Knife Addiction – Marketing Level VI

I have to hand it to the boys and girls at Blade HQ- this is a good solid marketing campaign. They have identified something that affects everyone: addiction. They have removed a bit of negativity surrounding “addiction” and their message is “There’s no cure so enjoy it!.” This allows the victim the simple, guiltless, pleasure of indulgence. In BladeHQ’s world there are no consequences. I’m okay with that. Audience connection engaged.

The video is well executed in terms of writing, casting / acting and videography. It’s clear Blade HQ puts a lot of effort into their marketing strategies and I really hope this pays off for them- they deserve it!

Observer: Cam, you’re writing about your company is a way that strikes me as sort of… odd.
Cam: Oh am I? My company, you say? Nope. I’m just a guy who loves knives giving credit where credit is due. I had zero to to with this campaign and it impresses me. Very excited to see how it plays out.

The SHOT Show. Why Do We Go?

Once a year Blade HQ heads out to Las Vegas to attend the SHOT show. Our goal: Fuel “Operation Grow & Dominate.” We’re on quest for new products, a mission to strengthen existing relationships and a crusade to excel (it took me awhile to come up with all that stuff).

Personally I think going to the show is pretty grueling. It’s non stop walking and talking, wheeling and dealing and wining and dining. None of that is stuff that I’m particularly good at and sometimes I get the impression that I may even be in the way (as well as another owner who won’t be named at this time). We have people attending the show who are much more qualified to handle this stuff. So why do we keep going?

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Sure…something about the atmosphere is Vegas is exciting.  And hanging out with coworkers is definitely fun. Perhaps it’s a misguided attempt to show we’ve still got “it.” Confession time: It’s the sandwiches. I was upfront with everyone volunteering that I was “going just to get a lobster sandwich” (found at Wolfgang Puck’s Postrio). In a strange twist of fate Jim was also going for a sandwich. Specifically to mock an incredibly oversized club at the Carnagie Deli (he mocked it by finishing the entire thing).

Thanks Vegas! We’ll see you next year.

 

 

Website Evolution

We launched Blade HQ back in March of 2004. The design was simple, but so were the times.

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Screen Shot from 2004

They say that the only constant is change. I think most people fear change to one degree or another- I know I do. When we change something important and we change it in a dramatic way it can be frightening. Back in 2007 we redesigned our Blade HQ website (maintaining many of the original elements) and have used that design for nearly the last six years.

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Screen Shot from 2007

Over time the 2007 template evolved but, again, the change has been minimal.

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Screen Shot from 2013

At the beginning of this year we undertook a massive website redesign. We wanted something that could accommodate all of the planned feature additions, something that would allow us to diversity our product offerings more effectively and something that would carry us for another six years. It was time to move away from our roots and we strove for a more elevated and contemporary design.

Last week we launched our new Blade HQ website. I think it’s safe to say that everyone at Blade HQ was a little nervous but overall customer reaction has been very positive. There are still adjustments to make, tweaks to implement and problems to address but overall I’m incredibly pleased with how things turned out. I’m very proud of of everyone here at the HQ who helped make this vision a reality.

Screen Shot from Sept 11, 2013

Screen Shot from Sept 10, 2013

If you get a chance please browse the website and let me know what you think! I’d be curious to hear any constructive feedback, positive or negative. We are currently in an A/B test period so if you don’t get the newest version you can simply erase your cookies and try again.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

– George Bernard Shaw

January 1, 2014 Update:

Even our redesign has evolved. After reviewing data and customer feedback we decided our homepage as was too large and wasn’t driving traffic to the correct destinations. We modified the homepage to bring the fold higher and give customers more direct access to popular categories. I’ve posted the result below.

Screen shot from the end of 2013

Screen Shot from the end of 2013

Blade HQ’s New Retail Store & Other Progress

The Store

Growth at the BHQ has been pretty phenomenal. As I mentioned in a previous post we acquired the building next door and divided it into an upstairs and downstairs. Below is the transformation of the downstairs space into our new retail store:

Insulation

Drywall

Painting

Carpet & Lightning

work-new-carpet-march-2013

Display Cases

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We hired two new store front employees (three total) to help handle the massive local crowds.

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Ready to go!

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We had our grand opening on March 29th, 2013. We hosted a ton of fun events, gave away mountains of prizes, fed massive throngs of attendees and had an incredible time. blade-hq-grand-opening-3

Spliced HDMI Cable

When we were installing the television in the storefront the HDMI cable got broken (the end was ripped off). Guess what? You can buy a new identical cable and splice the end on! It’s not easy (or pretty), but it does work.

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Counters and Cabinets

More people means we need more storage. We added a counter and cabinets in our conference room (upstairs) and more of them in our break room (downstairs). I don’t even know why I’m including this…

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Video Studio & Expanded Break Room

Working on a video studio (upstairs) and expanded downstairs break room.

The (mostly) finished results. Lots more room for our YouTube magic and relaxation (work hard, play hard).

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Customer Service Migration

With the old storefront now empty we migrated the customer service department. It’s a much better location (quieter) for talking on the phone.

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Order Fulfillment & Machine Shop

We have really streamlined our order fulfillment process. The new layout is super functional and looks great.

