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Old 04-01-2008, 10:54 PM   #1
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Default Bringing the hobby mainstream

Getting back into this hobby has really made me happy and it pains me to see that in some respects that it is dwindling. I made this thread so we can brainstorm and come up with ways to do this. I have been thinking about this alot lately and I have a perspective on this that I think could really get this hobby into the mainstream.

First, a little about my background. I am a graphic artist and I specialize in branding and identity. I mainly freelance but I have just taken a job at as an art director for a branding firm. My exposure to this part of the creative industry taught me valuable lessons about marketing and business and what makes them succeed and fail. My experience tells me that what is holding this hobby back is the way the major players in the industry market themselves. The other factor is small hobby shops with limited budgets for advertising which in turn strangles the business. In short, both the local hobby shops and the manufacturers need to change their business models.

Here is a basic list of things that I believe will elevate this hobby to a mainstream level:

1. Advertising - trade and hobby magazines are nice but it doesn't really bring new people to the hobby (to be honest the 70% ad to content ratio in those magazines gets tiresome anyway. 50/50 is really all they need. I would rather see reviews on those products more than the adverts as well). National Newspapers and cable TV is where the hobby will pick up steam. Yeah it is expensive, but more on that later. Cable TV is awesome. Advertisments on channels like G4, Gameplay HD (new and advertising would be relatively cheap), Science channel, Discovery channel, Speed Channel (big one here) and TLC will definately hit many in the demographic that would be likely to delve into the RC hotness.

2. Aggressive marketing strategies beyond advertising. Call up the host of Pinks and get some marketing guys to put RC cars on the show on the speed channel where people race against one another for their rides. Call MTV and get few drivers on the true life series (This did wonders for WEC featherweight champ Urijah Faber and really opened the door for the WEC franchise). ESPN2 would entertain airing major RC events. MORE tradeshows too. Not just TOY shows but RC shows complete with indoor/outdoor tracks and events. I have lived in NJ all my life and never once saw anything like that.

3. The money - The major players in the industry need to consider consolidation. This will lower operating expenses and open up a larger revenue stream for advertising and promotion. Suck it up guys. In the immortal words of Marcellus Wallace (Ving Raimes - Pulp Fiction) - "If you feel a little sting" If you care about the hobby and want to be a gazllionaire then this is what needs to be done. While friendly rivalries are nice for the sport, but at the end of the day, its the bashers who make up the largest demographic and we do not care about having a favorite team. Its about having fun in our spare time. The magic that can be made if say Team Associated, Trinity and Novak merged. Issue an IPO, go public and the money will roll in and product will become cheaper and more reasonable to the average consumer.

4. Hobby shops - I have seen the websites for some local hobby shops. Sickening....some literally made me want to upchuck. Stop having your 12 year old kid throw up a sloppy looking site with no functionality. You are judged heavily on your website. Consider branding. In fact call me. I just may donate my services to help you get off on the right foot. Most hobby shops, like many small businees fail because they are too frugal with advertising and promotion and in the end they die out as a result. If you cannot muster up the capital to do it right, then don't do it. Sell your stuff on ebay and save the leasing and liability insurance. One thing I have told all my small business clients is that their opinion of how their business should be represented comes second to the customers opinion. Hire a graphic artist who knows how to set up a tone and feel for your business that will attract new business. Also consider partnering up competing shops to ease costs and keep a larger inventory or build a track. Strength in numbers.


Thats pretty much it. There are other ways I am sure but this plan WILL do it. Please post your ideas and lets revive this awesome, pure and challenging hobby and get it into the mainstream.

Last edited by Aaron Waldron; 04-07-2008 at 04:03 PM. Reason: Language
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Old 04-01-2008, 11:00 PM   #2
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The last thing this hobby (or any hobby for that matter) needs is a bunch of marketing dweebs who don't know and don't care about RC other than the profit potential.
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Old 04-01-2008, 11:20 PM   #3
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Sounds terrible.

What makes RC great is the different brands, different visions, Different solutions, independent research and development,resulting in different products.... and the bashers are probably the most brand defensive of any one.

