paper. You and we have earned the top spot in the industry as the reader-acclaimed most-recognized personality in this industry in all of North America. For those of you that have enjoyed the successes of our Canada Night events, our Manufacturers Roundtables, our European Tours and our work on boards and committees, we are breaking through. We have an answer that works, and we have proven the answer through some of the most cowardly, back-handed, ill-advised thuggery in media. And that’s saying something. I assume we all know who I’m talking about, but I am happy to tell it all again. You can read our Monograph from 2013 here.

The loser publishers still want to blame the internet. As I have been saying in my presentations, we publishers need to look at ourselves. For example, some publishers offer you two “free” new product releases if you buy an ad. We don’t. We judge all editorial based on its value to the reader, not as just a toss-in junk ad to “add value” to your buy.

Most recently, what do you think would happen to an industry that lost $200 million in ad sales per year from a single advertiser? I imagine it would cause some desperation, eh? Well, that is exactly what has happened to digital ad publishers on the consumer side. According to Ad Age magazine, regarding digital, you should “Turn off your ad spend…. Procter and Gamble stopped spending $200 million in digital and saw no change in business outcomes. Chase reduced the number of sites that showed its ads from 400,000 to 5,000 and saw no change in business outcomes. Turn off digital spend for a week, see if there’s a change. If not, leave it off for two weeks or three weeks.”

It’s not that digital doesn’t work. It can. However, just like any other format, it depends on reader engagement. Do people open it and pass it around, or does it get to the reception desk and trash? This piece is digital, so you know what happens with Wood Industry.

CU @ WMS. (That’s digital talk for drop by and see us at booth #1538 at the show this week.)

Marketing season

Wow! WMS is looking us in the face. It seems like only yesterday that I thought the world would end before church was over. The seconds dragged by. Wouldn’t it be great to bring back some of that version of time management into our future? 

Unfortunately, that can’t happen, and time marches on…. 

Kerry Knudsen

We are distributing our 2019 Readers’ Survey questions this week, to be compiled and added to the November issue. Suppliers sometimes overlook the November issue for all the obvious reasons – Christmas doldrums, changing fiscal years and perceived lack of reader engagement. However, that last one, lack of reader engagement, is not accurate. The readers are fully engaged in our November issues, and are especially engaged in our surveys.  

We discussed the value of our surveys two months ago. In a nutshell, we respect the readers’ time and don’t bomb them with spam, and they know it. In addition, we use tightly controlled survey protocols to assure an accurate snapshot of what the readers think. As with our other editorial content, we are independent, professionally trained, credible and thorough.  

Most importantly for suppliers, the readers trust us and simply love to see what their peers think. As with any group picture, the people that are in it want to seek out their own faces and the faces of people they know. Everybody reads our surveys. 

Obvious spot for a plug. If you are not in our November issue, you should know why. It is one of the most-read, most-studied issues of the year. Also, we provide the opportunity to place your ad next to or inside the survey. Call Steve. He knows. 

Still talking about November (I’ll get to Trump in a minute), that is the issue where we polybag our Wood Industry Wall Calendar. Unlike the magazine proper, there are only a few slots open on the 2020 calendar, and when they are gone they are gone. In the magazine, we can cut a little and add a little. If we cut a month out of 2020, I guarantee it will get noticed. Ads for the calendar close right after WMS, but, as I said, they’re almost gone already. Last year’s advertisers have first refusal, and most have acted on it. 

OK. Trump.  

I expect everybody has a firm opinion already on Trump. I try to be objective, but it’s tough in the face of clearly deliberately false information, so I’m more focused on the press than I am on politics. 

For example, besides making-up phrases out of Trump’s phone call to Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, House Judiciary Chairman Adam Schiff also seems to have misconstrued the call, itself.  

Schiff hears the transcript to say that Trump asked Zelensky to “look into” potential malfeasance by former Vice President Joe Biden, and he interprets that to mean Trump wants Zelensky to mess up the 2020 election with “dirt on a political opponent.” 

When I read Trump’s call before Schiff got to it, I heard Trump ask Zelensky to “look into” potential malfeasance by former Vice President Joe Biden, as President of the U.S., having heard Biden’s public-domain tape bragging about corrupting the Ukraine government using his position as VP to do so in an effort to save his son, Hunter, from being interrogated for his role in a corruption probe being undertaken by the Ukraine government. 

Taking the personalities out of it, if ANY president got wind of ANY agent of the U.S. government endeavouring to meddle in a criminal investigation in another country, I would expect him to see to it that the affected government got all the support he could provide, including encouraging the recently elected president of that government to look into it, despite any corrupt action on the part of the preceding government. 

Further, I would expect the affected government to need that kind of encouragement from the president, himself, since one of the parties to the alleged corruption was the son of a former Vice President of the United States. One would not expect Zelensky to take a call from Barney Fife from Mayberry. 

I am a word guy. That’s what I do for a living. Therefore, accuracy, credibility and truth are the coin of the realm, and they must be upheld even in the face of overwhelming power in opposition. Take my word for it, it is common for liars to threaten and bullies to lie. 

But my friends in the media are word guys, as well, so I expect that, at minimum, both interpretations would get similar exposure.  

As a word guy, I can tell you that ambiguity and synonymy are functions of language. There are often multiple ways to interpret a word, phrase or utterance, including a “parody.” Because of that, journalists are honour-bound to review quotes from sources and be certain they understand what was intended. 

