Thursday, September 21, 2006

Memo To: GM & FORD

There is a saying in sales that says, "No one quits when you're making money." So what's wrong at GM and Ford? Obviously they're not making money. How do you make money? Obviously, by making products that people want. But how do you make products that people want? Obviously, the best practices employed to determine that aren't (best practices.) Have you ever taken a look at something such as GM's 110 question long battery needs segmentation questionnaire? Worthless. There are two other ways to make money. Money makes money, and people make money. These companies need new people.

Halo products Solstice, Fiero, Reatta, Corvette should be the norm - the cost of entry rather than the exception. So keep firing strategic leaders who say there is a market for people who want ugly cars (such as the Chevy Lumina). They don't. Remember that when you think you are great, you are only good - When you think you are good you are merely mediocre. Stop making stupid decisions such as putting the last of the V-8s in the ugliest Chevrolet's ever designed (Caprice)- and then, when they didn't sell, conclude that American's no longer wanted V-8s. No - Americans no longer wanted ugly cars (looked like a big upside down bath tub - self respecting New York cabbies didn't want them either). Abandon trademark styling queues. No one cares what tail lights are on a Cadillac versus a Chevy - except Cadillac and Chevy. Stop advertising that only talks to GM about GM. Kudos to Nissan's Versa for positioning itself as the cure for claustrophobia. At least "that's" talking to consumers. Abandon design quirks. Consumers told us the problem with GM cars is that they all look ten years old before they're even new.

There's nothing wrong with Pontiac's Solstice. It's interior is unremarkable by today's standards. It's only remarkable to GM. It's Jimmy Durante nose is awkwardly unusual and beautiful. Stop positioning your divisions in quadrants. No one wanted an Oldsmobile (the division lost its consumer reason-for-being pinned hopelessly to one of the corporation's brand positioning quadrants like a tail on a donkey. Oldsmobile's death was like watching a worm dry up on hot concrete - you could have picked up and saved the worm by moving it, but you didn't). Stop abandoning platforms. As soon as Mark Hans-Richter leaves the Solstice will go the way of the Fiero and Reatta. I call it the John DeLorean Effect. Big company's hate individual success because it can't be duplicated by others.

So stop confusing motion with progress GM and Ford. Everything you are doing is just window dressing for board members and accountants. Just stick to the facts. Make products someone wants. And remember, no one quits when they're making money.

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