2010-01-19_0934Disappointed and unconvinced, I left their Website scratching my head.

Seth Godin has linked to themSeveral online magazines have featured them, both in articles and within seasonal wish/gift lists.   And, of course, they also have the audacity to call themselves “Best Made Axe,” all of which made me eager to head over to their Website to read up on these (self-labeled) best made axes.

And while their Website (and marketing in general) does some things incredibly well – these guys are routinely selling out of their entire inventory of $200-$500 bespoke axes, after all – there are HUGE gaping holes in the site’s content.  Here’s how their site fails the visitor:

1) No discussion of the painstaking efforts to ensure top quality.

Look, I don’t want to be a jerk, but if you’re going to call yourself “Best Made,” it might be a good idea to substantiate that claim on your site.  Tell me stuff like:

  • What kind of steel are you using for the axe head?
  • What kind of forging process?
  • What kind of heat treatment?
  • What kind of finishing process?
  • Who is doing the forging?
  • How are you attaching the axe head to the hickory handle?
  • What are the ergonomics of the handle?
  • What kind of extreme testing did you do to the finished product?
  • How does the axe perform?
  • How does your axe compare to other axes?
  • In what ways is it actually better made than these other axes?

The Best Made Axe site does none of that.  The most I get is the information that the axe is hand-forged of “fine grain” steel.  Not nearly good enough – at least not when you want me to spend between 2X and 8X the price of a “darn good” axe in order to get your supposedly “best made” version.

2) No pictures of the manufacturing process

2010-01-18_1747Don’t just tell me about the painstaking manufacturing process, SHOW ME.  Literally.  With pictures and video and stuff.  Show me the manufacturing process and the ability of the finished product to outperform the competition.

The picture on the left is a perfect example of this.  Saddleback Leather Co. manufactures premium, full-grain leather products.  And they charge a premium for them.  But their site goes into great detail regarding the superior quality and manufacture of their goods – content that’s fully illustrated with zoom-able photos and videos.

3) Not enough content from or about users kicking ass with their AXES.

Where are the stories of guys building their own log cabins with a Best Made Axe.  Or how it has transformed a dreaded chore into an anticipated pleasure.  Or about how just having the axe hung on the wall of their office has transformed their outlook on things.  Or something!

The best I could come up with was to find Best Made Company’s fan page on FaceBook wich linked to a YouTube video of a guy opening a bottle with one of their axes.  Not sure how impressed I was supposed to be with that, really.

Compare Best Made Axe’s Site to Those of Other Premium Products

Go ahead and compare the Best Made Axe site to other Websites for similar top-end/upscale products and see how much more thoroughly these other Websites sell you on their products’ quality:

Do you see how these other sites go into great detail about the design and manufacture of their products? How, almost on a point-by-point basis they explain WHY their products are better, and about the benefits that you, the consumer, can expect from purchasing this higher quality item.

Buyer Confidence and Buying Rationalizations

While not everyone will click through all of the detailed information provided on these example sites, and even fewer people will read through all that information, many people will scan through it, see that the quality information is there, that the passion is there, and gain the confidence to make the purchase.

Let’s be honest, Best Made Axe wants to charge you between $250 and $500 for an axe.  You can pick up a Gransfors Bruks (what is commonly considered the Rolls Royce of Axes) at roughly $70-$120 for most models.  You can pick up a very highly regarded, Maine-made Snowe & Nealey axe for even less than that.

What’s the quality difference between the Best Made and these other brands?  What am I getting for 2x to 8X the price?

Even when it’s not about the money, it’s ALWAYS about giving prospective customers something to hang their hat on.   The Best Made Axe certainly looks nicer than those other axes I mentioned, but most people are loathe to admit that their money is going towards nothing more than status and brand name.  If you want them as customers, you need to give them something they can hang their hat on, some other faux-reason they can use to rationalize their purchase, like (notionally) better quality, durability, and performance. Etc.

That’s what detailed quality and manufacturing information content on a website does: not only does it fan the desire for the product itself, but it provides visitors with the justification they need to rationalize the expense.  It also gives them the firepower needed to explain their purchase to a spouse, significant other, co-worker or any other any-sayer.

