Thursday, September 01, 2005

Blogging in the Fast Lane

John Cass has a great interview with a GM customer about the mega-automaker's blog. She has a couple of interesting things to say, especially about how angry she is with the company. She's not just angry because she hasn't received her Pontiac Solstice, but because she hadn't heard from GM even after going through traditional channels, then posting a comment on the blog. The point is, the issue the blog was created, in part, to address (customer service) is falling victim to GM's other problems.

Frankly, GM should be commended for taking the risk and blogging. Its executives opened themselves up to a lot of customers by doing that. Bravo!

But I just don't buy the blog. I'm not opposed to the slick editing and rewriting the posts obviously to through, I just would rather hear more heart-felt posts from Bob Lutz that talk about his love for the automobile. Here is a man with an amazing collection and a deep love for all things auto, a love that goes back through most of his life. That should come across online, but it doesn't. Instead we hear how great the Solstice is, or how a particular month was excellent for the auto behemoth.

How much of a problem is this? Well, GM announced a recall of 804,000 SUVs because of breaking problems. That's no small amount of customers. But nothing showed up on the blog about it. In fact, the last post was roughly a week ago and addressed some of the customer service issues surrounding the Solstice.

But there's one thing lacking from this blog: passion.

Lisa Foltz: I think there are positives about the BLOG. Most impressive on the Solstice Blog was the passion people have for this new product. You can feel the excitement in most of the people. Gives me some reinforcement that the product is a good one.
That's a great point. One of my clients points out that as an entrepreneur, one of her greatest assets is her passion and it's something she holds onto above all else. The three companies she's started over her career have always centered on her one passion.

This is something that can easily come across in a blog as the "voice." On the GM side, the automaker has an opportunity to grab people with that passion, not just for vehicles like the hot Solstice, but for other cars as well. I would love to see them reach out to other people who may love their cars, like the "Tuners," those people who spend 10s of thousands of dollars putting modifications onto their vehicles.

For a long time the cars of choice were Civics, Toyotas, Subaurs and Mitsubishis, since they are small, cheap and easy to modify. This is a big business, so much so that some automakers have started to develop vehicles that could be modified from the showroom, or that specifically cater to this demographic.

But never mind the market itself, these people are wonderful brand ambassadors who sing the praises of their vehicle. I'm sure there is some kid out there somewhere with a modified Grand Am, why isn't GM reaching out to him? Helping him become a star? Why isn't Lutz or one of his other executives going to a Tuner show, finding a tricked out GM vehicle and reporting back on what they found? The Escalade alone has a rabid following, tap into it!

Remember the old Pontiac tag line? "We Build Excitement." They need to remember that.

I love that GM is out there, but I'd like to see them do it right and deliver some good stories. Let us get to know Bob Lutz the car lover, not just Bob Lutz, GM figure head.

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