How Mercedes Benz marketed their eco-car economically by tapping into an unusual resource

3 minute read

Do you spend too much on your marketing campaigns? What if all it took to drive sales was a little ingenuity and minimal investment? In the latest issue of INCITE, we explore several key marketing case studies, honing in on what our readers can learn from them. One study, The Ecological Car Launch, examines an innovative low cost per piece (CPP) marketing campaign from BBDO for Mercedes Benz.

Mercedes Benz came out with its first electric vehicle – the B-Class Electric Drive. They set out to market the vehicle in Belgium, but had some obstacles. The biggest issue they faced was that they were not perceived as an ecological car brand – which made raising awareness for the new car a challenge. BBDO developed a brilliant marketing strategy to change the public’s perception of the company, and to promote the new vehicle to a ton of local eco-conscious consumers – without the need for an exorbitant budget.

Belgium is a forward-thinking country that encourages eco-friendly purchases. These products are included in an eco-friendly product list, and Belgian consumers can buy products on the list with ecocheques (vouchers many employers give their employees). The vouchers are tax-exempt and treated as social security contributions.

BBDO noticed that electric cars were not included on the eco-friendly product list for Belgian consumers. They successfully negotiated with the Belgian government and the ecocheque suppliers to add electric vehicles to the list.

News of the product addition was printed on the envelopes of every ecocheque and mailed out as a benefit to Belgian employees. This helped raise valuable awareness for Mercedes Benz’ new electric vehicle. The news reached 800,000 Belgians via the ecocheques. As a result, sales for the electric car doubled, despite the campaign’s low cost per piece. BBDO reported that this campaign cost just one tenth of a typical direct marketing car campaign budget.

What this case study shows us is that marketing campaigns can potentially benefit more from innovation than from investment. This is great news for small to medium sized businesses struggling to make their mark. If you are a marketer or business owner, there are many key takeaways from this case study to consider before planning your next outreach campaign:

Determine Your Product’s Advantages

How does your product enhance the lives of your potential customers? Does it solve a problem? Is it a green product like Mercedez Benz’ new car? Is it a time-saving product? Is it a low cost product? Determining your product’s advantages will help you figure out an angle for your marketing campaign, and potentially help you find creative ways to reach the right audience.

Study Your Target Audience

Before planning your next marketing campaign, the more you know about your target audience, the better. BBDO was able to tap into a free resource used by all of their potential customers, and harness that resource to promote their product. If you want to do something like that with your campaign, you’ll need to determine if your potential customers are connected in some way. For example, if you are marketing your products to students in a particular region, you should explore ways to reach students from local institutions in that region – so you can tap into the networks they share.

Don’t Be Afraid To Break The Mould

Do you take risks with your marketing? You should. BBDO proved that an unconventional strategy can be more cost-effective than a traditional marketing campaign. It’s not difficult to see why either – the element of surprise is priceless in marketing. How can you catch your customers off guard? Start by looking at your campaigns to date and using them as an example of what not to do next. You need to stay fresh to stay relevant and reach your audience through channels they don’t expect.

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