The automotive industry is in a fervour for the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this January as execs and consumers alike look to the future of each brand and that of their competition. In this time of heightened creativity, marketing never stands still. Simply put, the consumer is reinventing the path to purchase every day, and automotive marketers are struggling to keep up.
Automotive marketing is more difficult to transform than some other categories. Here are just a few of the challenges facing a marketer of vehicles wishing to transform their marketing:
- The consumer path to purchase is often long, winding, and utilises many communications touch-points. This complexity makes it difficult to transform as a whole.
- The relationship between the marque brand (e.g. Ford) and model brands (e.g. Fiesta) needs servicing. This requires internal and external resources that often end up ‘competing’ for budget.
- Dealerships may not be owned by the brand. This impacts customer experience and access to data.
- National Sales Companies may be more or less autonomous. They are often at different levels of development and face varying competition, thereby requiring different capabilities, resources and assets.
It is very tempting for Automotive Marketing Directors to look at the WHAT? of marketing:
- What am I going to do with the brand?
- What am I doing with my advertising and sponsorships?
- What am I going to do with media and digital?
In reality, even if the WHAT? is clear, marketing transformation efforts are more often hampered by the HOW? of marketing.
- How will I get markets to align?
- How will I get dealers to execute?
- How will I get agencies to integrate?
- How can I measure across brands, channels, and markets?
In addition, many Marketing Directors and Procurement Directors look at the task of transformation piecemeal (i.e. they look to fix a little bit at a time). Perhaps first they put in place a social media strategy, then they change their media agency, then they look at research and so on.
Often the client starts with a specific, isolated, current issue and tries to fix just that one issue. The problem with this bit-by-bit approach is that very often the bits don’t fit together, so the company never actually gets ahead of the consumer.
A different way of executing a marketing transformation for automotive clients is to consider the HOW? of marketing, alongside the WHAT? To look at the system of marketing as a whole entity; an INTEGRATED MARKETING ECOSYSTEM, and then look at projects designed to fit together and effect a system change.
A different way to look at the challenge of marketing transformation might be:
- Look three years into the future and see what the consumer will demand of the marketing organisation.
- Decide what internal structures, organisation, processes, resources, and technologies the client requires.
- Decide what external resources are required.
- Map out different Marketing Models that bring internal and external resources together into an integrated marketing ecosystem.
- Work back to the current reality, planning out a set of workstreams in the right order to tackle the changes.
- Measure the impact of the changes.
This approach allows the WHAT? of marketing to flourish because it has a system built to enable it.
Marketing Directors know they should do these reviews, but they are busy people with cars to sell. That is why they may turn to a Marketing Transformation Company, like Flock, to do the ‘heavy lifting,’ make recommendations and help implement the changes.
Our experience of Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, Aston Martin, Kia, Peugeot and Citroen has helped us develop our approach, and our knowledge of other categories and brands further inform it. If you’d like to turn your vintage Fiat 500 into tomorrow’s Ferrari, do give us a call or contact us here.
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