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Posts Tagged ‘Saturn’

Maintaining ‘orphaned’ car owners

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The attached article scratches the surface of a problem I think few, if any, manufacturers are addressing well. As you may know, orphaned car owners are owners of vehicle brands that have been discontinued, such as Pontiac, Saturn, Hummer, Plymouth, and Mercury.

When these owners are shopping new cars, there is no brand loyalty they can follow.  Sure, they can show loyalty to the parent company of their now discontinued brand, but the article states that this only happens in 30% range.  Obviously this means that 70% are spending their money on a competitors brand!

I think the most common way manufacturers of former brands are trying to maintain loyalty is through the use of <gasp> incentives to purchase new vehicles.  If I were even remotely passionate about my brand and am mourning its passing, the last thing I want to get from the parent company is an incentive to buy one of their other vehicles.  ‘Sorry we’ve abandoned the brand you loved, but hey, buy another car from us and we promise not to do it again!’

I think they’re missing a huge opportunity with this approach.  These brands have large Facebook followings, blogs dedicated to them, and owner run communities.  Engage these owners through those sites, continue to show the love through posts that would appeal to those owners, even sponsor get-togethers for those owners so they don’t feel, well, so orphaned.

Yes, it costs money to do things like this.  Yes, you will have to continue to have a small dedicated staff monitoring social sites and organizing events. But the opportunity to rebuild the trust with these owners so that they will be loyal customers to a new brand will more than pay for itself in the long run.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimgorzelany/2012/05/07/the-battle-to-adopt-orphan-car-owners/?feed=rss_home

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Penske Automotive Group (PAG) has decided to terminate discussions with General Motors to acquire Saturn

September 30, 2009 Leave a comment

saturn logo

I’m sure most everyone who cares about it has heard, Penske has decided not to buy Saturn due to not being able to source cars after the initial agreement with GM. I am personally shocked by this. Until today, I was responsible for Social Media, Accessories, and Licensing for Saturn, but had decided to take the buyout that was offered to me and move on to other opportunities. The sale seemed like a done a deal. My former co-workers were tweeting about today being their last day with GM and looking forward to starting with Penske tomorrow. Yesterday the press was predicting the sale would close today. The General Manager of Saturn announced her retirement from GM earlier this week. Everything seemed to be in place.

I don’t think you can blame Penske, after all, he’s an incredibly successful business man who’s made billions on just this type of investment. If anyone could have made it work, it was probably him. I was, however, worried about whether he really ‘got’ the brand, due to the lack of Marketing and Advertising staff that were asked to join the new company. I looked like he was planning on advertising and marketing Saturn like he does Smart and the Auto Group, which appears to be non-existent. The A/M staff at Saturn was responsible for, along with mainstream advertising, all of the network wide touchy-feely initiatives that made Saturn the unique brand that it was.

Saturn has an almost cult like following of owners, and to some extent retailers, who often don’t act like other auto dealers despite being, well, auto dealers. The sales, and especially the customer satisfaction lessons learned by GM during the Saturn experiment should be put to use by GM, or any other auto brand that wants to create that kind of loyalty in their customers. After all, they weren’t the best looking or highest quality cars ever made, which seems to be what everyone says is what creates owner loyalty and produces sales. What they did have was a feeling by the customer that the brand and the retailers actually cared about them and really wanted to do the best by them. Saturn is proof that positive customer experience can trump almost any other attribute your brand has.

My thoughts go out to my former co-workers, and all of the loyal owners and retailers that stood by the brand during these difficult times. I sincerely hope everyone lands on their feet and that the lessons learned from this once great brand resurface in all GM brands in the very near future. Hey, I can hope…

Categories: Life Tags: , , , ,

3 Things to Tweet that Aren’t About Your Brand

September 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Good ideas on how to stay engaged with your corporate Twitter account when you don’t have a lot to say. We’ve been doing this quite a bit at Saturn while purchase negotiations have been on-going between GM and Penske, because frankly, we don’t know anything and even if we did, our respective legal staffs wouldn’t allow us to post it anyway.  Keep the customer engaged and show you’re still out there and care about them and the brand.

http://www.davidwmullen.com/2009/09/16/3-things-to-tweet-that-arent-about-your-brand/

Categories: Social Media Tags: , , ,

Goodbye and Hello…

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment

I don’t know if it’s fitting or fate or whatever that I post my first personal blog entry on the last day of  my 11 1/2 years of employment with GM. It was a pretty good day up until the end, when I said goodbye to people I have known both professionally and personally, some for the entire time I was with GM.  But as they say, it was time.  Time to move on to bigger and better things, time to move onward and upward, time to close my eyes and jump.

The first couple and the last couple of years have been the best, with the middle years having been spent doing jobs you are ‘supposed’ to do if you want to reach the heights of upper management.  For the record, none of those jobs got me there…

The first couple of years were spent with a group of the smartest finance people employed by GM doing a secret, at the time, initiative that was both fun and challenging (and the right thing to do).  But as often happens to great ideas at GM, senior executives (who approved the project, despite reports otherwise) buckled to dealer pressure and cancelled the initiative, blaming ‘rogue executives’ who went behind their backs to start it. ***(I’ll take this opportunity to say that it’s going to be nice, really nice, to express my honest opinions about GM, finally. But also to say I love GM, my Dad retired from GM, I wanted to work for GM so bad I could taste it, and I would put any new GM car head to head against the best in the world with confidence.  But it’s hard to see something you love do these things to itself, and I’m afraid it’s already on that course again, but that will be another post, or 5…).

The last few years were spent as the Marketing and Advertising representative for Genuine Corvette Accessories with Chevy, and the Social Media, Accessories and Licensing manager for Saturn in the Marketing and Advertising group.  The Corvette job allowed me to work with what is probably the most passionate product team at GM, or any other manufacturer I’m sure.  Those people love the Corvette and it’s customers and fight internally, almost on a daily basis, to make sure they get the car right.  It allowed me to hang with the Corvette Racing Team, the most successful team in ALMS history.  And it allowed me to get to know the most passionate customers in the car business.  This is really where I learned to appreciate the value of one on one communication, that brands creating personal relationships with it’s customers are most successful, that loud commercials are not the most effective way to market your product.

At Saturn, I had the privelege of doing Social Media during what was  the most difficult time in the brands history.  GM announced it would close the brand if a buyer wasn’t found, sales and confidence plummeted, Roger Penske emerged as the front runner for the brand, and GM filed for bankruptcy.  Saturn, like Corvette, has one of the most passionate customer bases in the business.  But despite running commercials that screamed ‘We are here!’ the public believed the brand was going away for good.  And again we discovered that if you engage your customers one on one, through facebook, Twitter, and all the way to their own personal blogs, you can change public perception and start rebuilding your brand.  The beauty of Social Media is that you can engage individual customers, establishing confidence and  rebuilding your brand, but the world is watching.  What you say to one person is viewed by 500, and they tell 2 more, who tell 2 more, and so on, and so on…  Not that I believe big commercials are dead, they serve a valuable purpose, but the humanizing of brands and individual focus on the customer is where it’s all headed.

So armed with that knowledge, I’m heading into the work search world again, hoping to take the hard fought lessons of GM and Saturn to help others move into the next era of marketing…