Other Editorials

Marketing at it's Worst

Jim Dollinger
Saturday, April 11, 2009

Let me tell you what marketing isn't...

It isn't:

-discontinuing LeSabre when it's the best selling, highest quatlity vehicle in the market.

-eliminating venerable nameplates with storied histories and brand equity. (ie, Grand Prix, Monte Carlo, Bonneville, Regal, Century, Eldorado, etc...)

-offering the most confusing incentives imaginable with a "Hurry Before It's Over" push, only to be repeated in a newly confusing fashion beginning days after expiration of previous program.

-the goofiest advertisements in the media, attempting to "sell the deal", blazing images of drastic discounts. All this while the competition promotes image and lifestyle, combined with features and benefits.

-raising prices throughout the year while increasing rebates and "private offers".

-spending millions upon millions advertising vehicles at "launch" when the dealers don't have hardly any units in stock, creating buzz and excitement, floor traffic and having nothing to sell.

-announcing rebates on new models before the cars or even the brochures have arrived.

I could go on for hours detailing the absolute stupidity of GM management. They are, without question, the primary reason for GM's consistent decline. Today's economic environment is not a valid excuse for decades of misguided leadership, and I use that term very loosely.

However, rather than just throwing stones, I am offering detailed, proven, rational, and executable alternatives. Return to Greatness is the answer to our immediate need to sell the cars in our current portfolio. Future product is crucial, but right now we have to play the cards we have.

Not implementing RTG is no different than leaving Michael Jordan on the bench during the last game of the NBA finals. There he sits with no fouls, the most talented player on the planet, but kept from scoring and winning the game. WHY?

Let's look a little further back to a company created by a super salesman Billy Durant, organized by one of business history's greatest managers Alfred Sloan, and run by successful entrepenuers such as Charles Mott, Albert Champion, Charles Nash, and Walter Chrysler. This industrial giant grew due to the leadership of car men like Grant, Curtice, and Delorean.

Since the line of bean counters took control, GM has slid downhill virtually uninterrupted. The problem is that these folks just don't know the automobile business. They do understand debits and credits, accruals and deferrals, derivatives, variable interest entities, off balance sheet accounting, debt floatations, currency exchanges, credit swaps, mergers and aquisitions, PR spins, and legal machinations to cover their illicit activities. However, our prosperity wasn't built on pencil pushing and manipulating financial statements, it grew by moving metal fashioned into personal transportation.

My issue with Wagoner is that the guy knew perfectly well how GM was feeding the investment banks. I also theorize he led GM downward intentionally in order to relocate production overseas and rid the company of union wages and benefits. There is a corrupt class of elites willing to take short term losses (even in the tens of billions) in order to gut pensions, healthcare, and other related costs for the long term.

Now that Golden Goose is nearly dead, it's time to give the reins back to car guys, remove financiers from the pinnacles of power, and Return to Greatness.