What was the evolution of your brands?
What I want to say about that particular thing is I am a serial entrepreneur. So, when I think back on my history, it's all about how I love and thrive on the startup process. But I’m also impatient, so I'm amazed that I actually don't mind this process because it can be a two-year process.
So, when I started JBM and Associates, the parent company, it really just started with my passion for events and marketing and media and all the things that I’d done for 15 years prior in the event world.
I got a phone call from the guy who runs the convention center in Charleston, and he said, ‘How do you feel about producing a boat show?’ I said, ‘What’s a boat show?’
So, I ended up going and meeting with the boat dealers and really what they, they needed someone who could basically run this, really start it over. And it had to be someone who could be very organized, could see the big picture, but also could figure out the details.
Then I realized that these shows aren't like one-offs. It's like a product―really like a brand you want to sustain. And that can be tricky with events that happen once a year.
And are you trying to constantly stay in front of people year-round, or do you have sort of a seasonal ramp-up?
With the older shows, we have a seasonal ramp-up. There will be thank-you messaging after the event, then light social posting until the next time. Radio and TV kick in less than two weeks out, because for events, people make their decisions at the very last minute. They're not gonna even pay attention after the first couple weeks of promotion.
The week of the show is extremely heavy, and we still use a lot of TV. We now do over-the-top marketing, which is Hulu, YouTube TV, and all of that. It seems to be very viable for us.
Are there unique challenges with those advertising channels?
I have a really good media company that I work with out of Maryland. They have over 150 consumer shows, including the Fort Lauderdale and Miami boat shows, so they have the knowledge and the buying clout.
We’re currently working on the JBM Shows brand, creating more of a recognizable logo. I recognize that we haven't really needed to do a very good job of that, because really no one cares who we are, because it's really about the brand, like the Everything Outdoor Fest.
We had the Charleston in-water boat show up until the pandemic and now we're struggling to get that show back because of the aftermath of the pandemic and everyone and their brother moving to Charleston. The marina is now too busy to host our show.
How do you know when it's time for an additional brand?
Each of the boat shows has its own niche. They're supported by boat manufacturers and boat dealers, as well as fishing gear, financing companies, and others. Our job is to bring customers to them. Every single show has its own personality. Every market is different, and you have to have unique messaging for each one. But we’ve been doing this for 22 years. We’ve got it down.
The new niche for us is the outdoor show, and so we’ve learned many, many lessons after our first year. It is not as easy. We felt like we had a really good reputation in the show industry, but we are coming out of a pandemic. So, trying to convince outdoor brands to come to be part of a show that had never existed before was more challenging than I thought it would be.
Are there additional expenses to consider when you add a new brand?
There is the staffing expense. So, you know, you've got to look at that. When you're adding a brand, it's pretty critical that you have enough resources to maintain it.
How do you go about launching a new brand?
You have to ask, is this even a viable brand? Is there a need?
In the past, I've had up to seven different ones running at the same time. And what's interesting about creating and sustaining these brands is really that you know that you've got to stay in front of people.
With Everything Outdoor Fest, we literally had to start two years before the event. We were building our website, getting the logo, and creating the name all at the same time. We knew there was a need for the brand with the outdoor industry booming during the pandemic. And given that South Carolina has all these incredible natural resources and great weather, we knew that the outdoor industry is a huge economic booster for the state. And people have a passion for being outside here.
We had to research whether or not there was a similar event because we are not gonna start something where we are competing. We found that for what we wanted to do there wasn't one, so that's when we knew that we had this great brand.
We wanted to make sure the colors were great, and the name fit what we were trying to do. I think because it's so new, you know, it's gonna take us several years to become a recognizable state event.
Are you thinking about adding other brands to the roster? What's coming? What are you looking at down the road?
Well, what I want to do, I can't announce yet, because I don't know if it's gonna happen. But it’s something in the state of South Carolina that is a very exciting opportunity for us because it's in our wheelhouse.
I'm also adding a consulting arm of the business because, you know, with 30 years of event marketing and management experience, I really should write a book about this stuff.
I've produced everything from corporate events to ammo shows all over the world, for up to 30,000 people apiece. I've done every kind of event under the sun. So, I'd really like to start creating, you know, an opportunity for us to help other people develop their shows or events. That gives us a really fun niche to grow.