You already know that. Ambiguity and synonymy are common faults in sales and employment contracts. You learned long ago that you and the other party both needed to interpret every clause the same way. That’s why it’s called an “agreement.” In fact, the only reason a party to a contract would not clear up an ambiguous statement would be because they want to use it in bad faith. They want to deliberately misconstrue a word, phrase or utterance, then present it in court as the intended meaning, or threaten to. We can call this person a snake. 

Snakes are what they are. They cannot be otherwise. This is why snakes in business find themselves further and further relegated to cold, dark, lonely places as people with whom they have had dealings get sick of them. 

In the alternative, they seem to end up in the media, either as anchors, commentators or as suspects. 

Anyway, today’s politics are way over my head. It appears as though there is no chance the Senate will convict, even if the House impeaches, so the motive in taking this course is ambiguous. It seems as though lighting fuses is the only way to compete against Trump for oxygen in the media sphere. The problem with that is that the sphere is, by definition, a confined space. Normally, we all share or we all suffocate. 

Time will tell. Call Steve. 

Random sample

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. 

A better mousetrap

“If you build a better mousetrap,” the old saying goes, “the world will beat a path to your door.” But that’s not true, is it? 

Let’s say you came up with the perfect sander. It tears off material at an astounding rate, yet can fine-polish to a mirror finish. It can do angles and curves, and shines on inside radii. Now, how do you market it? You go to the internet, of course, and wait for your fortune to come your way. 

Kerry Knudsen

Unfortunately, you will discover that an infestation of roaches, rodents and vermin was watching, and dozens of pirate websites have pushed their way to the front of Google’s search farce and are offering your machine at half price, complete with photos you took yourself and placed on your copyrighted and trademarked site. Plus, Google already returns 40,200,000 results for “world’s best sander.” 

In what has become the normal course of events, you have put in the R&D resources, paid for marketing and manufacturing and all you get is to be labeled an international idiot for your efforts, and you go bankrupt because you have no money left to pay off Google. 

From a marketing perspective, I am finding this a very interesting time to be alive. Not good. Interesting. For example, as established above, Google, the largest marketing medium on the planet, has chosen to deliberately set up the theft of intellectual property from its potential customers and sell it off to a thousand cheaters instead of one honest dealer. The math excuses it all: $1,000 > $1. 

But this raises an interesting question: why did you go to Google in the first place? You know its reputation. Is it the old card-player’s delusion that you can bet the farm on the next draw because if you win the value will be so high that it eliminates the need for reason? 

Of course, the potential for a payoff with Google (or Alibaba, Ebay, Amazon, Etsy or whatever) is huge. The market is as broad as the universe. You can be king. But it doesn’t work that way.  

I mentioned that I was asked to present a lecture on marketing last May at the Poynter Institute for Media Studies for the American Society of Business Publications Editors (ASBPE). The presenter before me was interesting. 

He was a data sales guy, and he had control of the editorial content of a very well-known and once-respected professional magazine. He had instructed his data team to bomb the magazine’s list every day with ad material, obvious or disguised, and bill the advertisers for the blasts. 

He said the editors objected. They said it would kill readership and people would put the whole magazine on the twit filter (my word, not his). His response to the editors was to tell data to “double it.” He said it does not matter how many of the blasts go on the spam filter, that the list is the list and they could keep billing, irrespective of the actual numbers of readers.  

This is bullshit, just in case I need to say that. But it is the kind of bullshit that your own marketing departments have been exposed to by cynical, self-serving, slow thinkers that have ended up in a rigged game and can’t buy their way out.  

And, to be factual, it was presentations just like his that moved ASBPE to ask me to provide the real deal. The presenter’s regurgitated “ideas” are exactly the reason magazines are going down worldwide and taking their information-starved industries down with them. This is what happens when you put ad salesmen that can’t sell in in charge of audience response. If you like, you can watch my presentation here

We need to get real. I think the first time any one of us sticks our toe in the marketing world for the first time we are confronted with the axiom that you need to focus. It is simple, but it’s hard. Here’s how it works: 

  1. Identify your market 
  2. Educate the market. 
  3. Approach the market. 
  4. Serve the market. 

On point one, most of you aren’t selling into horse barns in Borneo or Chile. Your market is the secondary wood-processing sector in North America. 

Second, people need to know what your product does. This is not always obvious. If you have named your product SmartWise, how will anybody know you have the world’s best sander? 

Third, it is tempting to try to lure in customers with vague promises, but they want to know the name of your company, the name of the product (or service) and the product’s applications, specifications and options, if any, along with a contact person and a value statement (price or equivalent). And here’s a BIG secret. Tell them physically where you are. (Clue: not Borneo.) 

Fourth, be somebody. Know people’s names and businesses, respond immediately. For my money, answer your phone or have a receptionist do it. I have been hanging up on voicemail for years, and it has been returning the favour longer than that. 

Focus, target, deliver. How hard is that? 

You will “be somebody” based on where you are seen. Borneo won’t get it. 

Do you have an actual idea of who your customers look to in terms of media information? 


For growth, think small

I wish I could say my recent participation in the annual conference of the American Society of Business Publications Editors’ (ASBPE) at St. Petersburg was enlightening, but it was not. It was more like truth-confirming. 

