MotionPoint client Ford Motor Company has spent the past three years engaging customers using an impressive, progressive digital marketing strategy. The carmaker’s efforts are paying off: Ford’s U.S. sales are up nearly 22 percent this year. That’s “twice the growth rate of the industry overall,” according to a recent Reuters story featuring the company.
Thanks to the company’s commitment to creating resonant relationships with consumers, resources, and hiring online-savvy marketers such as Scott Monty (Global Digital and Multimedia Communications Manager), Ford has quickly become a leading brand within the digital marketing and social media spaces.
Through deft and fleet-footed use of free platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other content-driven online campaigns, Ford has successfully addressed PR challenges, created unified, yet diverse messages to attract different customers, and embraced an “accessibility and transparency” strategy that has successfully increased consumer interest in the brand.
The impact has been so positive that Ford’s marketing chief Jim Farley suggests the company’s money is better spent on online promotion than on ultra-expensive ad buys, such as those played during the Super Bowl.
"Customers are spending as much time with the mobile smart phone or online as they are watching TV now, so our advertising dollars have to flow to where the people are," Farley told Reuters. The goal, he explained, is to successfully "break into their world."
That requires an understanding of the public's perception of your brand, the vision to change if it needed, and a commitment to executing clever ways to achieve it. Ford saw the opportunity in the digital marketing space. It invests 25 percent of its advertising budget on digital media, Reuters reports.
It's also crafting resonant messaging within those advertisement with different niche consumers. "Ford is playing up the new elements in its product line-up," Reuters wrote, "both new vehicles and new technology like the MyFord Touch system for navigation, entertainment and communications in campaigns that include videos for Google's YouTube."
Ford’s online advertising is also focused on connecting with the right consumers. For instance: the brand connects with technology enthusiasts who watch or listen to This Week In Tech, one of the most popular independently-produced technology programmes on the web. Tech-driven product features such as MyFord Touch are often promoted.
Ford also leverages the relationships that online influencers such as prominent bloggers have with their audiences. In 2009, Ford built relationships with such thought leaders and entertainers to help promote the U.S. release of its Fiesta subcompact car. Not long after, Ford leveraged the ubiquity of Facebook to present new product features to fans, long before traditional press opportunities (such as car shows) were available.
The takeaway from Ford's marketing success is clear: present a relevant message where consumers are, and where they interact ... and can amplify your message. It's working for Ford-its brand image has improved since it launched this progressive strategy. According to ALG, a firm that tracks consumer perceptions, Ford vehicles "lead all brands in gains in perceived quality since 2008," Reuters reported.
"Everyone is involved in digital marketing," consumer auto consulting expert Charlie Vogelheim told Reuters. "The extent that Ford is doing it, wrapping it around events and utilizing the media with its launches, that is where Ford is taking leadership."
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