It's not simply one or the other

WHEN BOB Lutz got his newest title as chairman of General Motors' North American operations, there was a lot of soul-searching about who were the winners and losers.

Actually, everyone won.

Lutz has made the point that designers shouldn't worry about the interior of the car until the exterior is right.

He's right, of course. If customers don't like the exterior, you will never get them close enough to the interior for it to matter.

The same goes for marketing.

I'm told that when Ford Motor Co. launched the Edsel automobile in the late 1950s in the USA, the advertising and marketing were about the best that had ever been done for an automobile.

And that was the problem. The advertising did a tremendous job of getting folks into the dealership. But once they got there, they hated what they saw and walked away. Great advertising hastened the Edsel's demise.

When you plan a marketing campaign, you had better have a great exterior. And the interior had better be great, too.

Marketing is nothing more than all the salesmanship that applies to a particular product or service.

And you can't do a good job marketing an ugly car unless it has other redeeming points, such as a really low price or great performance or outstanding reliability.

Think how much easier it would be if a car had all those attributes and was great looking as well.

Competition is so intense today that every vehicle must be great looking. Even the most inexpensive cars must be big hits in the design department, or they will fail.

A successful car or truck must have more. You can't just rely on having a great looking car with a great interior.

These days, even the best cars in the world need the best marketing.

The key to successful marketing is to make sure that you have the product right first.

When the outside and the inside of the vehicle are right, you can worry about the marketing. And a great car deserves the same care and attention in the marketing department as it does in the design and engineering departments.

It's not a choice of having a great vehicle or great marketing.

When a company picks from only one column, the chances are pretty good that it won't be successful.

You can reach Keith Crain at kcrain@crain.com

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