The presenter immediately before me was a sales/publisher type, and he explained how he had moved into a very well-known magazine and started spamming its readership on a daily basis. The editors raised their voices and said that their readers did not like the daily “updates,” and that they were putting the magazine on their twit filters. The presenter’s response, he said, was that I told them to double the spam. It’s money, he said, and the advertisers never know who has blocked a URL. 

Kerry Knudsen

As advertisers, you don’t have to go far to find sales/publisher types that will assure you that they have clean lists, have been doing this for a long time, know what they are doing and can give you a deal. It’s as common as a Nigerian inheritance. 

Unfortunately for ASBPE, they don’t have a significant income stream from editor/members, so, like other associations, they go to “associate” members for funding. And, as has been true since the beginning of time, he who pays the piper gets to call the tune. Even if they are tone-deaf and ignorant of the rules and forms of music. 

As we approach the next few months, we are looking at several important trade shows. We have noted many times before that a growing industry will show energy in three areas of communication, those being trade shows, magazines and trade associations.  

As I noted in my ASBPE presentation, journalism is trudging and dying in its shows, its magazines and its associations. So, I proposed, what would an industry look like if everything we think we know is wrong? I proposed for magazines it would follow that, if everything we know is wrong, that we would see declining revenues, declining readers, declining customers, declining political influence and declining response. 

It can be argued that the wood industry is growing, but it is certainly not growing in pace with the overall economy and it is not growing in influence or communication. With respect, the associations are struggling, often with no fresher an idea than to offer prospective members a golf game and a fancy hotel stay. The condition of the magazines speaks for itself, and the shows are under increasing pressure to consolidate or yield to agglomerated competitors. 

One of the persistent drumbeats we have heard over the years has been that of automation and technology. I am fine with automation and technology, but it has become dominant-to-overbearing. 

The fact is, there is limited room at the top for high-speed production. There is plenty of draw, since the “big boys” get lots of attention and they get access to lots of money to influence trade shows, magazines and associations. But the fact remains, after the “big boys” have sent off their 80th golf photo to their handlers at the home office or showed off the 93rd “free” product notice or in-content profile, the home office is bumfuzzled at the lack of ROI and has nowhere to go for answers. 

High-speed, mass-production, high-tech gear is sexy, it brings big ad and “support” dollars and commands huge square footage at shows. It is also very competitive, relatively low-margin and, as noted, of limited value to small- to medium-sized enterprises. For those of you that remember, the 2007 timeframe saw virtually all of Canada’s “big boys” bite dirt and die or become resurrections under employee leadership. 

The vast majority of Wood Industry’s readers are owners and managers of shops employing 20 workers or fewer. In addition, they and also some of the “big boys” have relatively short runs and their markets are small and regional. As we have noted before, our industry is not Colgate Palmolive, and we need to quit thinking we are. Humility is being right-sized, and humility is a trait history has proved valuable. For that matter, using the war cry of technology and “big boys” is not new or innovative. I am not trying to evoke an emotional response, here, but half of Europe heeded that Siren’s Call in 1939, and it did not work out for them, long-term, and cause a bit of collateral damage. It’s almost as if everything they knew was wrong. And they hired an American PR idiot, Edward Bernays, to justify themselves. In 1939, Homag, like Hitler, followed the muses of tech and allies. 

Back to the market, your future likely still remains in long-term relationships with hard-working, small businesses. To reach them, I think you should still present your biggest/fastest/sexiest/best, but put your energy behind start-up programs and efficiency for regional markets. 

Self-serving or not, you should marry your show space and show ads with magazines and associations that actually serve their constituents instead of serving them up with “out” sauce for their “big-boy” idols. At the moment, that means Wood Industry. I have asked my competitors to debate me, I have asked them to endorse ANY set of recognized and published standards, as we do on our web home page, or to just quit with the commercial patronization.  

No luck, although I have been told they are “disappointed” that I point out plain facts. I hate to disappoint competitors, but better they should be disappointed than the market. 

As suppliers to the wood industry, you have a remarkable opportunity to help consolidate your customers with the supply side and the three communications divisions and take advantage of the near- and intermediate-term economic booms. Either that, or we can all continue to play the same old scratchy 78s and Great Depression Blues. 

There is a right way and a wrong way to do things. Sometimes the wrong way is not cataclysmic. It just slowly bleeds you dry. 

Let us know if we can help. WMS is just around the corner, the last e-letters before AWFS are coming fast and the July issue of Wood Industry closes on Monday. 

Communication, Knowledge, Power

My May 9 speech to the American Society of Business Publication Editors was well received. If you’re interested, you can see the whole presentation here. A few weeks later I was rewarded to see the speech mentioned on ASBPE pages at Facebook and LinkedIn.  

The story started out, “Kerry Knudsen did not mince words….” For those of you that know me well, it must seem as if that should go without saying. I mean, what are the chances a lead would say Kerry Knudsen minced words. That would be my worst nightmare – the thought of me, walking down the aisle at some trade show or other, mincing away…. 

Kerry Knudsen

The topic of the ASBPE speech was what we speak of here, often: that media, shows and associations have lost sight of their job. In this case I mentioned one of my personal heroes, U.S. Revolutionary War pamphleteer Tom Paine. In his seminal work Common Sense, Paine points out there are, “the two grand principles of business, KNOWLEDGE and POWER.” (Emphasis Tom Paine) Note, he did not say two of the main principles…. He said there are two main principles, and those are knowledge and power. If you have knowledge and power, money is the return. 

