They’re no longer boxy, and they’re no longer good (at selling themselves)
A few months ago, I announced I’d be mapping out Volvo’s CRM strategy as a prospective customer. Which was wildly optimistic, considering I was about to become a Dad for the first time!
The idea was sparked by a visit to The Baby Show with Lu, where we had a look around the new XC60 that Volvo had on show (see what you’ve done there Volvo, very good..). Lucy was about 6 months pregnant and we were thinking about changing our car to accomodate the imminent arrival. So, having been impressed with the product, I gave my details, expressed an interest in a test drive and looked forward to hearing from them soon.
Got a text within minutes saying thanks for the interest and that a brochure would soon be heading my way. And sure enough, within a week, I had a rather dull & predictable brochure:
Yeah, it spoke about safety and clever features blah blah, but it didn’t do anything particularly engaging. Nothing spoke of passion to me. Nothing spoke to me about why Volvo had to make this car, because its customers had been calling out for them to make it etc.
Don’t get me wrong, i know it’s a “Me Too” model in a rather crowded market (BMW, Ford, VW, Vauxhall, Toyota, Honda, Nissan all have small SUVs – and they’re the ones i thought of immediately without giving it any decent thought). But that’s the point. If it’s a Me Too, what makes it different? What makes it better?
A couple of days later i got a phone call from a Volvo call centre. Couldn’t talk, as I was on the other line, so I asked them to call me back. They never did. Nice.
Finally, a month later, I receive a random mailing about their new ‘Drive’ eco range of engines/models. Nothing about the XC60 specifically. Just a total punt. No reference to my previous interest. Oh, and it was a dire, dire piece of DM:
And that was that. Nothing since.
That, for me, is pathetic. Utterly hopeless marketing communications. The one thing that was good was the initial timings of receiving stuff. But the quality was soooo utterly drab, dull and uninspiring. Buying a car is a big purchase. An emotional purchase. A status purchase. None of this came across in Volvo’s approach. And that’s probably why they’re continuing to struggle to sell cars. So I didn’t think about Volvo again for a while.
But then, on Monday, I received the new Howies Autumn Catalogue, which contained the following:
(Check out pages 42/3 of the catalogue to see the full story, but in essence it explains how a Volvo engineer invented the 3-point safety belt. And made it available to the whole motoring industry.)
It’s the best advert for Volvo that I’ve read in ages. It speaks to me about everything that Volvo stands for. It’s inspiring. And it made me think differently about them. Which none of Volvo’s own marketing or advertising does at the moment.
Sure, everyone can talk about 5-star NCAP safety ratings for their cars. But only one company invented the single most important safety feature in a car.
Maybe I’m wrong, but it sure as hell feels like they’re missing a real opportunity doesn’t it?
Filed under: Cars, CRM, direct, marketing, storytelling | 19 Comments
Tags: communications, CRM, marketing, volvo