So what about Your Website!

Is your site closer to Saddleback Leather Co.’s, or is your site closer to Best Made Axe’s?

Maybe Best Made Axe just doesn’t really have the goods when you come right down to it.  Maybe they’re mum on the quality thing for a reason.  Maybe it’s a “better to keep your mouth closed…” kind of thing.

Now, I’m not saying that’s the case, but you can see why a website’s conspicuous silence on the subject invites that kind of speculation.

So if your product really does have the quality edge, you’d be criminally negligent not to make your Website into the most eloquent spokesperson it can be concerning the superior design, quality, manufacture/delivery of your product or service.

Comments

  1. Beth Robinson on 01.19.2010

    Great example to pin the principles on, Jeff. You really captured the concept and told the story well. I think you might have also inspired my next blog post, but I won’t know for sure until I’ve written it…
    .-= Beth Robinson´s last blog ..Manufacturing B2B Examples in Social Media =-.

  2. Nick Zdon on 01.19.2010

    I think you make some valid points. Although as an owner of two Best Made Co. axes, and as one of the Facebook fanpage administrators (full disclosure), I feel I must raise a few of my own points.

    What started as a limited number of hand painted axes for a New York City boutique has, in less than a year, has become much larger than either of the owners had ever dreamed. In someways the rapid success has required that an enormous amount of attention be focused on creating the axes rather than the website. Not to offer that as an excuse for any lack of detailed and technical quality content on the site, but Best Made is a small company started by people who love design and the outdoors as well as a small group of “brand enthusiasts” who share that same love, and resources are limited now. There is still much more work to be done, not only in building ‘quality’ messaging but in building the brand as well.

    We’ve had requests from people for testimonials regarding the quality of the axes and it’s something we’re trying to foster on the Facebook fanpage. As an owner of two Best Made axes I can assure you that the quality is top notch.

    The fact remains that despite your stated lack of content on the Best Made Co. website the company is becoming quite successful, in both the press coverage and in axe sales. The sustainability of that success in the web sites current state is yet to be determined, but rest assured that changes are afoot. 2010 will see many new developments in the world of Best Made Co.

    You also fail to mention the other content on the site. The FAQ does a great job of positioning both the axes and why a person would want to purchase one. It should be mentioned that the axes are just the beginning. Also, the Facebook fanpage (which I’m surprised you don’t link to from your post) has become a nice little gathering place for owners as well as far people who may not own a Best Made axe, but just like the idea of Best Made Co. itself. Both myself and the other administrator have also posted our stories about why we believe in Best Made Co. so much that we’re willing to volunteer our time to running the fanpage (that’s right, we volunteer our time. While I have a strong connection to the company and it’s founders I’m writing now on my own behalf, not as an employee.)

    There may be sizable gaps in some of the content on the current Best Made site, but we’ve found a great deal of support for the brand regardless of this fact. We’ve found a great group of people who are very ready to believe in a company that connects with them on a deep emotional level. Which is support one rarely finds at all these days.

    Best,
    Nick Zdon

  3. Jeff on 01.19.2010

    Nick,

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments. As I stated in the opening to this article, “[Best Made Axe’s] Website (and marketing in general) does some things incredibly well.” Your fan page and obvious commitment to and passion for the brand are certainly among those things that Best Made Company is doing incredibly well.

    What I found distressing was the lack of substantiation to the claim “Best Made.” Yes, Best Made is a new company undergoing explosive growth. Yes, the FAQ and other parts of the site have some great copywriting on them. Yes, there are obviously more than a few brand advocates out there who are incredibly pleased with their Best Made Axes. But nowhere on the site is there anything that would explain to me why a Best Made Axe is a better axe than a Gransfors Bruks or a Snow & Nealey Axe. both of which cost a fraction of the price and are already very well known for incredible quality.

    And, well, if the company is going to have the wonderful audacity to call yourself Best Made (and Bravo for that, really), then I’d say a visitor might reasonably expect them to substantiate that claim on the Website.

