As I grow increasingly comfortable with online shopping as an alternative to chasing hard to find items in brick and mortar storefronts, rationalizing clik to add to shopping cart becomes easier and easier as the cost of shipping tumbles. Then came Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime is by all indications a very effective loss leader in the effort to tether consumers to mega-site Amazon for all their internet purchases. Patterned after the big box membership warehouse experience, Prime, for a modest annual fee, delivers not only free 2-day shipping on most items, but includes a bunch of other perks as well.
The price is right – for as long as it can last.
The included music feed is perfectly acceptable, eliminating having to subscribe to Pandora, Spotify, or Radio for a premium listening experience. Ditto access to online t.v. content, books, and a number of other features that save time and/or money.
I just discovered that a number of familiar, favorite, and free periodicals are available as well, viewable online or as downloaded Kindle content. Which is how I came across Cycle World, Bonnier’s flagship pub in their motorcycle group stable of powersports publications, as a free read on Amazon.
I’m not sure how the business model for offering up your vanguard bike magazine for free reading moves the bottom line needle. It’s not an option you’d expect to find in a typical subscription pitch; “12 Whole Issues For One Year’s Worth of Reading Only Zero Dollars and Zero Cents!”
Since consolidating the spectrum of motorcycle pubs several years ago by purchasing those niche assets from Hearst first, then Source Interlink, the overall health of print continues to circle the drain, excepting a few standouts like Garden & Gun. The price is right – for as long as it can last.
In a stunning announcement that dropped December 16, Jim Savas, VP/GM of automotive at media conglomerate UBM Advanstar, announced the immediate end of Dealernews as of December 23, 2015.
After initially making the case for a robust online presence, well supported by more than respectable metrics, Mr. Savas then set January 1, 2016, as the cessation of Dealernews in print, on the web, and across all digital channels.
Mismanaged content meant the wrong kind of reach for this dealership.
Your Business On Social – It’s Really Not Personal
A six-month social media marketing consultation for a multi-line powersports dealership that reps several metric makes, a domestic brand, and PWC and OHV inventory was the inspiration for this post. Located in a large Southeastern market, a neglected social media program wasn’t producing the growth one might expect given their footprint.
Management depended on traditional automotive push marketing techniques based largely on motivational training and consisting largely of clichéd slogans and a steady diet of overwrought memes. Making matters worse was content posted by employees, one in particular, who didn’t understand that the approach required for a business page had nothing to do with their personal life online.
A Waste of Their Money and My Time
When I got involved the CMS vendor hired for site design and management had set up an incomplete Google+ page and a lamentable blog that immediately failed. These “assets” joined a struggling Facebook timeline and an abandoned Twitter feed that, together with a local weekly bike night, made up a dysfunctional marketing strategy that defied the concept of content coordination.
The social goal was easily defined: increase organic growth, reach, and engagement using proven social media business techniques. In the end it was a waste of their money and my time. Based on my direct experience with this dealer, I emerged with a Five-Step Program for improving your social media marketing assets.
Here are my Top Five Social Marketing Essentials: the minimum elements a social media marketing program needs in order to have any chance of success.
5) Management Engagement
This ad for snowmobiles in Florida stayed up for months.
When management is “too busy” to monitor their own content, they deserve the worst result from a dysfunctional effort. Would you expect to see snowmobiles sold in Florida? In July? This embarrassing post by the client’s CMS vendor and web site IT, a well known powersports service provider, stayed up for weeks because management refused to look at their own channels. I won’t comment on the use of transparent background PNGs against a lime green <IMG> tag background color.
Lesson? Stay engaged or risk the consequences.
4) Coordinate Activities
Social didn’t have a seat at the table when sales, promos, or events were planned by the sales manager. OEM marketing opportunities came and went without generating earned publicity. Result: a failure to connect using basic tools like page event apps to promote engagement and activity.
Further muddying the waters — multiple managers had independent control of multiple channels. Result? A total lack of content direction and coordination.
Lesson? Assign one manager as point-of-contact, with authority for all content and the option to grant multiple contributors access to team functions.
3) Understand Social Stats
Personal friends list used by greeter to prop up skewed reach.
Stats can inform or mislead. When they’re manipulated, the result can be deceptive and misleading.
