This past weekend I went to a steam engine festival. I love this festival because of all the cacophony of machinery, smells and people. It's terrific. Unfortunately, I don't think many people agree with me based on this year's attendance. But maybe it's not the festival itself.
The festival and the entire organization are run by a bunch of "old gearheads." These are my favorite people because I can sit and chat for hours about all sorts of machinery and such and they can show me all manner of fun things about said machinery. Hooray for old gearheads, I'm getting closer to being one of them every day.
Unfortunately for these guys, the world is presently run by young nerds. Disagree? How about over 300,000,000 Facebook users? How about Google slowly replacing things like libraries, yellow pages and even newspapers in our lives. Having an iPhone trumps having anything else in the palm of your hand except the palm of your sweetie's hand.
But it's not that we're more interested in this digital stuff than the old gearhead stuff. No. The problem is that we're just inundated by it. Party invitations come electronically now, not in the local newspaper. You don't necessarily plan your weekend by what's in the community calendar, you've been pressed for this and that cool event by a combination of Facebook posts, Tweets and e-mails. And these old guys have none of those things. So we forget that they're there.
So the reason, in my opinion, that the attendance absolutely sucked for this event wasn't any lack of interest in it. It was that they weren't in our faces for months ahead of time to remind us of how cool their place was. So all the places that did this got the attention the old gearheads deserved. And I'm sure lots and lots of people would rather show their kids these old clanking behemoths as they spewed steam and smells into the cleanest air in California.
They really did a spectacular job, too. They steamed up all manner of steam donkeys, locomotives, a steam shovel, two cranes and even an old Case tractor. The show was wonderful with all sorts of antique machinery huffing and puffing and showing how things used to be before one button could cut down half a forest worth of trees. There were a few of the grumpy old guys and some cheerful new guys too, who didn't even complain when I pulled the lever on a steam whistle, notifying the world that it was noon.
Transitionary times are difficult for everybody. The old guys probably think Facebook is where the police keep pictures of the bad guys, but millions of us have become regular addicts. So somebody needs to help them. My part on this is to show them this little article on marketing.
Incidentally, some proof in my pudding is the Skunk Train. Despite The Economy the Skunk Train had a very good season. The reason for the season? Jason Robert Pinoli, who spends as much time in the realm of social media as I do and keeps the Skunk Train in front of us all. Obviously there are other reasons, too, but that's a factor. So thankfully there are "youngsters" who are willing to take old gearheads' wonderful projects and remind their followers that they're here.
And if you had a lousy season, maybe its time to see if your nieces or nephews will help you.
BTW, there is a great article in Business Week on why your advertising isn't working.