Find Out What Customers and Prospects Really Want!
By Lois K. Geller
Years ago, when I was working at Vickers & Benson Direct in Toronto, Ken Harrigan, then chairman of Ford of Canada, called about a problem the company was having getting women buyers into Ford dealerships.
Its latest attempt was to offer a lovely cut-glass dish just for those shoppers who stopped by. It got a great response. The women would double-park in front of the dealership, dash in, hand over their response cards, get the dish and dash out.
We did some research and decided the best way to woo female prospects was to begin a dialogue with them and continue talking until they were ready to buy (and after … the dialogue was forever). And then we'd give them a relevant incentive for coming to a dealership.
How did we discern what they wanted and when they'd be ready to buy? We asked them.
We mailed surveys to hundreds of thousands of women, coast to coast and in two languages, merci beaucoup. We asked the women many questions that had nothing to do with buying a car. Among them were these keys: what kind of car they were currently driving, what they were looking for in a new car, and when they intended to buy it.
We enclosed a letter from Harrigan, telling them how interested he was in their response. As a gift for completing the survey, they'd get a great book called "Car and Light Truck Buying Made Easier."
When the surveys came back, we discovered that about 30 percent of the women who received our survey took the time to complete and mail it in. The campaign was successful as an information-gathering mission, and it started the relationship-building process.
We followed up with a regular newsletter, and after a while, women started sending us pictures of their families, cars, vacation pictures, even their husbands (in their old Chevrolets). It was great.