Saturday, October 31, 2009

Who's the amb"ASS"ador now?



Ok, so I got up this morning and as usual, I got on line and read all of my favorite paintball sites for the latest rumors, stories and the hottest turbo up grade board for my already "gray area" marker. Our friends over at ProPaintball.com have an interview with Nicky Cuba that was conducted by SavePaintball.org. One of the questions asked not only by SavePaintball.org but also by ProPaintball.com was, "How are you an ambassador of Paintball?". Great question!! That got me thinking, not just about how am I personally an ambassador of paintball, but what it actually takes to be one. One of the things Nicky commented on in his interview was how paintball was the most expensive sport to play. Now even though I don't believe paintball is all that expensive to play once you have all your equipment and become a member of the community (about $60 same as a round of golf), it can be quite a lot of money to get you to that point. Even a day out to the local field with rental equipment isn't as cheap as you think. Sure the fields have packages that start at around $50, but we all know once your there and you see some of the stuff the other guys are using, your already heightened nerves get the best of you and you opt for the better gun and larger quantity of paint and before you know it your into the day for $100 or more.

Let's say your going to be an ambassador and your already a long time member of the paintball community and you have a few different markers that you have accumulated over the years, as well as all the extra necessary gear needed to get a new player out on the field, minus the paint and entry of course and your ready to take out a new guy. Well here comes the part that's a little more tricky. Who do you take? I mean, you can't take anyone you know that's already played, because that's not the point and chances are anyone who knows you, knows you play paintball and if your the type of person who is already willing to take people and let them use all your equipment just so they can see what paintball is like, then you have probably already exhausted your list of friends and family who might be interested. So where does that leave you to find these new players? Should you put up fliers in the area with your contact info on it so anyone interested can get a hold of you? Do you let your local paintball shop and field know that you will be letting people use your equipment for free in place of renting from them so that you can get more people into the sport? (it's not like the people that would find out about your free gear from a field or shop weren't already interested and planning on paying for it themselves anyway) What if you just randomly walked around shouting out, "Hey, anyone wanna play paintball....it's on me, well sort of!". I know I'm making this harder than it really is but bare with me, I have a point, well more like a plan. (although it's not perfect since I just hashed it this morning and I'm NOT a morning person)

Basically what I'm getting at is this. It seems to me that with today's economic paintball situation, being an ambassador to paintball is more about helping the industry get itself out of the trouble they put themselves in. It's like a bailout of sorts and I didn't agree with the governments bank bail outs.....but that's a different post.

Paintball Industry------> "Hey guys, I know that all these years we could have been spending money on outside advertisement and on getting a true governing body together in order to truly lay down a foundation for this sport so that we wouldn't be in this spot we are in now, but gosh darn it, patenting other peoples ideas, being the first to get on TV and supercharging our guns and loaders so they melt little kids who get shot by them was just way more important at the time. How about YOU guys, the ones that have been addicted to this sport for so long and have bitched and complained about how we have ruined things for you, how about you go out and try to drum up some new business for US so that YOUR sport can survive and flourish like it used to...deal?".........

Now I'm all for helping the sport and doing right by others and all that hugs and kisses stuff, but when will the big boys who want to control this sport so badly, actually start doing things the right way in order to put this train back on its tracks instead of all this inner fighting and suing eachother BS. Alright, enough of my ranting....for now. Here's the idea/plan. Now, this plan takes a little giving on the parts on the big boys and possibly on the parts of local fields, but it's actually nothing in terms of the potential ROI.

We take, let's say the top 16 "pro" teams and tell them that they are going to be the ambassadors of this sport. I mean, we put them on this pedestal and really don't ask much, if anything from them in return right. Besides, who wouldnt be excited about going to play paintball for the first time with a PRO.....oh the stories they would have. These pro teams will be asked to take a minimum of 10 (could be more) new players out per month per team. (there is an easy way to validate and track this...we can discuss the specifics later) That's 160 new people every month (almost 2000 a year) going out and trying paintball that probably wouldn't have otherwise. Their respective sponsors will send them the necessary equipment they will need for this to happen (i.e. 10 tanks, 10 loaders, 10 guns, 10 masks, 10 harnesses, pods etc.) and the teams will keep this "rental" equipment at their houses to distribute when needed. The paint sponsors only have to send 5 extra cases a month with the teams allotted practice paint shipment. I say 5 cases because 1000 rnds per player is a good amount for the first time out. As far as guns go, almost every manufacture has a lower level version of their gun they can send out in order to help the sport and even if companies like Dye, Smart Parts, Luxe etc. didn't want to send out ten $1000+ markers to their pro teams as rentals, then they could always let Kingman or Tippmann fill that void....I mean it's for the betterment of the sport right, got to be an ambassador right? The local fields that these pro teams practice at, I'm sure wouldn't mind giving out free or even discounted entry to these 10 new players a month that wouldn't have been there otherwise anyway, so technically they aren't losing anything and its advertisement for their field. Now we have the equipment, the paint, the entry and the ambassadors. We just need to get these new players who have not been exposed to paintball before. I'll leave that part up to you guys.

