TipS To Extend The 2016 Interbike Brand Experience
We human beings are hard-wired for narrative. In the absence of a story, we will make one up. Tell your story first." Kate Nugent
Let me first disclose that I love bicycles, fat tires, skinny tires, road and dirt so having the chance to attend Interbike hardly felt like work. Sorry to all of my marketing brethren stuck at DreamForce listening to jargon on storytelling, big data, and marketing automation while I roamed the trade show floor of the Mandalay Bay in what could only be described as the most epic man cave for lovers of two wheels.
As I started to think ahead about the conversations with the brands I had planned on meeting my only frame of reference for how to activate around such a tentpole event was the Detroit auto show which I had the pleasure of planning for several years while working for Ford. We always had a very simple goal when planning for the auto show- develop kick ass activations to capture the largest share of voice amongst our competition through traditional media relations and digital/social activation.
With that in mind I set up a few feeds in my Nuvi dashboard to get a sense of how the online conversations would evolve over the week, how different companies extend their presence digitally and of course to see what people were most stoked about. One of the feeds was quite broad with the goal to simply understand what people were talking about most in context of the Interbike hashtag while the others were narrowed down to just the companies on the exhibitor list to see which exhibitors people were most engaged with.
During the outdoor demo days I was surprised to see that only one major bike brand was in the leaderboard for mentions in the overall conversation and even more surprised when I narrowed it down to just those who were demoing their bikes. The combined mentions were under 50. You read that correct. Under 50.
The first couple of days were dominated by the industry media outlets (which I would expect), professional racers and the poor choice made on the sock’s that went into the participant’s bags. The only non-cycling media that hit the leaderboard during the week was a Glamour magazine article which was only a result of what was dubbed #sockgate.
As the week progressed we saw over 11k conversations in the overall Interbike stream and less than 600 for exhibitors with the same trend of media outlets, people and organizations shaping the narrative.
While the data clearly demonstrates that major industry media outlets own the share of voice it should not preclude brands to activate around the event itself as well. With 70% of the conversations happening in other locations besides Nevada it’s clear that people who are not at the event are tuning in to see what cool stuff they can add to their wish list. Brand's should see this as an opportunity to engage audiences, tell the story you want them to hear, as well as provide meaningful ways for them to participate versus just waiting for the media to share their thoughts.
Owning more of the share of voice for the show could be really simple stuff like snapping pics of the bikes you had in the demo area and tours of the products in your booth to more in-depth video interviews with product managers on the latest gear. If you wanted to take it a step further, add a digital overlay to the physical experience to provide retailers and journalists to engage with a virtual reality experience of the ideal riding environment or simply add beacons to each bike that provides the quick overview in a self-guided kind of tour.
Realizing that most of the industry was still recovering from EuroBike, which had roughly the same amount of total conversation, it all still boiled down to one key insight for me from the digital activation perspective - the leading brands were not telling their own stories they rely on others to tell it.
Here is the full picture of the conversation.