Learning From Toyota

I don’t usually find a huge amount worthy of remembering in the business section. But in a long New York Times magazine story about Toyota’s corporate culture and business success, the following paragraph jumped out at me:

Toyota is as much a philosophy as a business, a patchwork of
traditions, apothegms and precepts that don’t translate easily into the
American vernacular. Some have proved incisive (“Build quality into
processes”) and some opaque (“Open the window. It’s a big world out

Ok, there’s more.  Here’s  fantastic summary of audience-centric outreach:

Toyota focused the marketing of the Tundra on what Smith calls five “buckets”: 1) fishers and outdoorsmen; 2) home-improvement types; 3) Nascar fans; 4) motorcycle enthusiasts; and 5) country-music lovers.

Anyone wondering why Toyota has become a major booster of Nascar or a sponsor of bass-fishing tournaments can see the logic. It’s also why Toyota is sponsoring Brooks and Dunn, the country-music duo. And dealers are taking new Tundra trucks to Nascar events, country-music concerts, fishing tournaments and the like. “Parking lots tend to be a long ways away from where the events are,” Smith explains, referring to motocross competitions, “so we have our dealers setting up shuttles.” The plan is to pull up in a Tundra, offer visitors a ride but have them drive to the event on a slightly indirect course (laid out by a Toyota dealer). “At the end,” Smith says, “we say, ‘Thank you, you’re guests of Toyota, here’s a bottle of water, take a lanyard.’ ”

Figure out who your target audiences are, then go where they are, do what they do, and find a way to be of service to them.

This is great stuff — really worth a read.

One thought on “Learning From Toyota”

  1. Jon, Toyota is a really interesting company, and a model for the way businesses could be run (esp. if you extrapolate their philosophy for “green” businesses of the future). Not perfect of course, and at the end of the day, they’re still producing cars, but worth looking into. I recommend reading Jeffrey Liker’s book, The Toyota Way.


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