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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Saturn...out of touch and going out of business

Did you ever see the ads? I would laugh every time I saw them. A man in a bright green shirt said "Saturn builds cars that people want to buy" as argument against the idea being professed that America couldn't build cars that people wanted to buy.

Are you kidding me? I was supposed to believe that Saturn built cars that I would want to buy just because some employee said so? There was nothing compelling in that ad; nothing touched on what I would get out of such a purchase. Instead, the ad seemed to be saying that if I was smart, I would know that Saturn was the brand to buy.

I'm not saying anything good or bad about Saturn or the cars they make. I know plenty of people who've been very happy with their Saturn vehicles. My point is that, in order to stay profitable and moving forward in business, we have to stay in touch with our customers. We have to understand what they want. Consumers buy based on their perceived value (their WIIFM -- see my post on WIIFM here). If they feel what they are purchasing is of value to them, then they're happy to move forward.

Inside any organization that has customers, it's our job to help the customers imagine the value they will receive when they purchase what we're selling. We have to help make their imaginations come to life (like "if I buy that car, I will never have to worry about breaking down again" or "if I buy that car, there will never be another person as cool as me...everybody will want to be like me"). Many experts will tell you that most purchases, especially large ones, are made based on emotion (the heart decides and the brain rationalizes) and we have to tap into that. If we're not providing the value that our customers want, we need to realign our value proposition to meet the wants and/or help the customers realize (imagine) why they need our products or services.

I'm sure there are a lot of very smart people at General Motors. They know all the right business ideas and probably know way more than I will ever know about marketing. It's just that this knowledge doesn't seem to have translated into reality.

What am I missing here?

1 comment:

  1. I'm sure the marketing department assumed that if we see an everyday guy tell us something on tv, it will make us think twice and remember the brand.


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