The day the brands "consolidate" and invest money in marketing over and above product is they day I hang up my Spektrum.....
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Old 04-01-2008, 11:26 PM   #4
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I dont know why you would say that (in reference to 403forbidden)- If you had read the actual post, you would see that TomBlaze is concerned about bringing the hobby into the mainstream, promoting it, making it bigger and better. I think he makes some very good points. I am really glad someone who sounds knowledgeable on marketing has chimed in. I just had a very nice track close in our area because I feel it was not promoted to its potential (and it had seen a steady lack in participants over the past couple of years). I am a firm believer that the main reason for this is the fact that the track was not promoted and brought to the general public enough.
On another note, I think something else that could really help this hobby grow and thrive is if governing bodies (ROAR) would have more structure. I used to race Motocross (like a lot of my fellow racers) and found that it was much easier to deal with a broken A-arm than a broken Arm. When racing Motocross, most of the tracks we raced at were sanctioned by the AMA. The AMA had qualifying races that if you finished highly enough, led you to the Amateur Nationals (a very large and badass race). I think ROAR should have qualifiers and really strive to work with tracks on getting sanctioned races that award state, regional, and national champions. If these events became big enough, maybe they could end up on tv. Look at the way Supercross is marketed, they have their massive Monster Energy sponsor, and they really put on a sweet show that draws spectators. A national caliber race should be held that is set in a dome, or arena- with lots of promotions and activities going on. These kind of things would require a lot of money, but with an actual governing organization working on putting it together, this could become a reality. I do not agree with having the various manufacturers consolidate because I (like many others I'm sure) would hate that they have no competition, no reason to continue to develop and produce better products.
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Old 04-02-2008, 09:10 AM   #5
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OK fair enough. The niche mentality is what generally kills any activity. Look at MMORPGs. They were very niche and they cost too much to develop properly. Slowly through promotions and marketing they gained a lot of momentum and now World of Warcraft is a household name and major players in the market are now developing their own MMORPGs to compete. The videogame market as a whole was niche as little as 20 years ago now it outpaces hollywood in net worth.

Word of mouth is dead. Even on the net. People don't surf to find new things on the net. They visit websites like youtube, myspace and other websites that peak their interest. The web doesn't necessarily introduce people to new things it enhances the experience of the interests that people are already involved in. It is a giant encyclopedia of knowledge. A reference manual if you will. I have a decent sized friend base but they don't share this interest with me. They are content to just take my radio and bash my ride for a while. So if they aren't interested, they won;t spread the word to anyone else.

The only way for this hobby to truly thrive is mass marketing. Yeah, the hardcore guys and gals involved like their small niche and maybe even do not want intruders or "n00bs" cluttering their forums or their local racetrack, however, it is still a business and business needs profit to market and to gain more profit they need to make hard decisions. That means possible consolidation, even if it is just a temporary partnership to elevate the hobby to the next level. This is not unheard of. Many of these companies are cross marketing each others products anyway. This really only makes sense.

What bothers me form when I first entered this world back in '86 is how impossible it is to get parts for my RC10B4 now. Back in '86 if I broke a part, I went to the hobby shop and bought a new one. Now, for a simple shock tower replacement, I drove to 5 different hobby shops in 4 towns and none of them had this simple $4 part. I had to order it. The point was that I didn't want to wait for it. I needed the shock tower to start bashing again. So now, I have to rush and basically buy in bulk extra parts that I may or may not need just to make sure I am backed up if something breaks. While it is a viable solution, it is terribly inconvenient and it means less trips to the hobby shop. It becomes a better option to buy my parts online and get them in three days as opposed to waiting a week for my LHS to get my order.

If the hobby goes mainstream, the LHSs will begin to keep more parts in stock because they will have a better chance to sell them with a higher volume of business. People go to the hobby shop more often to pick up this piece and that.

I also asked for other peoples ideas for helping this hobby gain that much needed momentum and unfortunately for guys like 403 and metia, attitudes like that are another reason why this hobby is fading. You need to be a little more insightful and add some constructive ideas to help iron this out. By your posts it seems to me that you may have some type of elitist mentality. That niche mentality where if something you are involved in goes mainstream it somehow taints your passion. I apologize if I am wrong but you have failed to go into detail. A classic example of what I am trying to communicate here, is the so-called white invasion of the hip-hop world which was once a nichy culture that dwelled in black culture in America. The running joke at the time was that if a whie guy started singing a hip-hop tune it was time to hang it up. Look at it now. People dropped their petty, ignorant biases and now hip-hop culture is very mainstream (hell it defines a large part of pop culture in America) and everyone involved has benefitted, from the fans to the artists to the labels. Everyone wins.