    At the end of the day, all I’m saying is that including that kind of information on the site would help a successful brand become even better.

    Since you volunteer for the company, let me ask you: have you owned any other axes besides Best Made? Have you owned any other premium axes? Have you compared them? Would you, as the director of the fan page, be willing to host such a comparison? I think you’d be doing the brand a favor by doing so.

    – Jeff

  4. Nick Zdon on 01.19.2010

    Thanks for the very speedy reply Jeff,

    I’ll have to agree with you that the inclusion of such content would be valuable on some level. Although, Best Made has made a choice to focus on other aspects of owning one of their axes. A ‘better than brand X’ quality comparison would put Best Made in a competitive tier that they honestly don’t fit into. I’d venture to say that for many Best Made owners the quality of the axe is an ancillary factor when deciding to purchase one. I’ve found that for many owners, the decision to buy a Best Made axe was a highly personal decision, motivated by everything from the love of the design object, to nostalgia for the outdoors. I’ve described my own thoughts on the Best Made fanpage discussion forum.

    As for my own axe-wielding experience, in a former life I worked on a landscape construction crew which required the use of both many hand tools and heavy equipment. Usually the life expectancy for a tool such as a felling axe (similar in style to a Best Made axe), sledgehammer, or even just a shovel is around 2-3 months. Often times the repeated use just wears them out. Handles splinter, metal breaks, etc. This causes many crews to purchase cheaper ‘disposable’ tools of the basic quality you’d find at a hardware store. It’s safe to say that Best Made axes are far beyond this quality.

    As for a similar ‘premium axe’ I’ll say, quality-wise, Best Made exists in the same echelon as those you mentioned (I’ve used Snow & Nealley axes before, although not Gransfors Bruks) As for the higher price point, the added cost comes from the design and attention given to finishing the helves (handles). As this is done by hand, along with the construction of custom shipping cases, these axes demand a higher price point. How much is too much is a question left to those considering purchasing one.

    Thanks again for the comments. Keep an eye out for 2010, there should be some great things coming down the pike.

    Best,
    Nick Zdon

  5. Jeff on 01.19.2010

    Well said, Nick. And thanks again for the response/comments.

    I will say this: from a design/aesthetic standpoint, Best Made Axe is without a doubt the most beautiful looking axe I’ve come across. If one were going to buy an axe for its symbolic aspects and primarily for display, Best Made Axe would probably be the way to go.

    – Jeff

  6. Graeme Cameron on 01.19.2010

    As Co Founder of Best Made Company and a life long axeman I would love to comment on something.
    We are not about putting our axes beside a Gransfors or Tuatahi and saying “BMCo is better” and here is why. I love Gransfors axes, infact I own several! Our product is extremely limited in availability and some of our designs are even one off. That puts us in a very different market than any other axe company. I have actually pushed potential clients with very technical questions in the direction of Gransfors. This has nothing to do with a lack of technical know how or knowledge, far from it. We just don’t believe that our product requires a heavy technical explanation for being as good as it is. It is far more than Steel and Hickory. Our customer base is generally not interested in grind angles on the bits or in hardness testing. They are interested in becoming part of a company that tells a story about a product, gains their trust by actually acknowledging them, offering a unique experience through the purchase and in the end delivers an outstanding quality axe. We are not interested in being technical here – we are interested in providing motivation to think about good citizenship. We are interested in sharing our “Inspiration” and watching how it builds a “Tribe” of people – people with a common thread…. and guess what… that thread is not the axe.
    There are gaps in our site for sure and we will continue to fill them. Never did we compare ourselves to any other company or brand… We are on our own and will continue to forge ahead in the direction that we choose. If people don’t like what we are doing that’s fine but if a few out there do like it then I would think we have reached some level of success. There is plenty to come from Best Made Company and it will go way beyond the axe.
    You don’t have to own a BMCo axe to be part of it – you just need to understand 4 very important words.

