Needless to say, Toyota is in the throws of a crisis. It happens from time to time with large corporations, and people are drawn to it like a bad accident on the side of the highway. But the business crisis of today is far from that of yesterday. It's more potentially crippling to a brand given the world of social media, mobile texting and the like. Information, whether right or wrong, flies around very quickly; and this calls for corporations to be out in front early and often otherwise they risk having others take control of the conversation rather than they themselves.
So what's at stake for Toyota and what are some options?
A couple of media outlets have suggested Toyota frantically post within groups no doubt currently forming on Facebook. But is that really the best method given the reach and impact of digital media today? Too often, corporations are just not getting it right.
So step 1 in a crisis: do a quick market analysis. (And this calls for very, very savvy people to be at the digital helm, not many of which this writer has seen. ) In a conversation, one always has to be aware of just who may want to engage most and craft the digital exchange in the proper way. This Toyota challenge is particular because it occurs as a precise moment in our nation's history where the population landscape is shifting just as the communication platforms simultaneously rise. Understand that according to Blacknews.com, African Americans spent an estimated $31.5 billion on cars and trucks in 2009. To put this number into perspective, that's about 3 times the amount of total U.S. movie box office receipts during the same year. Equally interesting, Autotrader Latino stated that there has been double-digit growth in the Latino market for automobile purchases over the last couple of years. These trends will probably just continue as the presence of these races is increasing in numbers each day, according the U.S. Census Bureau.
Step two: be fully aware of who is using what and where. As this blogger has reported in previous posts, this same demographic out-indexes in mobile phone usage and Pew Research Center just recently reporter that the growth rate for Latino on-line usage is outpacing that of white America.
Put two and two together, and any CEO would be able to see that there is a particular digital emergency here and therefore, the need for the creation of a unique strategy for general market and one for a market that is so undeniably vital to the brand now and in the future that it begs for specialized and organic messaging across platforms consistent with the demo's behavior.
It's so easy to connect the digital dots with the spending and cultural dots, but are most businesses really doing so? Equally are they partnering with right people to execute the right branding strategies across on-line and mobile? Especially when it comes to crisis time, how many corporations out here would be dealing right now with the same caught-pants-down syndrome if the same where to happen to them as it is to Toyota today?