Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pontiac Teaches Us A Lesson

I grew up in a car family. I owned (bought and sold) four cars before I had my license, plus the one I owned when I got my license.

When you like cars, there are certain cars you love and hate. I hate Fords. No good reason. Just never had a good experience, and I've had several bad experiences. I have brothers who love Fords.

Remember, I grew up in the '60's and '70's. Newish cars were huge monsters built for speed. I loved Chryslers and Pontiacs. Older cars were even larger but still capable of speed. My favorite cars of all time were my two '57 Chevys. Fun to drive. Weighed more than our house.

We used to go to the recycling yard (then called a junk yard) and get chrome bits and pieces from the Pontiacs and Buicks to put on the Chevy. Even back then, the major differences in these cars was the nameplate.

My '62 Pontiac Tempest with the rear-axle transmission was one of the coolest cars ever.

Grand Prix

Aaaaaah . . . memories.

But . . .

I have driven Hondas and Toyotas exclusively for almost than 20 years.

Now, I don't "love" Hondas or Toyotas. I love the fact that they're reliable and affordable. They get the job done.

At this point, I could drive anything I want. But my wants and desires can't be fulfilled with a car. So I have a plain, dependable, average car.

- - - - -

Now comes news that Pontiac, one of the greatest brands for the last 100 years is going away.

My emotional side is sad. A great brand. Great advertising (at least in the 50's, 60's, and 70's). Great images. Great cars.

But my "business" side - my intellectual side - has had me driving Hondas and Toyotas for a long time. Maybe long enough to drive Pontiac out of business.

And there's the lesson.

People - and businesses - need to make decisions that are sound for their bottom line. If you're selling "cool" you better stay cool. iPhone comes to mind.

But if you're selling solid, boring, reliable, you better deliver that as well.

In the end, Pontiac is no different from the other American brands that ignored the signs of the times. For thirty-five years we've needed small, dependable, fuel-efficient cars and American car companies have been giving us humongous monster mobiles.

As technology changes, you have to decide what you're going to offer your clients. Will it be a brand new dinosaur or the technology of the future?

Over time, "rational" business people are going to make buying decisions that make it more and more difficult to live in the past. They may not be on the cutting edge, but when the standards move, they'll move.

I'm sorry for Pontiac, but I made a series of decisions that were right for over the years. And they never offered up what I was buying.

Your clients are the same way. They'll make decisions that are right for themselves.

Hope that bodes well for you.


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