To reach your customers better, rethink everything from the inside out.
The automotive industry is evolving at an unprecedented rate. The lines between the Motor City and Silicon Valley are blurring. Automakers and automotive suppliers are rethinking everything. Odds are, your company has restructured to be more agile and responsive to the market. While your business transforms, make sure everything is in place internally for a digital transformation as well. Here’s how to start.
1. Leave your comfort zone.
I’ve lost a few hairs every time design work has changed. But if I didn’t suck it up and embrace better ways of doing things, I’d still be assembling ads by hand with a waxer machine (look it up, millennials). Companies default to the status quo. Expect pushback. But accept that change is necessary. The industry is transforming with or without you, right under your nose. Just down the road from my office is Mcity, the nation’s center for testing autonomous and connected vehicles. It sits on property (once owned by Henry Ford) where automobiles and B-24 airplanes were assembled. Out with the old, in with the new, I say. You’re better off in the long run.
2. Clear your plate.
“I’ve got too many fires to put out.” “There are too many things on my plate.” “I have no time for more cliches.” As a marketing person, you’re busy enough. Now, you have to ramp up your social media, video, email newsletters, blog, website, and SEO? Then, analyze and optimize your efforts? Yes, you do. Put digital into your daily routine. Eliminate the fat. I bet there’s a few traditional programs and tasks that are unnecessary.
3. Think outside the org chart.
Manufacturing companies have been notoriously resistant to change. There will be some co-workers who will raise a few eyebrows. But you may be surprised how many other rabble-rousers and disruptors are under your roof. Find the key members of your company who can help you bring your efforts to life. Bounce ideas off your sales team. They know your customers better than anyone else does. Have an engineer write a blog post. They know your products more than anyone. Sell your vision and be resourceful.
4. Realize the work will never be done.
Sorry, but it’s true. Remember that enterprise resource planning (ERP) system your plant deployed and didn’t have to think about again for ten years? A digital transformation isn’t like that. It’s a new operating system that automotive OEM supplier brands need to embrace and cultivate moving forward. It may seem overwhelming at first. I recommend starting with the simple, low-hanging fruit and slowly build up your digital arsenal. Identify your audience, build awareness and chart a path that follows the sales funnel. Sharpen your digital tactics. Keep what works. Get rid of what doesn’t. And get ready to roll with the changes.