I have to say that I enjoy reading this thread.
Now, I have a question about marketing and Schiit. Have you guys tried to send free review samples to the more "mainstream"/"huge" online publications, such as The Verge? There are two reasons I'm asking:
1) It seems to me that a favorable review by those "rockstars" could be a "make it or break it" deal, especially for smaller companies, don't you think?
2) I'm curious to know if you have tried, and why it didn't work out (I haven't seen any Schiit reviews on the Verge, but I have seen V-Moda there).
Why I chose The Verge specifically is because, first of all, I'm an avid reader but second and possibly most important, they seem just "crazy" enough to actually review your product. I mean, you have everything in favor for you: name, pricing (especially Magni, Modi), "Made in USA" and beautiful design that would propbably sell more to the mainstream than a black box with a red glowy LCD screen.
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
We're really not that interested. Contrary to some conspiracy theorists, all of our reviews in mainstream pubs have been from them approaching us, rather than the other way around. And pretty much all of them, with the exception of the New York Times review of Bifrost, showed:
(a) A profound lack of understanding of what matters in audio (real audio, not Bluetooth pocket speakers, noise canceling headphones, and iPods)
(b) A relatively lukewarm response, mainly centered around the product looking cool, or being made in the USA, or the name
We don't have the resources necessary to educate the mainstream reviewers (much less the public at large) on the nuances of great sound--and even if we did, they'd have to decide if it mattered to them. Some people spend a ton of money on their house, or model trains, or barbecues, or kitchen appliances, or bikes, or collectable figurines, or games, or home theater, or ten thousand other things...they've made their choice that that's what's important to them. Same with headphones, headphone amps, etc. We've decided these are important to us. Most other people won't understand it. They never will. And marketing, by and large, won't change that.
Andddddd...I have to say that I've seen a lot of great companies destroy themselves by chasing the green rabbit...they get some big exposure, demand surges, and the banks and investors step in to help: "Oh, you can grow a lot faster if you have a line of credit," or "we'd like to invest this many millions...and of course get interest on your board." And then they're on the investment/banking lockstep growth plan, where you'd better make your numbers, or suddenly they now control your business.
One thing I left out of the above chapter was this: I don't think there are any companies in audio doing a great job in marketing right now. Not the big guys, not the small guys, not Schiit. By the metrics of companies that really live and die by marketing (think Coke, Nike, etc), we're all amateurs. And that's fine. Because creating the 14th in a series of multi-media cross-promotions that's coupled to the year's hot movie with an insurance-backed contest centered around social sharing with user experience metrics is a great way to lose your soul.
Stay small, stay human.