Ford CMO Jim Farley: Social media leading to ‘massive cost savings’ for Ford

by Mack Collier

How cool is this?  My friend Kaitlyn, who works for Ogilvy, wrangled some time with Ford CMO Jim Farley at the Paris Auto Show to answer a few questions about how the automaker uses social media.  So she reached out to me and a few other people to see if we wanted to ask Jim a question.  Of course I did, and Kaitlyn collected all the questions and then got Jim to answer them on video, and here it is:

Isn’t that awesome? My question to Jim was “Are there any areas that Ford can point to where social media has either lowered business costs, or improved existing processes?”

Here is Jim’s answer: “What happens is, by launching the vehicle early, getting people involved in talking about the new global Focus or the new Fiesta is the US before it goes on sale, we can lower the amount of traditional advertising we do after the vehicle goes on sale.  That’s where the massive cost savings have been.  I’ll give you an example; On the Fiesta Movement, we had higher unaided nameplate awareness than Fit or Yaris, and we spent 10 cents on the dollar, than a traditional tv ad campaign.  So by starting earlier and using social media to spread the word about the new product, we’re really reducing the amount of traditional advertising we have to spend.”

This is something that I think often gets overlooked in the whole ‘how do we tell if social media is working?’ debate.  There’s two ways that social media can ultimately help a business:

1 – Generate sales

2 – Lower business costs

As Jim explains above, social media is lowering the amount of money that Ford has to spend on traditional advertising.  That’s money that can then be spent on product development, customer service, and other areas that improves the quality of the product, as well as customer satisfaction.  Which ultimately…increases sales.  So this is another example of social media working indirectly.

And thanks to Kaitlyn for setting this up, and thanks to Mr. Farley for answering our questions.

This is a classic example of a wonderful blogger outreach.  Kaitlyn reached out to a small group of marketing and social media bloggers, with extremely targeted, exclusive and RELEVANT content (Hey marketing/social media blogger, want to ask Ford’s CMO a question about how Ford uses Social Media?  Ummmm…..YES!!!!).  I’ve been getting pitched by publicists and agencies and bloggers, etc, for 5 years now, and Kaitlyn is by far the best at what she does.  She rarely pitches me, but when she does, it’s always a story or content that’s extremely relevant to my readership, and I jump all over it.

And since the outreach is so well-done, I want to promote it here to share it with you.  Not just for the content itself (amazing takeaways from Jim on how Ford is utilizing social media, wasn’t it?), but I can also share what Kaitlyn did as an example of what a successful blogger outreach looks like.  Kaitlyn had established relationships with everyone she pitched, she knew who they were, and what type of content they were interested in.  That’s why she rocks.

Besides being a great example of blogger outreach done right, what else can your company learn from this?  What Kaitlyn did here is she found a way to get Jim involved in creating social content.  While it would be great if the top executives at a major company like Ford could devote time every day to interacting with customers directly via social media, it’s just not realistic.  So Kaitlyn found a way to spend a few minutes with Jim, and get him to answer some questions via video.  That content can then be placed on Ford’s YouTube Channel, or embedded in a blog post on a company blog, or more easily shared via social networks like Facebook and Twitter.  The point is, Ford’s CMO might not have time today to get on Twitter and answer customer questions directly, but Ford and Kaitlyn found a way to get him involved in a capacity that makes sense for him.

Thanks again to Jim for answering our questions, and Kaitlyn for setting this up.  BTW as an aside, if a company is using social media tools to engage with you, doesn’t that improve your perception of the company, at least on some small level?  Granted, this video alone isn’t going to convince me to buy a Focus today, but as a result of Jim taking the time to answer my question, I now have a slightly better impression of the company, versus their competitors.

UPDATE: Scott Monty left a fabulous comment and I wanted to add it here so everyone could see it: “There’s no need for time to tell – we’ve already demonstrated that it worked for the Fiesta. We had a higher level of awareness for the subcompact than for vehicles we had in the market for 2-3 years; we collected over 125,000 hand-raisers who indicated they wanted to learn more when the car became available; and the conversion of reservations to sales was 10X higher than our traditional conversion rate.

All before we began any major media efforts toward the launch of the Fiesta.”

Previous post:

Next post: