Never loose touch with your Customers
This is a lesson from a recent Wall Street Journal article about Toyota Motor Corp
heres the link http://tinyurl.com/melvfz
North American Chief of Toyota, Yoshimi Inaba stated that we got "a little bit lost" in our North American strategy. A little lost, not sure I understand what that means. According to reports, Toyota is ranking number 2 (Camry 150,000 units) and 5 (Toyota Corolla/Matrix 121,000 units) for 09 sales to only be beat by Ford F series trucks (179,000 units).
see link http://editorial.autos.msn.com/slideshow.aspx?cp-documentid=1079595&topart=utes
Yes, the Prius had received fame when the gas prices were high but with the un-attractive body styling and back order log, it did not make the top ten list.
Sales are down for all auto makers and the ultimate test is coming which is why (maybe) Mr. Inaba is rallying the troops because market share is now ready for the taking. But, standing in front of the media and stating that you have lost touch with your customers does not send a warm feeling back to your customers or your staff.
Quickly doing a Google search for Toyota did not bring many "marketing communications" on the first page but the second page had their Newsroom page listed. Upon exploring the Toyota Newsroom page it was filled with generous amounts of Social Media and ways to connect with the target market. Yes, it still is a little corporate looking/feeling but that can be corrected. Toyota Twitter page has over 6,000 followers, Youtube with over 600 subscribers and 78 videos with the top video receiving over 160,000 views (30 second sport commercial for Prius). Not bad at all, in fact Toyota has done a decent job of stepping on to the Superhighway of Social Media.
What is lacking is the engagement and connection with their marketing. The videos, even the most viewed video, was not engaging. Viewers to the video commented more on the song than the car itself. Toyota should have over 100k in Twitter followers but need to loosen up in order to not look down upon your customers. Treat them like family and they will always come back to eat. I know for me, one of the best cars I ever had was my first Toyota truck. Never had a problem, ran like a pro and was dependable for all my commuting and travel adventures.
Note - I bought this truck used from a Nissan dealer.
Recommendation to Toyota, stop the corporate, un-authentic/transparent strategy and become a company that your customers can celebrate together. Have fun with your social media, create some promotions that stimulate interest and re-launch your Experiential Marketing program that connects with consumers.