Ford's website is designed to promote the company as well as its products. They do this because it's important to promote the brand and company, not just the products. They can build a stronger following from consumers who enjoy their vehicles when they promote all aspects of their company and not solely promote their vehicles. The first things that grab your attention on the homepage are their large “View Offers” and “All Vehicles” pages as you scroll down. They are firstly promoting their products, until you scroll down a bit further and see an excellent 1 minute video briefly explaining what the Ford Motor Company is all about. Although they promote both the company and their products on their website, it's easy to say that they are more focused on promoting their product and services when looking at their home page. The four major tabs on their homepage are “Vehicles”, “Shop”, “Finance”, and “Owner”. One can easily tell that that these tabs are focused around putting the product and services in front of the consumer especially when looking at their sub tabs. The “Vehicles” tab shows what you think it would show, their entire range of vehicles and their prices. The “Shop” tab lets you research and compare current vehicles or determine prices, payments and locations of those vehicles. The “Finance” tab gives you tools and resources, helps you figure out finances and credit and lets you access your account. Lastly, the “Owner” tab leads you to a miscellaneous group of things you might need as an owner of a Ford Motor Company vehicle. These four tabs further explain that while Ford Motor Company promotes both the company and products/services, they are more heavily focused on putting their vehicles and services out in front of the consumer on their website.
Ford Motor Company's product lines include cars, SUV's, crossovers, trucks, vans, hybrids, electric vehicles, performance and commercial vehicles. In addition to the vehicle product lines, ford also product lines that include financial services, credit services, maintenance services, auto parts and accessories. Some product items in those lines would be the Ford Mustang, Ford Focus, Ford Explorer, Ford F150, Ford Raptor, Ford Transit Bus, Ford Fleet School Bus, Ford N Series Tractors etc. Each of these types of vehicles can be further classified by their model, color, accessories, add-ons, engine size, features. All of these product items and lines make up Ford Motor Company's entire product mix. Their product mix shows just how diverse Ford Motor Company actually is as a car brand and manufacturer.
Comparing Ford's Products
Ford Motor Company has many different types of vehicles and are different in many types of ways. To compare the differences, we will be looking at the Ford Explorer versus the Ford Taurus. The Ford Motor Company's Explorer is in the growth stage because it is part of the rise in SUV sales across many car makers. It is also the preferred vehicle for many police departments across the country. It wouldn't be in the maturity stage because I don't believe that is about to decline anytime soon you see more and more Ford Explorers on the road everyday. However the Ford Taurus has been on the decline stage as sales have been declining which has resulted in Ford planning to discontinue the line of Ford Tauruses.
According to Hitesh Bhasin from Marketing91.com, “Ford uses the different channel of distributions such as authorised dealerships/service centres, DSA (direct selling agents), resellers, and the e-commerce sites.” Through all of these channels they are able to reach roughly any consumer across the globe that would be interested in purchasing one of their vehicles. From an article on ‘How Auto Transport Works', Mike Magda briefly explains the process of Ford Motor Company's product distribution by saying, “Consider the organizational demands of Ford Motor Co. in North America. Ford has 13 full production plants that produce 2.5 million vehicles. These cars, trucks and SUVs must be delivered to 4,000 dealers. These are not random deliveries, like a load of paper towels dropped off at a supermarket: Dealers order specific vehicles from each production plant, and the correct vehicles must be properly routed through multiple channels for a timely and damage-free delivery”. This is the simplest explanation of the channel distribution that Ford utilizes in order to get their vehicles in front of consumers. The dealerships do the most for Ford as they work to sell a large portion of their vehicles directly to consumers who go there looking to purchase a vehicle. DSAs (direct selling agents) or car salesmen also play a large part in selling many of Ford's vehicles as they contact people via phone who have expressed interest in purchasing a new vehicle at their dealership. These people have gained relatively bad reputations compared to other occupations as they consistently contact and push people into buying vehicles. Although this is true in many cases, it is very effective and car dealerships would not be doing it if didn't work.
