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Cars.com CMO: The Future Of Our Brand Is Business-To-Human

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Brooke Skinner Ricketts (Chief Marketing Officer, Cars.com) spoke at Social Media Week Chicago on how and why the company intends to change.

The car shopping process can be inherently transactional, but one player in the space is vying to stand out through a more human approach to connecting with its customers.

Brooke Skinner Ricketts, CMO of Cars.com (which is one of the largest automotive classified sites in the world), shared this new approach with the audience at Social Media Week Chicago. In an exclusive fireside chat with Executive Director Toby Daniels, Skinner Ricketts explained how the company is using social to drive connections.

In her talk, the CMO shared three core tenets that form the foundation of the Cars.com marketing strategy.

  1. Remember that everybody has a car libido;
  2. Love the journey & love the outcome;
  3. Be human-led and technology-enabled.

Skinner Ricketts explained that the company views itself as a two-sided marketplace: one side empowers customers and the other enables partners. To help empower their customers and feel human to them, it’s imperative for Cars.com to gather insight into what its consumers want, need, and prefer. The choices we each make in our life are important, including what car we get, she added. “Your career, your spouse, your car… our lives are defined by the choices we make.”

Skinner Ricketts also shared the insight that for many people, car shopping is one of the most un-fun responsibilities that come up in their lives. In fact, researching models and prices, fretting about the finances, and other stressors make it one of the least favorite activities among consumers. “Americans would rather give up sex for a month, do their taxes and/or sit in the middle airline seat rather than go car shopping,” she said.

With this understanding of how consumers experience car buying, Cars.com has made adjustments when it comes to how they serve their customers, moving to a more B2H (“Business to Human”) model.  They found that most people would rather choose their dealer before stepping foot on the lot, and therefore started changing their business style from one of a librarian (simply informing) to that of a matchmaker (helping customers better connect with reputable car dealers).

Cars.com also changed the style of their blog posts from stating facts about cars to segmenting cars based on usage and personality, similarly to how Spotify suggests music. Skinner Ricketts says the brand will continue to optimize to become even more human by leading with emotion, inspiring with social, and connecting with stories.

Further analysis and commentary from ‘B2H: How Cars.com Harnesses Humanity to Drive Marketing Performance’ session:

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