Win by addressing customer pain points.


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The marketing spoils often don’t go to the marketer with the best product. Or to the marketer with the biggest name. Or the most money. Or the widest distribution. Or even the most loyal customers.

Many times the marketplace winner is the marketer who does the best job understanding and meaningfully addressing its customers’ pain points.

One present-day marketer who has done an exemplary job of crafting its offerings to directly address customers’ true needs is the automaker Hyundai.

Hyundai has always been an underdog in the U.S. auto market. It was a latecomer with a hard-to-pronounce name and the baggage of coming from a place (South Korea) that’s not especially known for producing top-notch automobiles. The logical play for Hyundai would have been to stand first and foremost for “value,” and hang its hat on a position of “being a cheap version of a Nissan.”

To its credit, the automaker knew it had to do something different. “Value” is a nebulous concept that can mean different things to different audiences, so Hyundai had to find a way to connect with car buyers to assuage both their spoken and (most importantly) unspoken concerns. The marketer wisely settled on the concept of “assurance.”

Initially, the automaker manifested this position by offering what was at the time the most comprehensive warranty in the industry: ten years or 100,000 miles. This gave the automaker automatic cred in the marketplace.

But here’s where Hyundai hit a homerun. It understand that “assurance” wasn’t restricted to just a warranty; it was essentially a commitment to take all the risk out of buying a new car.

This was really exemplified in 2008, when the U.S. economy tanked. Financial insecurity ran rampant. Sales of big ticket items plummeted. Well-established auto brands like Toyota, Honda and Ford each saw sales drop well over 30%. It was during this period that Hyundai expanded its “assurance” positioning by offering to let buyers return their Hyundais to the dealer in the event that they should lose their paychecks, with no negative credit ramifications. Immediately, sales jumped 14% (see more about the story in the following video), and before long the other major automakers went to market with their own version of “assurance.”

Most recently, Hyundai again found a creative way to manifest “assurance,” this time guaranteeing a trade-in value for buyers.

Suddenly, this odd-ball Korean car maker has surpassed many well-known marques here in America. And I would wager to say the reason isn’t that the car-buying public fell in love with design and performance of the Santa Fe. It has everything to do with understanding the needs and anxieties of the car buyer and getting to work to build initiatives that might scare the bean-counters, but that emotionally connect with car buyers.

One of the beautiful things about the “assurance” Brand Vision is that it has nothing whatsoever to do with functionality. It’s not a claim for better gas mileage, better performance, more cargo room or even a lower sticker price. Those things are fluid, and can change. Hyundai succeeded in tapping into authentic customer anxieties that will always be around.

Consumers have real needs, real fears, real anxieties, many of them unspoken. The marketer who does the best job of understanding and addressing these “real needs” stands the best chance of emotionally connecting with the consumer.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mickey Lonchar
Mickey Lonchar has spent the better part of two decades creating award-winning advertising with agencies up and down the West Coast, Mickey currently holds the position of creative director with Quisenberry Marketing & Design, a full-service advertising and interactive shop with offices in Spokane and Seattle, Wash.


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