An abundance of money has flipped Paine’s maxim, resulting in people with enough money, irrespective of how remarkably unbrilliant, having power over information. 

In the realm of business publications, this has led to the demise of titles, the loss of jobs, the redirection of resources and the commoditization of news. The reader (market) has become secondary to the pomposity of the few biggest advertisers, and content has become basically what they used to supply on door hangers. 

It is rare to find an original thought in contemporary business magazines. This is because fools with money are aversive to original thought. For example, this week’s issue of Ad Age leads off with the story “How to be a cultural leader instead of a cultural follower.” Excuse me? If you need a 30-something web writer to tell you how to be a leader, you aren’t one. You are mincing. 

This is the reason the ASBPE asked me to speak to the trade-magazine industry. Mincing sycophants and a few dishonorable-but-loaded suppliers have taken trade magazines from leadership to stenographership in one, weak generation. 

To be clear, they have done the same with trade shows and trade associations. Coincidentally, one of the audience members that came up to me after the presentation was a former editorial staffer for the now-demised Wood Digest. Her first question to me was whether I remember the debacle of the AWFS show in Las Vegas in 2009. 

I do. That was the show where a few of the top, bloated louts decided to try and kill the show or control it by pulling out their “support.” Interesting word, support. It comes from dependence – the chronic state of children and slaves. We were so disturbed by that course of events and what it led to that we published Our Own Worst Enemy as a monograph insert in the September (post AWFS) issue in 2013. You can read it here.

W.I. Media stood up to an all-out effort on the parts of those few advertisers to kill our magazine and our company, and it worked. They haven’t advertised to our readers since, and we are still free. Importantly, it worked to show that Wood Industry does not need that cartel, and neither did AWFS, but the industry needs Wood Industry. You can see that in the responses of the market.  

I am happy to start naming names, again, but I am cautious that I don’t want to leave anybody out. The important thing is that, while Wood Industry and AWFS both survived the vicious ministrations of the cartel, it is not debatable that the industry lost. It lost money, for sure, but it lost energy, and it lost its ability to communicate. It lost knowledge and power. 

This lesson is critical to the minds of the ASBPE, since fear has become a main driver in the continued downslide of the trade-magazine sector at large, and ASBPE saw it desirable for me to address the issue directly, without mincing words. 

Paine said the two GRAND PRINCIPLES of business (my emphasis) are knowledge and power. Power requires knowledge for its application. Lacking knowledge, you get what you see – underperforming, undersized tyrants using somebody else’s money to push around markets and see if they can find a vulnerability.  

The proper application of power requires not only knowledge, but the strength that comes from knowledge in knowing what is needed, in what measure and at what point. That is the proper position of an independent media. And don’t even get me started on the special-interest bullied consumer press. 

We have two major trade shows coming up in North America this year – AWFS in Las Vegas next month, and WMS in Ontario in October. 

As friends and associates of W.I. Media and Wood Industry, each of you knows that we are not attacking advertisers, but defending them from the ministries of some very unsophisticated agents of some very minor corporations, viewed on the world stage. The only place they have stature is in the mirror and in their control of industry media, shows and associations. 

The message that American business publications is taking is that you either stand together or die – a message that hearkens all the way back to Tom Paine. The agents that are threatening you are mincing tigers. W.I. Media stood up to them and stands up to them, your customers know it and they approve. So does the international business press. 

As always, I invite any of the unnamed characters that feel slighted in our reports to come out here in the light and have a chat. I will provide that Golden Fleece of the gilded fleecers: free editorial space. Right here, or in Wood Industry magazine, or in any or all of our national and international e-letters. Or all of the above. It’s yours. Just drop me a line. They say clear writing is a sign of clear thinking, so here is your big chance. Say something inspiring. Or at least have your pet publication do it for you. 

For those legitimate suppliers that are paying too much for your ads and booth space so that the much-vaunted “big boys” can pay less, take a look at that stain running down the inside of their pants and give some consideration to a new way of business. Your customers are waiting. 

An industry’s KNOWLEDGE and POWER are in its COMMUNICATION – its media, its shows and its associations – not in which international HQ has the biggest PURSE. 

The wood industry in North America is not dead or dying. We can move forward and do it well. But we need to communicate, we need to exchange knowledge, and we need to be free of the exhausting foolishness that is dragging the whole sector down. It is true in manufacturing, and it is true in magazines.

Sustainability by the spread

It is hard to imagine that it was 10 years ago that we were suffering under the lash of the housing market crash and subsequent stock-market collapse.

A big part of those effects hit us in the sector I refer to as “occupied space,” that sector comprising secondary wood products, floor coverings, kitchens and baths, lighting, wall coverings and others. For us, a dive in housing investment yields a dive in revenues in a directly correlated, objective, measurable manner.

Kerry Knudsen

One area of huge change was the dissolution of most of the trade magazines in North America. Not just in our area. They all got hit. In wood, FDM and Cabinetmaker reorganized under new ownership, as did Canada’s Woodworking magazine. Wood and Wood Products, Custom Woodworking Business, Wood Digest, Modern Woodworking and others simply died. In fact, the only publication I know that survived under its original ownership was this one: Wood Industry.

I haven’t heard how our competitors address that fact, but the reasons are basically education, experience, track record and, importantly, a direct, close and personal trust relationship with our readers, which yields ROI. This has captured the imagination of the American Society of Business Publications Editors (ASBPE), and I am addressing this topic at their annual convention Thursday of this week in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Ten years ago, most of you were having headaches splitting your marketing budget between multiple print and digital resources. And, while the budgets crashed when the markets did, the fact remains that most of you had multiple exposures to the market each month in print, and more often in digital.

