Let’s start things off by first explaining what the bar is. There used to be a standard by which excellence was measured in paintball. If you dared to push yourself hard enough and reach your fullest potential, you were looked at as being apart from your peers. This wasn’t a mark of elitism, but an example of reaching accomplishment within the industry. The industry recognized this by holding these people up as the embodiment of those that set themselves apart with their dedication.
As you look out across the landscape of the industry today, it is fairly evident to anyone who cares to see that the paradigm has changed. While nobody was watching, the industry lowered the bar. Now ask yourself, why would they do that? Is it because the standards that were once so difficult to obtain have been achieved by the majority of the players in the sport? Is it because greatness stalks the field in more numbers then any other time in paintball? Hardly, in actuality what you’re seeing is the encouragement of everyone being special, or as we like refer to it, the gold star standard. The reality of the situation is that there are better players, but the industry is lowering the bar to push sales. What does that mean to you, the player in laymen’s terms?
The industry has taken the reward of sponsorship and turned it into nothing more than a coupon book to make a sale. Yet, those of you who may very well have a “sponsorship”, may be saving some money but really you are no better off then shopping at a Black Friday sale. The whole gimmick behind the sponsorship is the company saying to you the player, “hey, you are special, and we are going to give you a special price on a special product because you are special.”
Now what’s really funny is that the industry is crying that they are making no money, in reality they are creating the entitlement attitude that a majority of players today suffer from, this behavior is a self fulfilling prophecy that each and every player is special, and therefore they shouldn’t be spending the money that the companies so desperately need to get by.
Alright players, it is time to bruise some egos and be bluntly honest. Take a look around, how many players do you know that have a sponsor in their signature on PbNation alone. How many of these teams have you heard of beyond your local market? Our guess is less then 1% is known outside of their market. This brings into question why do sponsorships exist in the first place, and the answer is marketability.
You take a team that is known for excellence by the old standard and add to that their presence beyond their home market, and that is marketability. Marketability for a sponsorship means exposure for products over a wide base audience. If your team doesn’t have a greater appeal beyond your local market, to what benefit does a sponsor drive. And this requires introspection on your part. If you are not adding to the bottom line for a company by raising their visibility and you are in a cash plus position on your end, the only thing you are doing for that company is adding to their sales volume on a personal basis. You are not having any affect on their advertising, you are not bringing in any new customers, all you are doing is becoming another sale, and this is where you have to be honest with yourself.
To the industry by and large the only way to right this ship, is to return expectations to the original model. Don’t be afraid to tell somebody that they are not good enough. It is because you have not stood up and forced your expectations that the entitlement era of paintball began. You need full volume sales, and cutting the throat of your dealer network by pushing direct sales to customers you would otherwise have under the guise of a sponsorship undermines the sales force you have built. We can not tell you how often we have seen players walk into a brick and mortar store and demand special pricing because they have been told that they are special, which stems from the entitlement atmosphere which you have promoted to your own detriment. To be frank, you are sponsoring too many teams, and you have diluted the definition of excellence.
George Shaffer | Josh Foote
Delta Paintball, Inc.