Sunday, August 21, 2011

Book Review - How to Market Your Paintball Field

I haven't done a book review since High School and that was decades ago, so bare with me and don't even bother trying to review my review.

I was made aware of this book by our Tippmann Rep in one of his emails sent to us. The book is written by a couple of Tippmann marketing employees; Patrick Ehren and Ron Goldblatt. Mr. Ehren and Goldblatt spent considerable time interviewing Gio D'Egidio and Dennis Bukowski of Giant paintball Parks (which also incorporates Hollywood Sports Park, SC Village, and California Paintball Park), Mike Peverill of Pev's park in Aldie, Virginia, and Ray, Paul, and Mike Dagnino of CPX Sports in Joliet, Illinois. The meat of the book obviously comes from the opinions of these experienced field owners.

In the preface, among other things, it tells us that these men are willing to share their secrets to help other field owners attract new customers and help bring them back. This in hopes of making the whole industry stronger. This seems quite selfless and I had no feeling while reading the book that these men had any other motives than this during the process.

It is interesting that the very first thing the book states in Chapter 1 is that the reader will only benefit from getting people to their field if they have a "great experience" and come back. This of course makes absolute sense and something I (and others) have been saying for years, that being that if your customers aren't having fun and feel they are getting good value, they aren't going to come back. I wish the book would have included a bit more on what can and should be done to ensure that "great experience" other than the short two and a bit page chapter near the end of the book that touched on the subject, but then again, the book is called "How to Market Your Paintball field" and not "How to Operate your Paintball field". Apparently Mike, Gio and Paul, among other Industry veterans helped create a Field Operations and Safety Guide in conjunction with the Paintball Sports Trade Association (PSTA) and it is mentioned in the book, but alas the PSTA is no more and my search for the Guide lacked any substance. But I'm getting off track.

I found it interesting that much of the marketing these three separate groups of field owners are doing, seem to parallel each other quite a bit. Three of the most successful field owners all using similar marketing techniques? Makes one think there might be something to what they are doing and recommending others do.

I'm not going to go into details of what these techniques are. If there are any field owners reading this, all I will say is that the advice given is worthwhile reading. Seeing as the book is offered free to Tippmann wholesale customers, there really is no reason not to get your copy and check out what these successful field owners have to say. I will say that all of these fields give away a LOT of free play passes, one thing that I know some field owners seem to have a bit of a problem with. We have always done this at our paintball field and after reading this book, expect to be doing even more of this.

But that is just one of the many subjects discussed in this book. It's not a long read, but in my opinion, if you are a paintball field owner or a wannabe paintball field owner, this book is a must read. I'd like to thank Tippmann and all the contributors for taking the time and making the effort to write this book.


  1. Do they give a rationale for giving away a lot of free field passes? Even though a field pass may cost a player $10 to $30 depending on the field, the marginal cost of a field pass to the field is close to $0. It must be better to get some people at the field to create some critical mass. If people show up to play and there is no one to play against they won't stick around.

  2. Well first of all, all these fields have relatively high entry/rental fees (around the $30-35 mark if I remember correctly - could easily be looked up), so a free pass does have a substantial value/savings to it. Also, these are not routinely given to regulars, but are given to renters and by means/venues where new players are more likely to get them. The rationale is that it is better to get new players to come and give paintball a try, still sell some paint to them (all the fields are FPO I believe), than to have them not come and have the experience at all. One of the owners describes it as a ripple affect where one throws a stone in the water and the waves spread outwards.

    I know at our field a free pass means free field fees, rentals and lunch, a normal $30 cost. Quite often we give out passes which include 100 paintballs, which then makes it a theoretical $40 value. We try to make the passes look high quality so that there is a perception of value associated with it. Regular black print on a white business card probably wouldn't be seen as having as much value. The passes pictured in the book all look like they are of high quality.

  3. Using Groupon to sell 1/2 priced passes might also be a good vehicle, where a field could still achieve the value aspect and bring in some revenue.

  4. Yes it is and all the field owners in the book take advantage of Groupon and other similar vehicles. We've done Groupon and are doing a more local version as well.