For the most part, marketing budgets have not returned to their pre-crash levels. After all, why should they? There are fewer little magazine birds squawking with their mouths open. In addition, there are not as many of your own competitors still breathing. The crash took its toll there, as well, with such hardware megaliths as Blum operating in a reduced profile, Homag under still another reorganization and many smaller machinery suppliers either out of business or significantly diversified into other areas.

On the other hand, the industry is not operating at capacity and, for reasons explained before, North America’s primary competition from the Far East is under pressure from political, economic and social issues, within and without.

Most of you learned in school that successful marketing relies on name recognition and on being top-of-mind when the idea hits a customer that he or she should upgrade to meet market demands or potentials. If so, you also learned that repetition is the mother of education, and your job is to out-educate your competitors.

Yet, we have established that you are not getting the numbers of impressions today that you did before the crash, and we have established that we are in an environment of unrealized demand.

Now, it is reasonable to argue that there are fewer magazines than then, yielding fewer opportunities to get those impressions. You can no longer hit five magazines a month.

Well, yes and no. There are certainly fewer magazines. Further, Wood Industry is only a six-times-annual publication, so it only counts half of an annual in terms of frequency and you have to hit each issue twice to get 12 impressions.

The advertisers in our flooring magazine, Coverings, have addressed this matter on their side by increasing their exposure in each issue, and they are benefitting. Such internationally recognized brands as Proma, Ardex, Schluter and Custom Building Products are buying double-page spreads or are buying sequential or serial ads to increase their reader response. Mapei pays a premium each issue to be positioned in the most-read position in the magazine, that being the page across from my frank, sometimes blunt, editorials. And it has been working for them for nine years. Importantly, each of these companies started with us small, recorded an ROI and increased their spend, sometimes by a factor of four.

You have a choice to make. We are presenting a loyal, responsive, energized market that trusts us and we are pointing at education, experience on both sides of the border and volumes of successes in helping trade, consumer and association magazines. If you like you can read about it on LinkedIn. Our readers get original, focused, professional editorial copy, as opposed to the advertiser-controlled, part-of-the-deal, “value-added” stuff the readers tell us they dislike more than anything.

For now, it is sufficient to note that we are on your side. By holding our position, we have preserved the marketplace as a viable and approachable exchange. With help, we can expand it. Our readers in the United States and Canada have named me, personally, as the most-recognizable personality in our industry in all of North America, and people on the supply side and the readers side believe us when we speak.

In The Art of War, 2,500 years ago, Chinese General Sun Tzu pointed out that generals will kill for information. They will also kill bad messengers for bad information. We should take this to heart when our readers tell us they think advertisers are controlling content, and that they think journalists are nothing but stenographers for suppliers and special interests.

Sun Tzu was right. Each of our magazine’s recipients is a general officer in the command of his company, and each reads Wood Industry for independent information. This is why the ASBPE is asking me to address them on the issue of business plans for trade magazine survival, as well. It may surprise some, but if magazines don’t assure the survival of their readers, there is an ash pit right down the road just waiting. Assuring survival demands that you know what you’re doing.

We are running a special this spring, designed to help you get your message out to your market in support of your participation in the AWFS and WMS shows this year in Las Vegas and Toronto. Buy two ads at your program rate, get a three-month web ad, Supply Side and either Canada or US e-letter for half price.

In addition, and in conjunction with the above special, we are offering special rates on high-impact programs featuring double-page spreads, serial or consecutive ads in each issue.

Finally, one of the most-influential ad presentations is the half-page spread. Available in vertical, horizontal or island formats, the half-page spread is particularly powerful since it dominates the spread so no other ads can compete with it, and it is inherently adjacent along all inside edges with Wood Industry’s famous editorial content. We are offering a spectacular rate on half-page spreads through the rest of 2019 to help you optimize and energize your new ad program.

Here’s the deal: if you buy an ad program of three full pages or more in consecutive issues, and are committed to expanding your influence and reach, we will provide that number of half-page spreads at the full-page rate in the same issues for the price of a full page, a savings of 27 percent. In addition, each half of the spread will count as a single ad in determining frequency discounts. However, half-page spreads cannot be separated to use as two singles.

Contact Steve King via email, or phone 416-802-1225. While ad sales for this issue are closed, I am travelling this week so you can likely still get in.

The joy of selling

Here’s a tough one. Are sales driven by thinking or by rote? (Rote is mechanical or unthinking routine or repetition, a joyless sense of order.) I’m sure we want to claim deep thought processes, but that does not account for such sales memes as “it takes X number of calls to make a sale.” I mentioned once before that I sold cars during a sabbatical before starting a consumer magazine in Michigan. The salesmen there all thought sales is a “numbers game.” So why did I smoke them in total numbers of sales, highest average margin and the largest profit margin on a single sale in the history of the company? I doubt it was rote, since I did not have the time or interest to learn a mechanical, repetitious, joyless sense of order. I was just passin’ through.

This thought has been bothering me all week, since I had occasion to review our Readers’ Survey from 2013. In that survey, we asked our readers — your customers — whether they wanted people hitting them with e-blasts and at what frequency.