    X

    Graeme

  7. Jeff on 01.19.2010

    Graeme,

    First of all, thanks so much for commenting. Second, I definitely get that your brand is about *more than* the technical excellence of the axe and I think your brand’s ability to strike a resonant chord with your tribe is admirable. So you have no argument from me on those points.

    Where I think I’d (respectfully) take issue with your comments is the “Never did we compare ourselves to any other company or brand” part. I hate to get all English Professor on you, but the “Best” in “Best Made” is, in fact, a superlative. To call your axe “Best Made” – and especially to use the phrase “A Best Made axe is a best made axe” – is to compare your axe (favorably) to all other axes. And it may BE better made than all other axes. All I’m saying is that if that is actually the case, I’d love to hear the story behind it on the Website. I think it would be a story worth telling.

    Respectfully,
    – Jeff

  8. Dave Munson on 02.28.2010

    I thought i’d put my two cents worth in on this. Jeff, you are absolutely right. The word “Best made” means that all others are made of a lesser quality. Now to my main thought.

    Graeme, I argued with my marketing friend about my old website before he convinced me to rebuild it. I argued that I was selling to a lot of people and that was proof that Saddleback Leather’s website was just fine the way it was. He agreed that the current website was converting traffic, but then asked me how many more folks I could convert if the website were even better. How many was I missing that would have bought if they would have known the facts?

    The key thought that he won his argument with was this; there are emotional buyers and there are logical buyers. I was (and you are) reaching only the emotional buyers.

    The emotional buyers want to belong to a tribe. They buy based on stories and pictures and persuasive copy. If they like you, they’ll buy from you. The facts are nice, but they don’t need them to make a decision. They need a feeling.

    Then there are logical buyers. They want to know the facts. They want to know if this axe will make their work easier and will it last. They want to know that they’re making a good decision and won’t feel dumb later. No one wants to get took. How hard is the steel? What makes it better than a Walmart or Home Depot axe that has a hickory handle? Will the head fly off? Why won’t the handle crack easily? Basically, why is this axe the best?

    If you’re not willing to tell the facts, then you’re missing out on a giant portion of sales from the logical buyers. I know this is fact because that’s what happened with me. My old website’s front page had a cool picture, a cool story and some funny questions for the person to ask themselves. On the new website, I made the quality facts accessible in two places on my front page above the fold. My sales rose 30% the first day of the new website and my bounce rate lowered about 15% immediately. Those stats have not wavered since.

    Trust me, you need to give the facts. Jeff probably pays more in taxes each year than most people earn in two. And he makes it by writing website copy that convert both logical and emotional buyers. He deals with billion dollar companies on a regular basis doing this very thing. He’s the Rambo of website copy. You just got some extremely expensive consulting for free. It would be a shame if you didn’t do something with it.

    If you truly don’t have the best made axes out there, I suggest you make that your aim. Sooner or later some hardness tests will be done by ax enthusiasts or by a competitor who doesn’t like being “second best” and their findings will make it onto some blogs and and onto your fan page and onto a few logger forums and you’ll lose it all. Seth Godin says that you must do business today as if you were doing it on a small island. People talk and information spreads fast on the internet. All someone needs to do is google ” ‘best made ax’ review” and you’d be toast.

  9. Tim Auman on 07.02.2010

    The real kicker to me is that this guy does not make these best made axes, he merely buys a standard axe from Snow & Nealley (http://snowandnealley.com) that retails for @ $60-$70 and paints the handle.

  10. Jeff on 07.02.2010

    Tim,

    Just wanted to emphasize that – absent some kind of leaked information – no one knows for certain who Best Made Axe is using to manufacture their axe heads. They only say the axe heads are being made in Maine. So, while Snowe And Nealley is a pretty good guess, it’s not OK to accuse them of that without some kind of confirmation. All I was saying is that it appears that Snowe and Nealley make an axe of equal quality to Best Made Co. for far less money.

    That said, I’m happy to keep the door open for them to explain how and why their axes are better, if, in fact, they are. The real point to the post is that, absent that kind of explanation, many prospective customers will remain unconvinced. In other words, make sure you offer that kind of explanation and detail on your Website. The idea is to learn from the situation, not to beat up on Best Made Co.

