Keels And Wheels 2015 – The Show That Never Happened?

Keel 1We all know the saying, If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, does it make a sound? Well, the same goes for your classic boat show. Now I know I know, Keels and Wheels does a great job of raising a ton of money for kids charities. And there is some serious dedication going on to pull it all together. But to be blunt. A show that large that draws from around North America needs to realize that even though the Keels and Wheels it features are cool classics, using vintage marketing tactics work as well as a 1960 Corvair thats been sitting on blocks for 30 years.

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Please as you all know we positive about everything, and this is NOT about bashing or being negative. It is a lesson to all the folks that want to have a visible successful event. In today’s world, your event, or restoration business MUST use social marketing and have a digital marketing plan. PERIOD. To be more blunt. You’re missing out if you don’t have this stuff in the works. Yes ,yes, I am being rough here. But the simple fact is that we all in the hobby depend on your event and business to be successful. We all win, when you win, and we all loose when you do as well. This is the case with the Keels and Wheels event held this last week. No advance social marketing. Not a word. This is not a ploy for ads BTW, thats “By The Way” fo you non textingr folks.. BTW.. We monitor all the social channels, and .. cue the crickets. As for the event, NO photos or reports.

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Yes there was some Facebook stuff, More on Facebook later.. But no press release no photos, no nothing. So in a sense, the show never happened this year. Best of what show.. To the person that drove miles and miles there to show there boat. Nothing, like it never fell in the woods. I will take this further, sorry Keels and Wheels, but this sets back next years event, since you are falling of the radar you enjoyed. Now.. we did notice that many members of the ACBS were there.. Sorry to be blunt again.. That isn’t enough anymore..

We are at a critical time in the cultures life. We must do better, we MUST not miss a beat. So, right here right now we will give you some sobering thoughts to think about your business or event.

1. Facebook is not your friend. Its a business now, using your stuff to reach people. If you have 500 friends, 30 of them will see your stuff, if your business has 13,000 likes like us, Facebook throttles back the content. We are amazed if 4000 people see a post. And forget linking anything, then its less. So you have to now PAY to boost a post to be seen. So, have a budget for that. You can not trick Facebook.

2. You need a full time person to be online talking about you. Be on forums, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, everyplace you can be. That person you have should be all over the place plugging, helping and sharing.

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3. Pictures and Video. Don’t post crappy photos. They are boring and no one looks or worse shares them. OK, wait, you know I am telling the truth here. Have a good club member with an eye.. Use it.. ALOT.. and share.. Make Videos.. Look at Bob Kays from Lake Hopatcong. He is pounding 24/7 online, and it shows, the club is robust, fun and very active and the shows very well attended.

4. Stop being cheap. Many of you are holding money like the depression kids that you are. Spend on media and awareness. But be smart about it. Have a media plan, a PR plan and execute it.

5. Posters. Make great posters, mailers. Period. We will not post a crappy poster of your event.

6. Realize people need time to make plans. Look at the Woods and Water event marketing. This gang is all over the place. See how they do it.. Follow the lead.

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7. When you have your event, make it an event, not a show. Make it more than a static group of boats at a dock.. Show photos of boats running around!  We want to have fun, the 30 boats at the show can be seen in an hour.. Then what? Hats off to Algonac for doing more, moving back to the shrine of Chris Craft, having tours of the town, and great water trips. All packed into a perfect weekend. Sounds like fun right? See. It’s an event you may be able to travel to and have a fun weekend. Do your traffic count for the past ten years. Your a lot smaller now, right? It aint the economy or gas prices anymore. Your old boat show is old and boring. Sorry. The internet has changed everything. Use it.

Please understand, we want to help here. We are fully behind your success. Woody Boater is all of you, not just Texx and I.. It’s here for you to use, and we are here to help you help yourself. We will push back and tell you to do better if you ask. We have seen some amazing stuff change for the positive by the way, In other words “Help us Help You Help The Culture Of Classic Boating.


