In 1996, my husband and I became involved with a group of "regular guys" from New England who came up with the notion to get Harley talking to Budget Car Rentals about a Big Idea. Why not add Harleys to Budget's fleet of rental offerings and let us run the operation. BAM! We had an instant phenomenon that went viral. And this was before the internet went completely mainstream, when people were still asking about web pages, "What's the point?"
In technology terms, we were still light years away from social networking. News of budding Hog rental outlets went wild and people would stop us on the streets to ask how they could "get in" by buying a franchise.
It was exhilarating.
It was heady.
It was scary.
Within months of moving to Daytona, Florida to kick off the first Grand Opening, the guys from New England and their new concept would be written about in major publications like The Wall Street Journal, Playboy Magazine, USA Today, and the like. The company, American Road Collection, was even the subject of a Jeopardy question. On the night the episode aired I thought,
"Wow. For a bunch of jamokes from the littlest state in the union, this has to be a sign that we've made it!"
What was made was a lot of publicity for the Motor Company, amazing memories for riders, and introductions to the concept for many groups who would later break into the business in partnership with Harley. It's not that the concept hadn't been thought of before, but that no one thought to bring two giants together and get authorization to operate under their iconic brand umbrella.
And now if you try to google American Road Collection it'll lead you to a lot of hits, but they will no longer lead you to the company.
Sure, getting Harley talking to Budget made the business a huge attention-grabber. But once the giants began advertising the concept, forward momentum started a steamroll that ran its own course. American Road Collection gave their business a very respectable run but got caught in the dust and noise of the giants. How do you avoid this? Ensure that your own brand is carried forward in the momentum of the giant's media strategy. Make sure they take your brand name on their ride, and that you negotiate a prominent seat on their party train.
Sometimes a Big Idea is born and that's where a whole lot energy is expended. Thinking beyond the initial launch may have been done in the business plan, but maybe you sabotage yourself by secretly believing that the idea won't really take off. Don't be foolish. It's just as important to emotionally prepare yourself for the long haul if you want to stay in the game, and assume the idea will succeed into the next 10 years.
Ok, so you've got a great plan that's guaranteed to go viral and have decided it's ok to borrow someone else's brand umbrella to kick it off. Start working your way into becoming indispensable to the movement you've started. Establish your voice as THE leader so that when this particular gig doesn't work out, you're still the person in the know. Start your blog now, especially for a brick and mortar business, because the internet is where people in the business will seek out the resources and knowledge. Push your personal brand to the forefront by creating accounts in your own name with a clear tie-in to the business.