Motorcycle marketing: throttle through the curve

While marketing a motorcycle brand is one of my dream assignments — the relationship between motorcyclists and their motorcycle is a powerful brand-building opportunity — this post is not about motorcycle marketing. It’s about marketing ideas that come to me within the clarity of riding my motorcycle across the Iowa countryside. I want to share these thoughts with my readers and get some feedback.

One of the most most common causes of motorcycle crashes is the rider’s inability to negotiate a curve. They enter the curve, feel they are going too fast, slow down, look at the yellow line or the railing or worse — the ditch. Momentum takes over and the rider and bike leave the pavement. The proper technique is to lean into the turn and throttle through the curve…putting power to the rear wheel, letting the motorcycle do the work.

Similar accidents happen in marketing, too. Many organizations enter the market and then quickly become distracted by brand extensions, ill-advised advertising schemes, misguided public relations efforts, ego-stroking sponsorships and others that draw needed resources away from the approved brand strategy.Nthey get scared when they see the investment that’s necessary to grow the brand.

Like the yellow line on the pavement, those charged with building the brand start focusing on the wrong kinds of efforts:

  •  They start advertising where they can’t afford to advertise because the CEO likes the publisher.
  • They sponsor events that allow them to be rub elbows with industry celebrities in destination locations but don’t make relevant connections with prospects and customers.  
  • They update the corporate logo because they’ve become bored with it after 50 years.
  • They change the tag line because the new marketing executive doesn’t understand the old one.

If they don’t get distracted, they do the next worst thing — they let off the throttle and pray that momentum will help them keep moving in the right direction. But, like on the motorcycle, getting off the gas actually takes the outcome out of the hands of the operator. At best, the sudden reduction in speed makes the rear wheel of the motorcycle skid and the rider loses control. Best case, the motorcycle keeps drifting off course.

Organizations get off the gas when they slash the marketing budget. They quit reaching out to customers and prospects. They quit representing their brand in paid advertising. They quit building relationships with key influencers and media. They quit participating in trade shows, conferences and seminars where they establish leadership qualities.They quit delivering valuable continent through social and traditional media. They quit.

Brand happens every minute of every day, and when organizations actively, purposefully and effectively participate in the exchange of value with their customers, they drive the brand forward. When they don’t, they drive their brand into the ditch.

Throttle out of the curve by going back to your marketing plan. If another opportunity comes up, measure it against the objectives set in the beginning. If you have contignecy fund set aside, and the effort supports the brand, then go for it. If you don’t have the funds but the idea supports the brand better than one in the plan, then swap it out. But don’t do it just because you can.

Just don’t ever look into the ditch.

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