everything coming up roses? not so fast
The continuing struggles of the powersports market coupled with the rise of social media haven’t been kind to Advanstar’s Dealer Expo signature event, even less so to its flagship b2b pub Dealernews. This fact was painfully born out when Joel Martin, head of Martin Racing Performance and a leading scooter segment authority, blasted the media giant on his blog for their spin describing last month’s 44th annual trade show. Then he reloaded. In the background I could hear Foster The People humming Pumped Up Kicks.
Mr. Martin took it personally when, after extensively documenting the event for his own blog and YouTube channel, he failed to recognize the franchise version of the very same show.
There’s no disguising how much the exhibitor base has shifted since I vBlog’d the event in 2008 or last walked the show in 2009 while questioning Dealer Expo’s marketing strategy as showing serious signs of strain, an opinion that’s since proven both prophetic and accurate. Meanwhile, Advanstar’s continued attempt to revive a zombie V-Twin show within a show came up snake eyes – again.
winners 0 losers 2
There are no winners here. A shrinking powersport dealer network that depends on industry press for an accurate picture of how the market is performing, where it’s going, and trends to watch for, gets shortchanged on reality. And there’s the brand that is Advanstar, and the issue of trust and reputation management. Independently verified opinion polling? Missing in action – just the self-congratulatory quotes from corporate employees.
It’s true that, especially for first time attendees, the view is more that of green meadows and perpetual sunshine. But for long time participants well aware of the meteoric rise in market performance from the mid ’90’s to the mid ‘oo’s, there’s no masquerading the increasingly dire situation facing brick and mortar retailers.
time to make lemonade
Who then to fault? Aftermarket manufacturers, industry media, and dealers themselves. All can be called to task for repeatedly failing to ask critical questions, invest in essential marketing, and for blindly continuing to embrace a business plan that’s lost its mojo. Other industries have adapted to similar challenges – Performance Racing Industries’ Orlando event comes to mind.
The industry desperately needs a venue or venues that, like any other dedicated channel, provides a well managed opportunity for buyers and sellers to gather in a common marketplace for a couple of days to assess, visit, become informed, learn, and above all profit. It’s a void Marketplace Events hopes to exploit with their newly launched American International Motorcycle Expo set to open next year. Stay tuned.