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Going Past Emotion in Resort Marketing: Why Harley Billboards Sell the MPG

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If there is one gasoline-fueled product in the world that doesn’t need to list the MPG to make a sale, it’s probably Harley Davidson. Okay, maybe hummer, but that’s more about what they should do rather than need to do.

So, on a recent trip to Utah, you can guess why I’d be confused at seeing billboards (similar to my recreation above) showing only two things: a Harley and giant “51 mpg” next to it.

After chewing on the idea for a while, I came to a simple conclusion. The gas mileage was not listed for the biker, he’s already sold. It was listed for his wife.

Behind Every Emotional Decision
As a marketer, I’ve been blasted at from every angle with this Microsoft vs Apple stereotype. Microsoft is famous for listing nothing short of a circuit board map in their spec sheet while Apple packages products in plain boxes that are sold by ads based on emotion, not processor speeds.

So here I stand at a crossroads – Harley looking more like Microsoft than Apple (at least in this case) but in a way that makes a lot of sense.

Behind many of these emotional decisions to buy a Harley, is the other name on the joint bank account. She doesn’t feel those same emotions. Instead, she’ll look at it from a more logical approach – cost, safety, and maybe even gas mileage.

These Harley dealerships are providing their potential customers the tools and facts they need to make the sale at the kitchen table. If it doesn’t happen there, it’s not going to happen at the dealership.

Room for Resorts?
But what about resorts? Does this same idea apply? During college I was debating buying a season pass to Beaver Mountain. My dad simply said, “who knows where you’ll be in a few years (hinting at the fact some of my friends were getting married) and whether you can buy one then.” In other words, unless you marry a die-hard skier, your time on the slopes may be impacted once vows have been exchanged.

In that sense, I believe there is a place for it. I wouldn’t use the hard-numbers logic as my leadoff hitter, but once I’ve put a few other marketing players on base, facts, figures, and statistics might work as a great clean-up hitter. Harley didn’t build their brand by shouting “51 miles per gallen” from the rooftops, but with the other pieces in place, this might be the one that helps seal the deal for certain people in the “potential customer” group.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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