I know that the above example is a stark contrast to the RC hobby but its circumstances are very much the same and I think this point is strengthened by the comments made by the first two posters in this thread. I am not flaming you guys. I do understand where you are coming from but it is hardly constructive to dismiss possibilities. Rather than just shoot something down, why not add to the discussion with your ideas for promoting the hobby.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:10 AM   #6
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Good post Tom.

I agree with the fact that RC could be more mainstream. One of the problems i see is that so much of it is viewed as toys. And most of the mass marketing is done as toys. For the serious racer, and even basher, our rc cars and planes are far from toys. They are advanced machines that some of us have spent thousands of dollars on.

The best thing, in my mind, that has helped RC in the recent years is the introduction of the 2.4Ghz systems and other advanced electronics.. It makes it simple to plug and go with most things. No longer does the basher need to be an electrical engineer in order to charge his batteries or program the ESC. Most of them are plug and play.

Mass marketing would be a viable solution to the dwindling market share that RC has. But to what end? RC needs to have some sort of inertia to get something like that going. There needs to be some driving force that the owners can see in order to contemplate the possibility of consolidation of a company. The two biggest dealers in the US are Towerhobbies, which is strictly online, and magazines, and Horizon Hobby, which many see as Hobbytown USA, or something close to that as a LHS. A more organized league of racing would need to emerge.

My biggest concern with the hobby is the elitists who constantly barrage the noobs with insults, or refuse to help them. Everyone was a noob once, and the only way to get more people spending money in the hobby is helping the noobs, and telling them which parts they need to buy to upgrade, fix, or maintain their vehicles. Refusing to help the noobs because the question was answered a month ago 20 pages ago in another forum or thread is useless. That noob will get frustrated because no one helped him and he will put the truck he broke in the closet, or on eBay and never spend money in the hobby again. Help the noob spend his money!!

My closest comparison to the hobby is paint ball. Less than 10 years ago paint ball was also seen as a toy sport, much like laser tag. Since then it has evolved into professional leagues that air on ESPN at national tournaments. The only way they did that was by marketing. Companies bought other companies out. Smaller companies were consolidated into big companies like Brass Eagle. I remember when Spyder was the top of the line stuff, and Autocockers could only be ordered online. Now i can buy one at walmart.

Mass marketing, and a few consolidations will only help to improve the industry as a whole because industry flows in a circle. Like the automotive industry. It started with Ford, then blossomed into over 20 different USA manufacturers in the 20's and 30's. Now all the companies are run by 3 main companies, Chrysler, Ford, or GM. My two cents is that consolidation works. The niche will still be there for the small companies.

my two cents.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:21 AM   #7
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If r/c is ever going to become mainstream then the mainstream class needs to become cheaper then an x-box 360 w/ 2 games @ your lhs. I am not talking about silver can tamiyas w/ 1500 stick packs. I am talking about cars that are race worthy & can run 40 mph through a parking lot for under $400 w/ batts, chargers, tools, & everything else. When people show up to your local track & seem interested untill you tell them your 1/8th scale set you back about $1000 they turn around pretty quickly. I believe this is why r/c is hurting atm.
I believe that 2wd truck is currently headed in the right direction. I mean, you can get decent li//bl setups for under $600 or you can get something like a nitro firestorm w/ all the stuff you need for around $400. If you can't race localy for less then the price of an x-box then don't expect new people to show up to the track before they invest in their xbox. If you want the local racing population to grow then get w/ the other racers & come up w/ a dirt cheap class to run as a 2nd class instead of something like arena truck. I mean, you can pick up used ad1s for $75 & new firestorms(actually a great truck) for $250. hobby shops are going to make their money off of parts, tires, fuel, & ect. The more cars that are out racing & bashing around yards then the more money hobby shops are going to make. The faster they go the more often they will break & go through tires. I know of a track that runs indoors off road in the winter. This winter they started promoting li//bl truck & nitro. Well, this summer their truck class is going to go from less then 10 last year to dozens this year. Oh yeah, people can invest in the class for under $400.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:26 AM   #8
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very good point. the 1/8ths look great flying through the air, but at $1000, most people cant afford them.

