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Guest opinion: Clever communications to enhance the pathway to purchase

Brendan McCaul - 2015

In recent years, the ways in which manufacturers are keeping in contact with their customers has dramatically changed.

From sharing first-hand video footage of a bought model being built – documenting the wheels being fixed, or the seats being stitched, for example – to the ways they’re communicating the launch of brand new models, consumers are being brought up to speed every step of the way.

Little explored are the wider benefits for brands to be savvy with their approaches. Consumers are provided with a more personal purchase experience, but where do the advantages lie for brands themselves and their representatives?

Here I look at the creative communication pioneers in the world of motoring, share his insights on the long term advantages of keeping in touch with consumers, and share his knowledge on how brands can do more than close the sale with these comms, but build long lasting connections with their customers and sales staff to encourage lifelong brand advocacy.

Over the past few years, the purchase journey of buying a car and customer experience has been taken up a level by a raft of innovative new ways of personalising and keeping in touch with buyers.

It’s a move that many manufacturers and dealerships have made to ensure drivers are up to speed on the progress of a car launch, as it’s being built, its delivery, and making sure they’re a part of the production story.

It’s an effort that owes thanks to the introduction of a whole range of new communication technologies.

Brands are tapping into innovative new ways to ensure their customers are up to speed every step of the way.

We’ve seen a large number of brands going to great lengths to create as much of a buzz as possible to bring a new car to life.

When a new model or concept car is launched to the world, manufacturers are investing a huge amount to ensure consumers know all about it – and for good reason.

This is the crucial starting point of the communications’ strategy.

We saw this most recently with Bentley Motors when it created a special campaign designed to connect with its audience.

By introducing an app, the Bentley ‘Inspirator’, it created a platform for potential drivers to build a personalised car design, based on their passions, lifestyle and personality type – going beyond a standalone unveiling event, and embracing the personalisation perks that digital has to offer.

Not only did this offer a new way to see the model at its early stages, it gave customers the chance to make it their own, allowing the brand to sow the seed of the purchase journey.

However, what happens after a car has launched and been bought?

Communication is just as important at this point, before the keys have been handed over, as it is at the beginning stages – yet historically doesn’t garner the same attention.

We know that the process of buying a car takes time. In fact, on average, drivers now take almost three months of thinking time before they settle on their desired model – from making the decision to paying for it.

And with more and more purchases being made online, brands and manufacturers are being provided with more ways to reach their consumers than ever before.

Gone are the days of relying on a generic blanket email to keep in touch with a database of buyers – manufacturers and dealers now have the tools to be more creative in their approach.

They can create videos, apps, games, artwork – whatever means they feel best to reflect their brand, business and offer in the best light.

From sharing first-hand video footage of a bought model being built – documenting the wheels being fixed, or the seats being fitted – to the ways they’re communicating the launch of brand new models, consumers are being included at every nut, bolt and stitch.

Naturally, there’s a whole raft of advantages for keeping on top of customer communications for manufacturers and dealerships.

By enhancing the customer journey, they’re in better stead to close the sale, and build a stronger brand perception at the same time.

We’re very much in a time of a sharing digital community.

Through social media and the online world, consumers are forever telling each other what they ‘like’, what they’re listening to, and how brands are engaging with them.

Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, especially in the retail space, and when content is easy to share with others, this has a profound affect with consumers.

This is especially true when this content is tailored.

Buyers value personalisation – from being able to decide how their chosen model looks, what accessories and parts it will come with on delivery day, through to the communication they have with the manufacturer and sales representative throughout the process.

Remember, communication is key to ensure a happy customer – this goes for all walks of the retail world – and the opportunities to do this are only getting greater.

We’re in an exciting time for communications, new technologies and means of getting in touch are being introduced all the time, offering new chances to be creative in the ways for brands to present themselves.  

Be clever and creative in your approach – be authentic, understand how best to speak to your customers, personalise your approach to their wants and needs, and be sure to bring them along the journey of their new purchase.

They’ll thank you for it.

> Author: Brendan McCaul (pictured), director – creative services at mcm creative group 

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