Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Why I will Never Buy a General Motors Product Again

Why I will Never Buy a General Motors Product Again

What does the GM brand mean to me?

My first car was a General Motors product – a red 1966 Biscayne. The two next cars were also GM, a 1969 Pontiac and a 1974 Cutlass Oldsmobile.

A first car is like a first love – always cherished and never forgotten. The Pontiac was especially dependable – a good starter on cold winter days. The Cutlass had swivel bucket seats. It had a cool feel and look.

But I’m not going back to General Motors.

Why? Because GM has infected me with an unforgettable and disgusting image of their brand.

Branding is not what the advertising department thinks they are saying. It’s about the customer experience. And the customer experience is created by every person in your company that connects with your customers and prospects. Every person!

How do you get every person in your company to treat your customers better?

It’s not about paying people more. The highly paid union workers for GM demonstrated that fallacy. They showed their disdain for the company and the customer when disgruntled workers placed pop bottles inside car doors or sabotaged production in other ways. Yes, that was decades ago, but I haven’t forgotten. Those grossly overpaid thugs didn’t understand that the customer was paying their wages and pension.

I experienced this disdain personally while visiting a GM plant in Saginaw, Michigan in the eighties. As a manager of a GM supplier I was exploring the use of a reusable plastic carton for the parts that my company produced for GM.

I felt proud to represent my company in discussions with General Motors.

While exploring possibilities with a GM engineer, I asked him to show me examples that GM was using. The GM engineer led me out to the production line that was assembling engines. We approached a production line worker. The engineer in his naiveté asked the union member for a sample of the plastic trays they used to hold the fuel injection nozzles. The trays were similar in size to a cookie tray. The parts on this line were finely machined nozzles that would become a critical component in the fuel injection system of GM engines.

The line worker looked at the engineer with a sneer. Both the engineer and I assumed that the line worker would hand us an empty plastic tray. Instead, the production line worker grabbed a tray full of finished parts, dumped the parts on the concrete floor and handed the now empty tray to the engineer. Those precision machined parts were now scrap.

The engineer glanced at me, shook his head in exasperation, took the plastic tray and led me away - without saying a word. He didn’t say anything about it to me. This suggests that this destructive behavior was normal or not worth fighting. I followed in complete disbelief having witnessed this overt sabotage.

That day I discovered that our client was operating in a war zone between staff and management. Their customers (and suppliers) were clearly subject to collateral damage from this internal conflict.

Why would you buy a car from a company like that? The people who produce the vehicles were sabotaging the products. The myth about quality was busted. How would GM survive with this internal conflict?

Decades later GM was in the news when they begged for a government bailout.

I wondered:
Who was surprised by this financial failure?
Why did the government bail out this dysfunctional company?

I still love my first Chevy. I don’t plan to buy another, ever.

The Branding Lesson
Branding has very little to do with your marketing and advertising.
Branding is the experience that you create for your customers and prospects.
Create a strong enough brand and it sticks – sometimes to your regret.

Add your comments below

What good or bad expereiences have you had that BRANDED you?

George Torok Keynote Marketing Speaker Co-author of Secrets of Power Marketing Get your free copy of "50 Power Marketing Ideas" Power Marketing on FaceBook Marketing Zoo on Twitter Share/Save/Bookmark

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