The other day I was talking to a manufacturer who I hadn’t spoken with in a long time. It was a quick “Hey, what’s up?” call to reintroduce him to what we call “a magazine.” His reply to my asking whether he’d seen the latest issue was actually a bit shocking/fun/sad/telling. He said, “I haven’t seen, or looked at, a magazine since the internet, and it must be affecting us.”1
Do people still blame the internet for their business2 problems? I’m not sure; his answer made me laugh, but it also caused me to reflect on what really is an issue for our hobby. It isn’t that the internet has ruined “magazines”; it’s that businesses haven’t adapted to it. Let’s be real here for a minute. The internet isn’t new. It’s old news. Our magazine is a media outlet, which does include a “traditional”-style magazine but also uses the internet as a means of distribution to help bring people into the hobby. Saying what he said about magazines is like me saying “I haven’t picked up a car since they made that there video game machine!”3
Which brings me to my headline: Fragmentation. Our hobby really used to be more of a collective. Each segment was heavily invested in the media outlets available at the time: i.e., magazines.4 It’s way too expensive for a single company to try and reach the masses. Some have attempted it, but many have found out how expensive mass marketing is, and many have gone belly up because they leave the group and try to do it alone. Our hobby is small. It’s a niche. And this is why we are much stronger as a group and not as a rogue company trying to be a manufacturer, distributor, publicist, media outlet, and customer service center.5
I use Google daily, but for the topics I love that are outside of this hobby, I still turn to the magazine industry and other media to read about them, both on paper and on my iPad. Mass media is a very important part of this industry.
This isn’t a “Hey, we’re important, look at us” editorial, but it is a reminder to this industry that we need to be // work, and behave as, a group.6
1. It’s difficult for those who work in the hobby to understand that we are not our customers.
2. Always an excuse about why something else is the problem.
3. Waiting for somebody to Google your product is not a good business model. Traxxas is mainstream and still supports the industry. Smart.
4. Magazines = industry supporting media; spending money to help growth and to educate potential customers.
5. Shall we list the companies that have ditched “the core” and then failed?
6. Big splash.