No computer??

I just wanted you all to know an interesting fact that I have recently come across. Our company has advertised in Stereophile, some of you may have seen the ad. I have received numerous calls for literature, which we are behind in printing, and thus are still about 4 weeks away from having any. While the brochure will be nice, there is about 10 times the information on the website, thus I have always asked "have you been to our website?" You can not believe how many people have responded--I don't have a computer. This amazes me, as these are people that read Stereophile. These did not sound like people that were so old they did not ever have access to a computer and thus never tried one, nor did these people sound like finances were any reason not to have a computer. While I can't be sure--it seemed to be more a purposeful decision of "I am simplifying my life--and a computer doesn't need to be part of it." Two of the people said they would go to the library and look me up on the internet connection there. I've suggested that to several--and I kind of got the impression of a deer looking into the headlights--just a long pause on the phone. To me it would be virtually impossible to work without a computer--I would have about 3 miles of paper in my office were it not for my computer--and very little way of keeping the organization I need. For most out there on A-gon (who obviously have a computer--or at the very least access to one) this probably sounds as surprising to you as it did to me. Just thought I would share that--any thoughts or comments would be welcomed.
They probably listen to alot more music than people who have computers.
In my experience computers are a mixed blessing. I believe that I have wasted as much time as saved due to computers. Between hardware and software glitches, viruses and an a European internet site that intentionaly tried to take over my operating system and achieved 99% success. Thats right couldn't remove it because tht 1 % locked it up. I had to erase everything and start from scratch. Did you ever try calling your computer manufacturer of Internet provider for help? The waiting is absolutley riduculous. After waiting you can count on being transfered numerous times to repeat the same story over and over only to be disconnected, then misinformed then delivered the wrong pre purchased product. UGH! Constantly updating firewalls and antivirus software. Internet providers providing spotty service and annoying "upgrades". Not to mention all the crap you have to sort through to get anything worthwhile. I can't remember being sold any other product that required me to understand how it worked and how to fix it myself. Why don't computers come up and running without problems and simple directions to operate. Yes, computers are good but I wish they would sell a finished reliable product rather than half baked goods they do.
They must be seriously into tubes and eschew solid state ;-)

Very interesting post. I recently took a vacation back to where I was raised and educated. My time was divided between visiting with high school chums and the audiophile friends of long ago. I got the pleasure of auditioning lots of tube based systems and buying used vinyl as well. I can only speak of what I experienced in the midwest in my age group. I am 52.

Much to my surprise I discovered that virtually none of my peer group was even interested in having a computer. Those that had internet access used it almost exclusively for email and nothing else. Nobody had a high speed connection. The ones that did have a machine and a dial-up connection offered brief explainations about how difficult it is to master any pc based programs. Most have access to mentors (children/grandchildren) and groused about it not being worth the pain and that none of the mentors knew how to communicate with an adult with zero knowledge.

Those of us that use our computers extensively take for granted that others understand the power of this medium and the instant gratification it provides. I must admit that aside from my interest in this hobby and the modest income I earn from my web based service company for Realtors (virtual tour photo service) the web doesn't offer me much to enhance my life. I still purchase over 99% of my needs through brick and mortar outlets that are local. As a businessman I have discovered that my competitors who are brick and mortar based are simply healthy competition. My cyber competitors as a rule have no morals, choosing instead to steal, lie, and cheat. Their sleazy reputations are an obstacle I must constantly overcome.

Hacking, viruses, IPO's that were a joke, lawsuits galore, the lack of privacy, musical theft, video theft, pornography and all the other negatives about this electronic world are not lost on the uninitiated. The question comes down to the consumer asking themselves if they are more comfortable with brick and mortar or a wall outlet. To them (and rightly so) the net is on a par with the annoying phone solicitors. I agree.

Rives, you are living in a primative world that is much like the wild west was. Until the internet, phones and television are merged into one necessary package with all the inherent governmental rules and regulations, this medium will lack the credibility to seriously compete with brick and mortar on a large scale.

At least you have found part of a niche market here. Besides making the most out of what you have found, the next step, aside from constructing a storefront, is to cultivate relationships with retailers to assist in peddling your wares. Think about this: who did you expect to reach by placing an ad in a physical product?

If one were to remove schools, government, and abused businesses (through employee surfing) from the net connectivity figures, you would get a better picture of where this industry is at in the real world of e-commerce. You are blazing a trail here my friend, a true pioneer. In spite of what we all feel about how advanced everything is, we are still in the internet stone age. Beware of meat eating pedators.

Sincere good luck to you,
Thank you for the comments thus far--particularly Lugnut. Just so you know--we do sell through dealers. Although most of our dealers are CEDIA (Custom Entertainment Design Installers Association) type dealers--not the typical brick and morter shops but certainly not the "internet / mailorder" houses either. We have to have dealers to take the acoustical measurements for us--otherwise we could not offer our services at the prices we do as we would have to travel to do much of the measuring (which we do anyway or our highest level service). Our website, while we can take orders through it, is primarily designed to provide customers or potential customers with information regarding our company, services, and products. The ad did increase the traffic on our website (as expected), but I think you bring out a very true and valid point. It is reaching a segment of the market that does not have or use computers--and there was just more of these people in the audio world than I expected. I also think you are absolutely right in terms of being in the internet stone age--it will be interesting to see where it leads us over the next few years. I like Dave Barry's comment on the subject: "The internet turned out to be a bust--information super highway is more like a high tech CB radio with the primary source of the information, namely humans, usually being wrong." I don't have the exact quote--but that pretty close to what he said.
Let me try a little less tongue in cheek response. Virtually everyone I know in my age range (45-50) uses a PC at home. Either their kids acclimated them to it or they use it at work. My mother-in-law uses it; my own parents do not. There is an age and income distribution around PC ownership. Younger and/or higher income individuals tend to use the PC much more. But, there remain many older (of all income ranges) individuals who don't see the benefits or need to use one and this is true, to a lesser degree, of younger individuals as well.

