I work in the automotive world, which has been a crazy place to be in the past several years. Many companies were greatly affected by the down turn in the economy and yet many of the companies have already bounced back or are still in the process. Meanwhile, the world of social media has been evolving and many of these Automotive companies have utilized this way of marketing to help them bounce back from hard times. Although the way social media and online marketing is used by the automotive industry can vary greatly depending on if the organization is a Tier 1, Tier 2 or Tier 3, or a dealership, the one thing that resounds synonymously throughout a lot of successful automotive companies is Lean Manufacturing and focus on continuous improvement.
Lean Manufacturing is a popular production practice that focuses on maximizing customer value while minimizing waste, or in simpler terms it means creating more value for customers with fewer resources. And thus continuous improvement is a critical element of Lean Manufacturing. These companies need to make sure that no matter how they are utilizing the valuable tools that social media and online marketing have to offer, that they continue to use this mind set when developing their plans to implement or change their online plans. This starts with developing a plan.
First Step is Developing a Plan
The first step to implementing any online or social media goals is to know and understand where the company currently stands in the online and social media world. Diagnostics audits of online and social media interactivity can be performed to help make this initial assessment. There are a variety of tools like grader.com, Microsoft Expression Web 4, and IIS Analyzer that can be used for these diagnostic tests and the resulting reports must be evaluated prior to setting any future goals. Using the results, the marketing managers can make better decisions about what the right goals are for the company’s future online and social network interactivity. These results can also better identify who the current marketing plan is reaching and what steps need to be taken to redirect them to the right audience if necessary.
This first step is critical to any organization trying to implement a social media strategy as it enables the organization to set the most strategic goals possible and ensure they are reaching their target audience. The mindset which creating these goals, if done with a Lean perspective, should be to focus on eliminating wastes and creating value. Goals like “Increase sales” may seem like the obvious choice but goals like this are not specific and make it difficult to find out exactly what social media strategies or decisions are driving those sales and how they can be improved upon. More appropriate goals could be:
- Increase website traffic
- Raise awareness of a product or service
- Increase search engine rankings
- Reach a specific new audience
- Establish credibility
These meaningful goals can help pave the way to the next appropriate steps. For instance, if the goal is to increase website traffic, Google Analytics or a similar tool could be used to determine the number of visitors to the site, how the visitor got there, and other useful information. These types of goals would contribute to the higher level goal of increasing sales.
While setting up these goals is very important, the more important part is to continue to review and revise these goals in the future. Many companies go through the labor intensive process of setting up process improvement initiatives like taking the plunge into online marketing, but too often companies fail at sustaining any improvements that they ‘ve made, simply because they have not revisited their goals to make sure they are still accurate.
I have always been a proponent of the ways of Lean manufacturing and beating down that “we’ve always done it this way” mentality to help improve or eliminate wasteful processes and think this translates wonderfully into the new way of marketing and the steps necessary to implement it successfully in any automotive business.
(All accolades and credits to Danusia Coumans who wrote this tremendous blog post!)
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