"If cars could talk, they’d choose Chevron with Techron."

If you were anywhere on the western side of the United States in the 90s and 2000s, you know why cars love Chevron. You probably remember the TV ads - adorable claymation talking cars. The cars talked candidly about their relationship with their owners, working long days, finding parking spots, and staying clean inside and out. The campaign skyrocketed Chevron to the top of the competition as far as brand recognition. It is one of the longest-running and most successful advertising campaigns in history. Adweek called it “the campaign of the decade.” All built on the insight that people genuinely want what’s best for their car.

That’s where my career in marketing started. I was deep in the world of engine deposits, fuel efficiency, gasoline additives, and “pump-toppers” – an actual name for the small advertisements that sit atop gas station pumps. After Chevron, I went on to work on marketing campaigns for some of the most well-known consumer brands of our time, including Marriott and Xbox.

Now, of course, I lead marketing for Propeller; an exceptional, fast-growing business consulting company and brand, but certainly not consumer-facing. It would be easy to assume that the insights and learnings from my career with consumer brands are in the rear-view mirror, sitting on the nostalgia shelf where I keep my still-in-the-package Chevron toy cars. Not so! The insights from Chevron, Marriott, and Xbox are so core to what we as humans value, and the way we make decisions, that they can be applied to any brand. Every marketer and brand owner should keep these in mind.

Key Insight From Chevron

"Customers value quality, but they may not understand all the details"

The “Techron” part of Chevron is an actual additive to gasoline. It’s a detergent that helps minimize build-up in the engine. But to the average driver, that’s boring, and it’s a bit complicated. Is it really that important in making a better gasoline buying decision?  Unless you are a fuel expert, how would you know? That’s the magic of the Chevron campaign, cars know. People are so connected to their car that they can easily imagine its personification: the headlights become eyes, the front grill a grinning mouth. And if that same car could talk—the one you rely on to get you to and from work, through the coffee drive up, and your kids safely to school - you’d listen, right?

Insight for B2B brands: 

"Lead with quality but don’t stop there." 

Explore what the quality of your service or product means to your customers. Is it that it’s a one-and-done purchase? Or that they’ll get better results from you than others in the market? Explore how that might make them feel, how it might give them peace of mind. And consider who is the best person to tell the story. In Chevron’s case, scientists or mechanics could have told the story, but an animated car had the most resonance.

Related: Customer Experience: The Differentiator You Cannot Afford to Ignore

Key Insight From Marriott

"Consistency and confidence build loyalty." 

Consumers seek confidence in what they’re buying. Marriott is known for consistency across their product. Stay at nearly any Marriott in the U.S. and you know what you’ll get. From check-in to breakfast, to in-room amenities, they’re consistently reliable. That is the power of the Marriott brand. This brand strength is extended through marketing deliverables using extremely detailed marketing guides from Marriott corporate that dictated the style of images, exact magazine page layout, language use, and of course logo placement. Just as when a traveler walks into a hotel and immediately knows it is a Marriott, anyone flipping through travel magazines or scrolling the web immediately recognizes a Marriott ad.

Related Content: The Upside of Customer Loyalty in an Economic Downturn

Insight for B2B brands: 

"Illustrate the quality of your product and demonstrate it consistently." 

While “surprise and delight” is a key phase in brand experience, it only works if the surprise is an over-delivery of expectations, and that can only be achieved when there is consistent delivery that sets expectations. Let your customers know exactly what they’re getting, deliver consistently, then reward them for their loyalty. 

Related Content: Is Your Brand Promise Connected to Reality?

Key Insight from Xbox 

"A purchase decision happens well in advance of the actual purchase transaction."

I was lucky to work with the Xbox brand during the launch of Xbox One. A pretty glamorous gig, except I’m not a gamer and hadn’t touched a gaming console since my childhood Nintendo. Needless to say, I learned a lot. My team was tasked with marketing the games that could only be played on the new Xbox One. Games were typically announced in June, but not physically available until November. We spent months marketing the pre-sale of games that buyers wouldn’t even touch until the holidays. Why? Video games are expensive. Gamers typically have a set budget for a small handful of games they invest in or ask for as gifts, to then play intensely. Our marketing challenge was to get on the shortlist of preferred games for our audience. And in order to do that, we had to start early.

Insight for B2B brands: 

"Anticipate your customer’s decision and buying cycle." 

Sure, you may occasionally gain a customer with an immediate need, but more often than not, your customers are considering the need for your product or service well in advance of when they need it. Your success will come from getting on their shortlist.

Now I have the unique advantage of working with some of the brightest minds in business consulting. I get to listen to success stories of the work they do every day with Fortune 100 companies and leaders across a wide range of industries. Each one brings their whole career with them when they come to Propeller. If you ask them to detail the hard and soft career skills learned that make them a success today, in a heartbeat they can share a retrospective storyline that is still powerful for them today.

With Propeller as my brand to promote, it’s not only gratifying but fun and exciting to apply enduring marketing lessons learned from prominent B2C client campaigns to the fast-evolving B2B campaigns. Thankfully, applying human-to-human messaging that speaks to hearts and minds will never, ever go out of style.

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