OK, BB and I are back from our vacation, and our birthdays are behind us (March 5 and 6), and I am back to work. And, typical of me, I am thinking about the future and wondering what I should do and how best to do it. I have some ideas, so, if you have a few minutes, I’d like to share them with you. However, I need to warn you: this update will be long, but I think — for those of you who love TMD — it may be one of the best updates I’ve ever shared with you.
THE FUTURE: WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?
As you all know, modeling is changing. It has been for some time now, but those changes seem to be accelerating. If I want to keep doing what I do for a living, I am going to have to find ways to change with the market. Luckily, I have several ideas how I might be able to stay relevant.
First, I need to change the focus of my products. Major conversions simply are not a good risk — not these days. The moment I get a big kit ready, a plastic company releases the kit in plastic. TMD cannot afford this sort of risk. However, there will also be the inevitable ‘mistakes’ in these new kits that will need correcting, or omissions that will need to be provided. In addition to this, even with the advances in molding technology, there will always be fine details that add that little extra something to your model that I can make better and cheaper. So, naturally, I am thinking these are the areas where I need to focus my efforts.
Additionally, I need to design my new products to be as generic as possible. With so many Panthers and Tigers and Shermans (etc.) on the market, it becomes difficult to master specifically for a given manufacturer. Therefore, wherever possible, I need to make products that can work on any model of a given vehicle and make manufacturer-specific products only when and where it is absolutely necessary. On top of this, I need to go back and start re-working the older product line so that it can be brought up to modern standards. Naturally, the previous standard of ‘generalization’ would be worked in to the re-mastering of these items. In many cases, this will mean older items will essentially become new products.
Next, I have to let people know that TMD exists (still exists). I have never been good at marketing TMD (and worse at marketing myself). Unfortunately, I need to do both. It’s just how the industry works these days. So, I need to start pushing review samples and working with the various magazines and DG’s out there to push TMD products. I also need to go back to making build-ups so you can see our products on a finished model. I am even considering the move back to standardized packing headers for every item I sell. Naturally, this effort to put forth a better face will also include fixing the web store and getting the adds off the blog page. I simply must make it easier to find what you are looking for on our web store and stop the distracting adds on our blog page. In short, if I want to be a ‘big boy,’ I need to start acting like a ‘big boy.’
Finally, it is time for me to start taking a serious look at 3D design and printing. I am starting to see indications that the technology has finally reached the point where I can accept it. Up until now, it simply did not meet my standards, but this is changing. So, I am starting to look for ways to afford the computer, program and printer I will need to teach myself to use this technology.
THE FUTURE: HOW CAN I MAKE IT HAPPEN?
I still get help from Karl and Dave, but — for the most part — the majority of the actual work around here is done entirely by me. TMD is a one-man show, friends, and everything I just mentioned will take a lot of time and hard work. It does not help matters that I am still working to finish many cosmetic repairs on our house. The net affect is that my moral has been taking a beating. I want to do what I know I need to do, but I have been feeling both frustrated and defeated. TMD is small, and if I focus on doing too many things that are not directly related to driving new sales, the cash flow dries up and I fall into a financial crunch. At the same time, if I do not make a way to get all the things I just discussed done, I am likely to fall into the same trap, just more slowly — sort of like a starving as the market slowly leaves me. It’s a catch-22, but I have a few ideas.
First, I need to get the shop cleaned up again. I still have too much of the old office in the shop, and it constantly gets in the way of efficient operations (not to mention it drives the OCD side of me nuts). However, before I can get all the stuff out of my shop, I have to finish the old office, which requires me to clean up the garage so I have room to use my wood-working tools. There is light at the end of this tunnel as I have already started on the garage and, if I stay on this, I should be able to get the office completed and the shop cleaned up in the next two weeks. Once I get this done, it will be much easier to do my research, work on new products and keep up with my administrative chores (which includes working on the new web store design).
The next problem is buying time to get things going again. Let’s face it, this industry is new product driven and I haven’t put out anything new since before the storm. I cannot afford to go without new products much longer. So, as I see it, I have two choices. I can either start pushing out as much small, easy stuff as possible, which is a short-sighted solution. Or I can get to work on making a series of new products to be released in a planned and managed campaign. This second option is more in line with the ideas I mentioned about marketing because it allows me to get samples to the right people before I announce the release of that new product. It also allows me to get ahead of the cycle. The problem here is that it requires me to find a way to fund my operations for at least two months. Well, without new stuff, this is going to become problematic. But I have an idea.
TMD’s LAST SALE???
Sales have usually hurt me. They interrupt the new product cycle. However, this time is different. There have not been any new products for a long time, so there is nothing to interrupt. This offers a potential solution to my dilemma. If I hold a sale and it turns out well, I should be able to fund a two month period where I can focus on making new products for a planned marketing campaign (a first for me and TMD). But there will be a down-side to this. Once I get into the new routine, I will not be able to afford risking interruptions in the new product cycle again. That means, while I might offer a sale for a specific item(s), I will not be able to afford general sales again. So, I am thinking about holding a two week general sale this month, but, if I do, it will probably be the last one I ever hold.
But let me be clear: I am not threatening to go out of business, and I am not threatening to never have sales of any type again. This is NOT a marketing ploy. This is an explanation of what I am planning to do and why. Yes, it is much more information than other companies will share with you, but then, I have always considered and treated you as friends and TMD as your company. Given how I feel, why shouldn’t I share things like this with you? After all, it concerns every one of you who have ever bought or used a TMD product. Besides, as far as I know, it has never hurt me, but it has helped us form a special bond. So, I am not about to change the way I operate now.
Anyway, I have not decided — yet. Make sure to keep a close watch out because, if I do post this sale, it will be the last (and, in many cases, it may be the last time you can buy some of our older products).
THAT IS ALL
OK, if you are still with me, feel free to offer thoughts, comments or suggestions. You can post here, or email me directly. Now, until I decide what I am going to do next, stay safe and try to build something (preferably something using TMD resin).