Monday, November 1, 2010

The Marketing is the Product

Toyota is one of the best marketers in generations. They start with reliable products. They distribute well. They trust their American subsidiary to promote the way they see best.

Everyone knows Toyota's quality is the best. But is it?

Perception is reality. Quality surveys are based on REPORTED defects. And Toyota owners report fewer defects. 

I have seen friends purchase Toyotas with major flaws and take them back to the dealer, just to be told that "we can't find a problem." So the new owner responds, "Toyota doesn't make poor quality, so I must have been wrong." Selective perception. The emperor has no clothes. The car whistles loudly over 50 mph, and they turn up the stereo. Nothing negative reported to JD Powers. 

(They also benefit from the fact that Americans are far more forgiving of foreign companies than they are of their American competitors. A family member's infidelity is far more serious than a stranger's indiscretion in another town. That's how we believe.) 

If you want to consistently knock the ball out of the park, year after year, as Toyota has done, you need to be like Toyota. You need to reinforce. Every marketing message from Toyota is a pat on the head. They tell you one thing: you made the right decision in buying a Toyota. After a decade, you believe it, so you buy another Toyota and tell your friends to do the same. Reinforce, reinforce. 

Having a low-cost manufacturing base also helps. So be like Toyota:

1) Gouge suppliers in ways that would make Walmart blush. 
2) Monopolize fleet sales in your home country so that you achieve economies of scale before you've exported one model. 
3) Silence dissenting voices.

Also, remember that it took Toyota decades to achieve mogul-hood. So you also need to stop being American and seeking the get-rich-quick solution. Stop flipping and start building a foundation. Mogul-hood takes a LONG time.   

Control. Cut costs. Reinforce. Set 100-year goals.

No comments: