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Business Coaching Lessons From The Iconic Brand – Harley Davidson with Karl Bryan

by | Karl Bryan

Cute girls in your high school and my high school and EVERY high school… always went for the BAD BOY.

Just saying. 

Harley Davidson (HD) was founded in Milwaukee; is 114 years old and is one of the most iconic brands in the world… but it wasn’t always this way.  Between the years of 1973 to 1983 low priced Japanese bikes like Suzuki and Yamaha (I used to have one!) flooded the market while HD market share sank more than 57%.

The rapid decline nearly sank the entire company and if not for some impressive marketing, willingness to do what it takes and crisis management… they’d be extinct like so many others.

The CEO of Harley Davidson is Matthew Levatich and I learned a lot about coaching, branding and building a cult-like following.

I used to do $400,000 per month in new small business coaching clients consistently and now drive traffic professionally on the internet.

I’ve learned a lot about marketing and here are the 3 Best Coaching and Marketing lessons I learned from Harley Davidson and Matthew Levatich:

1. Lean manufacturing

Toyota made Lean or “Just in time” manufacturing famous and you’ve likely heard of the guy that created it, W Edwards Deming.  This isn’t the most exciting part of the brand but it saved Harley Davidson from extinction.

HD eliminated more than 1000 production employees using Lean manufacturing. The concern here is that when too many jobs go… employees feel unsafe and morale goes down the tubes. They don’t want to lose their jobs and don’t want to see their friends lose them either.

But if it’s done correctly and respectfully, the opposite can happen… and did happen. It increased efficiency and created a more stable company, with bonuses for increased profits/efficiency.


They say in ten years 40% of the jobs we now have will be gone for good. Many are now pushing for “free community college”… problem is the jobs you’re trained for in community college will totally disappear shortly. So it’ll be another government exercise in wasted time and money 20 years too late.

Remember when you used to go to the bank and get frustrated because they wanted you to use the ATM machines to deposit/withdraw money? Now we get pissed off when we need to go into the bank and speak to someone!  Truck drivers will lose their jobs to self-driving trucks for which you should have a service like on your side in case of emergency. Taxi drivers are already losing to Uber. Hotels are getting decimated by Airbnb. Local retailers disappearing thanks to Amazon. Stockbrokers are being shown the door thanks to automation and powerful algorithms. 

Get in tune (get your clients in tune) with automation or plan to become instinct like the saber-tooth tiger.

2. Building a cult-like following

The rider of a Harley is an older, successful cigar smoking type alpha male that likes the “bad boy” image and a loud powerful machine between his legs.  Picture Arnold Schwarzenegger. Some might see this as a disadvantage due to the restricted core audience but it’s the exact opposite.

They’ve worked hard to understand exactly the type of person that appreciates the Harley brand and how best to cater to their wealthy, alpha male pseudo bad boy audience that likes the idea of everyone hearing that they’re coming.

It’s also not a coincidence alpha males over the age of 50 have plenty of money to spend on something they want.  Possibly midlife crisis… cough cough… I have no idea about this :o)

To the target market, a Harley-Davidson is more than a motorcycle.

The brand represents power, mystery, image, freedom, individualism.

A Harley represents being the bad boy in High School. 


You’ll often hear me say “If you can sell you can’t coach and if you can coach you can’t sell.” Slight exaggeration but not far off the truth. In order to sell coaching (an intangible), you need to “disrupt” the prospect… not sing Kumbayah and tell them how amazing it’s going to be to work together.  You need to cut their arm before you provide them a band-aid.

3. Price Elasticity

For a bunch of reasons, Harley isn’t concerned with the price tag hanging off their bikes.  HD is easily beaten on price (and quality!! Hello, McDonald’s) by less expensive foreign brands and its ideal client has enough money (ppl afford things they want) to pay high-end prices. 

In fact…

They prefer it… because they don’t want just anyone to have one!!

They want to sacrifice. And they expect you to also.

Harley has always been intelligent using scarcity by limiting the supply of their bikes which creates demand and a waiting list. Walk into a Harley store and try to buy the latest and greatest bike this year… welcome to the waiting list and you must leave a non-refundable deposit to get on that waiting list!

When ppl experience this it blows them away every time.

Same with Porsche, Ferrari, Lambo, and other similar brands. 

Therefore, the only people who own a Harley are those totally devoted to the brand (see point 2 above!).  OK, now try to buy a 1915 11F Harley….  you might fall off your chair when you see the price tag.

A popular Harley is an appreciating asset. 


You need to learn your craft first and be an “excellent” Business Coach.

Before doing this or you’ll screw it up for yourself and more importantly the industry. Once you hit that elite level, being the least expensive coach is ridiculous.

Some business owners want to pay more and that will never change, plus they refer at twice the norm.

Russell Brunson has a $1MM dollar coaching program. Tony Robbins has charged Peter Tudor Jones over $1MM per year, plus upside, for over a decade.

My most expensive coaching program was $750,000.

I created it from scratch, created the documentation with my lawyers and sold it all by my lonesome. $327,000 hit my bank account in one day… was kinda cool and all this happened before my 35 birthday.

But if I’m honest… it was incredibly anti-climactic. I had dreamt about that day and was left with the feeling “is this all there is..?”

I’ve sold many coaching programs at well over $100,000 and multiple programs at $500,000. **If you want to know what goes into a $500k+ coaching program… contact me and I’ll happily explain. 

Bottom line… how many brands like HD do you know that are “Tattoo-worthy.” 

Holy smokes… talk about successful marketing!! 

I’m more of a car guy but I appreciate a killer business story.

Matthew Levatich and his HD crew most certainly have one of those.

Where is yours?

Thanks for tuning in,

Karl Bryan

Karl Bryan, creator of Profit Acceleration Software™  

Karl is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Six-Figure Coach Magazine and Chairman of, home of the largest private community of Business Coaches (24 countries and counting) in the world. His goal is straightforward… to help serious coaches/consultants get more clients. Find out more at

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