By Kirk Deeter
I’ve always thought that great marketing is the innate ability to understand where to invest dollars most effectively to get people to hear what you have to say; whereas, great media talent is the innate ability to produce content appealing enough to get an audience to pay you to hear what you have to say.
What’s interesting—especially in fly fishing and outdoor retail—is how those two worlds are intersecting now, and how quickly things are changing. Those intersections and changes are having a significant impact on businesses like fly shops whether they realize it or not.
Consider, for example, things like affiliate marketing, referral commissions and so forth. In a nutshell, say I write a product review, and wholeheartedly recommend XYZ waders. Now, if I put a link in my review to the manufacturer, or Amazon.com, etc., they can track when a consumer reads the review, clicks the link, and orders the product. And I can get a piece of the action!
What doesn’t sit right with us, is that that process cuts most retailers out of the mix. I remember how angry fly shops were when you found out that your manufacturer/suppliers were selling direct online. Now, not only are some of them selling direct online, they’re also incenting “media” to spread the word (for a commission), and then channel the sales back to the manufacturer (or vendors they designate). Is this the final sign that some manufacturers, despite the lip service, really don’t give a rip about the independent dealers (other than the few they hand select and influence)?
I also wonder how independent and credible a product review is when it’s written by someone who’s a de-facto part of the sales force? As a writer and editor, I never considered that part of my job. Yet there are now so many instant experts… just add water!
I don’t fault other media for working the angles that make them money. They’re smart! But I am saying that this media—Angling Trade Media—was created, and still exists to support the businesses of fly fishing retailers (and manufacturers). And the advertisers you see supporting Angling Trade still believe in independent, objective reporting, and they still support the notion of the fly shop or guides as the key “influencers” in this sport. So if you or your customers are looking for unfiltered information, trust that it can be found here (any of you can use anything we write here in any of your promotional efforts, always), and we won’t be making money on the side selling opinions for commissions.