Blogger Outreach: How Ford is Getting it Right

by Kerry O'Shea Gorgone

Last November, I replied to a tweet from my friend, C.C. Chapman. Given the choice, C.C. asked, would you prefer a free Tesla or a free Mustang. The replies came fast and clearly favored the Tesla, but I’m a muscle car enthusiast, so I replied that I’d take the Mustang.

That same day, I received a direct message from someone working with Ford, inviting me to an Orlando-area event for women bloggers.

Although late November is a busy time, I attended the event, and sat next to Chaun Avery, Orlando Regional Ford Lincoln Sales Operations Manager at Ford Motor Company. We talked about Ford’s new models, some of which we’d get to see later that afternoon. I casually mentioned that I’d be interested in an electric car, but didn’t want the hassle of finding an outlet to plug it in away from home. That’s when Chaun recommended I try the C-Max, which recharges every time you brake.

I drove the car that afternoon, and already hated to give it up.

Chaun offered me an extended test drive, and after a few emails, I was at her office, signing some simple forms to borrow the car in a “blogger loan.” She came out for a test drive, explained the car’s features, and sent me on my way.

That was it. No hard sell. No sell, period. Brilliant!

Here’s what happened. I loved the car. My family loved the car. I tweeted some pictures of the car, including a disclosure that I’d received a free extended test drive.

People asked, enviously, how I’d managed to get an extended test drive. “I asked,” was the simple answer, although of course I happened to meet the right person to ask! I drove the car to work, and let my co-workers see it. I drove Kim Garst to lunch when she happened to be near my office one day, and let her check it out.

When Lynette Young came to Orlando, I contacted Chaun and let her know Lynette was in the market for a hybrid car and would probably love driving the C-Max as much as I did. Lynette and Chaun exchanged some paperwork, and I handed over my new favorite car for a week. (Of course, I got it back afterward.) Lynette loved the car, too. She even tweeted about it.

For marketers keeping track, this entire process has involved very little cost to Ford: one event, social monitoring, targeted outreach and a genuine passion for letting people try the cars.

And the smartest move on Ford’s part? No move at all. Hand over the keys, and let me drive the car.

Well played, Ford, well played.

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