    – Jeff

  11. Christoper on 09.01.2010

    Jeff,

    I know you did not say that Best Made are S&N. You didn’t have to. Anyone with a little looking can see that. Their is only one axe maker in Main=S&N. Same head pattern, handle pattern, weights etc. Why else would the handle maker in TN. be sending handles with no stamp or finish to ME. if they were not be used for Best Made?

  12. Chris G on 12.02.2010

    Jeff,

    Just came across this article after looking into the BestMade CO axes. Well done. Lots of talk on the website, product description about the handle. While important, for something that uses axes a lot (for trailwork), handles break all the time. To me the most important thing is the ax head and ax bit. How well they keep an edge. I stick with Gransfors over these. For the money, a much better axe.

    Chris

  13. Andrew on 12.14.2010

    i didnt read all of the comments above so i may be reposting info and ideas.

    from what i have gathered about what the best made ax people do is paint an axe provided buy a company in Maine witch unless there is some other company i havent found yet then this company would be Snow & Nealley witch have a wonderful history but from what i have been told and read that is about all they have. i think they are on there third owner now and the axe heads are not made in this country and i am pretty sure its not made in Sweden. so maybe more like china? not that this art like axe should be used for work but i feel like they are no were near the best. Council Tool makes a fine all american drop forged axe and if that was the company they used it would be a better product. but all the axes i have seen from american companies are around 20 to 70 dollers and for the shape axe “the best made axe” sells its at best a 50 doller axe so i dont know what there logo and painted handle is worth to you but S.A.W. axe or a Gransfors would be many times better in quality and for similar stiles of axes much much cheaper

  14. Steven on 04.06.2011

    So let me get this straight: Best Made takes Snow & Nealley axes, paints the handles, and sells them to metrosexuals for an incredible markup? At one level, the PT Barnum level, it’s GENIUS. On another, authentic people know this is all faux.

  15. Ryan on 06.18.2011

    Best Made axes are made by Council Tool. Best Made gives input on handle shape and possibly handle material. Council Tool makes great tools, and they are made 100% in the USA. Best made axes show off the art of the tool, which for a lot of folks makes for a great wall hanger. They aren’t, however, any more useful for work than a standard Council Tool Daytona pattern axes or Hudson Bay axes. Snow & Nealley use China-sources heads, which is sad.

  16. Jeff on 06.20.2011

    Ryan,

    Best Made Axe’s marketing material specifically states that their axe heads are made in Maine and Council Tool manufactures everything in North Carolina, which kind of blows a hole in your theory.

    What Council Tools does illustrate, however, is the ability to find equal or better quality axes at a fraction of the price charged by Best Made. This alone is no big deal, except for the fact that Best Made has — by their very name — claimed superiority over these other axes while utterly refusing to step up and prove it. I leave the door open to the possibility that Best Made Axes are, in face, better made than the competition, and that’s the point to this article:
    if they really ARE better made, the company website ought to go into how and why they are better made (or, heck, “best made”). But they don’t do that — leaving things open to all sorts of speculation.

    Again, Best Made Axe is doing a lot of things RIGHT with their marketing, which is why they sell out of their premium priced axes. And their axes ARE beautiful, making the extra finishing, painting and presentation worth the premium to their customers. So this isn’t (or wasn’t intended to be) a “beat up on Best Made Axe” post. It’s a “what can we learn from this one hole in an otherwise admirable marketing plan” post.

    – Jeff

  17. Kyle Schwarz on 11.11.2011

    Hey Jeff,
    My friends an I are starting a bike company where all the frames are hand built in California.

    After reading your article we will definitely have to shoot the MFG process, and go into further detail why our bikes are awesome!

    Thanks for the tips,
    Kyle

  18. palimpsestpete on 12.15.2011

    Luddites!

    All the real hep-cats have moved on to “Best Chainsaw Ever”. Selling like hotcakes in Park Slope.