Kerry Knudsen

Not surprisingly, when we asked, “Based on your experience of e-promotions, do you want magazine companies to ‘push’ daily digital content to your mailbox?,” 88.14 percent said flat-out No.

I hope this question is purely rhetorical, but if 88 percent of your customers said they don’t want something, would you stuff it up their noses, anyway?

Of course, the “rote” sector would immediately discredit the methodology of the survey. The reason for this is easy. If it’s true, they are in a quandary, that being, what do you do if you don’t know anything else? My car-selling comrades showed me the answer. They keep doing what they were doing, hope I eat dirt and die, and they start sucking pond water.

That is why methodologies are so important, as are professional standards in surveying, level of training and record of production. And that is why we always write out our methodologies.

I was asked years ago to cooperate in a “survey” that a salesman needed to complete his rote sales program. When I said we should review the survey company offering the service, he said, “It doesn’t matter. The surveys tell you what you want them to.”

That’s cold. That means there is no credibility in surveys; it’s just another lie. And that means the information is worthless. And that means when you present it, your customers think you are lying to them.

So in the November/December 2013 issue of Wood Industry, page 25, you can find: “Our random sample this year was 725 e-surveys that were delivered and opened., and 149 responses, for a response rate of 20.6 percent….” In addition, we ask our advertisers and potential advertisers not to respond to the survey, as it skews the results away from the market. The survey is linked right here, along with 70 comments from your customers.

Another recent survey in our industry by another company had a different result — a response rate of less-than 1/10 of one percent. We need to ask ourselves why this is. More importantly, we need to assess our risk and benefit if we implement the conclusions suggested by each response set.

This becomes critical in a small industry when a few of the bullies get frustrated by their flat-line-thinking, can’t raise a lead to save their souls and start demanding that their “message” gets stuffed down their prospects’ throats. That leads to every sort of industry medium, from associations (a medium) to shows (a medium) to magazines and newsletters being turned into a stenographer for the bullies or face a boycott, threat letters and exile.

Isn’t that odd? That a few rather slow and big competitors, to include Blum, Homag and Biesse, would gang up as a cartel to attack the best-liked magazine of their customers? That looks like an opportunity for the rest, to me. I mean, if you look at it, you have a cartel of wanna-be world dominators that want to eliminate one magazine so they can control information. Yet, the North American wood industry could live well and easily without them, while NO industry can live well and easily without credible, original, independent information. If Wood Industry goes away, so goes the independent reporting, yet if Blum, Biesse and Homag go away, there is a larger market share for people that play by the rules, and a more honest supply side for the manufacturers.

Worse, because deep, original thinking on the parts of the associations, shows and magazines has not been part of the process, nobody has the knowledge, confidence and resources to stand up and name them, as I have named Blum, Homag and Biesse. I have not done as I was told, I am happy to show you the lawyer letters and threats, and my readers absolutely love it. That is, your customers love it. Somebody is standing up for the industry against a cartel of ultimatum-directing group-think committees from Europe.

The problem with independent-thinking, educated and successful organizations is when they are ordered to eat dirt and die, they don’t. Instead, they serve their readers, create original content, operate by published standards and create value.

One cannot really blame the captains and lieutenants of the bullies. They were taught that way. Besides, they see other, larger, corporations act that way and get away with it. Except they don’t, really, but that’s another story. In essence, the “larger corporations” phrase is operable. Instead of reasoning out what will make an industry better, they flip open the latest self-help manual from the latest self-helper and see if they can find a rote program to overcome their problems. The problem is, nobody in our sphere is on the level of Procter and Gamble, Chevrolet, Kraft or Nike, and nobody is going to be.

This issue of consumer versus trade is very interesting and requires thought. In a nutshell, the broad consumer market demands that marketers address the lowest common denominator. This is why boutique restaurants always pop up in a forest of franchises, and it’s why stimulating books and movies can rise up out of a sea of pabulum.

As a supplier to manufacturers, are your customers stupid, lowest-common-denominator types? You may have found a few that work in wood because they can’t find a “real job,” but they are not the rule. In my experience, successful manufacturers are often very bright, very energized and very curious, which makes them a good prospect for sales. On the other hand, they have been burned a time or two, can’t watch all sides and are thankful for a credible, trustworthy information perspective on their industry.

I have profiled ex government workers, ex university employees, ex financiers and ex bureaucrats. In each case, the future proprietor came to an “aha” moment, when he or she decided that the rat race was not for him or her, and decided to quit and build something, sometimes on a shoestring.

I empathize with that thinking, because it is consistent with my own experience. I have been a teacher, a salesman and a bureaucrat, and I have been an expert consultant on consumer magazines, and one day it became clear to me that I wanted to work with family owned, independent businesses.

The story goes on, but the point is short: if your sales team is approaching its contacts as lowest-common-denominator consumers that can be tricked, cajoled or pressured, they are sort of right. However, those contacts are looking for aids to their future and associates that can be trusted. We will all do better if we under-promise and over-deliver, rather than catch a signature and bolt for the door.

We have spent considerable time pointing out the overwhelming deficiencies of the current, anti-intellectual, anti-reason and anti-population schemes of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc. In a nutshell, if the bullies can hold join the cyberward and hold their corner, they “think” they can survive by killing off the competition — the “they have to buy junk if it’s the only junk” school of sales philosophy. But you can tell they don’t “think” it, because they keep saying it over and over again as if repetition will make it true.

