Berkov, who also served in marketing positions at Peugeot, KPMG, Ford and Toyota, says he's now at a point in the commerce channel where consumers, dealers and marketers either meet or pass like ships in the night. Marketing Daily had a chat with him.
Q: How is this job different from what you were doing at Audi?
A: It's an opportunity for me to use my experience on the manufacturer's side, building consideration. So much of the shopping process has moved online--and that's where the CMO is, as well. I see my position as the nexus of customer and brand plus product and dealer.
Q: What does Edmunds do for marketers?
A:There is intense pressure from CMOs to see return on marketing investment. It's getting more and more difficult as budgets are constrained. At the same time, [automakers] have pressures from parent companies, from Wall Street. At end of day, how much time is the CMO really able to focus on the customer? I think the aspect of the Web that is being spoken about, at least in context of marketing and brand consideration, is metrics.
Q: How is the economy affecting consumer traffic to Edmunds.com?
A:With the economy in difficult times and the car market being stressed, many would think people are not in the market for a vehicle. Yet it's fascinating to see how many more people are turning to sites like ours for information to better make smart decisions. While sales may be decreasing, our numbers have increased. In the luxury car segment last month we had 550,000 unique users, and that's up from 441,000 unique users--and this is only for the luxury car segment. Our total Web traffic is 15 million.
Q: What's your principal role?
A: I'm directly involved with the strategic vision of the company, the sales team, and the tactical operations of developing products. It involves talking to [automakers] about their needs and being able to revise the strategy so their purchases can be tailored to their needs. It's not about selling data, it's about developing marketing programs with [automakers] and with tier two (dealer groups). The companies that may be seen as competitors are selling data. This is developing marketing programs that provide real-time live data and using it to refine marketing programs.
Q: What is an example of that?
A:We have a program called Edmunds Consideration Marketing in which we take brand-consideration marketing strategies from [automaker] clients and then optimize consideration on our site. In terms of data, there are monthly report cards which show the whole purchase funnel starting with consideration and favorable opinion down to purchase intent.
Q: How has digital media changed the paradigm?
A:Traditionally, consideration followed favorable opinion. We see a switch that puts consideration, not favorable opinion, after brand awareness and familiarity. We are more circumspect: Only after I consider a brand or product will I develop a favorable opinion. That means [Edmunds] is all the way up to the top of the funnel, with strategically planned media. Creativity, innovation and relevancy leads to consideration. The ability to stay relevant is the challenge any brand faces.