  19. Scott on 12.20.2011

    Jeff-

    Thanks for highlighting the fact that there is virtually no mention of how and why best made axes are indeed best made other than the fact that they have the best painted axes on the market. I’ll admit I’ve been intrigued by how the axes have been marketed, at least on the surface but I’m one of those people that not only appreciates the beauty of a tool but also wants to research the tech specs and know how the tool is actually a top quality tool. I have several very good quality axes, something like 12 in all, for all different sorts of woodcutting tasks. Single and double bit, felling axes and smaller job axes, large and small hatchets. Most are handed down from grandfather who used each one more than I ever will. I also have a Gransfors which I purchased. All are kept very sharp, sanded and oiled handles and are importantly used to chop wood. I was looking into the Best Made Axes but couldn’t find any details of how they are manufactured or forged. If I remember right I believe I read somewhere on their website that they were hand-forged which I find difficult to believe. As far as I know there are no commercially produced Amereican made hand-forged axes. Council are drop forged, Snow are apparently from China and there’s no way they are hand forged if that’s the case. Germany makes some very good quality drop forged axes as well but as far as I can tell the only ones making hand-forged axes commercially are the Swedes with Wetterlings and Gransfors. There’s a reason a hand forged axe cost a lot because they require a tremendous amount of skill (years of practice) in order to create a top quality product and they aren’t just popped out by placing molten steel into a giant automated hammer forge. There’s also things that can only be done by hand that can increase the hardness of the bit of the axe-head. Anyways, thanks again for bringing up this topic, I wish Best Made would tell the story of how the axes are made not just the inspiration of how cool axes are and how they are painted and how you can buy syrup and patches on their website.

  20. Jeff on 12.20.2011

    Scott,

    Thanks for the comment. It’s interesting because I was just on the Best Made Axe website and was pleasantly surprised to find some improved content around the quality construction that goes into their axes. I was also surprised to learn that their axe heads were no longer made in Maine, but are now supplied by Council Tools, an axe company that still forges their axe heads right here in America, and whose tools have an overall excellent reputation.

    Of course, it’s easy to see that a regular Council Tool axe costs between $50 – $80 while a Best Made Axe runs between $150-400, but it’s also clear that added finishing, painting, packaging, etc. has been done to the axes.

    Still… that’s not the point. The point is that the Best Made Axe website has been made better and more convincing by adding in some substantive or factual material regarding construction, build quality, etc. And that’s really the takeaway small business owners and craftsmen can use for their own sites.

    – Jeff

  21. Nick on 12.20.2011

    Thanks for looking back into the site Jeff. Best Made axes are indeed made for us in partnership with Council tool. Just as a point of clarification, the Council axe comparable to Best Made Co. is their Velvicut, which actually retails for $169 from Council, a very comparable price to Best Made’s $158 unpainted version. Best Made worked with Council to design this axe and both parties are very proud of it.

    Any small business owner knows that managing the relationship between their brand and their manufacturer’s always needs to be given careful consideration. We at Best Made make no excuses for how we’ve marketed our axes in the past, but it’s been an evolutionary process over the 2 years we’ve been in business. We’ve ramped up our educational content, specifications, and made staffing changes.

    We’ve been active in having our products reviewed and tested. We are also very responsive to customer questions regarding all the products we sell. I personally correspond with a number of customers.

    We’ve been active in a number of areas beyond our website as well. Our Projects blog has been a joy for us to expound on specific products and features in a way that may not fit into our website copy. We’ve also been active in the social media realm (Facebook, Twitter, and now Google+) all of which allow us to provide content and answer customer questions. We’re also active on BladeForum, one of the web’s largest online knife and tool message boards. All of these different platforms allow us to communicate different information to different customer segments who have different needs. Our website can’t, and won’t, be the be all and end all for our messaging, but we’re always looking to improve it.

    Best,
    Nick Zdon

  22. Jeff on 12.20.2011

    Wow, Nick, that’s awesome! You guys rock. I love, love, love the fact that you worked with Council Tool to create an axe head to your specifications. That rocks. In fact, I think your comments and the recent changes deserve a new column. Would you mind being interviewed for it?

