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NotYou

Agents, Dealers, And Exposure

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Well, somebody had to make a thread here eventually.

I'm wondering how the rest of you handle the representation issue or at least how you view it. There have been builders -albeit not many- who never get represented by anybody and do great. Personally, I couldn't do that. I know my strengths and weaknesses and I need somebody else to handle that part of things.

I'm curious in general how you all deal with trying to gain exposure. I bet some don't even bother. Some guys probably do it on their own and are successful. This is a young industry and there isn't a whole lot of talk on the subject.

That's the real topic. This post isn't about my issue. Anything below this sentence is basically my response to my question (and a request for opinions about it).

It ended up way longer than expected.

---------------------------------------

Here's my issue:

I've been with Destroy All Guitars for a few years now and they've been great to me. I haven't even looked around at other dealers or anything like that because I haven't seen a reason too.

Recently, I've been thinking of finding new ways to handle business. Things have been a little stagnant, but no part of me believes it needs to be. Cliff at DAG is dealing with an impossible amount of crap. I won't go into detail here, but he is one tough sonofabitch. They're still fantastic, but I can't help but feel I could get more accurately represented by somebody who isn't dealing with as much in their personal life. That doesn't mean I'd leave them, I'd just branch out. I'm actually very loyal to them and thankful for them. I'll stick with DAG until one of us goes under or they give me the boot for some reason.

I've always viewed Cliff as an agent and that's how he describes himself too. He only gets paid when sells something, there's no formal contract between us, he handles a great deal of the logistics, emailing, etc, etc. It's the same thing an agent would do for a writer or any kind of artist.

Here's what I'm getting at:

My roommate wants to represent me. She has no reputation or experience in the boutique guitar world of any kind (except for being my friend), but I honestly think that could be benificial in this case. She has an amazing talent for networking, finding people, impressing people, and generally getting people to admire and listen to her. I honestly think she'd do a truly amazing job. Her lack of experience in this industry should actually result in an agent who is more passionate about representing my work, as opposed to dealing with many builders and spreading it out.

She's also a legitimately great guitarist and she's crazy hot. Let's be honest, that's going to give her a huge advantage.

Also:

Tonight I had the idea of making her my manager. That's something I've never seen a builder do, but I'm loving the idea so far. I'm terrible with all that crap. I never do trade shows or events or anything because I just want to build. She would handle all that stuff and I'd give her a cut of what I make overall. It would cost me money (percentage, no wages), but I'd go from zero trade shows (or ANYTHING) to all sorts of benificial things without having to do all that stuff I hate.

And, again, I think she'd be amazing at it and she really wants to do it.

So, I'm curious what others think about that, especially the manager thing. This is basically a new industry and there really is no best way of doing things. Like I said, I'm terrible with that stuff. I do best when I can be creative and work my skills while letting somebody else handle that part. I think it could really kick start this thing.

Edited by NotYou

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I dont have a manager, but a business advisor. They kick my arse. They throw ridiculous suggestions at me, which I water down, and implement.

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I think a manager makes some sense if you are not going to take custom orders and only build stuff that you want to build. At that point you are the same as any artist that needs to promote and show work. A rookie manager is a risk in my book. Not knowing the industry would make things interesting. Learning on the job means things go bad before they go good.

All that silliness aside where are you risk wise?

If you can handle the risks of it falling on its face I say go for it. Safe business decisions are not going to grow your business quickly. She has to learn it somewhere and if she is willing to go the extra mile it might be the smartest risk you ever take.

I am not advising you to do it or not. I am advising you to think it through and assess the risk/reward.

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I've heard a decent amount of builders saying similar things to this now. I might be doing the business advisor (for a short period at least to help out) for someone. As a builder myself I sometimes have issues with the 'there's too much to know what I should do next,' organizing, spec sheets, etc. granted, I've found ways to monitor and push myself, but not everyone does. So apparently even someone doing as little as that: organize, set workflow, etc. can be beneficial. That said, I'm doing it for free to help out for a couple weeks/months. As for paying, I guess it'd depend on how much?

Chris

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Thanks for the input.

I think we're going ahead with the whole thing. For now, she'll just get a cut of what she sells and if anything is made from trade shows or events, so no big loss if it doesn't work out. I'm pretty confident it will, though. I know it sounds iffy doing this with somebody who has no experience in this business outside of living with me, but this is one person I've learned to not underestimate. Also, she's an extremely talented musician and crazy hot, which will help a ton with customers, and she has the right badass attitude and loads of passion. I think she's going to be amazing at it.

She's not going to manage my schedule or anything like that. I have no doubt she's going to be kicking my ass to be productive, but her job is going to be dealing with customers, selling the guitars, organizing shows and events, and general marketing. Every aspect of the guitar work will be entirely on me.

I contacted a guy a few days ago about helping me wire, fret, and setup guitars as needed, but he hasn't responded. I never wanted outside help like that, but I spend a significant amount of time on that stuff and paying somebody else could really speed things up and pay off quickly. I'm in business because my of talents regarding designing, building, etc, etc, so getting somebody to do that straight forward work isn't a comprise, in my opinion.

Edited by NotYou

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Maybe it is because I do build my own - though I won't put myself in the same category of most of you guys - in terms of quality or quantity. It is strictly a hobby.

To the point of having a manager, agent, whatever you may call them, the only downside I see is that, for me anyway, I would want to talk to the person who is going to being the buid, look at and feel the wood and pretend that I know something about the work involved. I have no idea if there are enough people out there who feel the same way to the point that it would make a difference in the big picture or not. The deal with your roommate sounds like a no brainer, exposure at shows can open the doors and get your name and your work out there.

Here is a hint, in my working life, I worked for the Yellow Pages and got stuck working a trade show for plumbing contractors - some seriously big money people were there. We had some kind of $.99 giveaway, I don't even remember what it was and we had people lined up to get one. Thr something like a ping pong ball drawing - if they get the "magic ball" they win a set of strings, if not they win a couple of picks. These guys just thought it was great. And spend a few bucks and get your name and logo printed on the picks. Name recognition.

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i wish u the best of luck. I am in the same situation, I love designing and building guitars. I hate promoting myself. Crazy hot eh? Got a picture? :-)

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NotYou,

To give you a little background on me, I have been in marketing, pricing and business strategy for about 20 years now. I come on this site because I am in awe of what you all can do. So if my business experience can benefit any of you I'd be happy to give back after all I learn from you.

"I've been with Destroy All Guitars for a few years now and they've been great to me. I haven't even looked around at other dealers or anything like that because I haven't seen a reason too." I would suggest the reason to look for other dealers is to increase demand for your product/brand. As demand increases and supply stays constant price goes up. If I owned Destroy All Guitars I would love to have a product that drove people in the door - as long as you are not supplying it to my immediate competition.

I think it is great that you recognize the need to have someone assist in areas you have little interest or experience in. However, there still needs to be someone steering the ship and deciding on strategy. Most people get very confused on the difference between tactics and strategy.

Few products have ever made it big without effective marketing. Many products have been hugely successful because of marketing i.e. The Pet Rock.

If you would like to talk specifics I'd be glad to help.

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Welcome to the board, wafer guitars. Your other post showed an interesting take on construction methods. I look forward to hearing more about your work and broadening our view on otherwise "stolid" guitar making methods. Cheers!

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