Market Like Ford & GM Without Their Budget

I admit it, I watched the premiere of Knight Rider on Sunday night. What scared me most was when David Hasselhoff told the story of how he was invited to drive the first K.I.T.T. 25 years ago. Sad thing is: I was watching that show 25 years ago.

More important than this thinly put together plot was the very  interesting marketing done by Ford. The new K.I.T.T. is a Ford Shelby something or another. Lots of shots of the grill to help you remember that.

The entire series is sponsored by Ford with teasers in all the breaks and promotions of an online quiz about the show. Simply log on to their site, input the right answer (the answers were gas, Ceylon Blue, Michael Knight and something else that I can’t remember) and you’re in the running for your very own Shelby.

After the reminders to go to their website, the real commercials starting running. Each commercial break starts with the new star,Justin Bruening, driving a Ford Focus. Justin gets calls on the Microsoft Sync-enabled phone from K.I.T.T. wanting to know why Justin drove the Focus on his date. It’s pretty lame but you get the point.

Now if you are counting here you’ve seen Ford  (1) get a product in the show, (2) drive you to their website to enter a competition and (3) entice you to actually watch the commercial breaks so you can follow the story line on Justin’s date. As poorly scripted as the whole thing was, the concept is phenomenal.

Don’t think that Ford has the corner on this. Later this week I saw a non-NBC program that had a tie-in with some new 3-door Saturn. These are great ideas!

So what can the small-budgeted entrepreneur learn from this? It’s all about being super creative in the way you market and repurposing the heck out of everything that you do.

I’ve talked before about my love for case studies so let’s use them as an example. One of the reasons I love case studies is that they have such great legs and can really do amazing things for you. Start by creating them as a hand-out for a show, mail them to re-engage customers, distribute a press release announcing the completion of the study and link back to your web site, pitch the story to the media for possible editorial coverage, post to your website for rich content that links to your customers, and so on.

Your goal with every marketing instrument you create should be to figure out how many different ways you can leverage that tool. Ford did it. They put the car in the show then exploited every place they could to also talk about it.

Don’t have Ford’s budget? It doesn’t matter. You can still think like Ford. Don’t waste your greatest marketing idea on one simple execution. Figure out at least 5 and possibly 10 different ways to make your ideas work for you and then put at least 3 of them into production.

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