When people ask why we don’t advertise or allow mass media attention of Bearclaw, the discussion gets a little fuzzy. The overall marketing strategy is a little hard to explain, but we keep trying.
Capitalism is an interesting idea, but left unchecked, it has flaws. It leads to an unbridled consumerism, but goes even farther than that. Large corporations, ever involved with increasing profits, have gone so far as to create new markets, to the detriment of existing markets. This is different than the simple strategy of making a product that fills a need and informing those with the need. Corporations have pushed into areas where there is no need, systematically destroyed competing markets and installed themselves in the void.
Now, when the corporation is Coca Cola, Microsoft, or even Phillip Morris, a forced market doesn’t immediately start showing casualties. The products may not be particularly beneficial, even hazardous in the long term, but relatively safe in the short run. But when the company is a fire tool manufacturer, the short term damage is imminent, apparent, and occasionally unavoidable. Let’s face it, we violate one of the basic principals every kid is told: don’t take wooden nickles, don’t run with scissors, and don’t play with fire.
If an antique salesman “sells” a bookshelf to an unsuspecting customer, or to someone who doesn’t have books, well, no one dies. When someone who’s not prepared to handle fire starts playing with lit fire tools, terrible things can happen. Injury to the performer is only the start, but houses, venues and onlookers could be hurt, too.
So, instead of broad spectrum marketing, we take almost the reverse approach. Each package gets extra business cards so our customers can distribute to interested parties. This helps insure that first time spinners have a connection to the larger fire community. We also keep our web site from floating to the top of search engines so that people won’t randomly click through as readily. In short, most people will have to be looking specifically for what we sell before they find it.
Next, to help mitigate the safety issues, we have a variety of safety procedures in place. First, we won’t put anything on the site that doesn’t meet rigid product testing standards and a certain level of assurance of performer safety. Then, we have extensive safety info on our site. We ship every package with performer safety info and good procedures for that tool. And finally, we are a primary supporter of the North American Fire Arts Association.