Idea update** You could even make it a competition between teams to see who can bring the most new players each month.

This is by no means a perfect solution, but doesn't it seem a lot less one sided. The people who will benefit most from these new players is the manufactures. They should be the ones to foot the bill to get these players into the sport and since they wont do it in the form of OUTSIDE paper, electronic, radio or TV advertisement, then they should do it with the product and their pro teams that they already pay for. It's a double sided advertisement for them, not only are they advertising the sport of paintball which they all want to control, but they are doing it with their products so if and when these new players decide to buy, they will most likely buy the equipment from the sponsor package they used when they were introduced to paintball and if that equipment happens to be too expensive for them to jump into......well then we have another problem.....but that one is a lot easier to solve...I'll solve that one next time...one at a time...it's still early.

16 comments:

Tomcat said...

Great article Brandon... an interesting idea, I love it!

Tom Tomcat Cunningham
The Catshack Reports

Don Saavedra said...

I have always been jealous of those stories when the Ironmen used to go play walk-on after practice was over and get out amongst the "normal guys" and have some fun.

As a follow up idea... how about the pro team's sponsors "pay" their way in to some scenario/big games in the off season? I say "off season" as a starter because the first thing the pros should be thinking about during the season is winning and practice eats up all of their time. But, most or all scenario producers will accept product for the prize giveaway in exchange for entry... and those scenario producers who also own stores/fields will take paint in trade for event paint, so little (if any) comes out of the player's pocket. This has the added bonus for the team sponsor of advertising their products to those who actually pay for their shizz.

Now, here's the tricky part: these pro's will actually have to go out and mingle and get involved with the scenario players. All too often I have been at events that mixed Pro players and us schmoes, and the pro's tend to keep to themselves, both on and off the field. That defeats the purpose. To use Nicky Cuba as an example (only because Brandon used him), Nicky should find a group of kids or newbies and become their "team captain" for the weekend, staging with them off the field, running around with them on the field. If other Ironmen are there... they have their own adopted teams they're spending time with. None of this hiding behind the *insert sponsor* trailer and only ever being seen ripping people in half out on the field. And being nice and saying "hi" to people on the way back and forth doesn't count as "reaching out."

You want loyal fans? You want people in this sport taking an interest in what the "top" is "trickling down?" That's how you do it. Does that answer the "new people" problem Brandon talks about above? No... but then I agree with him so what more can I say about that?

Brandon Lambertson 909 said...

Thanks TomCat, now we focus on finding the new players....hmmmm.

Don,

Man, did someone tell you about my good idea with pros and scenario games? It's in the works so to speak. Not exactly what you laid out, but a round about way to cross promote the two and try and feed some scenario players into the tourny side.

Tom Tomcat Cunningham said...

Brandon you mind dropping me a line to catshackreports@gmail.com if you wouldn't mind please....got a few ideas to run by you.

mick said...

Good stuff...real ideas!

Brandon Lambertson 909 said...

Email sent Tom....

Thanks Mick and thanks for reading!!

Baca Loco said...

Always a good read, Brandon. More rants!

Don,
We used to do some stuff like that to promote the team (which in turn promoted the sponsors.)

Brandon Lambertson 909 said...

Thanks Baca, it's always nice getting a compliment from someone whom I respect the opiion of. =)

Don Saavedra said...

Baca,

Used to? What changed?

raehl said...

Wait, the idea is we have the best players in the game have MORE interaction with new players? Yes, because we all know people who have no idea Pro paintball even exists have even MORE fun playing against the best players in the game.

If we REALLY want to fix paintball, the sponsors should get together and refuse to sponsor any teams or leagues unless the Pro division is hopperball only. Then, they all agree to provide price breaks to fields who agree to give every player 500 paintballs with their admission fee, but also not to sell additional paint for less than $100/case.


Just saved the players a ton of money, cut the Pro team paint sponsorship budgets by 75%, and improved margins for the field owner. Oh, and since the new players are not getting hosed, they're having more fun too.

Brandon Lambertson 909 said...

Oh Chris, don't be so quick to dislike a good idea. I never said the pros had to take them out to the speedball field and play against them at 100% full throttle. I had more of "a day in the woods" kind of thing in mind. Every pro I know still plays walk on now and then for the "FUN" in it and they will tell you that. Trust me, playing tournament all the time and dealing with the politics gets real old real fast. They like to go back to the roots too. Hell, I play in Tom Cole's UWL (Ultimate Woodsball League) with all the So Cal pros. Even Bob Long brings his gang down from Nor Cal to play in it. It's what got most of us into paintball.....playing in the woods. (and for those of you that haven't been to UWL.......GO, it was the most fun I had playing paintball in years!!) If you worked this out and let the pros all know that part of the deal is not just getting new players out to play, but to take these new comers to the woods field, play WITH them not against them and go easy so that everyone had fun, I'm sure they would all be more than happy to be that kind of ambassador. I mean, can't you picture it.....Team Infamous/Dynasty/Ironmen etc. take out ten new players to their local field where they have worked out this beautiful arrangement, they set up an Ez-Up and a few chairs, break out the equipment and go over everything with these new players. They go play a few games, getting pointers and being walked through their first experience by the best players in the world only to walk off the field, return to the Ez-Up sit down and tell each other their stories about the last game over a cold bottle of water, all holding hands and singing songs.......well, you get the point. It COULD be a very cool thing if it were done right, and that's the only way I saw it going down in my head...the right way.