  23. Scott on 12.20.2011

    I agree that it is indeed cool that Best Made has partnered with Council to create an axe specifically for their needs. I don’t own a Council axe but I have read lots about them and from what I understand they do make a very good drop firged axe and their Velvicut line is even better since it has been worked by hand after the forging process to work a very fine cutting edge to the bit of the axe. They actually have a video online that shows some of how this is done. Glad to hear additional info has been made available about the Best Made axes. Best of luck with the continued growth of their business with more info to come and more interest in a very wonderful tool.

  24. Brandon on 01.12.2012

    This much I can say: I spend a lot of time in the woods, and some of that time is spent felling, bucking and limbing. I also do some splitting on my property. I have never met a person in the woods or on my road or in my town who was carrying, let along working with, a Best Made axe. I doubt I ever will. I guess the website hasn’t reached a certain audience yet, namely, the audience of people who use axes.

  25. Jeff on 01.13.2012

    Brandon,

    Thanks for the comment. I’d just say that the fact that the typical outdoorsman doesn’t commonly carry a Best Made Axe really doesn’t mean too much. It’s a super-premium product and therefore not the typical. Most cowboys don’t wear super-premium cowboy boots — they wear much cheaper working-man’s boots. Most hunters don’t own $6,000 rifles either; you’re far more likely to see a guy carrying a 30-30 lever action than some super-high end claro-walnut-stocked, double-square-bridged mauser rifle with engraving and everything. But that doesn’t mean the high end rifle isn’t worth the money, or won’t deliver an entirely different shooting experience. It’s just not worth the money to the average hunter, nor was it ever intended to.

    The point I was initially making with the column, was simply that there is likely a significant portion of Best Made Axe’s prospective customers who would be looking for some substantiation of the claim “Best Made,” and that they’d likely expect that substantiating content on their Website. And this goes for almost any premium product, too, by the way, so it’s a lesson applicable to lots of my readers.

    At any rate, Best Made Axe re-sourced their axe heads and added exactly the kind of content I was expecting to find when I first wrote this column, so kudos to them! Expect a follow-up on this post to delve into exactly how they went about improving this aspect of their already very-successful marketing.

    – Jeff

  26. Scott on 01.13.2012

    Well said Brandon. I am no woodsman but I would call myself an amatuer bushcrafter. I too have never seen anyone in the woods working with the Best Made Axes. It’s fine to market the axes to a segment of the public that wants to hang the axes on their wall. I have lots of axes; felling, double bit, boys axe, house axe, mauls, splitters, and hatchets… They all get used. Axes are meant to be used.
    Another small observation. It’s very odd to see someone heading into the woods to fell a tree, chop wood, whaterever, wearing tight jeans. One of the pics on the best made axe company shows one of the guys wearing tight jeans…really? It’s like wearing shorts to a funeral

  27. Cooperhill on 04.20.2012

    Best Made axes are made by Council Tool. It’s nice that the brand is now supporting the only axes to be manufactured in the USA. Snow & Nealley, suppliers of the previous incarnation of BMC axes and currently suppliers to Base Camp X (a similar company), are forged in China and “finished in Maine and frankly, in my opinion, inferior.

    I have since purchased the BMC unfinished american felling axe. I am a trailworker and fully intend on using it in the woods. I have about 20 axes, most of which I have restored and hung myself. The BMC axe is very well balanced (i.e. it doesn’t tilt forward when you balance it on your hand); the axe profile is very narrow with a higher centerline which makes it great for chopping; the axe is hung expertly; and the axe handle has very good grain orientation. The Council Velicut (aka BMC american felling axe) stands up well against other axes.
    Cooperhill´s last blog post ..cooperhill: A gorgeous Spring day in Boston.

  28. Jeff on 04.20.2012

    Thanks for the Comments, Cooperhill. I fully agree with you on all points. Best Made has definitely won my respect for their efforts to bring the quality specs up to speed with their marketing.

