"And in their darkest hour, General Motors tuned into the most powerful force of all – their customers. From consumer-generated ads to Bob Lutz's FastLane Blog, General Motors did what Japanese car makers had been doing for years. They really listened. And it was the start of their ultimate turnaround…"
– from "The History of Great American Turnarounds", 2929 Entertainment, aired on Jan. 5, 2025
This is probably old news to some of you, but I find it fascinating that Chevrolet is allowing consumers to create their own ads for the new Tahoe. As you can imagine, some consumers have created some very critical ads. However, I applaud General Motors for finally taking some risk. I'm sure the authors of "The Cluetrain Manifesto" would also applaud this bold move.
There is no doubt in my mind that we will see more of this. This is the start of an open and honest dialogue between General Motors and their customers. Is the dialogue always going to positive? Of course not. It isn't always positive offline, but it is too easy for General Motors to ignore private customer-to-customer conversations. It is a bit different when the conversations are out in the open, staring them in the face.
Sam Decker calls this "customer oxygen". No matter what you call it, it is healthy. I have long believed that a company should design its products with customers. That may sound obvious, but it's not. I created Coremetrics, a successful Web analytics business, based on the premise that companies like Accrue and NetGenesis had failed to do this. And their customers defected quickly.
Then I read Ron Bloom's, the CEO of Podshow, article on "advertising 2.0". Outside of the fact that there are too many 2.0 terms, I agree with Ron that advertising must evolve. We are more cynical than ever about advertising because we are more educated. If you are reading this blog, you are likely far more educated about marketing than most consumers. And you are probably much more likely than most consumers to ignore advertising altogether – skip it with your TIVO, read news online via an RSS feed, get the straight scoop from your friends. The question is – what form of marketing works or is going to work on you? Is it "keeping up with The Joneses" all over again? Only this time, you actually trust "The Joneses" more than you trust any corporation.
Every social networking, blogging, user-generated content, "authentic media", and Web 2.0 company has a common goal in mind: monetize their business model with advertising. There are a ton of venture-capital and public-market dollars chasing this aim. My bet is that several will evolve entirely new forms of advertising. For some, the bets are already paying off. Last I heard, Facebook is making over $10 million per month on advertising and the buzz is that it may be acquired for as much as $2 billion. And you probably heard what Rupert Murdoch's #2 is publically saying about their acquisition of MySpace, "MySpace is the single biggest growth opportunity this company has". Considering the Murdoch empire and the newness of social networking, that is a pretty mind-blowing statement.
In full disclosure, my wife, Debra, just bought a new GM SUV after trading in her Volkswagen SUV, an unfortunate lemon of lemons (it actually pains me to write that after many years of loyalty to Volkswagen). I also bring this up because I found myself genuinely impressed with the 2007 redesign of the model she bought, and I wonder if Bob Lutz and his team are really starting to figure it out by listening. It is the first American car that we have ever bought. Imagine how odd it would be to read that statement if we lived in the 1950's instead of the 2000's.