The fact is, in sales you need to distinguish your brand based on value. Value can mean cheap, or it can mean cheapest under the circumstances, or it can mean not cheap but great service, and so on. But you are viewed in terms of value.

Communication is also dependent on value. Honesty is the absence of any intent to deceive, and if your customers trust you, every sale is fun. People actually can work together.

If you have time to think, take a copy of Wood Industry and place it on a table beside another magazine. It doesn’t have to be a competitor. The problem of submissive stenography has become endemic. You could use a camera magazine or a boat magazine. But flip the pages together and see for yourself. You are looking for original content, reader focus, solid information and the Holy Grail – credibility.

We live in an “anything-goes” world of shadows and submission. Most magazines have decided they will do anything to survive. They give away ads, they sell editorial and they try to misreport the wishes of their readers. Advertisers see magazines as ink and pages; publishers see dollars and expense. Nobody seems to see the readers.

So the question becomes simple: will potential customers react differently to supporters of one magazine that they have learned to trust than they do to a magazine whose every “profile” is controlled by commercial interests behind the curtain?

There are two answers to that question. One is rote.

The point, here, is not to bash others. However, you cannot think without facts. Right now may be the best shot in a decade to capitalize on your sales. The economies of both the U.S. and Canada are growing well. The political garrote of the Mueller probe is over. Trump appears ready to restrict illegal workers from the south, China is working hard with the States to come to some kind of agreement that will certainly allow less bullying than before but will offer a lifeline.

We are in a position to optimize our industry against years of undertow. But there are only two ways to do that. Either we keep on doing what we’re doing, or we think.

When bleach is not enough

I have been an avid swimmer all my life, from swim team during middle school to community centre swims instead of office lunches. Typically, I would leave the office, drive to the pool, change, shower in, swim a mile, shower out and be back at the office in less than 90 minutes. Sometimes before and sometimes during a swim, the guards would clear and close the pool. The reason, they said, was that, “There has been a fouling,” intoned in the manner of, “Houston, we have a problem.”

Sure enough, you could sometimes see where some kid had failed to make it to the washroom and there were … foulings in the pool. Chlorine can erase the physical traces of that kind of problem, but it can’t erase the indelible impression and aversion reaction that builds against public pools.

Kerry Knudsen

Well, there has been a fouling. I am a life-long subscriber to Consumer Reports magazine. I don’t buy into every “value proposition” they present, but the product testing is sometimes helpful, and the value discussions are part of my job. So yesterday I got what may be the fifth demand that I complete their winter survey. I sometimes complete surveys if they interest me, but I never feel I am under any obligation to fill out a survey just because I bought a bird feeder on Amazon or a magazine.

The thing is, the digital world has become survey-drunk. They can’t get enough. They are data gluttons, and I am their refrigerator.

We spent a bit of time again this year in Costa Rica. It has become my favourite destination. This time we stayed for a series of days at two separate residences under the AirBnB protocol, and each time we were hit with a “survey” before we were reasonably gone. In one case, I was asked to review my Costa Rica trip when I was languishing on the patio during the second phase of my Costa Rica trip. In the other, I got the survey as soon as we were wheels-down in Canada and not yet at the gate.

To the point, we are quitting our popular November Readers’ Surveys. As with photography, Fakebook, desktop publishing, music, videography and news, the digital rebellion has made every profession into Amateur Night and polluted the environment with foulings of every description.

Our readers have been absolutely fantastic about responding to our questions, giving us the highest response rates I have ever heard of, and the highest praise. However, you can feel the energy going away, and I am not about to badger them for responses until the last dog dies. They have treated me with respect, and I will do the same for them. Besides, I am tired of hearing that our competitors are calling our respondents liars and claiming they could get the same results if they tried. It’s just more fouling.

Our readers have told us time after time that they love ads and new product releases, but they don’t want the advertisers to control their magazines. The competition delivers a fouling. Our readers have told us they don’t want spam in their in-boxes. The competition delivers a fouling. Et cetera. So, we quit. The market is what it is, and there is no point destroying our relationship trying to prove the obvious while the jackanapes scream from the bushes, fouling the environment at every turn.

For our suppliers, the art of sales is not getting easier in the digital world. It is getting harder. It is harder to identify and attract a market, harder to get a response and harder to track return on investment, which has never been easy in advertising.

I see Weight Watchers (now WW) took a deep dive in January, losing 36 percent at one point. The Street’s take is, as usual, multi-faceted, some citing Weight Watchers as being an “old-school” brand, and others citing emotional overreaction from the “stockholders,” now properly known as algorithms. There is scarcely a value buyer left in the market.

There are a couple of other items, too, that may have an impact.

First, WW decided to try that fair-haired child of marketing geniuses, celebrity appeal, so they brought in Oprah Winfrey with a package that gave her eight percent of the company. Now, of course, that means she owns her share of a multi-million-dollar loss, but that’s a different topic.

The question is, even if celebrity marketing works, does that make Oprah the poster kid? They thought so, but Oprah’s audience may not be the actual market they are seeking. I’m not saying there are no fat ladies watching Oprah. However, recent research had discovered, amazingly, that, “there are many reasons to suspect that body image in adult women both may differ from and possibly be more complex than that of younger women. Adult women face myriad factors influencing body image beyond those delineated in the body image literature on adolescents and young adult women. For instance, aging-related physiological changes shift the female body further away from the thin-young-ideal, which is the societal standard of female beauty.”

