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Interbike Perspectives

Each of us within the Salsa Crew have different tasks which we are primarily responsible for. On the face of it, mine is Marketing. At its broadest definition, I'm charged with maintaining the look and feel of the Salsa brand. But in reality there are a great many tasks of varying sizes that make up my position. It's a good job and one that I'm thankful for at least most of the time.

Tradeshow time of the year is when things start getting kind of crazy around here for me. By 'tradeshow time' I mean about a four month period leading up to the actual event. During that time, we are in full catalog production, need to design and build our tradeshow booth, get products photographed, websites updated, etc.

This year it was really tough. No one to blame but myself for much of it of course. At its simplest I can take responsibility for not starting certain tasks earlier. Mistakes are best if you learn from them however and that is what I fully intend to do. I told a few folks I met with at Interbike this year that if I say I had a rough leadup to the show next year they should slap me across the back of my head. Really. I'm not joking. Next year, I will have many things finished long before reaching the generous proportions of stress that were dolluped out this year.

So I come back from this years Interbike really tired out. Besides setup and the outdoor dirt demo, there is the usual show routine. Get to the booth early to set product up again and make sure things are good. Then talk to dealers and hopefully media all day long showing them our line if they aren't familiar, or just the new stuff if they are pretty well up to date on Salsa. Pack up product each day when the show is done so that nothing walks off during the night. Walk back to the hotel through a sea of slot machines and silicon enhanced cleavage and then go out to dinner. Often these are business dinners so they can't be truly relaxed affairs. The booze is sometimes flowing a bit too righteously as well. At nights end, you walk past the hotel lobby bar and say a quick hello to industry friends. And then, at least for me, it is five or six hours of sleep before doing it all again. After a week of it, I'm left worked. My voice is kinda shot, I've caught a cold despite being in the desert, and my knees are sore from standing all the time and not riding a bike. Plus, as a bonus I've probably put on some extra pounds eating some good food and drinking too much. That is my Interbike in a nutshell, minus the sweet party that is teardown on the last night. Please don't miss the intended sarcasm in that last line.

But there are some other things that may interest you. By the end of the week, I'm so sick of hearing this question: So, how's the show been for you?

Think about it. When is anyone going to answer by saying that they had a miserable show? Yeah, nobody at all even looked at our product. We didn't get any attention at all. Total bummer.

Okay, there are some booths at the show that really don't get any traffic but that's a different sort of situation. Salsa has been really busy at Interbike for many years now. Each year there is increased awareness of what we do, what our product offerings are, and how they can get them. All these things are positive.

There are negatives of course as well. Each year, I wait to see which members of the media will stop by the booth to see what we're up to. While we've had some progression in that regard, there is always some disappointment as well.

Think of it like this. Salsa is a small bicycle company. But we still spend our chunk of change advertising both in print and online. Now I fully understand the desire for the media (particularily the print media) to seperate out editorial from advertising influence, but when you drop $12,000 with a magazine each year you kind of hope that they'll at least stop by the booth, shoot a few digital images, and possibly use one or two later. Afterall, there isn't any film cost, it takes almost no time, and you know they're going to fill a few pages with pics from the tradeshow right? It would hardly be preferential treatment. If anything it would be justified and honest treatment. Hell, I'm pretty sure they'll slap INTERBIKE 2007 SPECTACULAR on the cover in an attempt to bring in a few more dollars.

So the show is over and I've got two magazines that I spent over $20,000 with last year and they didn't come see us at our booth. And when I say they didn't come by, I mean they really didn't come by. Not an adverstising guy or an editorial guy. I want to have a conversation with them about it.

The conversation behind door #1 says something to the affect of good luck to you in the future, consider treating your advertisers with a little more respect and value.

The conversation behind door #2 says something like well we're happy with your publication and its positioning in relation to our brand, but in the future we'd sure like a little attention at the show.

Now I'm pondering which door to open, #1 or #2?

-Kid

p.s. Thanks to the following for coming by the booth and doing more than search for advertising dollars: BIKE magazine, Dirt Rag, twentynineinches.com, MTBR.com, cyclocrossworld.com, bikeradar.com, Future Publishing, Wired magazine, Singletrack UK, singletrackworld.com, Mundo MTB, and Outside magazine

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Mike Riemer

I love being outside. I prefer to ride on dirt. Or snow. If I was born a hundred years earlier I might have been a polar explorer. There's a great natural world out there to see, smell, taste, listen to, and experience. Life slows down out there and the distractions we've created will disappear if you let them. Give me a backpack and let me go.

COMMENTS (5)

 bigpeddler |

That wasn’t as bad as the rip off Pugsley

 MG |

Hey Mike—I sympathize with your situation, and I think you do a good job of partnering Salsa with media that compliment its positioning in the marketplace.  If the “value balance” isn’t working out with the media that did not come around during the show, by all means, vote with your dollars—that will be the best way to send them a message that you did not appreciate it.  That said, if you’ll miss out on reaching a critical target group with your message by not being in that media, I’d avoid using that tactic.  That’s your call, but I understand that being made to feel small, or unimportant stinks.  <BR><BR>Salsa Cycles is important, both as an entity, and as the group of individual cyclists that are its lifeblood.  You make the bikes I love to ride, and that means a lot to me.  And I know a lot of others who feel the same way.  They wouldn’t trade their Salsa frames for anything, and it’s not because of where you advertise.  It’s not because of how big your ads are.  It’s not because of what your ads say.<BR><BR>That right there says a lot.

 Jason |

Wow, that’s a pretty picture of Interbike from the “inside”. Yikes!<BR>Sorta makes me glad to view it from a customers perspective, 2000 miles away, in front of my computer! ;)<BR><BR>I think the folks you thanked speaks volumes about who Salsa’s customers are. And I think the readers of those publications are a different audience than the ones you didn’t thank. Not “better” just different.<BR><BR>It stinks that some of those mags couldn’t stop by, but hell, the reader wouldn’t read about it for 4 months after the show anyway and it would be a blurb in between a full page article about a $10,000 road bike and a $3,000 coffee machine.<BR><BR>Good luck with the door opening. <BR><BR>Jason

 Anonymous |

As a public relations consultant, I can assure you that the slap-on-the-hand approach will be counter productive.  Editors and wrirers do not like to be reminded about the advertising dollars to which they are beholden.  Let your money do the talking.  This vote will speak volumes.  <BR><BR>I think Salsa is an industry leader.  Keep up the great work, stick to your values and remember why you got into the business in the first place…the bike.

 Anonymous |

Kid—my opinion is you should not spend further dollars on the magazines (including Bicycling?) you said didn’t stop by.  The magazines, webistes that did are among the best in the industry.  Your best bet is to continue putting out great products, and cultivating your relationship with dealers and bike shops that ‘get’ Salsa.  Other than that, keep in touch/keep advertising with the folks at selected, influential blogs (e.g. Bike Portland) and e-zines, (e.g. Urban Vel, and keep sponsoring ‘different’ bike events nationally (e.g. cyclo-sportifs, alley cats, film festivals, etc.) Salsa is already doing many of these things, and it’s only a matter of time before this pays off. Pretty soon, word of mouth and ‘buzz’ develops about Salsa, and recognition (and eventually sales) rises.  Part of the reason people like myself love Salsa is precisely because it’s a small company.  Please keep it that way.  It’s not necessary to be big in order to be succesfull.  As for the two magazines that took your money and didn’t bother to say ‘hello’, pulling your advertising dollars from them will send them the signal they need (and deserve).

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