Just how I answer this question depends largely upon who is doing the asking. If it's coming from a "layperson" (and by that I mean someone who doesn't have any connections to cycling or the outdoors whatsoever), I usually just respond that I work in management within the bicycle industry. The majority of the time, people sort of politely nod their head and respond with some sort of pleasantry like, "That's cool". Responses like that always crack me up because based on the "tone" of the responder's voice, you'd think I told them that I worked in the field of quantum physics. Most people don't understand bicycles from a technical aspect, so they don't have a clue about how to respond or ask questions about what I do. It's sort of this weird I'm-impressed-but-don't-know-a-damn-thing-about-your-field-so-I-just-won't-ask-any-questions kind of vibe which usually results in the topic of conversation being changed to something else.
However, if someone who is a cyclist or other outdoor afficianado asks me about what I do, I'll generally respond with my specific title. The response I get in this case is usually something along the lines of, "Wow! That's really cool. You must have a super fun job. Tell me more about what you do".
Well, by job goes a little something like this. My title is Mountain Bike Brand Manager for Haro Bicycles, and yes, my job really is fun. I've been with Haro for about 6 years now. I started as an Inside Sales Rep, then moved into the role as Marketing Coordinator. Eventually I was promoted to Marketing Manager and then again to Mountain Bike Brand Manager.
In the simplest of descriptions, my job is to build the brand and image of our line of mountain bikes, so it's primarily a function of marketing with a secondary role in product management. Starting with the product itself, I work with a team of Product Managers, Pat Crosby and Wayne Doran, to build a line of bikes from the ground up. As a group, we decide on models, basic spec, and price points we'd like to offer and then I turn the product guys loose to turn a concept into reality. While they are busy deciding between Shimano and SRAM, RockShox or Fox, and all that good stuff that turns a frame into a bike, I begin to select bike colors and direct our graphics department on bike decal artwork.
Once we have gone through the daunting task of getting price quotes, reviewing spec, getting samples, creating sales forecasts, and receiving the finished product into our warehouses, it's time to start selling it. My job as a Brand Manager is to identify and implement a wide variety of tools to accomplish this like:
- Magazine ads-Right now, we use Bike, Decline, Mountain Bike Action, and MTBR.com as our primary media outlets. I'm in charge of buying all the ad space, negotiating the pricing, managing the deadline, and planning/directing the content of each ad.
- Dealer sales programs-I don't have a huge hand in this, but I do work with our Sales Director to move slower-moving models, create special sales programs for shop employees, and other special sales programs and incentives.
- Pro athlete sponsorship-My job in this area is much easier than it used to be. When we used to have a large factory race team, I used to manage a team of about4 or 5 athletes and 2-3 support staffers. Now, we have narrowed our focus down a little bit and I just have two slopestyle guys to manage: Cam Zink and Eric Porter. They are awesome guys.
- Collateral material (like catalogs)-This is a really fun project for me; generally I write the copy, direct the bike/action shots, and work with our designers to put it all together.
- Magazine product reviews-This is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job. There's nothing I love more than to see our bikes get good reviews in the magazines. I work the editors to get them new product info and help them with any other info they need to write their reviews.
- PR campaigns-In addition to writing press releases that relate to the MTB side of Haro, I also handle all the corporate PR needs for Haro.
- New product introductions-Interike, Eurobike, Taipei Bike Show, and our own internal National Sales Meeting are our big new product introduction events. I could devote days of chatter just on this topic. Trade shows are a HUGE undertaking...
- Demo programs-I have created two different demo program for our bikes. One is a traveling program where we take a trailer full of bikes to various bike events all over the country for people to test ride. The second is our "Demo in a Box" program where we send demo bikes to Haro dealers via UPS for customers to try out. Hey, we wouldn't buy a car without test driving it...why should a bike be any different?
- Other consumer/dealer educational resources-I've been doing quite a bit of travel to do clinics and product presentations for our dealers and distributors. This is always pretty fun because it gives these folks a chance to ask questions and give us feedback.
Whew! Wow, I just realized I have written a novel here. Sorry 'bout that. But, in a not-such-a-nutshell, that's what I do for Haro. That's the long, and well, long of it. On the nuts and bolts side...I have a BS degree in Marketing (and no, I don't mean THAT kind of B.S. although some may argue with me on that...) as well as an AA degree in Graphic Design (that I do next to nothing with).
By the time it's taken you all to read this ridiculosly long post, you've probably either drank all the beer in your fridge and/or missed your favorite TV show. I know NONE of us read blogs from work, so you haven't lost any productivity there. So, with that said, I'm going to sign off of the blogoshere for now.