Attention American Automakers: Your websites suck

David Meerman Scott writes in Web Ink Now:

The news from the big 3 automakers has indeed been grim. Year-to-date, GM sales fell 12.2 percent, Ford sales fell 3.8 percent, and Chrysler sales were down 4.9 percent. It has indeed been a bummer of a summer. There are many reasons for the auto industry troubles such as high gas prices, last year's incentive programs, high cost production, a skew to SUVs and other large vehicles at a time when smaller is better, and many other issues. However, one thing the industry can fix is the terrible official websites. Big three automaker sites suck.

Websites are like software products: the real challenge isn't what to include; it's what to omit. Ford, in particular, seems to want to include everything. And the local dealerships are even worse. It's the iPod versus Microsoft packaging example. It's Google homepage versus almost anyone else's.

The problem is, I think, is that the Ford people are sales people first, and marketers second, while Lexus is the other way around. It's as if Ford is saying "I want to sell you something! RIGHT NOW!! at 0% interest!!!" while Lexus is saying "Come browse. Let us help you buy."

At a car dealership recently, I finally had to tell the sales person to BE QUIET; I needed to think and I couldn't concentrate when the sales guys is yammering. I've had so many good interactions with sales people that bad ones just drive me berserk. I ultimately bought from a different dealership.

Is your web site trying to sell or is it helping people buy? There's a difference.

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson

Steve Johnson was a founding instructor at Pragmatic Institute, a role he held for more than 15 years before he left to start Under10 Playbook. In his return to Pragmatic Institute, Steve supports the complete learning path for product teams, ensuring they are fully armed for success. 

Over the course of his career, Steve has helped thousands of companies and tens of thousands of product professionals implement product management processes. He has worked in the high-tech arena since 1981, rising through the ranks from product manager to chief marketing officer. Steve has experience in technical, sales and marketing management positions at companies that specialize in both hardware and software. In addition, he is an author, speaker and advisor on product strategy and product management.

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