What happened to Holden (2)

I wrote about Holden yesterday. And, my mentor was kind enough to send his thoughts to me. We like to discuss and share ideas. Below is his input.

There were other reasons Holden was shut down.
1. It was unprofitable and when the Australian government finally stopped bailing it out, GM couldn’t continue. Shutting the plant was just step 1.
2 Holden was an Australian only brand. GM cars are branded internationally. Chevrolet is sold in many countries. I know in the UK it is called Vauxhall, but there are 65million people there versus 26 million in Australia. 
3. GM didn’t move with the times. SUVs captured a large slice of the market and GM didn’t launch one in Australia.
4. Asian manufactured cars have a bigger market share here and even bigger in New Zealand.
5. Government taxes are ridiculously high making cars much more expensive in Australia.
6. The much loved Ute, only existed in Australia. When the plant shut down, Aussies lost the car they loved the most and the market moved to light trucks like the Hilux. The GM version couldn’t compete.

So in summary, importing right hand drive cars and rebranding just for Australia didn’t make sense. Ford might still be okay as the branding is the same internationally.


What happened to the Holden brand?

I just saw the news about Holden (a car brand in Australia) will be retired by the end of 2020. When I came to Australia many years ago, I wish I could buy one of its cars. Holden was a huge brand 10+ years ago in Australia.

Then, in 2017, its plants in South Australia was shut down. I thought that was the starting point when Australians lost their love to this brand. While it’s a part of the US’s General Motor car company, having a local plant kind of made a relationship with the local people strong.

I am not a car expert but from reading a few articles, I feel like the following are the reasons why Holden faded.

  • Holden had a super ambitious growth plan from its legendary CEO. He planned to go internationally. His successors weren’t on the same page to make it work.
  • The Holden brand was not well-known when compared to Mercedes or even Hyundai. Holden management used these 2 brands (or makes) as a case to justify their expansion.
  • There were some tensions between the Holden management team in Australia and the GM team in the US.
  • Global financial crisis hit the US and GM had to go through a bailout process.
  • GM didn’t get what the Holden brand was about.
  • Customer’s tastes changed. They turned to more energy saving options.

I remember I stood at a Holden dealer looking at a second hand Holden Cruise. I really liked that car and wanted to buy this model. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the money to get one.


New trend in SEO

There have been a lot of changes in the world of Google search. Unfortunately most of the changes that Google made is to make things simpler for users. It means we, marketers, have to work harder and smarter.

One of the interesting trend in 2020 is “Zero-Cllick Searches”. It means most of the searches don’t end up getting clicked. This is because Google shows the answer to a search query directly on the SERP (search engine results page). It’s easier for users that they could get a quick snapshot of their answers without having to click to another (or other) websites. It of course makes marketers’ job more challenging.

Google plans to roll this out more and more to the search results.


Search and social

Do you know the differences between marketing with search and social? We all have to do both but understanding the differences would help manage your expectation. There is actually one major difference, only one.

I recently started using a Travel ad program from Expedia. I also promoted the same Ad through Facebook ad. The immediate result was different. The Travel ad generated far better results than the Facebook ad. There could be many explanations but the major difference is “customer’s intention”.

In search (i.e. Travel ad), customers have an ‘intention’ to do something. They were looking for a place to holiday. They did the search to fulfil their intentions. In social, customers don’t normally have intention or efforts to take purchasing action. They might like your photos or your offers. But, they are likely to save those offers for later days.

Social is more suitable for building up brands, spreading awareness, or introducing your product. As I said above, we need both. But, knowing the difference would help you manage your budget and your expectation.


When your fixed cost is high

It means you have inefficiency. It is as simple as that. There are only 3 options in this ‘high fixed cost’ situation.

  1. You improve your efficiency or increase your productivity. Where do those costs come from – too many staff, very high rental fee, etc? You may need to make a hard decision if necessary.
  2. You pass your cost to customers. You can only choose this option if you are in monopoly or oligopoly market i.e. no or only a few competitors in the market, which is very unlikely.
  3. You increase quantity sales. Assuming that your variable cost is not as high as your fixed cost, you should be ok.

In the end, if your fixed cost is high, option 1 is the most sustainable option.


Customers VS Consumers (continue)

I talked about the differences between customers and consumers the other day. My long term mentor saw the post and share his input with me. As it’s Friday, I would then like to share his thoughts with everyone. He is an expert in many things and retail marketing is one of them.

“In multi- national FMCG, Pharma etc, customers are the trade like Coles, Woolis, Target etc. Consumers are the individuals making the purchase decision. And users are the individuals consuming the product. So in your examples, a Toy might be bought in Target. Target is therefore the customer. The consumer is the purchaser (Mom, Dad, Friend, Uncle etc.) and the kid is the user. While companies use other terms, it is usually always the same 3 stage marketing process. Trade Marketing is a big and real department in FMCG. It involved category management, shelf planograms , merchandising and most importantly pricing and promotional pricing implementation. Consumer Marketing is focused on brand developing and creating demand. And in the case of kids as users, driving pester power is a key strategy. “

Great insight! Thank you so much.


Online marketing VS Marketing online

Are they the same? Not really.

Online marketing focuses mostly on tactics. It’s a mix of direct marketing techniques e.g. SEO, SEM, social media advertising, etc. It’s easy to do and it’s easy to measure results. A lot of marketers do it (myself included) to drive short-term performances.

Marketing online, on the other hand, is an act of doing marketing – providing solutions to customers – in an electronic form. It starts with a good strategy – understanding the audience you serve and offering solutions to them. It’s harder. It’s time-consuming.

I get stuck in the ‘online marketing’ world now. It’s very hard to get out.


Customers VS Consumers

You all know the difference between customers and consumers. I thought I do too but it wouldn’t hurt to get into a little detail.

Customers are the people who purchase your product. Consumers are the end users who use or consume your product.

It seems intuitive but who you target marketing efforts to. Not all cases that customers and consumers are the same person. A classic example is toy products where customers are parents and consumers are children.

A little detail could make a lot of difference.


The role of creative designers

There is a creative designer at our company. She is amazing and I have been working with her for more than 10 years. She is super talented. Unfortunately, her skills and times are mostly used to create presentations for our executive team. I personally think it’s a huge opportunity cost. Her skills would be worth a lot of money if we could use those skills to drive marketing activities.

Design is important in marketing (every area really). The one thing I’ve never done is I never ask her (the designer) to share her input in our strategy. She would add different perspectives. A consistent design is a life-blood of how you want your brand to be remembered.

People know what a good design looks like when they see it. A good design is hard to quantify into $$ amounts. But, it does play a crucial role in our marketing efforts. Her skill shouldn’t be used to create presentations.


Steve Jobs talked marketing

“Marketing is about values. It’s a complicated and noisy world, and we’re not going to get a chance to get people to remember much about us. No company is. So we have to be really clear about what we want them to know about us.”

Steve Jobs

And, we should listen.