This is going to make me look like a bit of a simpleton. I’m not a marketing graduate and I don’t know all the fancy terminology. But on the flipside, I have been writing this website for five years now, I’ve done a number of Saab events and I’ve seen what people respond to. I guess you call it my seat-of-the-pants marketing plan.
Or a component of it. I’m not positioning this as everything that Saab should do. Just something.
Unwritten in this plan is the omnipresent and supreme marketing element that sometimes gets overlooked in this type of dicussion – build truly great products. The best advertising you can do is to put a brilliant product in the hands of your consumer. If you do that, they’ll do quite a bit of advertising for you (whether they realise it or not).
As economists are given to do, I’ve assumed that this is in place already.
So, my simple three-step marketing plan for Saab:
- Do stuff.
- Involve real peolple in the stuff you do.
- Tell everyone about it.
Amazingly simple, isn’t it?
Let’s dig a little bit deeper on those, then.
I wrote last weekend about the idea of a Saab Roadshow, going from place to place and showing off Saab’s new products. this doesn’t have to be an expensive affair and I’m sure there would be dealerships falling over themselves to help out. You could give each and every one of them a chance if you wanted. It’d let them impress their clients – your customers – and it’d get your vehicles seen in the right light and by more people than you think.
It’s not just that, though. There are heaps of other opportunities available and I’m quite sure that customers would be quite willing to meet some of the costs associated with running them in exchange for the connections they get to build with the company.
For example – why haven’t we heard about any plans for a Saab Festival this year? It’s an absolute no brainer, if you ask me, to capitalise on the momentum built by the Saab Support Convoys and have people gather in Trollhattan to celebrate the re-birth of the brand.
What about a series of Top Gear style challenge drives from various places that will prove the durability, range and comfort of the cars? What you get there is a chance to meet plenty of people along the way, show the car(s) and most importantly, tell the story – more on that in a moment.
These things just scratch the surface. There could be plenty of other ideas if a few wise heads sat down and considered it for a while.
The good thing about doing this sort of thing is that it gives you a chance to engage people, to draw them closer to the company and the enjoyment of being associated with it.
And that’s the focus of the next element of this plan….
Involve real people in the stuff you do
I am the voice of experience here, both as a participator and as a facilitator of this kind of action.
On a personal level, I’ve been involved in numerous motor shows and other activities and all of those events have built on my pre-existing affection for the brand and the people involved. As a result of that, I’ve been able to share my experiences with others and build up their relationship with the brand, too.
OK, so most people don’t have the outlet to share those experiences that I do here, but that’s not the be-all and end-all of this. Give people just a little access behind the curtain and they will quite happily become ambassadors for you, and that’s a powerful presence to have in the marketpace. Their authenticity will be compelling.
As a facilitator of these sorts of experiences, I’ve had the opportunity to send people to different motorshows or events as a representative of this website. The excitement and enthusiasm they come back with after the event is quite palpable and I’m sure that like me, they come back with a rejuvenated love for the brand and the vehicles.
Cars, for many, about adequate transportation. For many Saab customers, however, it’s more than that. If you don’t think customers of higher-end products develop relationships with their vehicles then you’re kidding yourself.
Explore the opportunities to tap into to relationships and make them stronger.
The best experience I’ve had with this sort of thing is the tour out the back of the Saab Museum that I got to do last year, along with a friend of mine, Dave R. To have that opportunity was priceless and it gave us both memories that we’ll never forget.
Could tours of this type work on a regular basis? Are there other things that people would be willing to visit for and participate in? I think there are.
Tell everyone about it.
More than ever, we live in an age where personal communication between related parties is possible, regardless of location. A somewhat impersonal mass-email campaign just doesn’t cut it anymore. You can do so much better than that now.
Yes, I’m talking about websites such as this and others, that can give the company an opportunity to tell their customers a story – person to person, eye to eye. The advent of digital media has made reaching people quite inexpensive and the best thing about it is that it works.
A great idea combined with a great way to communicate it = results. People will hear the message and get involved.
Here’s just a couple of ways a website could be used.
Idea 1 – Saab invite someone local to come along to every motor show they participate in. Give them a camera and allow them provide coverage of that show from a layman’s point of view. Help them out with a bit of editing to keep the writing interesting to read and you’ve got a very engaging view provided by someone your customers can relate to.
Idea 2 – Use your fantastically popular global web portal to distribute your marketing materials directly to customers. Would you like to confine this image to a subway billboard, or would you like to have it in the hands of eager customers so they can print it, frame it and put it in their office? It costs you very little extra (on top of the fee you’ve paid the marketers to develop it) to push it out that way and gives you plenty of extra coverage and saturation.
Saab have said they want to get their existing customers back on board. They want to attract those who already have an open door for Saab.
Then why not engage them in a conversation?
A good interactive website costs absolutely stuff-all to develop and host nowadays and all it would take (call this ‘Idea 3′) is an occasional post from a select group of executives to develop some really meaningful discussions.
Interaction like that builds the engagement and creates loyalty.
Add to that conversation with the stories about your customers’ experiences and there’s no shortage of content available for people to read and share with their friends and associates.
People say that I could never do Saabs United as a Saab employee because it would no longer be independent and that would color their view of the content. It’s a point of view that I can understand.
But if a great portion of the content is consumer-generated and if people are reading stories about events or adventures that they actually had access to, things they could relate to directly, then this will become a non-issue in time.
Events don’t have to be flashy and expensive and many times, people will be willing to contribute to the cost of their participation if doing so will provide a valuable experience.
The convoys are the perfect example, albeit borne of extraordinary circumstances.
The cost to Saab?
The value to Saab?