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.
Hi Tim, it is evident that they invited you because you were going to share this great experience with other marketers. It amplifies the message to people that might buy a Porsche.
Nicely said. Brand is the experience.
Its good to know the story behind the development of Porsche. Thanks for sharing the information.
Even if you don’t have the prospect of consuming the offering in future,but if you are a “centre of influence”,then targeting you can be from that perspective.
Such brands are experiential in nature.Hence even without consuming it, you can still be an apostle or advocate.
Funny enough, in my view the point of the event is not just ‘introduce people to the brand’, but give you a sneak peek that you can make it to the Porsche world, a club of accomplished ambitious individuals who subtly want to affirm their personality and success in an elegant, exclusive way. This is most likely why you were targeted: you might not have driven similar cars so far, but it simply doesn’t matter. Here the point is not to upgrade you to a better car with better specs, but to let you think about joining a family of likeminded individuals. And even if you’re not rushing tomorrow to buy your 911, this might not have been the goal either (doesn’t look like demand generation), but rather have another influencing individuals part of the broader Porsche base of admirers: you’ll soon forget all the specs of the cars, but you’ll always remember how you felt that day. And this is the most effective brand storytelling via peer advocacy.
Yes – and an experience that is a well-curated and perfectly-paced engagement with the product. A product that IS the Porsche brand itself. The shape of the key. The shape of the door handle. The logo on the Nav screen on start-up. The sound of the engine – unmistakably Porsche.
It’s all about experience, just like Apple, but in a even more luxury way.