Monday, May 3, 2010

Syndicate Dissected

Since I'm on a promotions kick at the moment and teams are also beginning to discover new ways to promote themselves--largely through video--(and the kids at Syndicate were kind enough to drop their newest in my mailbox) I'ma take this opportunity to comment on the trend. (Part 1 is in the link and from part 1 you can link directly to part 2. Check them out. They are well executed, underplay the commercial [industry] connection and include a player line-up and serve as one of the better examples to date.)

From Josh and the other delinquents on Impact "roamin'" all over the world to every wannabe Patrick Spohrer out there filming at dozens of fields around the world the potential reach of YouTube style video is almost limitless. Traditional media once dictated who was worthy of attention and who wasn't. And while some of the same qualifiers are relevant nobody is limited in the ways they once were. Which is fantastic but the more ubiquitous this sort of promotion becomes the harder it's going to be to stand out from the crowd. One more needle in a haystack of needles is quickly lost--and forgotten. As are--at least in my never to be humble opinion--the endless action snippets available on dozens of DVDs and homemade videos. Sure, once a while something stands out but not all that often. The challenge is--and will remain--to create a unique take on the wide world of paintball and hope it connects. For example, look at Vicious. Vicious has taken the role of blue collar up-by-their-own-bootstraps team rising thru the ranks that has wide appeal with rank & file divisional players perhaps in part because they're perceived as being more like the average player and because they've succeeded and fulfilled the dream. Will the image last? How will other teams choose to promote themselves? What will work and what will fail? It's not a one size fits all world, the possibilities are nearly endless.


Johnny5072 said...

I am a big fan of these kinds of videos and like to make things like this if given the time/money/effort.

However, in all of this, what's the point? Teams and players can promote themselves all they want. What is the purpose of creating these videos and team profiles? Is it just for fun or is it to generate enough views and buzz that it can actually turn into dollars in some way, shape or form? Also what would something like this need to do to be considered a success? 10,000 views, 30,000 views? Okay, so now you have a bunch of youtube views, now what?

Just like the Hurricanes are doing with their series and embracing all aspects of social media, what is gained after the money spent, effort put forth, and the midnight hours burned? Is it to change and image of a team or bring people a better understanding of the sport and why they play it?

If they go on the basis of marketing, are they trying to build up a brand so it has a monetary value attached to it?

Looking for enlightenment.

Anonymous said...

They are trying to build up a brand that has some monetary value.

In todays sponsorship environment you have to differentiate yourself from the crowd just to get free gear let alone any type of monetary income from a sponsor. I think if you look at the teams they break down into 3 segments.

1. Industry Owned & Backed- These teams are used as marketing efforts to attach a look and perception to there brand. These are also becoming non existant due to the state of the industry. Teams that fall into this category are Infamous & Ironmen stateside. You will see both Kee and Dye using them extensively in there marketing efforts much more so then other sponsored teams because of the ownership and commitment in the teams brand.

Wow that list is a lot shorter then it used to be....

Hobbyist- This is the scary part of pro paintball. With now a good portion of our pro teams being owned by hobbyists and paintball enthusiasts it really shows how weak the foundation of pro paintball is right now. Eventually (in almost all cases) the owners of these teams will get sick and tired of throwing money away year after year and getting nothing in return. You will also notice these teams are in most cases the least marketed because they dont depend on industry support wholly to compete. Teams falling into this category would be: Damage, Legion, Impact,Aftermath, X-Factor,and even Aftershock (new guy paying there bills).

Then you have what I call the franchises. These guys are out there marketing themselves as much as possible because they rely solely on industry support and businesses they have created to support there teams endeavors. Those teams are: Dynasty, XSV, And Vicious (hurricanes as well). You will see year to year the extra effort these teams put forward in brand awareness because they it is a necessity for survival.

A little off topic from video's I know.....

Johnny5072 said...

I like what you had to say there anon.

