Dodge has been building personal relationships with its Viper and Ram customers through special events, and now it will try to do the same with minivan owners.
Dodge is inviting 3 million Caravan owners to Universal Studios in Orlando, Fla., for a 'Caravan Adventure,' said Jim Julow, Dodge general manager, at the Automotive News World Congress. The minivan owners will get the run of Universal's new Islands of Adventure theme park for three days, June 17-19.
Families will be offered a special package rate that will include three days at a new Universal theme park called Islands of Adventure, preferred early access to the park, special seating at shows and an owners-only party and fireworks show.
Building relationships with customers is not an easy task, so he has drawn up five laws of marketing:
1. Every program has to have a point. Special events are a way to thank Dodge owners for their business. 'We're subtly reinforcing their decision to buy our products,' Julow said.
2. Just because a marketing opportunity is possible, that does not mean it is right. It is easy to go astray, and sports events seem to be the biggest offenders, he said.
'Once upon a time there was an annual football game called the Sugar Bowl, but now it's the Nokia Sugar Bowl,' Julow said. When looking for event opportunities, look for a logical fit for your brand, he said. Dodge sponsors activities that reflect the interests of the customers and help support the Dodge brand image of bold, powerful and capable, Julow said.
3. Presence is not the same as being there. When Dodge sponsors professional rodeo, for instance, it provides on-site marketing and product specialists, he said. Dodge dealers are there, too.
4. Know when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em. While some marketing programs are timeless, some just never catch on, he said. For example, the launch campaign for the redesigned Intrepid emphasized the 'whiz-bang technology' involved in engineering the sedan, he said.
'Unfortunately, it was pretty much a nonstarter with our customers, and especially with our dealers,' Julow said. The key is to take corrective action immediately, he said.
5. Walk a mile in your customers' shoes. For example, customers get angry with piles of computer-generated solicitation letters.
Try no-pressure approaches, like the DaimlerChrysler exhibit in the Mall of America in Minneapolis. It is an image-building presence, he said, with no pressure, only information and assistance.