  29. miles on 01.05.2014

    Best made sucks as a company imho they push out crap to the yuppy crowd who might use the axe one time. Ive had two of them now neither one of them even compares to a gransfors or any number of the old american made axes like kelly sager craftsman among many others. They fall so short for actual use its pitiful.

  30. Jeff on 03.26.2014

    Miles, sorry for the late approval and reply to your comment. First, thanks for reading and for commenting. It’s my appreciation of both that led me to push the comment live after so much time.

    That said, and in general I usually delete comments like this that only slam Best Made rather than commenting on their actual marketing. Not because they are negative but because they are effectively off-topic. The intent of the post is to look at Best Made’s marketing (or their marketing at the time of publication) and learn lessons that can be applied to YOUR marketing and business, rather than to slam Best Made as a company or directly criticize their products. From what I can currently discern they have improved the quality of their axes since this post was first published and their people have always been a pleasure to deal with.

    In other words, after seeing how Best Made has evolved and after corresponding with some of them, I’d consider buying one of their axes if I was in the market for such a thing. Are there still “more axe for the money” alternatives out there? I’m positive there are. Does that make Best Made a bad product? Not in my opinion. It’s a big marketplace, there’s room for niche products, and Best Made fills their niche, nicely. And maybe that niche IS to serve a “yuppy” market that cares about appearance as much as (or more than) performance (though they might beg to differ on that). Even if that’s the case, it’s not actually a bad thing. It might clash with your values, but those values aren’t universal, and you don’t have to buy their axes. Aint the free market grand?

    Now, getting back to marketing, the cool thing is to see how having a better product lets Best Made Company have better product descriptions that delve into the methods of manufacture, quality of steel, specs, design, etc. In other words, they are not getting into everything that I initially recommended that they get into in terms of substantiating their quality. I think it’s a big improvement in their online copy.

    Anyway, thanks again for reading the post and commenting.

    – Jeff

  31. Max Shelley on 04.18.2014

    Interesting conversation. Here’s a visual comment on marketing:

    https://vimeo.com/80278488

  32. joseph on 07.20.2014

    What’s brilliant about Best Made, is that they figured out a way to sell axes to people that don’t need axes. They created a value added product that people simply want. Maybe these people are simply co-opting a lifestyle that they long for, or enjoying some nostalgia but in the end, that’s up to them.
    I am an axe guy, and I wouldn’t want to pay double for a Council Tool on a pretty handle, but that’s ok, i am not their demographic. They are the A & F of outdoor gear and if a hipster wants to hang an axe on his wall and call it art, then more power to him.
    After revisiting the website I see they added some technical info which is great but I would bet that the majority of these axes never see the outdoors.
    Great article by the way, I just discovered your site and really enjoy it.
    joseph

  33. Soren Cicchini on 10.12.2014

    In places like Australia, where legislation protects consumers from misleading claims, Best Made would need to be careful about their promotional material. However, I didn’t see anything too controversial on their web site. References to their exhibitions and claims of spectacular presentations seem reasonable to me.

    They seem to have done a good job at marketing the axe as art. Best Marketed or Most Fashionable might be a more accurate name, but lacks the wilderness, craftsmanship or heritage nostalgia cachet that appeals to their customers.

    Somebody seeking a genuine heirloom quality tool will not find the technical information they are seeking and will find the company name annoying and mischievously misleading in the way that Subway uses the Doctor’s Associates brand to allow its customers to assume that their products have non-existent medical endorsements and health benefits. However, this is not their target market, and wilderness forum rants are unlikely to damage their sales.

    I personally wouldn’t want an axe with a painted grip for two reasons. Firstly, I don’t wear gloves when I use an axe, and it would become dangerously slippery when wet. This is exactly why I have just burnt the varnish off the handle of my hatchet (primarily used to cut the top off green/young coconuts for drinking – hahaha!) and crosshatched the grip with a rasp. I also much prefer the aesthetics of an oil/wax finish, and think it a shame to obscure the beautiful lustrous grain. However, taste is a personal thing, and enough people seem to like the pop art style to make it a viable product.

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