The Organic Marketer

Chrysler’s Gas Price Lock: Strategy for Other Businesses?

Posted in Innovative Strategies by Jim Tome on May 7, 2008
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Some companies are actively searching for the silver lining in depressing economic news and turning American consumer’s frustrations and doubts into an effective marketing campaign. Can other industries take a page from Chrysler’s game book and brew sweet lemonade from sour lemons?

Beginning today and lasting until June 2nd, Chrysler is promoting their newest incentive — Let’s Refuel America, a rather experimental strategy to get you to purchase one of their new automobiles, SUVs, crossovers or trucks. 

Under this plan, Chrysler guarantees the price you’ll pay for a gallon of gas at $2.99. Anything above that, they pay for it (within limits and terms, of course). The price guarantee covers an annual allotment of gallons based on 12,000 miles divided by the average mileage per gallon of the vehicle purchased. Thus, as the price of gas increases, so do your savings.

According to Jesse Toprak, executive director of industry analysis for, “[any topic] that has gas in it gets attention nowadays from consumers, so it’s a smart strategy.”  Chrysler executives were quoted last week as saying that the nation needs high gas prices to encourage consumers to buy more fuel-efficient vehicles, and Jim Press, Chrysler’s president and vice chairman stated that the program “puts money in your pocket today, and allows our customers to better manage their fuel expenses.”

Some might say that Chrysler is making lemonade from lemons by taking advantage of consumer’s growing aggravation with now skyrocketing gas prices. That oil prices at the wellhead are increasing at an even higher rate than pump prices can only bode ill for the future — should a barrel of oil be priced at $200 within the next two years as some analysts say, that $2.99 per gallon price lock will look very attractive.

So how can other industries take advantage of bad news and work it to their advantage? Chrysler did it by acknowledging that gas prices are rapidly increasing and that there’s nothing anyone can do about it. There tact in subsidizing this cost is a great market ploy and they’ve smartly put some controls in to limit their exposure (in fact, some analysts are saying the cost for this incentive could be lower than their typical rebates and interest rate buy-downs).

The challenge is to find a way to make a new, better tasting lemonade from the lemons the current economic state is giving us. Smart marketers need to embrace bad news and look for that silver lining — who would have thought an automobile manufacturer would use the bad news of increasing gas prices as a positive marketing message?


Smarter Marketers Look for Innovation During a Recession

Posted in Social Marketing by Jim Tome on April 14, 2008
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As of mid-March 2008, fully 75% of all Americans think the U.S. economy is in a recession, according to a national poll by CNN/Opinion Research Corp. And the report, “Communications Industry Forecast & Report 2004” from the research firm, VSS, stated that the last recession in 2001 saw a drop of 9% in overall advertising compared to the previous year, with online advertising spending dropping 27% over two years before recovering. Certainly, these are dark times for advertising.

Or are they?

What can marketers using the Internet, interactive and communications technology expect this time around? Well, you might be inclined to say “more of the same,” but you’d likely be wrong.

In a down market, promoting a brand is a challenge as consumers find it harder to go from “I know that product” to “I’m buying that product” when they’re worried about cash flow, job security and the buying power of their dollar.

But advanced media programs target the decision to buy rather than building brand awareness. Increasing engagement with consumers is much more likely to generate sales than simple brand reinforcement. And it’s social marketing that incorporates community-building and other social behaviors that are cost-effective, much more results-driven and have a measurable impact on consumers early in the purchasing cycle.

Strategies to consider in this dire economic situation include:

Embrace e-mail marketing. If you’re not already communicating via e-mail on a frequent and consistent schedule, now is the time to champion this low-cost and highly customizable media. And e-mail marketing often targets existing customers and prospects familiar with your brand. These market segments are much more likely to listen to your message in a recession than new prospects.

Don’t give up the search game. In fact, since search-based advertising is so targeted and specific, this is one arena where you can expect to find more competition. If your search strategies don’t include negative keyword buys, zip code targeting and A/B testing, it’s time to call in an expert.

Shift to economical alternatives. If your branding message was dependent on high-cost traditional media such as television, radio and display advertising such as newspaper and magazine ads, consider shifting to online video and Flash ads. You’ll get at least the same visual impact — if not more — at a more economical cost and the added benefit of more targeted presentation.

The “killer app” of recession marketing.

We’ve presented three great marketing strategies you may already be familiar with and deploying. But there’s one concept that almost everyone knows about but few know how to implement effectively — social marketing.

Social networks utilize the inherent trust and interaction of groups with common interests. While this method of marketing tends to be counter to the CPM model of banner advertising and search marketing, it also depends on an abundant resource — groups of consumers — rather than one that is more scarce — advertising dollars.

And in a recession, social marketing programs that feature a measurable, results-driven strategy are effective because:

  • they leverage the voice of individual consumers interacting with others who share common interests,
  • they target consumers in the middle of the buying process more effectively and
  • they are cheap to run (in relation to more “new” media and certainly traditional media sources).

So, what’s the next step?

As fate would have it, DC Interactive has a rather unique strategy in development that utilizes many of the ideas presented in this article. In fact, we’ve shown you barely the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Contact us today to learn more about our innovative Advanced Media Marketing Program and never fear recessions — and other scary economic situations — again.