Opinions and optimism

2010 survey 1

2010 survey 2

Wood Industry’s reader survey: Canadian manufacturers weight in

This should surprise nobody, but most of you prefer that your magazines give you what you want, and not what the advertisers want. In fact, 64 percent of you either agree or strongly agree with the statement, “I prefer reader-focused magazines to advertiser-focused magazines.” An additional 31 percent neither agree nor disagree with the statement, accounting for 95 percent. Two back-up questions showed 62 percent of you see Wood Industry as a reader-focused magazine, and 93 percent of you are neutral, agree or strongly agree that you see a large difference between reader-focused and advertiser-focused magazines.

We asked this question because it is of special significance. Virtually all of the magazines in this (and other) industries, here and abroad, have slipped from the reader-based model to an advertiser-based model. The worst offenders can be identified, as you know, by seeing stories about advertisers or their products placed favourably in issues that carry ads from the advertiser. This situation is known in marketing as a quid pro quo exchange of ads for editorial, and it affects the credibility not only of the parties to the deal, but to the industry at large. Obviously, Wood Industry readers both know and disapprove of this practice. As you will see later in this story, so do most of the advertisers.
To be perfectly clear, this is no knock on advertisers. Ads and new products remain among the top reasons people read any kind of medium – magazine, newspaper, web site or whatever. Advertisers also pay the freight on trade magazines. However, people buy ads to reach a market. There are established guidelines that have been pushed aside in recent years, and this survey asked readers and advertisers, alike, whether they approve. It is, after all, in the advertisers’ best interests that people read and approve of the content. It is, in our judgment, a sad industry survey that does not survey the industry.
What survey? As promised in our last issue, Wood Industry sent surveys to over 1,000 of our readers, and received 98 responses, for a response rate of 9 percent. The focus of the survey was marketing, but it looked also to your intentions, both in marketing and in purchasing, to get an idea of the direction of the market in the next several months.
For example, we asked about your purchasing intentions as a gauge of market activity and found out 66 percent of you intend to expand your own marketing efforts in the next six months, with another 7 percent not sure yet. Forty three percent of you intend to expand your panel processing efforts in the next six months, and 28 percent expect to expand in solid wood. Over a third of you (37 percent) plan to purchase machinery in the next six months, with another 25 percent not yet sure. Coupled with the November Statistics Canada report on building permits (see page 8) showing a 15 percent increase, this is a very strong indicator of returning energy to the secondary wood-processing sector.
Another thing we did with this survey, noted above, was to send the same survey to the suppliers. After all, people are always surveying the market, but it’s unheard-of to survey the marketers. If you think about it, though, it only makes sense. After all, if you want a snapshot of the industry, you should have a wide angle. One area we could not control was whether supplier e-mails were delivered or intercepted by a spam filter. We have a better idea of readers, since you have been receiving our e-letters right along.
For the suppliers, we estimate 300 were successfully delivered, with 27 responses. Therefore, while the supplier numbers are predictably lower, the percentages are the same – 9 percent.
Of particular interest on the difference between our readers and their suppliers was the view of the internet. You, the readers, don’t really like your employees spending work time on the internet. Nearly 30 percent of you either disagree or disagree strongly with the idea that employees should have open access to the internet. Contrast that with the suppliers, and only 7 percent disagree, and none disagree strongly. This could be a view into basic differences between marketing-based professions versus production-based professions, and is worth giving more attention in the future.
On the other hand, the suppliers mirror your recognition of and dislike for advertiser-focused magazines, with 68 percent saying they can tell the difference between an advertiser- and a reader-focused magazine, and 80 percent saying they prefer reader-focused magazines. Sixty-four percent said Wood Industry is a reader-focused magazine. It would be interesting to know why 80 percent of advertisers prefer reader-focused magazines. One possible explanation is that only a minority of advertisers demand in-content advertising, and the rest may feel it is undesirable.
Another area of interest between producers and suppliers is in the area of trade information. In the two surveys, the readers (you) placed trade magazines at the top, with 60 percent of you ranking trade magazines as important or very important in relaying trade information. On the supply side, they placed magazines fourth, with 52 percent rating magazines as important or very important.
The values are reversed when it comes to trade shows, with 64 percent of suppliers rating shows as important or very important, versus 41 percent of readers.
And here’s a kicker … 61 percent of you agree or agree strongly that Canada needs its own major industry trade show, while only 33 percent of the suppliers feel the same.
Since 66 percent of you indicated you intend to expand your own marketing efforts in the next six months, it would be interesting to know whether your own plans include shows, magazines or word-of-mouth, and to what degree. Possibly we can address that in next year’s survey.
In all, the survey indicates a strong trend among readers toward expansion in the coming six months – welcome news after two years of uncertainty and retreat.
We have included several charts so you can follow some of the actual data. As promised, those that participated in the survey will receive the complete data sets.
This was an e-survey. We also send out regular e-newsletters to people that have requested them. We know it is irritating to receive unsolicited and unwelcome junk e-mail, and we don’t send it. If you have signed up for our e-letters, you have also received our promise not to use or sell your information for promotional purposes. Just the e-letters. If you have not signed up, you can do so for no charge at www.woodindustry.ca. Click on Subscribe, even though you are already a subscriber, and take it from there.
Finally, the written comments were very flattering and friendly. We at Wood Industry would like to thank you for your interest and support through these past difficult years. It is likely the industry will never again look like it did in 2007, but those of us that remain have a future and a job to do. 2011 is right around the corner, and we will see you again in the new year. Merry Christmas from all the staff at Wood Industry magazine and W.I. Media, and thank you again for your time.

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