18 replies
  1. Rob Lyons
    Rob Lyons says:

    Let me be the first of MANY WoodyBoaters in attendance at K&W last weekend to apologize for shirking our duty and responsibility to report all happening in Seabrook. We could easily use the excuse that the weekend got off to a horrific start with the Hampton Inn burning to the ground (with many WoodyBoaters set adrift because of it) or the sinking of the Century on Thursday (imagine that a Century with a leaky bottom). Well I can a sure you that “Excuse” will NOT fly! Especially when we learn that the hotel was a total loss, but Jean Hoffman was able to recover everything from her room and that if not for the HUGE efforts from a bunch of the WoodyBoaters (I’m so sorry I don’t have the names) who grabbed ropes, pumps, buckets and a can of Flex Seal (just kidding about the Flex Seal) to save the Century from the bottom of the harbor at the Lakewood Yacht Club.

    I must surmise that no reporting was done because everyone was having a great time, at a great show, with great boats (and cars) and great friends.

    Did I say Great Boats, Yep! How about “TOLKA” making the trip from Minn or a PERFECT 1930 Morin restored Hacker (Best of Show). Clay Thompson with his 1930 Chris Craft winning “Best of the Best” (Best Boat of the 20 Years of Best of Show). Best GarWood, Roger and Lisa Brown with a 1939 19′ Runabout “Lisa Marie”. Best Chris Craft, Cary Price with a 1948 Custom “True Grit”. Don’t ever miss Dan Diehl’s Cobra “Rat Boat” (I tried to buy it, I’m number 9 in line). That is just to name a few of the 70+ boats.

    Oh yes how about those friends; Terry Fiest judging his 954th consecutive show (well at least it seems like it). Then there is Dr “CYCLONE” (AKA Jacob Deegan) burning 300 gallons of fuel just starting the 1000+ Horsepower motors for all of us to enjoy. Our friends and VERY hard workers at the Southwest Chapter for the Texas size hospitality. Last and certainly not least, Paul Merryman and Bob Fuller for their 20th year of K&W, with their compete dedication they have helped to donate over $1.5 Million to Boys and Girls Harbor.

    Again I apologize for the delay in reporting and hopefully some of the other attendees (Party Goers) will add Photos, Videos, Tweets, FaceBook Posts, Instagrams, Telegrams, Blogs, Forums, Sketches, Drawings, Animations, Posters, Banners, Transom Art and the Almighty WoodyBoater Post (Did I get them all Matt?)

  2. m-fine
    m-fine says:

    Matt, I think you completely missed the point. It is not a lack of marketing interest that kept the show hush hush. After the Century sank, I think Tom and the gang engineered the biggest coverup outside of Washington.

    • Phillip Jones
      Phillip Jones says:

      At least it wasn’t a Shepherd this time.:):) Getting tiered of readying about those events.

  3. Wilson
    Wilson says:


    I think you’ve been a little hard on Bob and Paul. They sent out more mailers…with pictures for this and past year’s Keels & Wheels than any other show, I’ve know about… As for Face Book 95 percent of that goes, for whatever reason, to straight my “junk mail” file and I rairly ever see it. I know my wife uses it to keep up with grand children…but in my view that hardly qualifies it as a “marketing tool”. In my view the proof is in the pudding and the fact that they get big crowds and raise record braking amounts of money for charity tells me they are doing something right. Just my view.

  4. Judy Hills
    Judy Hills says:

    Would it be possible to post a collection of ideas regarding boat shows on the Woody Boater website? I’d like to know other than static in and out of water displays, boat rides and vendor booths what else is being done to make shows more interesting and to attract the younger crowd. Thanks for considering this request.

  5. Bill Hammond
    Bill Hammond says:

    I’d like to agree that Social Media is where it’s at these day. To those of us in the Hobby, we need to be aware that if you’re under age 30 you don’t use email except if your work requires it. FaceBook is fast becoming a dinosaur mainly populated by the Baby Boomers. Gen X’ers & Millenials are Tweeting & Instagramming! Heck they don’t even watch Network Television! They get ALL of their news via Soc. Media.

    I have all of those accounts but Im not a good user of Twitter or Instagram or the half dozen other ones out there. But I can’t tell you when the last time I told my Millenials anything that they hadn’t already seen on their Smart Phones! And yes I made the switch to a Smart Phone about 5 years ago and haven’t looked back! I don’t even have a PC hooked up anymore & I rarely use my Laptop! My notebook sits wondering where I’ve gone to. I don’t have a Tablet yet or that’s what I’d use. My Smartphone is how I do 98.85% of my Internet activity.

    So not only do we have to use Social Media it has to be Phone Friendly if we want to keep pulling in the future occupiers of our hobby! I’m only 58 but I’m already figuring out how to make sure my boats survive into the next generations of my family.

