“We can’t just assume that what worked for us in the past will work in the future.”
One day the CEO of a car manufacturer walked into the corporate offices and announced to the executive team,
“There’s this thing called the Internet. Our future customers are using it. Our competitors are learning that people shop first online before they buy. Most of those people are shopping online before they visit one of their dealerships in person. More and more people, especially the younger generation, are buying cars without ever visiting a dealership.”
There was an audible gasp among the team, and then one of the executives piped up, “Nah, that won’t work. We need everyone to visit our dealerships. That’s how we’ve sold cars in the past. That’s how it’s going to work going forward.”
“We have to be open to change”
“No, we have to be open to change,” replied the CEO. “We can’t just assume that what worked for us in the past will work in the future.”
Another executive offered this, “Why don’t we take a few cameras over to one of our dealerships and stream a live conversation with one of our salespeople as they work with a customer?” Quickly the team agreed that what works for a customer in the dealership probably won’t work for a potential online customer.
The CEO then shared the stats that had been haunting their company for years. “We’re losing millions of customers every year. The seniors still visit our dealership and buy our cars, but their kids are buying fewer cars. And most of their grandkids have never visited a car dealership and many are choosing not to own cars. The industry is referring to this group as the Nones.”
At that point, another executive chimed in with a question, “Are these young adults who don’t visit car dealerships UNdealershipped or DEdealershipped?”
The CEO was growing frustrated with the conversation. “I’ve heard enough. It’s 2020. We can’t continue to do business the same way we’ve always done business and expect to get different results. The seniors who buy cars will eventually pass away. We need to figure out how to engage the next generation or we’re going to be out of the car business.”
With that, the CEO marched out of the corporate offices and drove across the city to one of the manufacturing plants. He walked in and stopped the production line.
“There’s this thing called the Internet.”
Then the CEO explained to the plant workers, “There’s this thing called the Internet. Our future customers are using it. We need to implement a digital marketing strategy to sell cars. So, here’s what we’re going to do. I need to create a new team to be responsible for this strategy. Because you have helped us build cars, I’m confident you can help us build this digital marketing strategy.”
At that point the CEO pulled several workers from the production line and put them on the digital strategy team. Later that day, he stopped by a couple of dealerships and added several salespeople to round out this new digital team. All of these people loved cars. They loved the company. They had years of experience manufacturing and selling cars. None of these people had ever built a digital marketing strategy.
One day the pastor of a church walked into the office and announced to the pastoral team, “There’s this thing called the Internet. The people we’re trying to reach are using it…”