Today I was discussing leg design for portable layouts with a few friends and one of them showed me a diagram of a very interesting design. One of the features of the leg assembly was an integral stanchion.
I don’t know why but this got me thinking about train shows. In particular, thinking about the various modular groups and train clubs that set up at the shows. Now I enjoy looking at the layouts and talking with the owners/operators but if you asked me two days later which groups were at the show, I could not tell you.
Last night I watched “The Apprentice” and one of the contestants was given the task of setting up a video game championship show.
Whenever a group of modelers discuss modules one of the areas that frequently come up is attracting young people to the groups. They want simple standards so that young people won’t feel intimidated. Side Note: Young people do not intimidate nearly as easily as some older people think they do. Just because you do not understand something does not mean that most kids wouldn’t understand it.
What do these two things have in common?
Now train shows are where groups and clubs get to market their product to the general public. Marketing is a pretty foreign term to the average modeler. Even most of the vendors at a show, that should know better, think that marketing consists of throwing a bunch of boxes on a table.
Imagine for a moment a video game show where all of the vendors just toss stuff on a table to sell it. Imagine that all of the operators are standing behind their machines transfixed with operation and only looking up if someone asks a question. Get five or six guys running PlayStations and have them all huddled behind a row of machines all talking back in forth in techno-babble.
Do you see where I am going with this?
Get out from behind the layouts. Hand the controls to anyone that will take them. Talk to everyone. Give away flags, or balloons or towels, or pins, something with the name of your club on it. Print up a hundred or so COLOR brochures that MARKET your group/club/standard/whatever. Have noise, if your trains don’t make noise then put Graceland on the layout and have Elvis Presley playing in the background. Rent a laser projector and have your club name beamed on the wall. I’m not saying that your display has to look like a battle scene from Star Wars but I am saying that running your trains around, meeting up with buddies from other groups, and handing out a one page specification sheet for your standard is not the way to do it.