2011 Ford Explorer Reveal Reveals Social Prowess
August 1, 2010 3 Comments
I drive a lovely little black, 2004 Saturn Ion with leather seats, sun roof, a six CD player and tinted windows, which I brag about all the time. It gets great gas mileage and looks very sexy. And, most important, it’s fun to drive! People tell me it’s a cute little car that perfectly fits my personality. And it doesn’t hurt that in the six years I’ve owned it I’ve only put 45,000 miles on it and the finish still looks perfectly shiny and new.
So why am I so darn excited about the new Ford Explorer!?
It really comes down to some savvy marketing. Ford played their hand very skillfully with a few simple, yet powerful tactics:
1) They skipped the auto shows: An auto show requires people going ‘to’ the product, limiting reach and really not being very inclusive of the ultimate audience Ford wanted to reach. Auto shows are mostly for enthusiasts. The Ford Explorer is a family vehicle for the parents who don’t want to be seen driving the soccer mom minivan. I would dare say it would also make a great long road trip vehicle, and come in very handy in escorting around my frequent out-of-town guests when I’m giving them the tour of Dallas and Fort Worth.
2) Reveal on Facebook: Facebook is where a large percentage of consumers Ford wanted to reach can be found. So, Ford took their product ‘to’ the consumer. They have been rewarded with nearly 57,000 ‘likes’ on their page so far. Personally, I love reading the questions and suggestions people are leaving on the Facebook wall. And I especially love that Ford is monitoring and joining that conversation. It makes me feel included in behind the scenes development of the product, since they are still testing the Explorer in different terrains and conditions, and planning what might be future versions or variations. The 2011 Explorer won’t be available until winter.
3) Execs on the road: Ford did some grassroots outreach by sending their execs on the road to talk to local dealers, media, bloggers, and local social media influencers in person. Here in Dallas we had: Sue Cischke, Group VP, Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering; Ken Czubay, VP, U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service; and Craig Patterson, Marketing Manager for Ford Explorer. I had the pleasure of spending some time with Craig who not only shared a wealth of information, but who spoke about the product and the company with such passion that I couldn’t help but get excited with him. I’ve personally owned two Explorers in my adult life and it was interesting to hear Craig talk about the ‘typical’ Explorer customer…yes, he described me to a tee! I was the mom who didn’t want to be a mini-van mom. I wanted to be hip and cool.
4) Reach beyond traditional media: Ford held in person “reveals” in several cities, inviting local Ford dealers and the media. But they also went a step further and did a bit of research to find out who had some social clout. Here in Dallas they contacted one of the leaders, Mary Anne Schweers, of our very active Social Media Club (the average monthly meetings attracts around 150 people). She in turn sent invitations to members who had good social reach. I was very pleased to be included. I must admit, it was super cool to sit with the Star-Telegram’s Bob Cox as he interviewed Craig Patterson, and was very patient in letting me join in that conversation. I love watching a pro at work.
5) Series of press releases: I can’t skip mentioning that to make all the above work, Ford did put out a series of press releases leading up to the reveal.
So in the end, Ford won me over because they came to me. They didn’t ask me to come to them. And they made themselves available, something Scott Monty got Ford started on and continues to lead them well in. You can talk to Ford on Facebook and you can talk to them on Twitter.
And by the way, I was mainly looking at the marketing strategies here, but I should also state that the features Ford showed us in the all new 2011 Ford Explorer are pretty darn exciting. That doesn’t hurt them a bit.