Ford Unveils Interactive Strategy That 'Connects' With Consumers
13 January 1999Ford Unveils Interactive Strategy That 'Connects' With Consumers
DETROIT, Jan. 12 -- Using its new exhibit at the North American International Auto Show as a backdrop, the Ford Motor Company today unveiled "The Connection" -- a broad interactive program designed to meet the transportation needs of consumers. Ford is reaching out to internet consumers in four ways: * Ford.com -- the portal to Ford Motor Company. * Buyer Connection -- enabling customers to shop and configure their vehicles. * Dealer Connection -- facilitating the development of a relationship between customers and local dealers. * Owner Connection -- a means of nurturing the customer relationship. "We believe these new offerings firmly establish the Ford Motor Company as the category leader in developing e-commerce, e-service, and e-communication solutions for its customers," says David Ropes, Ford's director of Corporate Advertising and Integrated Marketing. "1998 marked the coming of age of e- commerce. For the first time, on-line retailing moved to center stage." With that in mind, Ford has created an internet presence to be as customer-focused and customer-friendly as possible. Ford.com has been designed as the virtual extension of the Ford Motor Company. It is the trustmark, introducing the corporation and its six distinct brands, and creating the bond of trust between Ford and its customers. "Ford.com is an interactive site -- where the customer dictates what he or she wants to do or know," Ropes says. "Consumers can find the information they need to suit their purpose -- as an investor, as a shopper, a buyer and an owner." Buyer Connection allows potential customers to build any Ford Motor Company vehicle right on line. Using state-of-the-art configuration technology, a shopper can construct the vehicle of his or her choice in the style, variety and equipment of his choosing. Moreover, the customer can apply for credit and receive approval through Ford Motor Credit Company right on line. Dealer Connection is the central point for Ford, Lincoln and Mercury dealer websites. Using a universal dealer locator, customers can find a participating dealer in their neighborhood. Dealer Connection also allows individual dealers to manage the content of their websites directly. "We like to think of Dealer Connection as Ford, Lincoln and Mercury and their dealer networks teaming up to serve the customer locally," Ropes says. Owner Connection works to establish a comprehensive relationship with customers to improve customer satisfaction. For example, Owner Connection provides service offers through Ford Quality Care to keep vehicles in the best possible shape. Owner Connection also provides the direct link for customers to share feedback with Ford Motor Company. Special offers from Hertz and new product information also are provided through Owner Connection. Ford Motor Company today also announced it has become the sole automotive sponsor of iVillage.com -- the internet's number one site dedicated to providing women with information on health, parenting, investments and purchasing decisions. "In reality, all of our internet efforts represent a starting point from which we will continue to experiment and learn new ways to engage our customers and make our services easy for them to use," Ropes says. "Most importantly, Ford.com will be the online manifestation of our corporate effort to become more customer-driven -- a company that cares about its customers and stakeholders and a company that is actively forging new ways to nurture strong relationships with them."