Category Archives: marketplace news

the truth is out there – maybe

m-b to sell smart ev scooter in 2014

mb’s smart ev scooter is set to sell

I take last week’s news of Daimler’s entry into the green scooter market come 2014 as more of a solidification of their alt transport low-zero emissions SMART brand than any sudden two-wheeled epiphany. Miniscule financial risk, max pr value, and a lot of genuine utilitarian functionality backed by diamond plated quality control, first class marketing, global distribution, and built-in market affinity even though Smart car sales haven’t exactly soared as first envisioned.

The news accompanied the announcement by Reuters of this summer’s Smart ForTwo four-wheeled ev launch.

How tough will it be to convince yacht sailing, pied-á-terre dwelling, polo pony riding ‘Benz owners to swipe their debit card and pick one up – I see a discreet POS gift card offering by the cashier’s window – on the way out of the dealership? Answer: not too. You’ll look in vain, by the bye, for these same folks at a local indie scooter store.

Not everyone’s convinced. This Automotive News critique after the initial 2010 announcement pans not just M-B, but the entire scooter riding universe. Oh well. For Daimler it’s almost all about reputation: expecting however many scooter sales to add significantly to the bottom line is hallucinatory. Much easier to boost profits selling Dyson cordless vacs as P&A. A rolling ev test bed, on the other hand, is not, and that’s scaleable.

For in-depth analysis of M-B’s 2-wheeled move, Martin Racing Performance’s blog goes on at length and in great detail on Daimler’s decision, with insider perspective on what it means for the nascent EV scooter/mc channel overall.

Magic 8 Ball: if this does work out, might the technology be licensed to existing badges? One might well imagine.

dealer expo credibility gets shredded

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.

seth godin gets it seriously wrong

first define small – then spec

I’m normally a big fan of Seth Godin’s writings. Doesn’t mean he’s always correct. His advice post on “How to get a job with a small company” ends with the applicant, “…offer(ing) to contribute a website or a sales letter or some sales calls–with no money on the table.” Great advice – if you’re the hirer. Web site this week. Collateral next. Pretty soon it’s a work-for-free, just-for-fun marketing department that sites like No!Spec are working hard to counteract.

When you show up and offer to go prospecting on spec, offer to contribute a website or a sales letter or some sales calls–with no money on the table–many small business people will take you up on it, particularly if they are cash-strapped, profit-oriented and know you by reputation. (Please don’t overlook that last one).

Seth’s post wrapped up with a throwaway graph that focused on giving away substance in exchange for a tryout. He tries to qualify by limiting the category to small businesses – although that label can be interpreted across a wide spectrum, from local Mom and Pop to widely recognizeable. And the notion that a job-seeker at any level needs to contribute free servitude out of concern for the “cash-strapped” potential employer turns this into an arrangement that’s also recognizeable as indentured servitude.

wall street should love this

Cash-strapped is cash-strapped – is the mission of the applicant to save the company? I found that particular paragraph especially distasteful for a number of obvious reasons, not least of which is the misguided notion that a web site done for free for someone who has obviously missed the value aspect up to that moment stands little to no chance of ever being compensated or respected. Add to that the liklihood that such work will fail on a variety of levels – creative, function, vision, content – and the best outcome will be a site that draws no traffic, returns no stats, and earns the owner a rep for cheap. Is that what small business really needs in these difficult times?

cycle world sold – again: to bonnier ab

The saga of Cycle World’s future existence continued today on news of the venerable publication’s sale to Field & Stream publisher Bonnier AB, a family held privately owned media group headquartered in Stockholm, Sweden. Self-described as, “… a culturally progressive, humanistic organization (with) knowledge-sharing goals,” the European publisher is also involved in book publishing, broadcast, digital, cinema, cultural events and educational efforts.

Many of the company’s best known titles were acquired as part of the Time print selloff in 2007.

News of Cycle World’s (re)sale was predicted before the ink was dry on the June, 2011 sale by HFM to Hearst. Shortly after the transfer, rumors began circulating that the familiar CW brand was for sale by owner, no reasonable offer refused. Bonnier’s titles also include Popular Science and Parenting. In a statement announcing the sale, Cycle World is slotted for Bonnier’s special interest Outdoor channel. The amount of the sale was not disclosed.

