Monday, February 26, 2024
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Advice to Car Show Runners and Promoters

Recently I was surfing facebook and I saw a comment on a car show promotors’ facebook group that was extremely negative and there was disappointment in a Car Show event that happened recently. Since I have been doing this for a while I offered some constructive criticism and I thought: “Hmmm, Maybe I should do an article and offer some advice to Car Show Runners and Promoters.” 

Sometimes Car Shows Don’t Get Anticipated Attendance

We’ve all been there. We go to a Car Show or a Cruise-in and we are expecting to see a ton of cars. It’s Sunny out, the birds are singing, your car looks awesome, and you pull into the location and there are under 20 or even fewer cars in attendance. What went wrong? was it the flyer? was it the lack of info? Why is nobody here?

It can be one thing (although I think that’s rare.) but more than likely, It’s a combination of issues in the Promotion of the event and/or getting the info of a car show that is a problem, and if it is a bunch issues, it ends up snowballing and could potentially end up killing a car show. 

Does the flyer work?

A Flyer
An OK flyer… But what is it missing?

Here is a list of things that I often see wrong with car show flyers:

  1. The flyer is not a standard size in digital format. Send the Flyer in full-size 8×11 JPG or PDF Most sites can convert to either or.. and if they won’t they are jerks…
  2. Have the exact location (i.e. Physical address.) NEVER, EVER, assume that everyone knows where a “rib shack” or a “clam shack” or even a “fairground” is especially if your desire is to attract out-of-town or out-of-state attendees…
  3. For the love of God and all that is holy include contact info for cancelations and questions… No – Seriously, this is really important!!! AND For the LOVE of GOD and all that is HOLY, Have someone monitor and answer the above contact info in a timely manner!!! No Seriously, this is really important too!!!
  4. When is it? What time does it start? if it’s weekly SPECIFY START AND END DATES!!! Be specific with the date and times.
  5. Are there trophies or not? These are important to some attendees…
  6. Is there food? Is there Music? Specify it.
  7. Is there a website or facebook page? See number 3 above!
  8. Make your sponsors happy. Mention them! Include their logo if possible.
  9. What Genre of cars are you hoping to attract? “ALL VEHICLES” is important to specify and should never be assumed. But if it’s 1972 and older, specify that as well… 
  10. Specify Pre-reg prices and prices of the day of the event… Be specific! “15 dollars for pre-registration 20 dollars the day of the show.” 

If all of the above is not specified You can have a bunch of issues and questions. If you don’t want to answer emails then be specific but realize this: If You ignore your potential attendees they WILL ignore your show… 

OK – You got a good flyer now what?

If I can convey any one thing to a Car Show Promoter, I need to convey the following: While going to other Car Shows and handing out flyers works to a point, WE LIVE IN A DIGITAL AGE!

Look, newenglandautoshows.com is but only one of the many websites that are an outlet to share your flyer and information about the car show you are promoting. But don’t ONLY use one of them. and expect them to spread to the other ones… (Although sometimes our info comes in from other sites.) Places that ask for money to promote your show in print media are fine if they have distribution. WhipsWheels and Connecticut Cruise News charge to get color ads for print media. That’s fine and if it’s in your budget use them! They have good distribution via other Car Shows but their websites are not well suited for getting info about your Car Show to those who live proactively in the Digital Age or within Social media. 

So be sure to utilize resources that effectively utilize search engine optimization (SEO) to make your show found on a Google search… If newenglandautoshows.com has your event it’s a good bet that a search for your show via Google will have the event that is listed on our website in the top five results of said search… But we are not the only free resources that list Car Shows and Cruises.

Other Free resources including us:

  1. [Shameless Plug] NewEnglandAutoShows.com has a list and calendar. [/Shameless Plug] 
  2. Portland Motor Club web page. Lots of Maine Shows are listed here.
  3. Maynard Area Auto Club. Jack has a listing of shows that very often google just lands me right back onto when I’m looking for info on a show
  4. Numerous facebook Groups (Even we have a facebook group.)

But don’t discount the use of Social media.  Other advice to Car Show Runners and promoters: If creating a dedicated website for your event is outside your experience, facebook is an easy quick resource to make a quick searchable web presence for your event. Many old-school guys and gals are starting to embrace facebook as a means for finding Car Shows to attend. Create a page and make sure to make a few people admins of it. But more importantly, it is not a “Fire off and forget” you must update it… You must be active… A facebook page about a show that has not been updated in 3 years will hinder your attendance!

Guilt your Loyal Car Show Attendees

You have a Car Show and you have “that guy.” He has been attending for years and now he’s complaining that attendance is low… What is he doing to help? Rather than spouting off to the attendees currently going already, why is he not positively promoting your show at other events they attend? Give them a stack of flyers to hand out at other shows to attend… ask them to mention the show in other groups or clubs they belong to. It’s old school and sometimes old school or “Word of Mouth” methods work… 

The way Car Shows are searched and shared has changed…

When I started my website (Shameless Plug throughout this post I know) I was scoffed at, called many names, and I was even accused of being queer… When I said I was doing it for free I was condemned by others who charge for it. The attitudes and methodologies that worked at first were not working as I thought they would.  And I had to adapt. People initially relied on flyers only, Then Print media, and now Web and Social Media. 

Even my own site had to change

I initially thought having just a calendar was the way. I thought everyone would agree. Behind the scenes, I made a Word document list of all the shows I had on my calendar with links to the events on my calendar. so I could get to the contact info, or websites and check for updated dates for the upcoming year. I cleaned up that list and put it on a web page on my website and lo and behold it’s the most visited page on my website. It seems, the majority of people like the list that links to the event details… Not the calendar… 

Ok, more of a Shameless Plug: 

newenglandautoshows.com has been around since 2017. I have over 2500 folks in my facebook group, (as of this posting date) and over 1500 folks following the main facebook page, and the website has 1500 users a day averaging about 30K+ users a month… And it lists Car Shows on a list and calendar FOR FREE…

I still have to look for shows and approach them or copy and paste their info, and many of them still have no idea that I list their show on my website. My advice to Car Showrunners and promoters simply put is that: You should be exploiting me like a crack whore… My website has a contact page and you can attach the flyer… USE IT! and set a reminder for the following year to do it again! I was just at a car show this weekend and 7 people saw me and mentioned they found the show on neweneglandautsows.com. I would talk to people and they would ask what I’m doing with the pictures I was taking and say “Oh I know that site, I use it to find Car Shows all the Time. You’re the guy?”

Branch out

Don’t utilize just my site to get the info of your car show out. sure, my site shows up on Google a lot for many of the New England-based Car Shows but it’s certainly not the end all be all… Print media is still out there… Some people don’t like my site and are loyal to Jack at MACC and I get that cause he has been doing it forever. But basically have a good flyer to convey the specifics. and utilize the many resources to get that flyer and info to your potential attendees. And above all interact and communicate with those who ask questions and be approachable. 

My Shameless plugging aside, I hope this info is helpful. Bear in mind this advice is to established shows seeing dwindling attendance… A first-time Car show will have a low attendance until it’s established… Follow the above and you’ll grow. 
Share with Other Car Enthusiasts!

Joel Chappell

Joel Chappell or MrJoelieC (Pronounced: Mister-Joe-Lee-See) Is a guy passionate about "Car Shows" and the "Automotive Scene." For the last few years, he has been getting back into photography to share what he sees at the many Cars Shows he tries to attend. he has created a few websites, and because of his passion for cars and car shows he made this one – the one you are on now.

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