I can't help but wonder though, is making a good quality video series about your team, going to have the desired effect? Without a lot of leg work by the team/owner, a video will just sit there on youtube and do nothing. What does it really take for something like this to turn into dollars? Also, if the desired intent is to attract sponsor dollars, at what point does a sponsor see the value in a brand? After the word of mouth is so huge they can't help but take notice? When the youtube hits go over 9000?

I think it will be hard to say where the line is these days with marketing budgets and promotion monies being diverted and invested in the real "core" of a paintball sponsors brand.

Baca Loco said...

Anon is correct as far as it goes. Keep in mind this is all relatively new for everybody, industry included, and they's all trying to find their way, find what works and figure out the relative value of lots of new ideas.

Johnny5072 said...

I hear ya. In all honesty this would be a boom for all the Paintball DVD guys if the money was truly there as well. This way instead of getting somebody's buddy to make them a video, you could have the Derder or MWAG guys put their signature touch on it.

Also, as go the Pro teams so will the divisional players and other aspects of Paintball. Unknown Soldiers was a divisional team that created Episodes based on their ups and downs over the season. It was a great effort and people still remember it.

My interest in all of this goes to the motivation behind doing these kinds of marketing and promotions using new media. The shortfall usually comes when;
A) The guys that were helping make it get burned out making them for very little cash
B) The team/owner doesn't fully understand the concept and doesn't get behind the idea
C) Great content gets created but the sponsor doesn't understand the benefit

I understand what you are saying that Paintball is all new to this, but without asking the questions as to "why?", it could be just a lot of wasted energy. We all love to watch great content, but content without purpose is just noise.

Anonymous said...


I dont think you can track back your ROI to one video or number of you tube hits. It is a small piece in the overall marketing plan. Now some teams might feel there video is going to get them the exposure they need to secure marketing dollars maybe.... but if that is the case they are strongly incorrect.

I think if you look at Syndicate you will find there are much more marketing efforts at hand then just this video series. All though we do not see it much here stateside.

A good one to mention is the Hurricanes. All though they did a great job at there video they did a better job of getting the message about there team out in promoting the video. You will see the buzz on pbnation, propaintball, ect. They also have been doing a so so job at social media exposure. I think next year we will see if there efforts pay off.

Now a days just doing well at tournaments will not secure your future. Your organizations marketing efforts will have just as big if not a bigger stake in the industries support of your team. If you look at Impact and the Russians both teams have had good success yet both teams have proven to be tough to market. Take away the personal financial backing of there owners and let them rely on industry support and you would see both teams collapse because there is no true value in either organization. Some more food for thought......

Johnny5072 said...

So what in your mind would be their efforts paying off?

By Industries do you mean Paintball as a whole or specific sponsors inside the industry?

The thing that gets me is that very few legitimate paintball companies have embraced video and even fewer understand how to market it correctly. People and Paintballers in general if asked would rather see moving pictures with sound as opposed to a simple photo or ad in a magazine or online mag.

I give props to Eclipse for being the only manufacturer that comes to mind that has made an investment in video as new media and marketing. The Etv series by Disconnected Promotions is the only standout among the noise that one can point to as being a great synergy of manufacturer and content.

J-Bird said...

honestly, as much as i agree with you johnny, i HATED the Etv stuff. it was like watching a cheesy eclipse infomerical with paintball games of teams i didnt really care about, and (most of the time) a format i had NO interest in watching, slapped in.

They were great promotional clips for eclipse and their gear, but because i had no emotional investment in the teams and i hate 7 man videos (this is just my personal opinion, but ive gotten to the point where i'll only watch 5 man/xball videos because 7 man vids are just to cluttered for me) i did NOT enjoy watching them.

i think right now we're seeing an interesting time in the tourney scene...teams are beginning to make real efforts to get "fans" because eventually (or so we hope), they will be the ones to propel the teams forward. My question is this: when will i get a REAL practice report so i CAN care about my local pro team? I think the video in the title post is great, one of the best ive seen of a 'documentary' type thing, but i really, really crave to know information like: Who is the starting five for X, Y, and Z situations? Why do they play those positions? Did Johnny Q do well at practice today?

i honestly dont care about a pro's off-the-field life, i want to know about his game play.