    Thanks Matt for the Lecture!

  6. John Rothert
    John Rothert says:

    Matt, the consummate adman made a lot of good points.
    I am proudly cyber stupid, but I read every word with curious interest….another world this digital one…but having the current reality explained is always enlightening….I miss a lot of current reality on purpose…but this post was informative.
    John in Va.

  7. BS
    BS says:

    So if your not paying WB, and not using social media your on the outs lol. PLEASE SEND MONEY

  8. Texx
    Texx says:

    Over the years we have come to accept the fact that the organizers of Keels & Wheels are not interested in providing WB (or other digital media outlets) with anything like a pre-show Press Release, website links, or information / photos to help promote that event.

    And we are OK with that.

    However, this year we received a number of complaints / inquiries from Keels & Wheels show sponsors asking why Woody Boater was not providing pre-event / live / post-event coverage. As you can see from the Century Boat Club story yesterday, we are more than happy to help promote the event if asked. But we can’t do it alone, we need help from the event organizers. Not financial help – but help with good, fresh, digital content.

    The folks from the Century Boat Club were very accommodating and provided us with fresh photos, show info, descriptions, website links, etc and we published the story. We turned the story around in 48 hours.

    And it didn’t cost them a penny – just their time required to send us the information we needed to prepare the story.

    The point is, the Keels & Wheels folks don’t appear to be up to speed (or interested in digital media promotion) – but if they (or their sponsors) feel that digital coverage is needed on the classic boating side of the show, they should send us something or ask us what we need.

    We will be happy to respond and help if we can. – Texx

  9. Matt
    Matt says:

    Thanks Texx, I will also note that the Century Story yesterday alone. got over 4300 veiws on Wb and the stories on Facebook about it was viewed by roughly 15,000 folks. So a total of 20,000 impressions and information distributed for free.. in one day. No printing, not mailing expense. And to top it all off, the story is live online for another 5000 impressions a day for a week. AND, the stories and facebook can be linked to promote the event on other platforms.
    I will also add.. Digital marketing spending is up over 200% from just two years ago. The entire communications business is changing as break neck speed. Companies that refuse to deal with it are shrinking.

  10. Paul H
    Paul H says:

    No doubt you are right about the ad spend and changing communications Matt. But – here is a challenge. Lets check back in a month, 3 months or 6 months and see if the Century story, and the huge number of “impressions” it had, actually translates into something tangible for them. I have zero doubt of the veracity of your numbers or the changes in advertising and communications to which you allude, but I would love to see some positive tangible results of all these impressions. Isn’t that the bottom line in the publishing and ad game? These impressions and eyeballs have to mean something at the end of the day and represent something more than just a number.

    It appears the markets don’t share the enthusiasm for the ability of advertisers to monetize these impressions and eyeballs. Take a look at the recent stock charts of twitter and LinkedIn. The rubber has to hit the road at some point, and that means profits and sales for advertisers.

  11. Matt
    Matt says:

    Thanks for all the comments, we will come back to this issue again for sure. As to Pauls Comments, he hit the nail on the head. And the real issue of results due to marketing. The oldest story in the marketing book. If you are all still reading this. Its why digital is so huge. Its measurable. We now know how many eyeballs are looking at your stuff. Thats called REACH… Another term is call FREQUENCY, thats the amount of times those eyeballs you want to REACH see your message. TARGET AUDIENCE is who you want to reach and have an interest for your product or service. Each form of media delivers on those topics. NOW… And this is my point of the story. Ya gotta have a product that people want. NOTHING KILLS A BAD PRODUCT FASTER THAN GOOD ADVERTISING. Thats why it all has to work together. Good relivent communication of a great product will net results, bad communication of a good product will maintain average results (like the Keels and Wheels event. Its a fantastic product), but will start loosing traffic from the boat community. Finally, good communication of a crappy product will kill it fast. So, thats the long Paul answer to the results argument. Its a three legged stool. Marketing is just one of the legs. Product and price are the other two.

  12. Troy in ANE
    Troy in ANE says:

    I held off comment yesterday to see where this story went.

    I feel there are some good points here, but I also feel it would have had a better feel to it as a “Help Us Help You” story.

    Matt and Texx you have gained great respect and admiration in this community which is well deserved.

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