Ford is well known for manufacturing high quality automobiles while also providing a wide array of automobiles that fit into almost any target market one can think of. However, producing high quality products is just one part of achieving the sales goals that Ford wants to reach each year. There are many other factors that go into the sales numbers of a company; and those factors are what make up the promotional mix. The promotional mix primarily consists of five elements: advertising, public relations, sales promotion, direct marketing, and personal selling. One of the top selling vehicles Ford manufactures is the F150 pickup line that they offer. After reviewing the promotional mix for this product, it is easy to see why this line of pickup is a popular one. Ford did an exceptional job of recognizing their target market for this particular vehicle and then developing a plan to promote their product to that target market in the best and most efficient way possible. After determining that the target market for the F150 pickup consisted of mostly middle-aged males, Ford came up with an advertising plan “tailored to reach truck customers where they spend much more time than the average consumer – watching sports on television(Ford Media Center, 2014)”. Hence the reason Ford launched their new F150 marketing campaign during the first ever NCAA division 1 college football playoffs. They aired a commercial during the first game showcasing the new F150 and all of its new features along with sponsoring online episodes of a highly popular sports show called “Sports Science with John Brenkus”. This was a superb marketing scenario that fit perfectly for the audience that Ford was trying to reach with their F150's. The first ever college football playoff was and still is an event every year that is guaranteed to have a monstrous TV viewing audience, especially amongst middle-aged men, the same people who are the most likely to buy pickups. Although the College Football Playoff is a huge event, it is only an event that happens once a year. Most people, especially those who aren't actively looking for a new vehicle at the time of viewing, are going to forget shortly after the advertisement. That is where the sponsorship with Sports Science comes in. This allows those same people who watched the playoff to hear a weekly reminder of the new Ford pickups that are on the market every time they watch an episode of Sports Science. This strategy that Ford used to kick off their marketing campaign of their new and improved F150 was a good way to jump start the promotion and work towards the ultimate goal in product promotion of and communicating with consumers, which is maximizing sales of that certain product.
Advertising, Public Relations, and Sales Promotion
Ford uses strong advertising, public relations, and sales promotion tactics to help itself remain a powerhouse in the automobile industry. As far as advertising goes, Ford has previously shown to go with a unique approach. Instead of focusing their efforts to appeal to the fans and previous/current customers of the company, they do the exact opposite. They have shown in the past of putting effort into also appealing “to those who hate them the most” (Tippins, 2006). For example, a while back Ford released an internet ad that at first looks like it is published by an environmental friendly organization ripping Ford for ruining the environment. The title reads, “With one of the worst fuel efficiency records of any car company, Ford is trying to go green.” However, after clicking the link, the reader is lead to a website that was created by Ford Motors themselves. The site goes on to talk about the both good and bad things that are happening in the company and their plans to fix the problems that they have created (Tippins, 2006). In doing this, Ford uses a peculiar but intelligent strategy to try and shift the opinion of consumers who may not be big time fans of the company. Along with trying to develop positive relationships with the “haters” of the brand through uncommon advertisements such as the one described above, Ford uses many other means to their advantage when trying to develop strong public relations. The biggest of those means being their social media platforms. As cliche as it is, the technology that is available in today's world has made the amount of consumers that a company can reach almost endless, especially with the explosion of social media. The more active and engaging one is on social media(s) leads to more followers, which then can then lead to higher brand recognition and higher sales. Ford has recognized this and taken full advantage of it. With over a million followers on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, Ford has done a phenomenal job of using these social media platforms to strengthen their public relations to a different level.
Personal Selling and Sales Management
Question #1: Hello, my name is (Salesman name). What's your name?
Question #2: If you don't mind me asking, why are you considering buying a new car?
Question #3 : Do you have any specific makes or models that you have in mind?
Question #4: Is there anything about your old vehicle that you would like in your new vehicle?
Question #5: What do you dislike about your old vehicle?
Question #6: Are there any specific features that you would like your new vehicle to possess?
Question #7: What is the main purpose you want your vehicle to serve?
Question #8: Are you going to be the main person driving the vehicle, or are you purchasing for someone else?
Question #9: Are you going to be considering trading in your current vehicle?
Question #10: What type of payment are you considering? Cash or financing the vehicle?
