Similarly, the journey of a truck owner from contemplation to purchase isn’t a simple trip either. In today’s challenging economic climate, truck owners are interested in the total cost of truck ownership, not just singular elements like mileage. The solution for Daimler was to create a campaign based on the “Real Cost of Ownership” for one of Daimler’s Freightliner trucks.
“We’re the market share leader for Class 8 trucks, and we wanted to deliver a message to the market that resonated with the customer,” says Mary Aufdemberg, director, product marketing, Daimler Trucks North America. “Our message needed to be aligned to their real needs.”
In the past, trucking company owners often looked at fuel efficiency above all else, says Matt Ferguson, senior partner, Eric Mower & Assoc., which created the campaign with Daimler. But there are other issues as well, such as safety and “uptime,” the amount of time needed for service and repairs.
“If your truck is in the shop, you’re losing money by the hour,” Ferguson notes.
Connectivity is also a key element for freight truck owners today, he says. Owners need to be able to monitor where their trucks are on the road, as well as what is happening with the vehicle, to determine if a truck needs to be taken off the road for servicing.
A big part of Aufdemberg’s job is working with the dealerships to help them reach out to customers and sell the product. Ultimately, Daimler has multiple audiences to communicate with—the trucking industry, owners, drivers, the media and employees.
“We needed a marketing strategy that could live across all of our platforms and audiences,” she says.
A microsite was created, RCO.freightlinertrucks.com, to give fleet owners deeper content, including testimonial videos and access to webinars.
All of these messages needed to be inserted into advertising and promotions in a holistic way, because they all figure into purchasing decisions. The “Real Cost of Ownership” message carries across not only paid marketing efforts but also public relations, media interviews, trade show promotions and social media. Drivers on the road are heavily engaged in social, Ferguson notes, talking to one another and posting pictures of their vehicles. “There’s a camaraderie between truck drivers.”
“Social has grown dramatically for us,” adds Aufdemberg. “Everyone in the trucking industry is mobile, and tablets and smartphones are the way to connect with family and friends on the road.” Daimler maintains active presence on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, as well as a community site, TeamRunSmart.com, where five drivers blog about their experiences on the road and—keeping on message—the real cost of driving and maintaining a truck.
In mobile, Daimler’s most important tool is an app to assist the sales force. It provides a variety of specs, as well as critical information for sales people to share with prospects about truck ownership.
The purchase cycle can vary dramatically when it comes to buying trucks, she notes. Some people come to the vendor already knowing exactly what they want to buy. Big fleets often rotate in new vehicles frequently, say, every three years. Independent owner operators might hold on to their trucks for a decade or more.
What’s the overall ROI of Daimler’s marketing efforts? “Honestly, for us we look at market share and sales,” says Aufdemberg. “Because we’re B2B and much of what we do is reaching out to customers, a lot of our measurement [is based on] driving customers to dealer websites and ultimately driving sales and ownership.”