I’ve been sitting on this one for a while but finally decided (after some encouragement from my friend Gini Dietrich, a.k.a. Wonder Woman) to put my ideas out there. I’ve talked a lot about why I think the social web is important. Now I want to give some practical ways I believe large companies (like mine) can benefit from the social tools and begin to build their community.
There is a huge opportunity to truly interact with our customers through the tools that are now commonplace with most other companies. Last month, I blogged about how important the customer was and posted a video from the Saturn Homecoming. Today’s post expands on that. These are 4 strategies that I’d love to see implemented at Buick and GMC.
1. Develop a loyalty rewards program
I believe Loyalty Reward programs have tremendous value. Think about how many people wanted to rack up their airline miles for free tickets? I’d take this to a different level for us. I’d establish a Buick and GMC Loyalty Rewards program for owners. Once you buy a vehicle from us, we reward you with a baseline amount of points. These points can be used for discounted subscriptions for OnStar and XM. What about using the points to attend special events sponsored by Buick and GMC? Additional points can be earned when purchasing accessories or doing regular maintenance at a Buick and GMC dealer. Why not reward someone for making a major purchase decision in your favor?
2. Interact with the 47,000 Facebook “likes”
Humanize your brand. Give it a personality. Develop a community and an environment people can interact with people. For one thing, I’d showcase some of our employees. Who is the face behind the all new Buick Regal? What do you want to know about the Marketing Manager for the GMC Terrain? (Ford recently did this with Explorer.) I believe this would change some of the perceptions that currently exist about our company and the type of consumers we attract if they got to know the employees behind the logos.
What about showcasing the people that bought our products? Facebook is really their forum. As a marketer, I want to know who bought from us. Encourage new owners to post pictures with their new Buick LaCrosse or their GMC Sierra and give us a comment as to why they love it and share their story!
3. Start a Corporate Blog
This idea started swirling around my head after I read this post from Social Media Examiner. It talks about the influence blogs can have in search rankings.
- Adds naturally occurring, keyword-rich pages.
- Increases the potential for incoming links from high-quality websites.
A blog is one of the best ways to continually add pages to a website that generate relevant and reputable links.
- Blogging gives your company a voice
- Blogs are better place to direct people than your corporate website
- Blogging enforces respectfulness
- Blogging is timeless
- Blogging enforces content creation
Another reason to start a corporate blog is to further give the company a personality and build our consumer community. Is there content that we could offer that talks about things other than the vehicles we sell? Could it be social causes? What about biographies of our leadership or employees?
Location based services are the current rage. Foursquare is offering window clings to companies like Whole Foods to display so customers will check in and learn about special offers these stores offer. Why not take this same approach to our dealerships or locations where we have sponsored events? This could tie back in to the Loyalty Reward program I mentioned above!
Customer service is a front-office strategic imperative that belongs at the same table as strategic planning, marketing communications, branding and advertising.
I’d replace “Customer Service” with “Customer Experience”. Either way, this needs a seat at the strategic planning table. This is where leadership buys in to the plan and is willing to invest in it. With the web as a platform for consumers to get their voices heard quickly, you need to make the investment in money and man power to participate in this conversation.
By no means are these ideas “new”, but they may be “new” to my industry. I just see these as great opportunities to integrate into our traditional marketing efforts. What do you think? Would this work for you as a consumer?