5 Questions for Julia Hutton, owner of Biker Babes and Beyond

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Two years ago, marketing maven Julia Hutton dove headfirst into the powersports industry to fill a need for a moto-centric retail outlet in Prescott, Ariz. “Bikers from far and wide come to this area because it’s so beautiful,” Hutton explains. “I saw all of these bikers around, but not a lot of businesses catering to them. I just thought, how fun would that be, having a little shop that caters to bikers.” Thus, apparel and accessories store Biker Babes and Beyond was born. Hutton, also the owner of PR firm Orca Communications, again made waves when she recently partnered with other local businesses to host The Bad Economy Buster Bling Bike Hunt. The nine-week event featured online clues (at www.bikerhunt.com) that prompted participants to visit local businesses to look for the keys to a custom bike designed by Sucker Punch Sally’s. The lucky scavenger hunter who found the keys won ownership to the bike, worth more than $35,000. Hutton talks more about this event, as well as marketing to women, below.

Dealernews: What led up to the bike hunt idea? Were you looking to work with other local businesses?
JULIA HUTTON: I was just so tired of the bad economy. I wanted to see what we could ourselves do to fix it. That’s where the germ of the idea began. I approached Sucker Punch Sally’s with the idea, and [Christian Clayton] said he’d be happy to manufacture the bike if we got others involved in donating parts. We wanted to stimulate our own economy, not sit around and wait for the government to do so. It’s turned out to be wildly successful that now we’re talking to a Chevy dealership about doing it with a Camaro. It also has wonderful promise for a charitable organization to partner with a dealership, and getting the volunteers from the charity involved.

DN: How does the bike hunt work?
JH: [Participants] have to go into all of the various participating stores and get access codes from them. Then they go home and get on the bike hunt website, put in the access code and get the latest clue. In the beginning, the clues were very general, but they get more and more specific. Our IT guy had to do some really ingenious programming so people couldn’t hack into the site to get clues.

DN: Were there difficulties in putting such a large event together?
JH: There were two parts that were difficult. One was getting all of the different people to donate parts to the motorcycle. It wasn’t that they didn’t want to; it was just that there are so many different parts to a motorcycle to think about. It took probably four or five months to get everything together. Next time, it might be better to get an already-built motorcycle, or a car, to save a lot of time. Another time-consuming part was contacting all of the merchants. No one had ever heard of the event before, and they were skeptical. But in all, 35 merchants decided to get on board. It was just a real community effort. It does take some doing, but we’ve worked out a lot of the quirks.

DN: In general, what are some of the mistakes you’ve seen that people do when marketing to women?
JH: For one thing, women control the purse strings. That’s a fact. Some people don’t understand that when they market to women. Sometimes marketers underestimate how smart and savvy women are.

DN: Do you have any tips for marketing to women?
JH: Ensure that whatever it is that you’re marketing is very high-quality, and everything is done in an extremely ethical manner. Women are extremely ethical creatures. It’s a generalization, but for the most part women are pretty good eggs. Honesty is the best way. It’s the only way to go — in everything we do.

This story originally appeared in the Dealernews May 2011 issue.

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