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Newsletter #733: The “Lessons From Harley-Davidson” Issue

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Harley-Davidson has one of the biggest and most enthusiastic fan bases of any brand in the world. Here are a few lessons they can teach us: 

   1> Tell your history
   2> Make it easy to belong
   3> Let your fans do the talking
   4> Check it out: The ToneMatrix

1> Tell your history

Bring a sense of history to whatever you're doing to make people feel part of something bigger. Harley-Davidson is a brand that shows off its tradition every chance they can, especially at big rallies and events where they feature descendants of the original founders like Willie G. Davidson — now SVP and Chief Styling Officer for the company — to meet with fans and talk about where the company has been and where it's headed.

The Lesson: Sharing your history makes it more than just another sale — it becomes a tradition.

2> Make it easy to belong

Make it easy for your fans to get involved and show their love for you, even if they aren't buyers of your main products. While not everyone can buy their motorcycles, anyone in the world can buy a Harley-Davidson T-shirt, jacket, hat, or pair of sunglasses. They've made it easy for their fans — even the ones who don't ride motorcycles — to show off their love for the company. In just a few minutes, using sites like CafePress or Zazzle, you can have your own online store selling your gear.

The Lesson: You've got fans that would love to show you off, so make it really easy for them to do it.

3> Let your fans do the talking

Your fans are more convincing than any ad you could possibly write. Everyone knows about the big rally in Sturgis, but what many marketers don't realize is that local Harley dealerships regularly host mini rallies, group rides, and pancake breakfasts. The company uses a bunch of small get-togethers to consistently put their biggest fans alongside new customers, all talking about the company and their new products.

The Lesson: Put your biggest fans in your advertisements, put their testimonials on your wall, get them in front of your potential customers, and let them do the talking.

4> Check it out: The ToneMatrix

Make your own little bit of music and beats using the ToneMatrix. It's a simple grid in which you click to add "tones" and the ToneMatrix automatically starts playing your tune. You can add and remove the tones as you go in real-time to create a wide range of music.

Check it out: The ToneMatrix

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  1. Simple Simon May 28, 2009 at 9:11 pm #

    Great points you have made. Also, by sharing your history it gives your potential clients a sense of knowing you. For some it is essential to know you before they can put their trust in you. Also this gives you a chance to let them know who you are, what you stand for, and where you are coming from.
    Asking them to join or let them belong is good too, it is like the Hard Rock Cafe. You don’t necessarily want to eat there every time you visit a new/different place but you always want to buy their tee-shirt and tell the world you were there.
    I think these are simple strategies that we don’t always look at, thanks for bringing them up.

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