To answer your question, it does not surprise me that a good number of audiophiles do not use PC's. I believe that virtually all audiophiles who are also technophiles (e.g., have an engineering background or really get into the technical aspects of the hobby) would use a PC. But, many audiophiles are really musicphiles vs. technophiles. That has little to do with age or income (IMO).

I agree with Lugnut that a multi-faceted marketing strategy is the correct approach and you do have one in place. Advertising in Stereophile and hitting the internet are both good tactics. Expanding the referral base is also an excellent idea and that is usually accomplished with happy customers or motivated dealers. One way to motivate dealers is to incent them to cross-sell your services after they sell their wares (not before and not during). A joint mail campaign (signed by both parties with the mail list firmly in control of the dealer and not shared with you) would be a potential way to accomplish this.

I'd be happy to discuss this with you and kick around some ideas. Drop me a note. I spent a couple of decades in marketing and you might get lucky enough to actually get a useful idea or two out of my ramblings ;-)
Don't forget that even though your web site is rich with information, some people, including myself, still like the tangible feel of paper-based literature. I can read it in bed, get a better feel for the look of a product or just touch and dream. I use the Internet extensively, but I miss the tangible aspects of books, magazines, catalogs, etc.
One third of America will Never be online. I need that 33% for my business; the telephone has far more power than any PC. Just my two cents...
...not to mention that you can put a brochure/literature on your table to be much more easily and causally looked and/or shared with someone else at a later moment. In addition, many do not have quality PRINTING capabilities that will allow them to print in color or in an otherwise pleasing format.

A bit of friendly advise is to address the source of the "4 weeks behind in printed material availabilty". That is unacceptable if your are sourcing out the printing.
Carry on! I am 62 and do all my research online. I even create websites just for fun. The point is, without a computer, I never would have found you (and we would not now be having this discourse).
Don't underestimate the potential of this medium.
Good luck!

Never in the history of man has an invention become so important to our lives so quickly. There is a definite division between users and not users of PCs (macs too), and that can be further divided into users and those who use effectively. As my father once put it, a computer is a tool, and that tool is only as effective as the person on the other end (he can barely get a computer turned on, yet relies on one for work and family communication since he lives in Indonesia). I think people would be amazed at the wide varitey ways people 'use' their computers. Some concider emailing friends and family 'using' a computer. Others I know would fall to pieces financially if their PC died.

In short, nothing surprises me when comes to computer users EXCEPT those who become so dependant on something they don't understand, and those who buy PCs/Macs without giving much thought as to what they need a computer for, but then again, I see that type of behavior from people buying stereo's the "I just gotta have the best so I can brag" mentallity.

And I agree with 4yanx, sounds like you need my help Rives; if you are so behind in your printing, either the people you are sourcing too need to be fired, or you need to invest in some equipment.
Again--more thanks for the comments and keep them coming. As to the comments on printers--no I can't fire the people I'm sourcing it to. It's mostly my fault we are behind. I under estimated the time for a pool of creative geniuses to come up with a great brochure. It's not that it's taken too long--in hind site it should have been started earlier. If a printer was behind by 4 weeks--well they would have been fired a week ago.
I certainly respect anybody's decision to not have a computer, but I certainly don't hold the computer or the internet responsible for over-complicating my life. Just the opposite actually - yes, computers can be maintenance-intensive on occassions. But driving around town can be time intensive, going to the library, making phone calls, etc. You can see with all the sites that "get it right" just how powerful and time-saving this tool is and I, for one, wouldn't want to be without it given a choice. No doubt it's still an immature technology / space, but it will continue to get better.

Mdomnick gets it right - these things are tools. Properly used, they're extremely powerful. Improperly used, they're not as powerful and can even be wasteful.

I also don't agree that cyber-retailers are decidely sleazy or underhanded. I have a long list of cyber-stores I regularly shop and the service is far superior to what I get in 99% of the bricks-and-mortar stores I might frequent. Better information, better prices, better selection. It's not there for every category of item yet, to be sure, but it's there for a bunch of things I regularly shop for.

While it may be true that a significant percentage of people will never be hooked up (although never is a long time, what with all the wireless technologies that are becoming ubiquitous), I can't imagine that the people who can't see Rives website due to a lack of computer are in that state due to finances, given what they're shopping for. I suppose they must be in the "older" demographic.

I can imagine people not wanting or being able to afford internet service. I can't imagine anybody not benefitting from having email and Quicken accessible on a computer.
I am most amused (amazed???) when discussing the benefits of broadband connections. Modem users ALWAYS say "I don't use the internet enough to justify the expense" yet when they sit in front of my computer they ALWAYS spend so much time on the internet. I then move in to make my point...You don't use the internet over a modem much because of how cumbersome, clunky and slow it is. With broadband, the info is there in a snap, but there still is that human nature to resist something new, but just as the computer itself, broadband is proving it's value...even though it's not a money maker for ISPs...go figure.

Fyneplace: More power to you!!! I see so many people, namely my parents, aunts, uncles...etc getting more and more frustrated in day to day activities because they refuse to learn this stuff. Even when they have 2 sons (I'm one) making a living in IT. I still get a kick out of watching my father double click links on the net even though I've corrected him dozens of times...oh well, as long as he can get his email and to EBay, he's happy.
Brochure collectors.
They don't buy anything, they just collect brochures, at others expense.
They try to guilt you into them by telling you they can not view your
website because they, nor does anyone in their state, own a computer,
so go out an spend thousands to design and print up brochures for them....