Martin (Marty) Smith
March 31, 2014

Customer Loyalty – 5 Ways SoLoMo Disrupts Loyalty

SoLoMo graphic on Curatti

World Is Upside Down

The world is upside down and SoLoMo is to blame. SoLoMo stands for Social, Local and Mobile and the combination of these power trends is leveling the karma of many traditional brands. This Curatti post examines 5 Ways SoLoMo disrupts customer loyalty for car makers and dealers. Least you think its easy to shoot the car dealer fish firmly trapped in Internet marketing’s new online barrel car dealers aren’t the only upside down business thanks to the mighty Social, Local and Mobile web.

Jan’s SoLoMo Definition
What is SoLoMo, Anyway? From a marketing perspective, SoLoMo can be defined as the practice of targeting mobile consumers based on their current location with content or promotions designed to be shared via social networks. Underpinning SoLoMo is the contextual relevance which springs from the organic interplay between social, local and mobile.


SoLoMo Loyalty Disruption #1:
Changing Times

Every three to five years we need a new car. Most people HATE buying cars. Consumers feel they are unlikely to get a “good deal”. Car dealers sell cars every day. We unlucky few consumers buy them once every three to five years, so clear advantage to the seller.

We hate buying cars so much businesses such as spring up to buy a car FOR US.  When we need a car we create relationships with online information resources INSTEAD of car dealers. No one wants to develop a relationship with a company they feel has or will take advantage.

3 Bird Marketing Logo on Curatti.comThere is real irony here.

My CrowdFunde partner Phil Buckley and I had a fascinating lunch with Chapel Hill car dealer ad agency 3 Birds Marketing last week. Car dealers, we learned, increasingly depend on their service departments. Many dealerships make more money servicing cars than selling them.

The car business is upside down.

The thing consumers dread – buying a car – is quickly becoming the least important aspect of the relationship for the dealer too. By letting the least profitable aspect of the deal drive and possibly ruin relationships car dealers risk all.

What changed?

SoLoMo changed how we experience TIME. My grandfather purchased a new Lincoln Mark IV every three years from the same salesman for thirty years. Those days are gone.

The relationship my grandfather had with his friend we now have in a very different way online. We marshal our information, calm our nerves and buy a car. We hate buying cars because there’s still a lot of, “Let me ask my manager,” manipulation.

Years of “bad faith” die hard.

Changing times mean car dealers need to use the web, email marketing, content marketing and cause marketing to connect with customers before they need to buy a car. The best way to erase the past is create a new present. Relationships built over time with relevance, support and care create trust. Trust creates love. There are so many good cars consumers will buy brands they love from people they love.


SoLoMo Loyalty Disruption #2:
Shifting Buyer Perceptions

Car manufacturers are stuck in a time when everyone loved cars. Rising gasoline prices, the sprawl of contemporary life where cars are more utility than “fun to drive” and the high price of car ownership is changing the way many consumers feel about cars.

Zipcar Logo on Curatti.comMany young consumers are questioning the nature of car ownership itself.
removes the burden of ownership and uses the web to profile, bill and empower rental of “in town” Zipcars. We have Zipcars all around Durham because the web-based business is great for SoLoMo savvy students at Duke and UNC.

Zipcars signal a shift in how we FEEL about car ownership.

Duke and UNC students aren’t the only ones asking if car ownership is necessary. Not a good thing when customers feel like your product is more trouble than its high price is worth.


SoLoMo Loyalty Disruption #3:
Tech Trends

What is rarely more than 10 feet from from you at all times? What is someone walking head down not looking where they are going using? What is someone checking in line at Starbucks? Answer: Smartphone. Mobile is a MONSTER trend.

Mobile The Monster Trend graphic on CurattiMonster trends EAT other trends.

Why are car dealers and car makers so late to the “we love tech” game? Detroit thinks their job is making and selling cars. We know better. Car makers ad dealers EARN the right to sell cars by relationships they are or aren’t creating online like everything else.

For a long time car makers gave big pieces of their online kingdom away. Why does a Venture Capital firm own and not Ford? Ford thinks they are in the sculpted metal business. Once the Internet was invented Ford, like everyone else, is in the customer online loyalty business whether they realize it or not.


SoLoMo Loyalty Disruption #4:
Winning Hearts & Minds

Car makers knew how to pluck heart strings. Seen the Dodge Charger ad where the car is doing figure 8’s in the dirt as a voice says, “We doubt anyone grew up with a picture of a Passat on their wall”?

Social Media: Its About The Converaation Stupid Haiku Deck link Great commercial illustrating dissonance between how car makers think and consumers buy. When everything is high quality, the features and benefits comparable, we buy from those we love. As my Haiku Deck Social Media: It’s The Conversation Stupid points out we can’t love people or brands who don’t know we exist.

Ford has the most Twitter followers (412,000) and they follow the most (32,500 or 8%). Toyota is next in follow ratio with 267,000 Twitter followers and 19,000 follow backs or 7%. Honda has 282,000 followers but only follows 1,000 proving they don’t get social media.

Ford is a “smart pupil” in a mundane social media row.

Find reasons to follow 50% or more of your followers. If you can GIVE love to someone giving love to you and your gift costs NOTHING other than a follow why wouldn’t you follow back? Following back sends positive messages such as:

  • We listen.
  • Our club is INCLUSIVE not EXCLUSIVE.
  • We value our followers.


Google Trends Chart
This Google trends chart shows the value of Ford’s social media work. Ford’s brand is trending above the lackluster “cars” search. The real takeaway for car makers and dealers should be how boring cars are online compared to food’s red line well above all things cars in online search volume :).

Car Search Trends on Curatti


SoLoMo Loyalty Disruption #5:
Give Cars Away

After our 3 Birds lunch Phil and I realized a car is a subscription. You subscribe to insurance, a service department and an oil company. If car dealer profits come from service why is their marketing upside down? Why do car dealers focus so much energy where they make so little money? Why not give cars away FREE in exchange for the real GOLD in them there hills – customer loyalty and DATA.

Free Cars graphic on curatti The past wags car makers’ and dealers’ future. Stop doing that is our advice. Our friends at 3 Birds patiently share the hearts and minds game played on social media and the web in understandable steps and clear To Do lists for car dealers. We wish 3 Birds well since we all have an investment in improving how we buy, maintain and trade cars.

Some day soon lightening will hit car dealers. They will ask the important question – how do we get right side up again? Here’s how:

  • Use web to create relationships with existing and new customers gaining trust a little bit at a time.
  • Create content marketing that reinforces your brand but is open to input and ideas.
  • Value the User Generated Content you receive (treat it like the rare art it is).
  • Use social media as an important fast feedback loop to value fans, deepen relationships, and curate and share content.
  • Invest in winning customer hearts and minds ONLINE.
  • Stop giving away your online CASTLES to middlemen.


Graphic from Preparing Your Brand For SoLoMo on


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Passionate cancer survivor, Internet marketer and former Director of Ecommerce who believes in Margaret Mead's quote, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Glad to be an "Editor of Chaos".

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