Despite a favorable (chart at top) 68% male-31% female fan mix, the reach skewed heavily towards women, not men. This disconnect is traceable to flawed post content by the lobby greeter’s attempt to pad metrics by polling her personal Facebook male friends for likes. This shifted the ratio alright, but only by creating a false positive that distorts the desired organic results and won’t fool Facebook.
Lesson? Manipulated stats disguise reality, lead to bad decisions based on false facts.
2) Understand How Social Media Works
Social marketing is about pull, not push. Understanding the general strengths and weaknesses is essential.
It’s a unique medium that requires regular care and feeding in the form of professional attention. Audience engagement can’t be forced; only quality content of interest will attract interaction. Google knows this, and you should also.
Lesson? Quality content continues to be the prime ingredient in a successful social campaign.
1) Speak With One Voice
The number one requirement for a successful social marketing program? Speak professionally, using one knowledgeable voice.
The dealership’s in-house voice, a former barista turned lobby greeter with zero motorcycle knowledge and a dysfunctional writing “style”, was allowed to post disconnected content online, without review, like the incoherent example below.
“Off-roading enthusiasts love the adventures and the risks and adrenaline associated with it. Speaking with the novice portion of this crowd, one of the most commonly inquiries is, “Do you know where I can ride these?” It’s a very just question. Now a great place to cross off your bucket list is the Apalachicola National Forest. Located in the panhandle, there is 195,000 acres worth of lush, loamy nature. They conveniently have about 80% of their trails marked very well. However, it is also rumored to have many undiscovered trails with very little traffic. Yeah it’s a bit of a trip, but do ya really plan on staying at home for the rest of your life?”
I rest my case. Lesson? Social programs too often see Nike’s success selling shoes as an easily copied meme. Reality? Without professional creative talent efforts aren’t just wasted, they’re counterproductive.
Growing Your Social Channel – A Job for Professionals
Don’t be this dealer. Commit to using the power and prestige of social media. Make it count. Engage your qualified market, enjoy the benefits of a comfortable public relationship.
I’ve enjoyed many industry events in Vegas, Indy, Cincy before and after, and in Orlando – in both the West Building hosting AIME’s inaugural outing and the massive North South venue across the street. Considering Orlando’s in my back yard – midway between where I grew up on Merritt Island an hour south of Daytona and where I now live on the Gulf shores – it’s with some amount of satisfaction that the move I’ve long recommended to the powersports industry has now come to pass.
“We Don’t Serve Their Kind Here!”
I’m proud to identify myself as an advertising and PR professional who attended his first powersports industry event in the lobby of a long forgotten Daytona Beach hotel while studying Journalism and Communications as a PR major at the University of Florida in the late ’60s.
So yes, it comes as somewhat of a rude shock to discover that the critically important marketing professions have been explicitly excluded from the B2B portion of the event by way of a regressive, considered, exorbitant admission fee. In my own home state no less.
“Non-exhibiting manufacturers and service providers can obtain credentials to attend AIMExpo during the exclusive trade-only days on October 16, 17, & 18, 2013 by paying a mandatory $400 registration fee per person.” (Emphasis added)
This, despite the occupations’ marquee status as a major advertised component of the event’s announced educational sessions. Well that’s just stupid. Nothing like slamming the door in the face of an industry you’re only too happy to promote from a short list of insider presenters.
Unfortunately, AIME management seems content to continue to fail to grasp the critical role pr and marketing communicators play in the age of global social media or the technical nuances that go with. Note to organizers: the hot topic in mar-com these days is the merging of journo and pr as creators of much coveted retail content.
Exhibit A: Google “AIME” – discover why product and event naming is an art, not a commodity, in an SEO ruled universe.
Exhibit B: a Facebook invitation to this pr pro to “like” the event’s Spanish language page. Uh, yo no hablo español.
“Please note: Media credentials will be provided to reporters, writers, editors, videographers, photographers and producers. Advertising, sales & marketing and administrative staff are not considered working media and will not be provided with media credentials.” Ok, got it. Marketers are pariahs. Insult to injury, message received, message understood.
In the all important social media promoted message sweepstakes (including blogs), organizers have said no and no again to any WOM publicity on behalf of their aftermarket and OEM clients – the exhibitors.
For – lets say the scooter crowd, who are arguably in need of whatever exposure they can garner – this is a major missed opportunity.
