Rosenfeldt: Fear No Truth, Midas #MRA_AC #MRX

Midas Auto Service Experts at 3606 Durham-Chap...

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Session summary of the Marketing Research Association 2011 annual conference. These are my interpretations of the session. They were written during the session and posted immediately afterwards. Any inaccuracies and silliness are my own.


Fear No Truth
Garry Rosenfeldt, Midas

  • He works for the most despised and hated industry on the planet. :)  He sells something nobody wants – your brakes are seconds away from dying. They are completely undifferentiated from their competitors. George Foreman is not related to his brand. :)  How do they deal with the negative perceptions of their company.
  • They are based in Chicago. Largest auto service provider in the world. 2500 shops around the world. 1 billion in annual sales. Haven’t advertised mufflers in 30 years but that’s all consumers think about.  Midas is categry leader with share of just 4.3%. By far, the leader. It’s a constant battle to steal customers.
  • (Ok, this speaker is funny!)
  • Kids screaming, proctology appointment, dentist appointments and ballet are all as scary as getting your car serviced.
  • We watched videos of real people talking about initial anxiety, fear of being treated like they know nothing, fear of being taken advantage of.
  • “This is a photoshopped picture of our shop so it’s even more boring than what you see.”  :)
  • Where do they want to be? Strong consumer advocate and experts. “an oasis of trust and competence”
  • Fundamental questions: who are we, what do we know, what should we do, how do we stay focused.
  • 7 segments of customers: 4 groups will never ever go to Midas, don’t waste your time there. 4 groups will – relationship seeker, smart shopper, knowledge partner.
  • Relationship seeker – young females, want primary provider, use LOF to test new providers (lube oil filter?)
    16% currently use, 30% would but haven’t, 46% is total opportunity
  • Did focus groups of current and potential customers. First, asked them to record themselves before and after getting their car serviced. Video diary of themself.  Got 46 hours of video. Best, most successful piece of research they’ve ever done.
    At focus group, prepared 100 pieces of stimuli. Made room look like service center. Groups were 3 hours long.
  • “You deserve a break today” moment.  Their aha moment. Customers all identified the ideal experience in identical way. All 14 groups the same. Never happens. Exact same 15 stimuli were selected in each group as the best experience though it boiled down to three. Greeting, explanation, and thank you.
    Customers are skeptical to downright hostile. Risk must be minimized. Some store franchise owners live in a bubble and they need to watch the video. There is a segment of owners who have no idea that customers attitudes are so bad.
  • Advertising a service that everyone does is a great way to attract people to try your business. You’re only out $17 if it goes bad.
  • Women are better than men. CRITICAL. Auto service is directed to men. Women are more discriminating detecting details of shops. Women are a higher class of customer, they remain loyal. Women talk and create effective word of mouth. Experience trumps message and if you don’t deliver you will lose.
  • If you say something on TV, have a service model in place to match it.
  • Need to get buy-in from franchise owners who think Midas Corporate is just wrong. Customers can be very convincing, especially when they’re yours which is why the videos are so powerful. Use the videos as propaganda. Chicago, Boston, Toronto, and LA were chosen because they have more tough, franchise owners who are very anti-corporate.
  • They created ads with women in their ads. “oh look, they have women in their ads. I’ll go to Midas!”  Moms and babies always do the trick. (Remember the burping baby ad, and the lady singing the Midas jingle to her baby.)    These ads were actually a disaster.  They took the research too literally. They didn’t test it with consumers first.
  • What should they do? Raise expectations, new service model to match tone, do not paint the shop pink or add flowers. (HA!)
    Update the retail image, new colours for the shop. (The sample colours all look equally nondifferential to me.)
  • Produced better commercials.  Total Car Care commercial was among the best commercials they’ve done. Help you with their life, alternative to dealer, total customer care, not just a picture of women but a message.  Word of Mouth commercial shows looking for a mechanic via social media. Brand new, we’ll see how it works.
  • Need a cool acronym – GET it right – Greet, explain, thank
    Be where they are – why follow Midas on facebook? Car care seminars, give people tools to talk to friends about brand, partner with organizations.
  • Retention rate has improved substantially, all numbers jumped with improvements.
  • CSi – Customer Satisfaction Initiative. Feedback by phone, web, and email. 30 000 surveys every month. Participation by store is mandatory. Highly correlated with retention.
  • Dashboard “graphs stuff.” (chuckle from the graph fans)
  • The carrot: President’s Award – Top 50 store owners go to convention, works sometimes, motivates people already doing well.
  • The hammer: Punitive measures combined with public humiliation. (Chuckle) Monthly communications to say scores are bad. Internal posting of customer feedback, 5 worst shops have their picture. (Ouch!) This did work really well.
  • Accept your weaknesses. HOW research is presented is just as important as the research itself. Secure a quick win. Take bold dramatic steps. Get rid of people who won’t or can’t go along.
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