To help dealers sell the 2011 Fiesta, Ford Motor Co. is asking them to:
-- Receive sales training from the automaker.
-- Use social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
-- Create a "Fiesta Zone" in showrooms to display the new subcompact.
-- Plan grass-roots marketing events.
Ford expects many Fiesta shoppers to be 20-something urban trendsetters who typically haven't spent time in the company's showrooms.
The dealer marketing program, called the Retail Movement, is voluntary.
Ford dealerships have not sold a vehicle as small as the subcompact Fiesta since the 1997 Ford Aspire. The Fiesta goes on sale next summer.
The program's training tools have minimal costs, says Paul Anderson, Ford's small-vehicle marketing manager.
Some tools can be reused for subsequent vehicle launches.
Ford also will let dealerships earn credits to get back up to 80 percent of their investments if they do such things as train the sales force about the Fiesta or create a special delivery experience for Fiesta buyers.
The goal is to make dealership employees understand what small-car buyers want and create an experience for those buyers that will have them telling friends about their Fiesta purchase.
Ford has started some of the Fiesta training for dealers. It's a striking change from the automaker's typical in-store training, which usually happens 30 to 60 days before a vehicle goes on sale.
Says Anderson: "We've never done it that early."
In addition to the dealership training program, Ford is launching an early reservation system for the Fiesta this week.
In exchange for making an online reservation, customers will get priority delivery, free Sync communications system and a free premium sound system.c