As a content manager for a powersports dealer and other aftermarket clients, say so long to any professional mar-com generated event coverage or mentions. For – lets say the scooter crowd, who are arguably in need of whatever exposure they can garner – this is a major missed opportunity.
So with that not so slight slight out of the way, here’s some of what you might expect, might need to know, and might want to discover if you make the trip.
One Booth You’ve Got To Visit
For first time – and nearly all will be – powersports visitors to the massive OCCC facilities on International Drive, here’s a little insight into what you can expect compared to Indy’s mid-winter experience.
Weatherwise, October comes in as our second most active month for major storms, including hurricanes, behind September – which right now is pretty soggy. Just saying, come prepared for the occasional raindrop and although it’s early Fall for us it may still seem like the height of Summer, depending. Here’s what else you might want to know.
GoPro is an announced exhibitor, and based on past experience not only is their booth a blast, it’s the best chance you’ll (probably) have to score an on-the-house camera. They always bring game, and theirs is one of the hippest and smartest booth marketing efforts you’ll see. Free beer’s a definite possibility, but even if it weren’t the show and tell theme makes this big dog and pony a must see.
Where Ya’ At?
When it comes to a place to stay, the sky’s the limit. Metro Orlando is second only to NYC in lodging. One of Indy’s major draws was the ease of pedestrian access between downtown lodging and the convention center. OCCC? Eh, not so much.
Odds are you’ll want to stay reasonably close by on International Drive, and there’re plenty of options to choose from, from lux to how many can we cram in a room.
Nobody drove to and fro in Indy. Make that virtually nobody, as downtown parking was a sparse commodity. Whether you were holed up out by the airport or in more recent years downtown, private show shuttles and the connected airwalks were the way folks got around.
Orlando’s different. Unless you’re staying across the street from the West Building in either of the Rosen properties or the Peabody, best bring your hiking boots.
In fact, even if you did snatch a room at one of those facilities, the walking distance still might come as a shock compared to, say, Indy’s Hyatt.
If you’ve got a car, you’re in good shape. Parking’s plentiful at the OCCC – $15 at the venue lot. On street? No and no. Otherwise, you’re likely marooned and will have to depend on public transport and private taxis to get around.
What’s For Dinner?
Unlike Indy – very unlike – you won’t find a dense downtown collection of closely connected destinations reachable – weather permitting – within easy walking distance. And also unlike the business oriented downtown Indy vibe, Orlando – make that Florida – is mostly indifferent, what with close to 70 million annual visitors tracking up the front hall.
If there’s going to be one major complaint, it will be the lack of memorable and/or quick dining options. Forget anything like St. Elmo or Palomino, although Tommy Bahama offers an interesting menu – the crab bisque in particular. Orlando is home to the Darden (Olive Garden, Red Lobster) Group, and that means you’ll most likely end up at a theme inspired franchise, take a number, and wait for your server to hustle up touristy drinks and mostly mediocre fare.
If over the years spent at Indy you’d grown accustomed to making a dash, quick or otherwise, outside Expo to grab a burger at Steak and Shake, a Happy Meal at Mickey D’s or one of Palomino’s fabo pizzas, well hang on to those memories. You wish.
I can say this without equivocation: OCCC food is nothing if not expensive, considering it’s mediocrity. You’re pretty much a captive audience while at the event – $15 for the cardboard inspired All American Cheeseburger, fries and a soda may have you begging for mercy after a couple of days.
What To Do Besides
Wellllll, besides Biketoberfest, there’s Disney some miles west or Universal just up the street – where you can grab a Duff beer at the brand new Simpsons’ Springfield attraction. Just around the corner there’s Sea World and dicey off-road adventure can always be had on S. Orange Blossom Trail (not on any tourist map or ticket kiosk). Or you could head 45 minutes east and spend some time hanging out at the Lone Cabbage Fish Camp for a taste of the kind of food I grew up on, finishing up with an airboat ride around the St. John’s River fed Lake Poinsett.