We have also expanded into some light manufacturing and have acquired a few tables worth of tools. What are we doing with them? Wait and see…

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There’s always something going on at the HQ. Next up we are going to migrate the product department to the old customer service location.We also have to start finishing the upstairs over the store front (space for the  IT, HR and accounting departments) and prepping our new overflow warehouse and fabrication plant. The work never ends. Seriously, it’s just one project after another. We grow, shift, expand, renovate, reorganize and are in a constant state of controlled chaos. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Fun, Interesting, & Sad Stuff @ Work

Even though I spend nearly half of each day (that’s awake time for you math people) I don’t blog much about work. Maybe it’s because each day is pretty much the same for me (commute, emails, cry, soothe employees, network, solve problems, cry, inspire, confuse, go home) . But lately there are a couple of fun out-of-the-norm type things going on.

First…  Blade HQ has been working on this secret project for a long time and now it’s nearly ready. In conjunction with Microtech we are bringing back the Tachyon butterfly knife! Microtech has made some design tweaks (check out this Microtech rendering) and we have dudded the rebirth the Tachyon 2.  It will be available exclusively at Blade HQ sometime in October. Exciting!

And then… We recently acquired the old PowerTri space (although, we are very sad to see PowerTri go under). After getting the space we decided we should split it into two levels. The bottom will become our new retail store and the top will house our production studio and some additional offices. We’re about half way done at this point.

First the building was gutted and prepped for construction.

Framing out the walls.

Framing the ceiling. We also roughed in another set of stairs in the second warehouse.

This is the upstairs after the downstairs framing was completed.

For me the coolest part of our remodeling was how we relocated the furnaces. They were in closets at the end of hallways in our old space but we pushed the units though the closets and around the corners into the new space. This gave us access to our new building through our old hallways (as opposed to cutting access doors in weird places). At first it seemed like no one wanted to move the HVAC stuff, but in the end I think this worked out perfectly.

Followed by…  A few weeks ago this showed up. Yes, that’s a laser. It engraves, it cuts and it costs as much as the GNP of a small country. I’m not exactly sure why we get stuff like this, but they tell me one day we’ll be happy we have it.

And who could forget… Anyone remember our old data closet from a few years back? Scary, right? We finally got our data closet all nicely organized. We added a rack, a patch bay and even got a ventilation system installed. Yes sir, living large over at the HQ. Every time I look in there I’m floored by how much junk we need just to keep this company kicking.

Finally… And a bit of sad news. For the last four years so Fran and I have shared an office. To be fair, she’s so stoically dedicated to her work that I usually feel like I’m alone, but now I actually will be. Accounting & HR has moved down the hall since it will be adding a new employee. I think I’ll leave the empty desk there to remind me of how things used to be…

And so ends another adventure. Once these projects get sorted out part of me hopes that life will return to it’s familiar dullness. But another part hopes that a new adventure is right around the corner (some awesome non-tiring adventure with golden armor and babes).

The First Aftermarket Additions!

When you see the picture you’ll realize this is a totally silly post. Whenever I get a car I  change out the floor mats and I put a sticker on the vehicle. So, voila!

The mats are made by Lloyd’s. Two in the front and a trunk mat. I love the red stitching- it’s a great highlight. And then I put on a Benchmade and an Autobot sticker (I have a thing for stickers).

I am actually in the process of getting several “real” upgrades done (exhaust, interior lightning, tinting, new rims, etc) but I’ll save those blog posts until the projects are finished.

A Bright Idea: Flashlights

At work we’re always looking for products to expand into. One of the things that we’ve really enjoyed are Flashlights. The other day our Fenix flashlight rep asked us if we had any flashlight related domains or websites. I had casually looked, but we really didn’t have any good solid flashlight web domains. I’m a big believer in virtual real estate and moonlight as a domain buyer/seller so I made it my personal mission to get some good flashlight related domains (in case we ever decided to open an online flashlight store). I’m not going to discuss strategies for getting domains in this post, but you do need a small fortune to hunt down good domain names.

Overall I think I did pretty well. In a strange twist of fate I was actually able to procure fenixflashlight.com and fenixflashlights.com. Now they redirect to the Fenix flashlights for sale on our website (a fair amount of visitors comes from this kind of direct traffic). I also secured ledflashlights.com,  flashlightblog.com (we run knifeblog.com so it was a good match) and flashlightsforsale.com (we also own knivesforsale.com, so another good match).  On a whim – and because it cost next to nothing –  I picked up ledlightblog.com; LED technology seems to be the direction all lights are headed.

Slowly but surely our flashlight sales are picking up. We recently became an authorized dealer for Surefire and Xeno flashlights. The world of flashlights is actually pretty big – maybe rivaling the knife industry in size. Maybe.  Full speed ahead.

Resources: LED flashlights, Fenix Flashlights, Flashlight Blog, Knife Blog, Surefire Flashlights, Xeno Flashlights, flashlights for sale.


Posted by Cam, July 7, 2011

Will the Real Knife HQ Please Stand Up?

I recently came across a funny post about knife hq. Part of the post reads, “At first it seemed as though there was a dispute over who owned the actual knife hq. I saw a blade hq as number one when researching knife hq, but how can the blade hq be number one? As I delved further in to my research I found there really is only one knife hq… if you do the research you will find that Survival Knife HQ is the real Knife HQ and that simply put, the others don’t even come close.” 

I just though I’d take a moment to answer the poster’s question and correct his misconceptions. Quite simply put- bladehq.com is knifehq.com.  There’s no dispute over who owns knife hq or which company is the “real” knifehq. Furthermore a quick visit to both websites in question will leave you with little doubt about which one doesn’t “even come close.”

Speaking of survival knives– if you’re actually looking for some you can buy check out a knife hq owned website called survivalknives.com! We sell- wait for it- survival knives. I guess, given the evidence, you could say SurvivalKnives.com is the “real” survival knife hq.


Posted by Cam, July 3, 2011