And besides, I think you missed the REAL point I had in all of this, which was that it's time for the industry to take some responsibility in changing the things that are wrong in paintball, like having the interactions that your worried about between pros and new comers, be much more professional and inspiring and less aggressive and holier than thow. I want the pros and the industry to be more accountable for their actions while at the same time losing this terrible image they both have.

I am on board with you about the paint though. I agree that all the machine guns have taken their toll on new comers and I'm all for slowing things down a bit.

Thanks for reading, even if you did hurt my feelings. =)

Brandon Lambertson 909 said...

Typo ...meant holier than thou...

raehl said...

I just think Pros are not the right tool to use on brand-new-players, at least not directly. They really don't provide any incentive - if someone doesn't play paintball, what do they care if a Pro player is there or not?

Maybe a better idea is to create a special Pro benefit that a current player can go to ONLY if they bring 5 new players out to play with them (maybe the same day, maybe a day or week or month before.) So I may be a big Pro fan, and I get to meet and play with the Pro, but only if my field 'sponsors' me because I brought 5 new people out to play in the past month.

Brandon Lambertson 909 said...

To your first point about pros not being the best tool to use....fair enough, but like I said in this post originally, this whole little idea was a quickly hashed thought I had after watching the savepaintball.org interview. It wasn't meant to be the end all say all in our paintball problem but rather a different way to look at it in general, taking the responsibility of rebuilding this sport out of the hands of the players (who some would argue is the reason we have problems) and putting this responsibility into the laps of the industry (which is who "I" argue the real problem comes from).

I also didn't use "pros" because I think they are personally better equipped as people or as teachers to handle this job, but because I was looking for a resource that was not only already paid for by the industry but one that most people would say does little if anything to repay all this industry money that is spent on them to fly around the world playing paintball. Why not get some use out of that sponsor dollar and have these guys "work" one weekend at their local field showing some new comers the sport of paintball. Now, I'm not one to be star struck myself but if I had never, let's say, played golf and there was a organization in town that set me up with my first day of golf with Tiger Woods, I would be much more interested in trying golf, than I would if I were to go out with Richard Hinklsmith, the local weekend golf hobbyist.

As far as people not seeing "paintball pros" as an incentive to try paintball, that's also a good point and it may very well do nothing for some people, but I still think the whole "golden ticket" idea is tempting to people. So what if they showed up and had no idea pro paintball players even existed, I think the fact that they did exist would spark a whole new way of looking at paintball in general and the fact thqt the sports "best" were the ones introducing them to this new sport would be something to talk about with other people....hence spreading the word.

Your idea is great too, I think the benefit program is another great way to get new players into the sport. I was just trying to get the "industry" to do some work with the outside advertising....that's all.

Don Saavedra said...

Yeah. Nobody likes being told you're the problem when you are the one paying out of your pocket to play the sport. I think that was the main thrust of Brandon's post.

John said...

To combine Brandon's idea, some past ideas and my current idea, try this on: I think we need to attack the new player approach at least at the High School level. Like I said in previous posts, the problem is pball is not mainstream. Parents tell their kids, you have to play a sport in High School or else... and none of those choices could ever include pball, because ping pong has a better chance to beat out pball at the High School level (and I play ping pong, so just find my point). And its our job to not let that continue. High School has teams that require try outs, practice and competition between HSs. So its a perfect fit. Someone just needs to tell them that they already have at least 10 (out of a HS of 1,500 I would think) kids that already play pball on some sort of regular basis and would be willing to participate. They just need a teacher to become a coach and that's where the Pro's and Industry come in. Train the coach to train the kids to become pball killing machines that will compete against other High Schools... now you have all these other kids seeing pball and they will want to at least try it generating a whole new player base. Tell me that wouldn't have been totally awsome to have played pball in HS instead of Golf... oh wait I played Varsity Golf and got laughed at because my fellow class mates though Golf was not a sport. Wait till they see their friends blasting the other HS on Friday night. That's one thing that pball has going for it. Pball, though still unknown does have a 'cool' factor to it by nature. Try standing near the bleachers at HB and just listen to what people say. They are interested and facinated, but for the most part don't know what's going on. If their kids played in HS, they wouldn't be confused... The industry can sponsor the teams, heck I would if I was Dave YB, to get all these new players checking out my Dye gear.