I LOVE FORD

Ok so although they’re not currently giving the attention my food and music fest deserves (Even though it was literally made for them), I’m really falling in love with Ford these days.  Through innovation, design, and in most cases, good marketing communications, the company has not only avoided the pitfalls of their two Detroit cousins GM and Chrysler, they just announced a third-quarter profit of nearly $1 billion ($997 million according to their press release).  So here are a few of the important lessons I’ve pulled out of Ford’s transformation.

1) Design and Innovation are key – Have you seen the new Ford Edge or Flex?  How about the Taurus?  The new Taurus is so well designed, so beautiful; you will be asking to drive one the next time you have a chance to rent it instead of asking for a Toyota.  And watch out for the new Fusion Hybrid, as it will be taking market share away from Toyota and Honda as consumers run out of reasons not to buy American. 

2) Separate yourself from the pack – With the exception of the “Cash for Clunkers” program, Ford steered away from advertising that speaks to the recessionary times as many of their competitors including Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year, Hyundai have.  They also didn’t take government bailout money which gave consumers confidence.

3) Have a good spokesperson – If you are going the way of celebrity endorser, pick one that fits your brand.  Mike Rowe fits Ford like a glove…even better than O.J.’s.  Mike is the perfect American “everyman”.  His shows such as “Dirty Jobs” have a need for vehicles like Ford Trucks.  Rowe started out just hawking for that division, but as may have seen from the new ads, he can sell anything with the Ford badge on it.

4) Expand your market – Look around your town and I bet you will notice more Ford’s than you have in the past.  It seems that those who might have purchased a more expensive “prestige” vehicle a few years ago are very happy with Ford’s new products, price points, and value.  Remember that value isn’t just about price.  Ford is delivering a better product at a competitive price point compared with others in the category. 

5) Legacy is important in down times – Consumers are looking to purchase from companies they believe they can trust.  If you have been around for 100-years (unless you are GM), one gets the feeling there is a reason for it.  Their years in business give you a comfort level.  Ford Motor Company has been known since its inception as an innovative, forward thinking company.  Henry Ford made cars affordable for every American, transformed modern-day production with the Model-T assembly line, and through the wood scraps from that factory, founded Kingsford Charcoal.  Where cam we find that kind of innovation in our business?  We have still yet to roll-out paperless ticketing!

6) Market the experience – You might be sick of hearing me say this, but our marketing sucks!  Check-out the new Axe body spray commercials.  You get what the product does for you…NOT how it smells, how much it costs, where it is available…nothing like that. Consumers purchase based on an emotional response.  How are they going to get emotional about hearing an artist’s new single they don’t know, followed by a bunch of quick information about sponsors, pre-sales, sales, locations, who is promoting the show…and of course the famous “call to action”.  It is a new world…for over 20-years now.  It is time we catch-up. 

Full disclosure, I haven’t owned a Ford vehicle for many years. It doesn’t stop me from sitting up to take notice at the great changes they have made…and how easy it would be for those of us in Live and Branded Live Entertainment to follow their lead.  

How about we each come up with 3-new innovations in 2010?

Speak with you soon…

Jim

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