South Africa had a challenging economic year, but despite our downgrade to junk status, Suzuki's market share grew. Here’s how they did it…
The South African automotive industry decline has led to seven leading European and USA based automotive brands exiting the market since 2008.
Since November 2016, Suzuki Auto South Africa bucked the trend in the declining market of new car sales. While other established marques lost market share and closed dealerships, Suzuki has become a multiple award winner, opened new dealerships and, most importantly, increased market share month on month for the period.
In early 2016, Suzuki had less than 1% of the market share, selling, on average, 450 cars a month. Their advertising and marketing budget was focused on traditional media, events and activations, and they merely dabbled with digital media.
Although Suzuki had social media channels, these weren’t a priority, and their campaigns weren’t integrated with their other marketing efforts. Everything happened in isolation, and the sales and dealer bodies were operating in silos. Because of this, campaigns didn’t reach their full potential, and without dealer buy-in, Head Office was often treated like an enemy instead of an ally.
Added to this, their marketing budget was significantly lower than their benchmark competitors and was cut by a further 38% for 2016/17 financial year.
The effect of all of this was that despite massive effort from all parties, the campaigns and sales lacked cohesiveness.
As Head of Marketing and Product Planning for Suzuki, Charl Grobler, took charge of the situation and approached the business with a new perspective.
The first step was to set sales goals, per model, for the year, and to share the goals as well as the product roadmap with the agency and sales teams to synchronise marketing and sales efforts.
The second step was to document these goals and communicate them to the dealer body.
This seems simple, but it was the first step towards producing a truly integrated strategy which worked towards clearly articulated goals that work for every element of Suzuki - from external agency, to head office, to dealer body.
So, what changed? Everything.
In 2016/ 17, Suzuki used their marketing budget to:
- Align their marketing messages across their digital and offline platforms
- Refresh their digital presence with a new website, a new blog, and a social strategy.
- Get buy-in from the dealerships.
- Track and optimise their marketing efforts using Inbound Marketing and integrated software to get in-depth data on the success of their marketing.
- Respond to the ongoing data collection to optimise, improve and refocus the marketing strategy continually.
- Nurture enthusiasm in customers and encourage potential customers to purchase through content and automation strategies.
- Optimise their social media platforms with a goal to increase engagement.
- Launch the Suzuki “SuperCarry”, “Baleno” and “Ignis.”
We reviewed everything and critically evaluated if this was the best use of the budget, and if it would move us closer to our goals.
To allow us to understand what was working and what wasn’t we needed to dramatically improve our measurement of campaigns and to better understand our customers. For this to be achieved we needed to:
- Better understand the duration of the buying cycle.
- Understand the path to purchase.
- Understand the customers and their goals and pain points
Their biggest shift was to move completely away from TV lead campaigns, and to start doing digitally measured campaigns.
Their key changes in this digital re-haul:
- New website built from the ground up.
- Revised design direction for all campaign elements:
• Point of sale
• Dealer collateral
- Revised media strategy:
• Augmented with sponsorships and traditional media
- Dealer roadshow:
• This direct engagement with the dealers allowed them to fully understand Suzuki’s objectives.
• The Baleno launch was augmented with a mall roadshow which was amplified and tracked digitally.
- Started an immersive inbound marketing strategy that tracked and measured their digital efforts and tied their offline efforts to their digital ones. Their inbound marketing strategy specifically included:
• Defining the Suzuki Buyer Personas for the brand and each model (this is more niche and specific than a target audience) for each persona we mapped out their path to purchase or buyer’s journey.
• Content marketing:
• Blog - publishing two articles a week on a variety of topics, aimed at the Suzuki buyer personas.
• Social media - reporting, linking the social campaigns to website pages and blog articles, having a cohesive strategy across platforms.
• Lead generation:
• The content attracted the audience by offering them useful and helpful information specifically focused on their pain points.
• Lead nurturing:
• Once we knew who they were and what they wanted we could offer them more of what they were after.
• Digital metrics and measurement to manage all campaign elements:
• Through the content and lead tracking we gained insights into what people were consuming, what they liked and disliked. We continually refine the content based on these insights.
So far, this year, Suzuki has won the following prestigious awards:
- Brand of the Year | Cars.co.za
- Compact car of the Year | Cars.co.za
- Family car of the Year | Cars.co.za
- Best Budget Car | CAR Magazine Top 12 Best Buys Awards
- Brand to watch | CAR Magazine Top 12 Best Buys Awards
- HubSpot Impact Award | International Grand Prize - Inbound Growth Story
- New Gen Award | Gold - Best Marketing Automation Campaign
- New Gen Award | Gold - Best Revenue Marketing Campaign/Event
By fully integrating our goals and efforts across the board; in the dealerships, head office, and the agency; we showed remarkable results and bucked the industry trends.
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Here's a link to the award winning Suzuki case study