Why crowdsourcing can work for Harley Davidson
A recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article described Harley Davidson’s new strategy to generate ideas for upcoming ads – crowdsourcing. The theory behind crowdsourcing is that a large group of people will make better decisions than a small group of experts. It’s been shown to work for many businesses, including Ben & Jerry’s and Pepsi. In fact, many of us often use one of the best known results of crowdsourcing – Wikipedia. However, in the article, one expert lamented that this strategy would likely result in a dilution of the revered Harley Davidson brand.
I disagree. I think Harley Davidson has all the key ingredients needed to succeed at crowdsourcing.
- They have a very large group of fans
- Their fans are truly devoted to the brand, to the point of tattooing the logo on their bodies
- They care about what Harley Davidson stands for and don’t want the company to water down their brand
- They understand their own experiences. Although many of the people who work at Harley Davidson are riders, and they obviously understand their audience, they can’t possibly know everything about what their riders experience.
- They already have many brand evangelists who will gladly tell you why a Harley is the best bike in the world
Of course, when sifting through the ideas generated by the crowd, I’m sure the people in the marketing department at Harley will come across more than a few ideas that are real dogs. If there is anything I’ve learned from my years of experience in marketing, it’s that everyone thinks they can come up with great marketing ideas, but not everyone can. Good marketing is about a lot more than just pure creativity. It’s creativity mixed with a bit of psychology, tempered by facts about the consumer, and mixed with an ability to understand how the message will be received – not just what they company wants said. That said; I’m more than willing to bet that there will be some brilliant ideas that the Harley Davidson marketing folks can develop into campaigns that will really resonate with current and future riders. And that’s what marketing is all about.
Christina Steder is the President of Clear Verve Marketing and works with clients to plan, create and execute marketing campaigns. Follow her on Twitter as @clearverve