Fresh off its successful rollout of the Fiesta, Ford embarked on a similar, although scaled-down strategy for introducing its redesigned 2011 Explorer sport utility vehicle. The campaign was centered on a Facebook page on which the company posted teaser images of the vehicle and also included a countdown clock to when the entire vehicle would be unveiled. The company also bought ads on such high-traffic websites as CNN.com and MSNBC.com.
“Fiesta was kind of a catchall approach,” Monty said. “With Explorer, we kind of dedicated ourselves to Facebook and to paid media.”
The different approach was designed to capture a broader audience, because the Explorer’s potential customer base was less segmented than that of the Fiesta’s, Monty said.
|Ford interacts with consumers on its The Ford Story website at social.ford.com.
“We knew by going on Facebook that we had the best shot at getting fans and doing so in a way that supported the kind of content and story that we had to tell about the Explorer,” he said. “It allowed us to lay out the whole schedule of events for the day. People could come to the page and engage with any portion of it they wanted. We had started the process probably four or five months before the actual reveal, kind of getting people ready for it, ramping them up, giving them teaser images of it — setting the stage for something big that was coming, rather than just showing up one day, turning on the lights and going home. It worked really well. In social space alone, we saw 99 million impressions that day. Online overall, we saw 400 million impressions. We actually had results that were better than if we had run a Super Bowl commercial.”
Despite its online successes, Ford is not about to abandon more traditional advertising and marketing venues, Monty said.
“There’s no doubt we’re seeing a shifting of concentrated budget, but we’re not giving up on any one of the segments,” he said. “Television advertising still reaches a huge number of people and helps with a certain process within the sales funnel. Just as direct marketing works and billboards and whatnot works. I think what we’re seeing is more of a balanced approach between the paid, earned and owned media. Getting the three of those to work in harmony and to leverage each other as appropriate is extremely important.”
Not all companies have the wherewithal, or the need, to undertake complex digitally centered marketing campaigns, Monty said. But there is some universal advice that applies to all businesses, no matter their size or product line, he said.
|Before forging a social media presence, companies need to know what platform their customers are using, Monty says. Photo by Rosh Sillars
“I think the first principle in all of this is to listen, to know where your customers are and what they’re saying about you,” Monty said. “Know what they want. If you’re going gung-ho with a plan that involves, pick a channel — Facebook or Twitter or whatever — and your customers aren’t there or are not likely to use it, then why are you bothering? Just because it’s a buzzword? And it has to be fully integrated with everything else that you’re doing. It can’t be just, ‘We have a Facebook strategy.’ No you don’t. You have a marketing strategy or a business strategy your marketing efforts support. And Facebook is simply a tool or a channel within that wider strategy. So understanding how all of this fits together and I think understanding the marketing mix and the communications mix is really important.
“The other thing that I think people really need to look to is not only where people are going, but what do they want from you when you’re there? Do they want more information? Do they want different information than you’re giving them on a brochure or a corporate website? Do they want deals or first-to-know information about your next product or your next sale? We’ve seen lots of statistics that consumers online are basically looking for primarily coupons and deals from retailers, mostly.”