Two-way conversation with critics is best brand defence

Brands have to stop using tactical corporate methods to silence their customers. Toyota’s president and chief operating officer Jim Lentz sits in front of an autocue, reading a scripted apology for the recall of 1.8 million vehicles because of faulty pedals. The set-up seems desperate and an attempt to save the brand from global humiliation.

Toyota
Toyota: Recall headache

The response probably did not need to come from their COO. Instead, all you have to do is look at some of the comments users are saying about this issue on the web.

The passion that you get from users representing real customers expressing themselves, has more value than any corporate apology video. When Toyota posted its apology video, it opened the floodgates for users to bad-mouth the brand on a global scale, which is what happened.

Allow users to defend the brand themselves, and allow conversation to happen naturally without forcing it. Brands will learn more about what users think when they are given the platform to be outspoken. Instead of posting the video on a platform where millions of users will see it, they should have identified the key forums/ communities where Toyota owners were already talking about the issue, and speak with them directly.

The sooner brands learn how to communicate with their audience in a more effective way, the sooner they will become more trusted and respected brands.

Adam Field, head of social media, Media Contacts

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They think of it only in simplistic terms/ communications and ad campaigns. They know growth drives shareholder value, but they more naturally default to the primary drivers of their discipline – cutting costs and executing M&A deals – as that’s where quick short-term impact can be felt.

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