In English, people tend to become more accepting of reality as they mature. So, in the case of Oprah’s audience, maybe the critical mass of viewers has focused away from body image ideals and toward family and life issues.

Another matter is advertising. I confess to never having watched the Oprah Winfrey Show. I know what she looked like and looks like, and I know that the show made her one of the richest people on the planet. But on the media I watch, and it’s quite a bit because of my job, I see either no or almost no ads for WW. I see South Beach Diet, I see Nutrisystem, I see Jenny Craig and I see a smattering of allusions to keto, low-carb, paleo, etc., but no WW.

I tend to watch quite a bit of media aimed at younger viewers, largely because I think we need to try to figure out what they are thinking. On that note, I think they are all thinking Artificial Intelligence will come along and save them, which is the opposite of thinking, but I watch and wait, and nobody is asking.

Anyway, dollars are flowing in torrents for body image stuff, including more perfume for men, and they are not flowing to WW. Is it Oprah? Is it AI? Is it mis-targeting? Is it wrong messaging?

Or is it just a fouling?

You may notice I did not mention original, valuable content in this note. Not even once. That has to be a record.

We have a several shows coming up soon. As an added value to our advertisers, we are offering a special promo opportunity: Buy two print ads at earned-frequency rates, and get 50% off a great promo package including Supply Side exposure, a three-month web ad and your choice of a Wood Industry or Wood Industry US e-letter sponsorship. Steve King can reserve your space.

Wood Industry: Complete, focused, attentive, responsive and energized.

On target

Let’s face it. Targeted marketing is not getting any easier. The broad, “something-for-nothing” promises of the internet have failed to materialize, and the thundering herd moves from fad to fad as though there really is a pot of gold at the end of the internet rainbow.

If you are inclined to be on the bleeding edge, the next big thing is interruptive voice ads where you can commandeer time on somebody’s Alexa or Siri function, and blast.

Kerry Knudsen

Not so long ago, distributors of wood industry products had no media access in Canada. In the mid-՚80s, there was nothing targeted at your market, so marketers had to spend time and resources in broader, not-so-targeted media. Largely, this meant machinery shows that were designed for metalworkers, and the would-be sellers of wood industry machines would exhibit and hope a forlorn group of searching wood-products manufacturers would wander by.

Things got so desperate that a group of suppliers, to include Bruce Akhurst, of Akhurst; Peter Feindel, of Taurus Craco; Richard Bluteau, of Cooper and Horton (SCM); André Normand, of Normand; Horst Petermann, of Homag and Claude Arsenault of Holz-Her approached a salesman for the metalworking magazine owned by Markham, Ont.,-based Action Communications and literally begged him to approach Action about starting a magazine for wood.

Action agreed, and Woodworking was born, which magazine I took over editorially in the ՚90s and created a reader-focused, original-content publication that has seen drastic changes of its own along the way since I left in 2005 to found Wood Industry.

I was watching the internet for opportunities all along, having had a continually active e-mail account since 1983. The provider back then was CompuServe, and I can still remember my old e-address: [email protected]. Media, after all, is my business. I remarked then, and I maintain now, about the only thing the internet does well is archive and search. Little did I know how right I would be, when the internet can archive the most mundane details and reveal them to the darkest searchers. Even such seemingly benign activities as on-line retail have recently taken on a more sinister hue as they become the world’s most powerful economic engines.

Unfortunately, many marketers and many media still think buying an ad is buying the medium. The object, they think, is to buy ink or pixels and a list. They think advertising is a product. It is not. Advertising is a service, and what media sell is not ink or pixels, but access to a responsive market.

The basis for a response in advertising, is, as in the rest of life, credibility. People have to trust what you are saying. Imagine a rocket-engineering firm where the assemblers could not trust the blueprint. It would be chaos.

Yet, contemporary media is still chewing the old bone of “it’s a numbers game,” and the more people you can hit the more sales you will make, accountability and trust be damned. This results in such irritations as your getting dozens of e-propositions a week, simply for allowing somebody to “notify” you. And if you think your customers are not irked, think again. We have surveyed them, and they don’t like being used as a bowery-pub dart board.

Magazines Canada – often a strong proponent of digital advertising – came out with its survey of media consumers recently, again reporting resounding responses by the public for print. Steve King has the data for you.

So, why print? Maybe the question is not print versus digital, but rather, “who do you trust?”

If that’s the issue, then a quick review of Wood Industry on your part might be in order. We have been around. We know the business. We are unique and offer original content. We are not a stenographer for “the big guys.” In fact, your competitors, Homag and Biesse, won’t even advertise with us because we won’t do as we are told. It is not “sour grapes” to point out that by disrespecting our readers, they are asking to be treated as they treat others. Producing bigger, newer or faster machines will not create quality or trust. Trust is what it is, and it is not gained by force or bribe.

In all, it’s for the good. The metrics are basic. The fewer energized and loyal potential customers their ads reach, the better for the rest of us.

Trust does not come from glad-handing and classy shenanigans. Trust comes from trial by fire. And trust begets trust. So when your customers look for answers, they look to Wood Industry and our associates.

Wood Industry is once again sponsoring Canada Night at AWFS in Las Vegas this July. This popular event is designed to show the world that Canadians are a viable and energized market by stepping out of the crowd at the show and having our own event. We are accepting sponsorships, and, as always, Steve has the answers to all your questions.