The challenge that Audi faces in the U.S. is well known: we need more premium-segment consumers to know our brand and products, and to add Audi to that final shopping list when they are in the mood to buy a new vehicle.
Over the past few years we’ve closed the gap with our key competitors in many ways. Advertising, marketing, PR, dealership environments, and new, high-quality products have helped raise consumer awareness, opinion, and consideration to record levels, as measured by third parties. The coverage that we receive in the media is at the highest levels. And sales, the most important measure, rose to a record in 2007, the last full year before the current recession began. Even in this current economic environment, Audi’s performance is better than all IHG competitors.
Yet whenever I meet someone new, all too often one of these questions is posed: “what’s happening at Audi”, “what’s new at Audi”, “how is Audi doing”. I’m sure that I’m not alone.
I find that it’s better to be prepared for such questions than to rely on my mind for a spontaneous response. I also believe that a team of employees and dealers so armed with an “elevator speech” could help increase awareness to even higher levels.
So the question … “do you have your elevator speech?”
To begin with, an elevator speech is either a stand-alone statement or a way into a longer conversation. I don’t know who first coined the phrase, but the meaning is simple: if you are on an elevator for the average ride how would you respond to one of the questions above.
I find the best versions are concise, planned and practiced. Don’t mistake that for trivial, stale, and boring. Quite the contrary, I want my new friend to walk away, even after a brief conversation, wanting to know more about Audi.
So, if you had sixty seconds to talk about Audi, what would you say?
Audi is successful. Across nearly every market, including here in the U.S., Audi has emerged as one of the most exciting stories in the automotive landscape. AUDI AG posted its 13th consecutive record of year-over-year growth in both sales and profits. In the U.S., Audi’s market share – a measure of consumer awareness and confidence – is at record levels. On that score, Audi has passed Volvo and trails Infiniti by just 1,300 sales this year. Clearly those profits have been invested wisely, because …
Audi is the hottest luxury brand. It’s not a stretch to argue that Audi has launched the most exciting products of any brand during the past four years. Think back to 2006 and start with the RS4 , Q7, S4, S6 and S8. Then keep moving through the next three years with the all-new R8, TT coupe and roadster, S5 and A5, Q5, R8 V10, and the clean diesel Q7s and A3s. (Isn’t it fun to drive products that cause people to gawk and spontaneously snap camera phone pictures of your Audi?) Back in 2008, AUDI AG committed to an investment of over 11 billion Euros between 2008 and 2012, with the majority of that investment earmarked for new products. Despite the economic situation, Audi has kept pace … and significant announcements are coming yet this year. With moves like this …
Audi is challenging the definition of luxury. Three years ago during a speech, Johan de Nysschen said that “it’s time for Audi of America to stop being so understated and be a little more bold and a little more American in telling our story here.” And we have. In speeches, advertising, public relations and product positioning, Audi has challenged the incumbent luxury brands directly. We’ve served notice that we are ascending and they are descending because we are the brand of progressive luxury. And ever since, the competition has reacted to Audi. Our goal is to be the premium luxury brand by 2015. That doesn’t mean that we seek volume leadership, but rather consumers will regard Audi as the best brand with the best products.
Final advice: In delivering your elevator speech, be confident, poised and ready, so that the next time someone asks “So, how’s Audi doing?” there’s no hesitation.