Then, if you haven’t been yet, continue your journey up to NASA’s excellent Kennedy Space Center (KSC), then out to Cocoa Beach and a run through home boy Ron Jon’s original Surf Shop for a memorable dude experience before heading home.
powersports failing to engage huge segment of potential market
Start with a number: nearly 1.5 billion. While most – but surprisingly not all – powersports B2B media and distributors and B2C retailers have staked out claims on the most popular social media channels, actual engagement of this valuable real estate lags far behind potential. This infographic measures the reach and user engagement of the most popular trade event, distributor, and online retail vendors on Facebook and twitter. Click here for more on how powersports uses social media.
This is one of a handful of titles in the powersports community and the first among major enthusiast consumer magazines to tap the growing popularity of mobile/tablet platform publishing coupled with a digital subscription rollout that may or may not gain traction. Issues run within the app, and aren’t viewable as a browser interpretation.
The app, available only via iTunes, adds to Bonnier’s growing portfolio of tablet targeted digital publishing efforts which now includes Field & Stream, Popular Photography, Flying, Popular Science, and their high-end gourmet glossy, Saveur.
What’s significant is that unlike a Flash based publishing solution, the app is easily viewed on Apple iOS devices, which represent a major and growing portion of interactive mobile publishing. Can you see a cross-link marketing connection in the works? Ad reps are standing by – CW’s going to make mighty attractive bait for Bonnier’s other mainstream enthusiast brands.
content is king – experience is queen
Optimized for page view on tablets and scaleable as an adaptive/responsive layout for smaller screens, I’m guessing the digital porting is positioned to take full advantage of Apple’s latest Retina displays – and that translates into photography so lavish you can just about dip your hands in.
Tablet publishing is the new frontier of print journalism, and depending on acceptance by the public will determine in large part how profitable titles will become as newstand and subscription sales continue to tumble into the abyss. Will it work? Wired and Sports Illustrated were early entrants in what can be a hugely expensive and time consuming technical task. SI recently laid off another busload of staffers, but kept photogs in place.
Interested? You’ll need an iTunes account (free) to download, but the app’s free and promises a couple of gratis teaser pubs as incentive for a full-fledged subscription. Which is why the first link attached to the eBlast ended up a clunker. Here’s a link that works.
If you think Google docs equals digital publishing, time to catch up. For more insight on the wide range of available digital formats, click here.
One thing the troubled world of powersports trade events can’t survive and still maintain a credible industry presence is the abandonment of anchored floor space by major distributors.
The increasingly anemic dealer turnout that’s plagued Expo in recent years takes another hit as the persistent rumor of Parts Unlimited and Drag Specialties departing Indy in favor of building their own corporate footprint apparently has legs.
move will affect dealer attendance, manufacturer exhibits
LeMans is expected to announce a budget reallocation that shifts marketing funds from Dealer Expo to expand their own self-hosted Showcase dealer show to include bi-coastal (CA and PA) additions, each with up to 200 vendor slots, in a move that further suppresses aftermarket manufacturer participation in traditional venues.
Dealernews announced today that the co-promoted International Motorcycle Show has added Indianapolis to their popular coast-to-coast tour. The public event, to run concurrently during February’s Dealer Expo, elegantly solves the thorny question of whether or not troubled trade-only industry events should host separate consumer access to the same exhibits as a survival strategy in the face of dwindling attendance.
IMS, backed by the considerable resources of Progressive Insurance in the role as title sponsor, has long been a popular destination for tens of thousands of consumers during 12 stops annually. Next year, with top of the line venues Lucas Oil Stadium and the freshly expanded Indianapolis Convention Center hosting their respective events, the opportunities for powersports marketeers are substantial, with both B2B and B2C reach available at the same time, in non-competing, comfortable, and convenient environments. For both established lines and just out of the gate startups, it’s a golden moment to engage and promote.
Can Dealer Expo slam the brakes on their downward trend by convincing a reticent powersports aftermarket manufacturing community to reinvest in what has become an auction and Pan-Asian agri-scooter free trade zone? At a time when industry trade shows in general continue to time out, thanks mainly to a sluggish economy and the power of the internet, the proof may well lie in imaginative promotion. This is a great start.
Who says job boards have to look like crap? Alex Baylon’s popular Motorcycle Industry Jobs web site gets a fresh coat of paint and polish with a relaunch that features simpler, faster search and an easy-on-the-eyes UI overhaul.
Improvements include the ability of registered (free – woot!) job seekers to create and manage their resumes online, with the added convenience of accessing their social media channels, specifically LinkedIn, for content.