Where as i can get a brand new duratras STep for $120. and still be competitive in the class.

the fact is. there are no "cheap" 1/8ths out there, that a noob would be able to drive. but give them a TC on a parking lot and watch them have fun with it.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:48 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by TomBlaze View Post
The running joke at the time was that if a whie guy started singing a hip-hop tune it was time to hang it up.
and to think that I still know all of the words to Ice Ice baby


Seriously though I agree with you Tom. I remember having the same issues with my 10T back in 1992. If I broke a part, I put the truck back in the closed untill, god knows when I was able to find the part locally, or for Tower Hobbies to mail me one of there catalogs.

I would have to agree with you in regards to remembering how and when the UFC became mainstreem, when Rick Johnson and Damon Bradshaw were just getting the coverage they deserved in MX, When FMX and the X-Games became every day words. I was freestyling bicycles back before you could watch it on tv or get a decent magazine.

I agree with you the LHS needs to advetise a little better. I have lived near two RC tracks for years and I didnt even know either of them existed. One is a 5 minute drive and the other a 30 minute drive. A good friend of mine, who is big in to RC, laughed at my old 10T last year, many hours and parts later it was working again. Now one year later, a couple thousand dollars later, 3 buggies and 2 trucks later, Im back into a hobby that I throughly enjoy.

If I only knew how easy there shops were to find, and how awsome the 2 tracks were, I would have started back into the hobby a long time ago.

Now the stigma of hobby shops. I remember them having a lot of stuff and a bunch of nothing. Many of the hobby shops that I went in to had a couple of overpriced RC cars, not many parts, but lots of dusty old train sets, balsa wood planes, old glue together models, and die cast cars. - Boring.

The local shop here has an incredible selection of every thing you could need for RC, Trucks, planes, helos, parts for everything, gas and electric. The only problem is that there advertising is not main stream. Other than my buddy who got me back into this, I had no idea they were even 5 minutes from my house.

On a different note. If the main stream only knew these werent TOYS! I get laughed at when I tell people that I am into RC, and when I tell them that I have over $1,000 in my b44 (buggy, lipos, brushless system, upgrades, radio and charger) they look at me like Im retarded. But then again I have a $500 motorcycle helmet too. I guess its what your into.

I strongly believe that when you mention RC to the main public they think of there kids with toys or there Tycos from when they were small. The couple of nay sayers that I spoke to almost craped when I showed them 6.5 + lipo powered b44 do a full pass down the street. Then not to mention the holey crap I hear when they find out that I can get almost a 45 minute run time out of a battery that only takes an hour to charge.

Like I said mention RC to the public and they automaticaly think Tyco, slow 10minute run times and 8 hours to recharge the battery.

Sorry for the ramble but thats my thoughts on this. Thanks for thinking out of the box Tom.
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Old 04-02-2008, 10:48 AM   #10
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this is just my opinion , today rc has a tough time getting new , younger , people involved , kids teens young adults want the instant gradafacation that video games and roll playing games and such give them , i have 3 ftb4s and 3 ftt4s , dsm , brushless , lipo , fancy carry bags , all the trick , and easy to use equiptment you could ever want , and i cant get my 14 or 16 year old boys to race , and there both real good , both have many local wins , and tons of trophys , its just to much work for them for the 15 to 20 minutes of track time during a 4 to 6 hour race day , ive got the day off and am heading to my local track now , planning another come back , ray
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:16 AM   #11
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this is just my opinion , today rc has a tough time getting new , younger , people involved , kids teens young adults want the instant gradafacation that video games and roll playing games and such give them , i have 3 ftb4s and 3 ftt4s , dsm , brushless , lipo , fancy carry bags , all the trick , and easy to use equiptment you could ever want , and i cant get my 14 or 16 year old boys to race , and there both real good , both have many local wins , and tons of trophys , its just to much work for them for the 15 to 20 minutes of track time during a 4 to 6 hour race day , ive got the day off and am heading to my local track now , planning another come back , ray
The part about actually race time versus wait time I think is a real big thing. I remember running touring car that waiting around for a long time to run for 5 minutes started getting really old. Not sure what can be done though about that other than running 1 race for the full length time you would have raced in heats and mains to speed things on, or limit entries.
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:25 AM   #12
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Im not 100% convinced that price is that huge of a deturrent. You can buy a RTR (put your favorite 1/10 here) battery and charger for under $400, easily.

