Once upon a time, if you built it, they would come. A great car, by itself, would be a success simply because it was so unusual.
Today, there aren't any really bad cars or trucks. Some are better than others, but not by a lot. The gaps for production have narrowed as well. Not too long ago, quality was owned by the Japanese vehicles. That's not true anymore.
Today, great marketing can be the difference between success and failure.
Even though the gap between the best and the worst in a class may be narrow, the differences among products can be dramatic. Some features are particular to a model or manufacturer. Style and interiors can vary greatly.
There is plenty for a marketer to promote. Advertising and sales promotion give a company lots of opportunities to feature whatever executives think will appeal to the most people in a segment.
It's one reason that the rise of the advertising and marketing executive is on everyone's radar screen.
Today's superstars come from the marketing and sales side rather than from finance or engineering or design.
It's becoming more important to fill marketing positions with the best talent available. There will be a big battle to hire the best and brightest for each brand, with lots of rewards for the winners.
Not that long ago, marketing was far less important than the creation of the product. Product is still king; it's not something that anyone wants to forget.
But great product, great quality, solid distribution and competitive pricing only get you in the game. Marketing is becoming the differentiator.
It still would be tough to market a low-quality vehicle to an increasingly fickle marketplace.
It will be fun watching the emergence of the newest superstars in the automotive lineup, who will be the difference between success and failure for many launches.
And in the process we will see more advertising agencies fall by the wayside as the status quo is no longer acceptable and automakers look for the next silver bullet.
Product is still king, but someone has to market the product.