Susan Docherty took to the Web yesterday to talk to GM consumers, employees and fans on a range of topics, from GM's vehicle lineup to marketing, and the company's plans to build a relationship with consumers. The newly appointed VP of sales, service and marketing at the automaker said the company is in the process of putting together a new Web-based program focused on communicating with and keeping customers.
"We are in the midst of launching a new customer sales, service and retention tool where we will be able to reach out to our customers via direct mail, email, etc. at least 30 times over the customer ownership lifecycle. The purchase of a vehicle is only the beginning," she said. "We also are working very hard to retain our Pontiac and Saturn customers to ensure we can keep them in the family."
Docherty also promised that GM is revamping its online shopping platform. "Our customers can look forward to shopping, comparing, configuring and pricing out vehicles on the Web. But in terms of the final transaction, servicing and building a relationship we want customers to do that with our Chevrolet, Buick, GMC and Cadillac dealers," she said.
The company's new marketing chief also said that although the company pulled out of the Super Bowl and Oscars last year, she'd like to find a way back in to the former. "On day six of my new job I am not sure if we have any spots lined up for the Super Bowl, but I am going to a meeting later today, where I will find out. I totally agree that this is a great audience to reach -- but it is also a very expensive one. We are always looking for new and creative ways to reach consumers."
The company will also continue to use Fox Sports gridiron analyst and sports announcer Howie Long in its ads for the Chevrolet brand "because it is definitely working," she said, and it will continue the "Professional Grade" positioning for the GMC truck division. "We have a very strong brand in GMC, and we plan to leverage and expand GMC's role as evidenced by the launch of the new GMC Terrain. Both the Terrain and Acadia are bringing women and conquest buyers, which is very exciting for us," she said.
Asked how she will differ from Mark LaNeve, former VP of U.S. sales and marketing, and former CMO Bob Lutz, she suggested that her management style will be more transparent and retail-focused. "My leadership style is transparent, inclusive and with a bias towards listening and moving fast," she said. "In my new role I plan to be spending even more time with customers and dealers because this is where I can make the biggest impact, help strengthen our brands, and earn consideration in the hearts and minds of consumers."