Tuesday, February 19, 2013

What the cottage industry is doing wrong

We're well into 2013, so let's take a look at what the cottage industry is doing wrong. The Internet has been around for more than 20 years now, yet some manufacturers still don't understand how to fully engage their customers and drive sales. I don't have a Harvard MBA, but I do consider myself a keen observer of the hobby and have noticed bad habits. Here is a random list of suggestions to my friends in the industry, offered with the intent of making everyone more successful.

If you're producing a "correction set," please give us some idea what's wrong with the original kit part. Yea, I know the shape is wrong, but what exactly am I looking for? If you point it out, I'll see it, and I'll be more likely to buy your product.

When you make a new product announcement on the various discussion forums, for crying out loud always, always, always list your distributors, tell us when the items will be available, and provide the URL to your web site. If you want to drive sales you have to make it very easy for us to click the Buy button.

That brings me to the third item. You need to accept PayPal. Most of you do by now, but if you don't you're probably losing more than a few impulse purchases. I made five purchases over the weekend simply because PayPal made it easy for me.

Have a presence on Facebook. I know, some of you old timers don't get the whole social media phenomenon, but Facebook is here to stay and plays a role in the lives of many of your customers. Not convinced? Look at how many Facebook users have "Liked" each of these companies, which means they're seeing product announcements and sales from them:

TwoBobs 1,000
Aviation Megastore 1,100
Trumpeter/Hobby Boss 1,900
Sprue Brothers 2,000
KitMaker 2,500
Squadron 4,000
Hasegawa 4,100
Eduard 6,000
Revell Germany 20,000

Finally, and this one is challenging, try to release new product on a regular schedule. You don't need something new every week or every month, but I think the most successful manufacturers are those that "stay on the radar," so to speak. They're regularly giving their customers something to talk about and creating a strong brand and presence in the process. Much like writing for this blog.

I'm excited by what I see in the aftermarket and cottage industry, and I want it stay like this for at least the next 30 years, until...y'know, when I die. Then someone else can pick up the torch.


  1. I couldn't agree more. Particularly on the paypal front; I'd love to buy some stuff from, say Obscureco (http://www.obscureco.com), who have an amazing website that's brilliantly presented, but I'm utterly turned off by having to send a money order to them.

    1. Edward, I feel the same way about Obscureco. I have been told several times now that they are reliable, but to be honest it is just more work than I want to have to do to purchase their stuff. You have go to a bank/post office, buy a money order and fill it out and then stuff it into an envelope and mail it. Of course it isn't terribly difficult (but IS a bit inconvenient), but often times my work schedule doesn't really make it easy to get to something like that. On top of this, in this day and age I think we are spoiled as buyers by the ability to purchase things so easily AND have things shipped and arrive so quickly. I think it dovetails into Steve's point that you have to make it easy for buyers to purchase your product. Obscureco's stuff is top notch, but a serious pain in the butt to buy.