Johnny5072 said...

Quality and taste aside, you have to give it to Eclipse for using video as a tool to put their name out there on the landscape in a big way. Even you J-Bird have seen it. :)

Anonymous said...

To be honest you dont build a team brand with videos like those two Syndicate videos. Only use those videos have is having team owners logo visible (Maxs) and products it sells.

J. Stein said...

To Johnny: the point (or, at least, the point for the Hurricanes), is to build a strong brand and then to monetize it. Along the way, it just so happens to be fun and we hope it just so happens to be effective at giving people a better understanding and better insight into our team and how we do things.

Creating compelling content will not be enough. It’s about the marketing of that content. Creating a good message and then putting it out in front of people.

As for what it will take to monetize this… that is still an unknown. Let’s say the Birth of a Storm video series gets really popular. Maybe I’ll be able to sell advertising slots on it. Or maybe it will be a key differentiator for potential sponsors when comparing NEH to another team. Or maybe New England players, after watching the videos and getting to know the players, will be more inclined to buy NEH products (hey, if the videos help me sell 500 tshirts, that’s something).

The bigger question, the RIGHT question, is “at what point does a sponsor see the value in a brand”. What is the conversion rate of YouTube views to team fans to dollars spent? No one knows, and it may take a few years to find out. But there are people working on it.

As Baca said, this is all pretty new for the paintball industry (and teams). It is going to take some time to figure things out and sort through all the new ideas to determine what’s valuable and what’s just background noise.

To J-Bird: I think you’ll get your real practice report or detailed background on how your team thinks through challenges only when it becomes potentially beneficial to someone for providing it. Can a website survive with information like that comprising its content? Can the website get enough content to survive? Baca went out of his way to ask pro players to contact him for free press. How many bothered? So why would you expect someone to write up a report after a practice? The Hurricanes once got interviewed by BET magazine (the article never ran) because after BET went out and sought teams to interview, got an account on PbNation and posted all over, I was the only person to reply. I was god smacked at that. BET is huge. And I was the only person who noticed and replied.

As long as that mindset remains entrenched in our sport, you aren’t going to get your practice reports or detailed team breakdowns (although, for that second one, maybe Baca can do something).

Baca Loco said...

First rate back and forth. Thank you all for demonstrating the sort of exchange I wish we saw more of.

Three things.
Outstanding title for your series. I would like to see--and would find it far more involving--to get more behind the scenes, dirt under the fingernails candid material of the players along with you (and maybe the carry over players) talking about the process and your goals to give an overview on the nuts & bolts. (And I want it yesterday.)
I'm collecting more Pro*files and the feature will return this Friday.
I would love to do team breakdowns on VFTD but have decided not for a couple of reasons. 1) as a participant in the process it's useful information if I'm doing it right and 2) I don't want to provide "bulletin board material" for our competitors.

Johnny5072 said...

Jeff, I love what you guys are doing there and like the deadbox media guys and the way they are creating that series. My intent in all of these questions is to try and get people thinking without being too negative. There are so many great ideas out there from the minds of the creative people in Paintball. Even I would like to create more content in Paintball that has purpose. However we all get a little burnt on the current attitude in the sport. The part you touched on about when the great chances come, everyone poo poos it or doesn't take action on it. Nothing extinguishes my fire to create more than when someone doesn't see the vision or lacks the vision. So in that way I say good on ya. Keep on keepin on with what you guys are doing. Hopefully with more dialogue on this, the real hard facts will start to come out and people can truly grasp the real value in creating great content and maximizing its marketing potential inside the sport. Let's all hope the money, talent, and energy can sustain you guys to see this through to success.

J-Bird said...

on the issue of the ETV episodes, there are some new ones coming down the pipe. Looks like "documentary" is the new cool thing to do in paintball.

Johnny5072 said...

Looks like some of it was behind the net as well. Wonder if that has anything to do with the cost of video coverage at PSP?

And yes "documentary" is definitely the Paintball buzz word for the new decade.