Several weeks ago, I received an invitation in my mailbox. It arrived in a black, sleek envelope with the Porsche logo on it. I was intrigued.
Inside was an invitation to spend a few hours driving various Porsche models and learning about the brand, and I jumped at the opportunity.
The Porsche World Roadshow took just place just outside of Chicago last Friday. I joined a group of about twenty people–most around my age–in checking out some very fast and expensive cars. I drove variations of three different Porsches: the Panamera, a four door sedan; the 911, a classic small and fast model; and the Cayman, a new take on the 911.
Porsche set up a testing track in a parking lot that featured both straightaways and curves, and the cars were tremendous. They accelerated at an almost frightening rate. The Porsche cars that I drove went from 0 to 60 in roughly four seconds. As a point of comparison, the last car that I rented from Hertz took a full 26 seconds to do the same going downhill. I timed it.
The event was polished in all respects. Our hosts were friendly and informative. They clearly knew the products. The pacing was good; I wasn’t standing around very long. There were well-produced, informative videos, and when a storm came along, the Porsche team escorted all of the guests into a safe area until it passed.
This is how to attract new Porsche buyers: You invite people to a special event, give them a chance to try some remarkable cars, and you answer all of their questions. It is a terrific way to build the brand.
Of course, this isn’t an inexpensive program. Here are a few numbers:
The event travels in seven tractor-trailer trucks, and there are nine stops this year. Each session features about thirty different Porsche cars. I counted nine driving instructors and about twenty staff members. This significant investment allows Porsche to host about 270 people a day.
If an expensive program like this is going to work, targeting is essential; you can only invite fairly good prospects. Most people will never own a Porsche and will never even consider the idea. Porsche has to find the people who might consider a purchase.
How did I make the list? I have no idea. I currently drive a minivan–a Honda Odyssey–so it certainly wasn’t due to any prior car purchase. It might be because I’m about to turn 50 and live in a fairly prosperous neighborhood, or it could be because I once purchased a fancy watch.
In truth, though, their targeting was pretty good. I guess I could be a Porsche buyer. I just have never considered the idea seriously before.
So does this work as a marketing initiative?
I suspect it does. The event gets people into Porsche cars and gives them a Porsche experience. It introduces people to the brand. Throughout the whole event, potential buyers learn about the unique features: the brakes, the suspension, and the horsepower.
Clearly Porsche thinks the event makes sense; this is its fifth year.
So am I about to buy a Porsche?
No. Right now my wife and I are redoing our kitchen so cash is tight, but someday I might, and that is something I wouldn’t have said before attending the event.
While I’m not rushing out to get a 911 turbo tomorrow, the Porsche World Roadshow is an example of how to build a great brand in a cluttered world.