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John Stocks


July 5, 2018

How A Leading OEM Builds A Customer-Centric Strategy Across All Channels

John Stocks

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How much time should you spend mapping out all the fine details of your Customer Journey? The standard answer is “Probably more.” For marketing leaders at Cadillac, their in-depth research revealed that they should be prepared to support multiple customer journeys, with many variations and complexities to consider within each one.

Louis Falco, Cadillac’s Head of Customer Relationships and Brand Loyalty, advised, “The most important thing… is identifying the moments that matter and the pain within the journey. You succeed as a top brand by understanding what consumers value and where you're failing to deliver on the value for those consumers.”

Here’s a closer look at the Cadillac approach to exploring the customer journey and how they rely on experiential marketing to delight their customers.

Watch our latest webinar, "The Future of Experiential & Events: How Top OEMs  Leverage Digital To Impact Engagement & Bottom-Line Results," and learn what  major brands like Cadillac and GM are doing to deliver a rich brand experience  and drive sales across tiers. 

Understanding the Entire Customer Journey

To better encapsulate and categorize the knowledge they gleaned, Cadillac’s marketing team broke the standard customer journey into 6 stages, each including key customer actions:

  • Learn – Observing, Engaging, Seeking, Realizing
  • Shop – Comparing, Validating, Experiencing, Leaving
  • Buy – Finding, Negotiating, Financing, Committing, Waiting
  • Onboard – Taking Delivery, Celebrating or Remorse, Learning, Personalizing, Getting Help
  • Use – Planning, Driving, Navigating, Entertaining, Organizing, Monitoring, Parking
  • Own – Upkeep, Vehicle Event, Servicing, Learning, Getting Help, Complaining/Resolving, Leaving

The Intersection of Moments That Matter with Pain Points

At several points, spread out across nearly every stage of the journey, are junctures where Moments That Matter and Pain Points collide. Those are the biggest dangers to your brand and the biggest opportunities to prove your value. Success means taking the pain out of those moments to pave a clear pathway in the direction of brand loyalty.

These are also the moments where experiential marketing can make the most significant impacts on customer perception of the brand.

What a Multi-Channel, Consumer-Centric Strategy Looks Like

In the past, marketers grew accustomed to a linear funnel model that grew progressively narrower, from awareness to consideration to conversion to loyalty to advocacy. In the new world, that’s just the beginning. As consumers have grown more mobile and connected to brands across multiple channels, there are many moments where they return back into the consideration stage.

Another problem is that while digital has greatly expanded the reach of messages to global audiences, it also tends to be inherently impersonal and passive. How can a brand know what customers are really feeling at the far end of a digital channel? The answers involve metrics and live experiences.

To acknowledge this new reality and proactively stay emotionally connected with the customer throughout their brand interactions, Cadillac introduced a 5-step strategic plan:

1. DISRUPT the consumer. Disrupt to introduce/reintroduce yourself to each consumer. Disrupt to change preexisting perceptions.

2. INSPIRE and intrigue the consumer. Introduce the dream. Share your product promise, your customer experience promise, and your brand promise.

3. MOTIVATE consumers to act - based on what motivates each individual. Guide consumers from intrigue to brand trial or repurchase. Excite them.

4. DELIVER on your product, experience, and brand promises. NURTURE the relationship with each consumer. Prove that you deserve their business.

5. CONNECT with consumers emotionally. Anchor the brand in consumers’ heads and hearts. Be distinct. Be memorable.

In the end, people invest in brands that matter in their lives. Loyalty and advocacy grow from relationships.

“There is hard data that shows that if you were more engaged with a customer -- even if they never respond back to you – they are 3X more likely to come in and purchase from your store once they're actually ready to buy,” said Krista Mancini, Account Director Shift Digital. “It's really important that that connection is being built on the brand side through CRM efforts and experiential [marketing].

Prioritize Relationship-Building

Mancini's point was that dealers and auto industry professionals are more successful when they “run through the tape.” At marathon races, runners often instinctively slow down when they see the finish line because they have gone through so much to get there and the end is in sight. Winners push harder at the end and run through the finish line tape with a burst of speed.

Mancini explained, “Maybe 3 – 6 months down the line [customers] are keeping the dealership top of mind. They were kind of wowed by that connection and that experience that they had. Ultimately they purchase that car,” based on the experiences they have had, and tell their networks about what a positive buying experience it was.

Cadillac’s strategy of “Engage Beyond the Buy” means that they consider the relationship to really begin after the purchase. As you work harder to build relationships and advocacy among your buyers – especially first time buyers – you provide them with countless reasons to remain loyal to the brand. You can proactively relieve pain points so they have no reason to see out other brands.

Managing the Relationship

In the past, customers would come and go and you would never really know why. You could conduct surveys and make educated guesses, but digital has changed the game completely. Now any company can access more data on consumer habits, preferences and motivations than anybody knows what to do with.

Given what's possible now, it doesn't make good business sense to divide out that data on a single customer to multiple managers in a variety of channels, like the dealer, the web, social media, etc. Instead, leaders like Cadillac are executing everything, from experiential campaigns to major media blitzes based on a single unified view of the customer and a single unified consumer strategy.


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