My Role in Why People Ride Harley Davidsons
Years ago I wrote to the Vice President of Marketing at Harley Davidson extolling the virtues of my Harley Rides business. I was in the business of sharing the Harley Davidson experience with their potential customers. At that time few people rode or even had a passing interest in motorcycles (as an overall percentage of the population). Back in the 1990's Harley Rides became very popular as to own one of your won seemed just a dream. I was marketing their product - free of charge!
My target market was, and continues to be, those who have never been near a motorcycle or ever had an interest in owning one. They came from many areas, all ages and surprisingly both sexes. The attraction of going for a pillion ride on a genuine Harley Davidson appealed to more than just Harley Davidson's core market, which back then lay with dedicated Harley owners. I was catering for the Dreamer's market.
Where it all began. The market that launched the Harley Rides industry (here I'm taking about Melbourne specifically) was School Fetes and festivals. At these the Harley Sidecar was what launched things. This is where kids got their first exposure to a motorcycle and in particular the Harley Davidson brand. Fetes and festivals were a great marketing tool and often led to bookings for other things like Birthday surprise gift rides, anniversary gifts, weddings and longer tour rides.
As time went on the presence of the Harley Rides industry expanded even further into Television and Film bookings, Corporate Group work in the area of Incentives and rewards and the list just went on and on and on.
One would have thought that the person I wrote to at Harley Davidson would see the potential benefit of what we were doing for their brand. That they would have been enthusiastic to aid our growth and popularity. WRONG! After many months I received a polite letter wishing me good luck, and that was it. To make things worse I regularly received threats from their Trademark lawyers demanding that I stop using the term Harley Rides in my web address. Needless to say I ignored them and in recent years that issue appears to have gone away.
There have been many occasions when a Harley Ride has led to a sale. I once had a ride booked by a woman for her boyfriend as a birthday surprise. I well recall the conversation we had during that ride about his desire to own a Harley Davidson one day. Several years later we ran into each other. He came up to me and said, "John, do you remember me? You took me out for a birthday ride. I'm now the President of the Dandenong Harley Owners Group." The Harley Owners Group, otherwise know as HOG were established to foster the Harley Brotherhood. Take that Mr Harley Davidson Vice-President of Marketing!
Only recently I took a young man out for a ride. He has a dream of getting a motorcycle of his own. What better start could he have than to experience the Harley Davidson brand first. I guarantee that he will have one of his own one day. There have been hundreds like him over the years. My most famous passenger was tennis ace Rafael Nadal, who I believe now owns a collection of Harleys.
Big Mistake - Huge Mistake. What Harley Davidson failed to do 20 years ago when the Australian Harley Rides industry was getting going was to recognise that it was the kids, potential long term customers to whom we were exposing their brand that today are the ones getting their motorcycle licences. For most of these people motorcycle ownership was the last thing on their mind - that is until they had been out for a ride with us.
In conclusion, there can be little doubt that I and my Harley Rides business has played a role in marketing the Harley Davidson brand. Perhaps, one day someone at Harley Davidson read this and thank me for the many years of free marketing I have given their product.....
Do you know someone who needs to to build on their dream to now their own Harley Davidson? Give them an hour with me. Please share this article - maybe someone at Harley Davidson might read it one day.