Milwaukee Harley-Davidson

It was a combination of factors including both luck and strategy that set the stage for one of our most successful events ever: the World Dealer Meeting Party.

Harley-Davidson Motor Co. has an annual conference that rotates location each year for all of the dealer principals and their key staffs, to roll out new motorcycle models, give updates on retail developments, and guide in good corporate business practices. This year, to initiate the 110th Anniversary celebration with the roll-out of the 2013 models, H-D Motor Co. decided to bring everyone home where it all started: Milwaukee. As soon as we caught wind of it, we leaped on the opportunity to give the Harley-Davidson world a little taste of what to expect from us during the 110th Anniversary on Labor Day weekend, 2013. We decided to have a party for all of the conference attendees on Wednesday night, Aug. 22.

We started by printing invitations that were mailed directly to every domestic H-D dealership as a more personal gesture than to just blast the market with media surrounding this event. Beyond that, we contacted some of our friends at the Motor Co., who helped get information about our party into the newsfeed of its internal database of dealers, reaching both domestic and international dealerships.

Also, at every H-D World Dealer Meeting, the local dealerships may have a booth to sell their licensed product (a lot of people like the small souvenirs with the name of the cities they’ve traveled to). At our booth, we had a “Milwaukee Harley’s Angel” (which is what we endearingly call our promotional models) in our eye-catching Harley-orange racing jumpsuit handing out the invitation to everyone who walked past. Finally, Chaz Hastings, the dealership owner, put a plea to the general public via his locally renowned radio advertising to help us host the party of the year and show the rest of the world how hospitable our city can be. We arranged for six full-sized buses to shuttle guests from the conference and their hotels to Milwaukee Harley-Davidson and back again to ensure safe transportation for travelers who may not have their own transportation means.

The party started at 6 p.m. and when people started arriving, it exponentially grew by every second! We had four feature presentations that night: a BMX bicycle stunt show, an unusual motorcycle stunt show using a Harley-Davidson Sportster, a mudwrestling extravaganza, and to close the night shamelessly, a wet T-shirt contest. Our parking lot was packed with all of the performances, a car show, a festival-like setup with delectable food from the owner’s restaurants, a full bar courtesy of our next-door neighbors (Silk Gentlemen’s Club), and of course, over 2,000 attendees in a small four-hour span. The overhead was minimal on the entertainment front, as the two different stunt groups did performances for free with the understanding that they would expose their work to dealership principles worldwide who would potentially book them in the future.

The major costs of this event ended up being the printing and mailing of the invitations, the local band, and paying the promotional talent for their time. When all was said and done, we generated approximately $30,000 of retail revenue, not to mention the profit generated on food/bar sales, and any bikes that were sold that day -- so we certainly found a hearty return on investment fiscally. Our intentions with the World Dealer Meeting spanned beyond fiscal return. Milwaukee Harley-Davidson wanted to put its name on the tongue of people across the world, setting the stage for a recognizable destination when the Harley enthusiasts return home next fall for the 2013 Labor Day weekend 110th Anniversary.

We impressed dealer principals and their staffs and received phenomenal feedback -- generating viral, word-of-mouth marketing that will be sure to lead to recommendations come anniversary time. “Oh, you’re going to Milwaukee for the 110th Anniversary? Make sure you stop at Milwaukee Harley-Davidson -- they put on a great party and they won Dealer of the Year in Dealernews Top 100. The only Harley-Davidson to call the city of Milwaukee home...”