Social Media Marketing
Ford does a really good job with their social media marketing. They use many social media tools including their most used, microblogs and social networking sites. Ford is on all of the major social media sites, such as, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Facebook. All of the accounts have millions of followers, which is a very good sign. That means that they are reaching a large audience, which is one of the main goals of social media marketing. Ford Motor Company also does a great job posting consistently on all of their social media pages, but not too much. Finding this balance is essential, because many people don't want to be constantly bombarded with information from the same account when scrolling through social media pages. Ford Motor Company is leading the automobile industry on social media and are doing it very effectively. They have the largest following, and have the most consistent posts. Another thing they do well is keeping their content interesting for their followers. Ford's posts obviously are a lot about cars, but some of their posts involve more personal things. Recently, they have been interviewing some of their employees and posting the employee's stories on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. By using these personal stories from their employees, it allows the followers to connect to the company on an emotional level. This high level connection often times leads to the creation of a sense of loyalty to the company. Having a balance between these two types of posts really excels their pages, and keeps the followers interested in the posts.
Ford Motor Company has a few different pricing strategies. Because Ford has so many different lines of vehicles, they obviously all have a different price. One of the main strategies that Ford uses to sell their vehicles is the value-based pricing strategy. The textbook states that “setting the price at a level that seems to the customer to be a good price compared to the prices of other options” (Lamb, 2019) This is very true to Ford. They have many vehicles that are affordable that attract a large portion of their customers. It is smart of Ford Motor Company to use this strategy because they use this in consideration of other automobile companies. Having less expensive options allows them to compete with companies that also do, and the demand for affordable vehicles is very high. Ford Motor Company applies this strategy to almost all of their vehicles. They also use the price lining strategy which “is the practice of offering a product line with several items at specific price points” (Lamb, 2019) Ford Motor Company has their most well known line of vehicles, Ford, and have a luxury brand of vehicles, Lincoln. Having two lines of vehicles allows customers to choose the vehicle that best suits their lifestyle. The Lincoln line of vehicles attract a lot of customers who relate high price with high quality. By offering the luxury line, it allows for larger profit margin for the company. By using price lining it gives the customers more pricing options and allows for the dealerships to keep less inventory on hand. It is a win-win situation for both the customer and company by using this strategy.
Being that Ford Motor Company sells automobiles, it is often a very big financial decision to purchase their products. Using pricing tactics like discounts, flexible prices and odd-even pricing allows for customers to more readily make this big financial decision. Ford uses the discount pricing tactic most often because it appeals to a vast majority of people. The most used discounts by Ford Motor Company are cash discounts, seasonal discounts, and zero percent financing. Cash discounts is a “price reduction offered to a consumer in return for prompt payment of a bill” (Lamb, 2019). As said before, the products Ford sells are often a large financial decision which means they are costly. When a consumer pays promptly, it ensures that seller will get the money right away and won't have to worry about bad debt. Being paid promptly is in the best interest for the seller and they ideally would like it to happen consistently. To incentivise the consumer to pay promptly, they give a cash discount. Another common discount Ford uses are seasonal discounts, which are price reductions for buying merchandise that is out of season. Every year there is a whole a new model releasing for every vehicle in stock. Therefore, the dealership does not want old inventory. To avoid keeping this old inventory in stock, Ford offers seasonal discounts. Zero percent financing is the last of the three discount tactics most often used. This allows customers to borrow money to borrow money to pay for their vehicles with no interest charge. Many people take advantage of this promotion because in the end they will be saving a lot of money by not having to pay interest on their loan. The next type of pricing tactic that Ford uses is flexible pricing. “Flexible pricing means that different customers pay different prices for essentially the same merchandise bought in equal quantities” (Lamb, 2019). Ford uses this to adjust its pricing to other competitors. If a customer comes in with a lower price from a competitor, often times the Ford dealer will lower their price to compete with the other dealerships. Odd-even pricing is the last of the three tactics that Ford often uses. Odd-even pricing is when the price is set at an odd number instead of an even. By using this tactic it gives the customer the illusion that it cheaper than it actually is. Many of these pricing tactics don't cost much for Ford and they create a great return.
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