The 2014 Chief Marketing Officer Council Report suggested that social media and WOM had a rising impact of purchasing cars – up to 38% of consumers were to consult these communication channels before buying a car.
Mercedes Benz is no exception to this trend, and here’s how they successfully employed the WOM model to continue maintaining their mantle as one of the world’s most valuable brands.
As a luxury carmaker, the entry point to the Mercedes consumption market is relatively higher than other cars.
Its staying power in the automotive market is highly reliant on its WOM model, and how it can leverage upon its customers to spread the good word for them.
Mercedes Benz launched a segment on their online platforms called Owner Stories, presenting videos of their customers and their cars, in a highly successful way of connecting with their existing customers and new customers.
These videos were a way to touch base with customers, as well as effective WOM for people interested in the product.
“The blending of personal involvement with one’s brand brings both emotion and credibility together, adding a personal touch that fully envelops its readers. By reaching out to fans for their own stories, the loyalty only grows deeper as it brings a heart to the brand and can portray a global entity with a warmer and more intimate face to the public.” – Deb Pollack, LA-based luxury automotive marketing and public relations expert.
2. Constantly aim to refine your user experience by providing services beyond just selling your product
Developed for a fuss-free and convenient way to settle all car-related issues like billing, paperwork, service appointments with the Mercedes dealer, the Mercedes Me brings both conveniences, as well as a luxurious, enhanced experience for the Mercedes owner.
This refinement to the user experience is a fresh change to the traditional automotive industry, incorporating a remote control system through the app. In fact, car owners can even pre-set the temperature of the car, or to set birthday reminders through the app!
3. Zoom in on a particular target audience, then specialize your WOM model to fit that audience
Eager to break into the millennial market, Mercedes launched Take The Wheel, a part-photography competition, part skilfull WOM marketing campaign.
5 Instagram-famous photographers with international followings were each given a Mercedes Benz CLA for a tour around USA. They competed for the best-documented drive and the most likes in order for a chance to win the car.
Documented only through Instagram, the campaign’s target audience were millennials, for whom the entry-level CLA was targeted at.
It was wildly successful in creating a massive fan following for Mercedes, leveraging on the fan base of the photographers, Mercedes fans, and new people who were drawn by the hype, creating volumes of impressions throughout.
In fact, Mercedes’ instagram follower count grew from 8617 to 24 000 followers just through the campaign alone!
“The stats on Instagram are just incredible… When you multiply the number of photos of the campaign by the photographers’ followers, it works out to a potential 90 million impressions. Plus, the audience gets the chance to like or comment, unlike with a traditional ad. So far, the campaign has garnered 1.5 million likes.” – Mark Aikman, Social Media Lead at Mercedes Benz USA
4. Get your own customers to advocate for the safety and quality of your products
“We literally have hundreds and hundreds of these experiences sent to us by our customers and we all agreed that we had to find a way to bring these experiences to life and share the stories of survival and perspective. We wanted the stories to be powerful but also authentic and, most of all, we wanted them to share the perspective that these people walked away with.” – Steve Cannon, vice president of marketing, Mercedes Benz USA
Mercedes’ often received gratitude from customers for manufacturing a car that saved its passengers in risky situations.
Focusing on the experience of the customer and the human emotion of these messages, the Mercedes’ Impact campaign proved to its loyal and growing fan base that it was more than about cars and metal. It created millions of WOM impressions by showing that they were human too.
The Impact campaign was a way to share Mercedes Benz’s stories of survival. Each story featured Mercedes owners, families, and circumstances that challenged human resilience and perspective. Other owners were invited to share similar experiences, creating connections and impressions for a worthwhile cause.
So just a quick summary…
- Make sure that customers are always the focus
- Aim to refine your user experience via creative means (ie: Apps)
- Launch campaigns that will appeal directly to your new audience by utilising social media
- Get your customers to advocate for you