The Big 3 and Silicon Valley: Back to basics

As Silicon Valley companies think about how to market during these challenging times, there’s something to be learned from the challenges that the American car companies currently face.

As Silicon Valley companies think about how to market during these challenging times, there’s something to be learned from the challenges that the American car companies currently face.

For example, most recently we have heard that General Motors has bailed out of its contract with Tiger Woods, who has appeared in Buick advertisements for several years. The official story is that Tiger wants to spend more time with his family and he’s cutting back on his business engagements, but most assume that GM is making every move to cut back on expenses and hold on to cash.

GM is making the right move, but it needs to go even further in revising its advertisements during these tough economic times. GM, along with Ford and Chrysler, must create ads that more clearly explain to American consumers why they should stick with the Big 3. Executives flying to Washington D.C. in private jets to ask for $25 billion in loans did not do the trick!

For television, print, and online ads…lose the glitz and stop trying to appeal to consumers’ innermost desires (for a fast, cool, and powerful car). The usual “car zipping along a mountain road” ad won’t cut it. Those days are over. Every ad needs to directly address consumers’ pain points: What they want is better gas mileage, improved safety, better-built cars (with less maintenance costs)…all at a value that rivals foreign imports.

Anything that veers from these pain points needs to be de-emphasized or removed completely. And give us a hint of the future…maybe have an ad showing a factory being re-tooled to build next-generation, fuel-efficient cars. No more celebrities, no more style over substance – inform and persuade. It’s time for the Big 3 and their ad agencies to get back to basics.

And our marketing here in Silicon Valley should focus on the basics as well: Clearly and concisely explain in all your materials – website, social media pages, emails, landing pages, solutions demos, eNewsletters, and banner ads – how your solutions solve the business challenges that most concern your customers. Focus on your customers’ pain points and educate them about your role in dealing with that pain – and cut anything that veers from that main focus.

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