Bonnier’s portfolio of titles is impressive, and includes such special interest lifestyle nameplates as Saveur, the Transworld active collection, Motorboating and Yachtbroker. Given the production quality and editorial value of their offerings, Cycle World seems likely to maintain their leadership in print while enjoying a much needed web makeover that could be transformational.

product design hits and misses

Fast Company Cries Foul

since you put it that way, what was erik thinking?

Who says you can’t beat that dead horse? Fast Company compares Ulysses to Barcolounger! Whoop! Buell gets a posthumous dressing down over on Fast Company’s Design channel. Their current pictorial serves up a night and day visual of the role design plays in the consumer acceptance cycle. Message? I guess you know it when you see it. Screw around too much and you’ll pay the price: see iPod vs. (M.C.) Hammer clown pants over on the United States of Design for rock solid proof of usually avoidable consequences based on (bad) taste alone. Which is why the t.v. audience for Boise State home games will never exceed friends and family.

top cannes PR prize goes to ad agency

But overall, judges panned the lack of results oriented campaigns that can show behavior change as opposed to awareness as the main metric.

Just two years ago the tables were turned when an Aussie PR shop picked up top ad honors for their “dream job” campaign in what many forecasters thought at the time was the resurgence of the Golden Age for PR practitioners in an age of social media dominated communications.

This year’s Cannes results are another important reminder that above all, the core definition of public relations is to physically shift public behavior: bacon with breakfast, a/c not d/c as an energy source, etc., in a look back at what made Ivy Lee and Eddie Bernays pioneers in opinion.

Ad Agency Wins Top PR Prize at Cannes | Special: Cannes – Advertising Age.

cycle world sold

PARIS  Lagardère SCA today announced a €651M binding offer by Hearst Corporation for the sale of it’s international publishing empire (102 titles in 15 countries), including the industry leader Cycle World brand, part of the HFMUS portfolio of titles.

elle trademark retained

Lagardère would retain control, however, of it’s iconic ELLE trademark, which it will continue to license for various markets including mobile, print and product, and thus benefit from future royalties.

According to the press release, the parties have until Q3 2011 to complete the sale.

say your neck’s busted in the middle of the woods

who ya gonna call? twitter: a lifeline like no other

This post on USA Today last August got me to thinking. Could this have been me on any number of Cycle World Treks? Well, yes it could, as a matter of fact, given my woeful state of experience and not really that nimble riding style.

The story concerns Leigh Fazzina, a mountain biker in Connecticut who broke her neck on a downhill leg, but could easily apply to any number of scenarios. Being able to tweet when a voice connection is tenuous or impossible becomes a significant asset. Toss in location awareness and you’ve got a very sophisticated rescue tool in your pocket.

via Edelman Digital’s Friday Five

social media marketing won’t fix your infrastructure problem

via Logic+Emotion

David Armano writes for Edelman PR on all things social media. A goal for 2011 is to pay more attention to what he’s got to say.

This December offering requires moderate parsing, but with the blizzard inspired transportation breakdown as a metaphor, he offers a brief checklist of what corporations might pay attention to if the goal is to match up social technology’s impact on both media and business.

It is, as he says, food for thought.

my (really big) kodachrome moment

scale of enlargement? try 12,000 percent

In the mid-’70s a client wondered if the new design trend utilizing large format color prints could be adapted for the welcome center to a golf course subdivision on Florida’s West Coast. One of the labs I used at the time – Dallas based Meisel who then also had a lab in Atlanta – was actively promoting the concept, including some of my own stock.

It was only when the finished size required was measured against the original media used to produce the image that eyebrows raised. My plan: shoot the scene, an early morning dew drenched landscape of a green framed with Spanish moss, on 35 mil transparency. In my mind it was simple: load up a Leica factory loaner with K25 and fire away.

Today, December 30, 2010,  is the last day a roll of Kodachrome will ever be processed. It is the end of an era, the end of a very large chapter in the history of photography. Read more of my story here.