We made an appearance at the American Fly Fishing Trade Association three years ago. We were just on the floor—no exhibits—but we made sure we were making connections. Two years ago we went to the same show. That time we exhibited, and we had ESPN radio come in and interview our authors. It had a significant impact. I think everyone at some point stopped by our booth to see who we were. It moved us into the market pretty quickly.
Are you focused on direct sales as well?
It's part of the business plan. We're a virtual company. We don't have a central office. So we knew social media had to be a huge part of building the community model and creating that type of buzz. When you do that, the goal is to drive people to you, which diverts them from the wholesalers. We spent a lot of time creating that community buzz, giving discounts, and bringing people to the site. Then they notice any new products.
Starting out, we relied heavily on direct sales, but it is subsiding. I would say the majority of our sales are to our wholesalers and distributors. But we often see a big bump [in direct sales] early, which of course is good for the bottom line.
How are you boosting discoverability?
Social media for us has been the best, and it is very intentional. It's a condition of being a startup, keeping costs as low as we can. We work heavily on LinkedIn and Facebook and to a lesser degree on Twitter. They help us build a database of customers, especially LinkedIn.
I have 6,000 or 7,000 people that I'm connected to on LinkedIn. That's an immediate mailing list for me. We use social media not only to build a presence and a brand but also to drive the direct mail side. At this point, our mailing list is probably 35,000 names.
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