Beginners do not need 1/8 nitros, B44s with brushless and lipo setups, and they dont need 2.4g radios. They are not pros and do not need professional equiptment to start racing. They will be in the beginner class any way.

As an example -
Not all motorcross racer wanabee's start off with a new CRF450, Shoei helmet, and all Alpinestar gear. They get a used dirt bike and decent gear, and they work there way up. If they are better than there equipement, then they upgrade as time goes on. Ricky Carmichael, who I knew when we were kids, started riding on a ratty used bike, and worked his way up to the top and heald his spot untill he recently retired.

The same goes for RC. You dont need to buy expensive things to get good, practice will make you good. As you get more and more into the sport, upgrade your equiptment, buy some quality used items untill you can buy new.

You cant even imagine the ammount of money that I have seen parents spend on there kids playing sports. My first true BMX bicycle back in the day was $400 by it self. My first used 4 wheeler was $2,000 then add even more for the helmet and other gear. New go carts are $600 and up. I have a new Wii that with the games cost in the neighborhood of $400, that I dont use.

Again sorry about the ramble but I truely dont think the the money is the problem getting people into the hobby. I honestly and truley believe that its plubicity. Like I mentioned before, many people still think of Tyco cars, 10 minutes of slow run time, and 8 hours to charge the battery.
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:30 AM   #13
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The part about actually race time versus wait time I think is a real big thing. I remember running touring car that waiting around for a long time to run for 5 minutes started getting really old. Not sure what can be done though about that other than running 1 race for the full length time you would have raced in heats and mains to speed things on, or limit entries.
I agree with you on this one. This is the ONLY reason I dont race. I own my own business, take classes at the local college at night, have a 1 year old and my wife works. I have the time to spend at the track for an hour or two at the most, but I cant spent the entire day there waiting, to run 2 five minute qualifiers and one race.

If they raced nitro one weekend and electric the next, it would make for shorter race days, but it would take more effort for the track owners. In the long run it would probally make the track owners and LHS a little more money, because of the overall turn out being larger and spread out over 2 weekends.
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:32 AM   #14
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I think the 1/8 brushless/lipo revolution will help bring RC mainstream. I am a 30 something guy that got back into RC on a whim. When I found out last year that I could buy by a RTR electric truck that could hit 70 mph I whipped out my credit card! I recently converted an rc8 to brushless too and having a blast. A couple of grand later I still have a big smile on my face.

I used to love RC cars back in the day, but the electric cars used to be slow and the only way to get any real power was nitro. Unfortunately, by the time I could afford a nitro car, running nitro was simply too inconvenient so I left the hobby. Too much noise and mess for a guy with a professional job, wife, and a home in the burbs or even a condo in a city. But here comes brushess and lipo technology... now I can drive an RC car at real car speeds without all the headache. Sign me up!

The growth market is not teenagers, but guys who are about 22 - 40 years old. These are the people who are spending big bucks on xbox's and plasma TVs which is why most of the great games are rated mature. We have disposable income and think nothing of dropping a grand or so on RC cars that go 50+ mph without trying. Nearly all my friends of similar age are considering buying RC Cars after they saw mine.

With the electric revolution, we will also now have tracks in more populated areas since we don't have to deal with the noise of nitro. Think about it. Instead of having to drive out to east bumblef*ck, we can now open tracks at freaking shopping malls.

In fact, I rediscovered the hobby after I came across a franchise at a mall with a 1/18th on road racetrack when I took a little kid I mentor to it... http://www.racelinemotorworks.com/

I think passive public exposure in combination with high quality RTR kits and brushless/lipo tech will move the hobby forward in a big way.
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Old 04-02-2008, 11:35 AM   #15
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Quick $.02

More Reedy Race style racing. It is no fun for spectators watching racers race the clock.

And when in Cart, IRL, Nascar, or F1 have you seen "the leader is coming up behind you please let him by"

Just a quick thing I think could help the hobby.
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