Converting non-riders into riders may be a waste of time

Publish Date: 
Jun 27, 2012
By Rod Stuckey

THERE ARE 3.6 motorcycles in use for every 100 people living in the U.S. This exploits the importance of targeted marketing. It also illustrates that when you market to 100 percent of the population, you’re likely squandering more than 90 percent of its potential.

You may choose to look at this data in a completely different way. In fact, I’ve had many industry experts point out that the 90-plus percent is where the growth opportunity is for our industry. Why would you market to those who already ride? Duh, they already ride — we need new blood to grow!

Every time I hear this point of view I know I’m dealing with theorists — people who have never written checks out of their own bank accounts in an attempt to convert this hypothesis into reality. I have; that money was wasted and I’ll never get it back. The truth is, you don’t have enough time or money to convert non-riders into riders.

For example, let’s say you don’t play golf and are not interested in golf. Is an advertisement really going to convert you into becoming a golfer? Let your OEMs invest in lofty objective.

Exception, not the rule. The most likely person to do business with you in the future is a customer who has done business with you in the past. The second most likely person is someone in your market area who rides what you sell, but doesn’t currently do business with you. The most unlikely sale you will ever make is to someone who doesn’t ride.

There’s a popular story that I often share at our boot camps about two shoe salesmen. Both take trips to the same third-world country to sell shoes. Upon landing, the first shoe salesman surveys the land and quickly identifies that nearly the entire population is without shoes. Frothing at the mouth, and thrilled by the excitement and opportunity to make easy sales, he calls back to his boss at the factory and says, “Hey boss, put the factory on notice. I’m gonna need a massive shipment of shoes as there are tens of thousands of people here who don’t have shoes, and I’m about to go off!”

The second shoe salesmen lands in the same third-world country to sell shoes. Upon exiting the plane and analyzing the population, he to calls back to the factory to speak with his boss and says, “Hey boss, you’ve gotta get me a plane ticket back home immediately!” “Why?” asks his boss. He replies, “Because, no one is wearing shoes!”

So, which salesperson do you think is accurate in their assessment? If you guessed the second shoe salesperson, then you’re correct. Why? Because these people have never worn shoes and they don’t want shoes. They don’t feel shoes are needed, and won’t wear them if you gave them any. Furthermore, even if they did want them, they are too poor and can’t afford them.