Friday, October 17, 2003

Owner Link: Nurturing & Cementing the Relationship?

Today, I took a few minutes to finally sign-up for "Owner-Link," an online relationship marketing program sponsored by Honda. Honda touts the program as "your online resource for Honda care, information, and valuable offers." It uses "the power of the internet to delivery ongoing, customized information just to you." Hmmm....all hype, no promise? Or is there something special here? Signing up only took a couple minutes in total, and I actually found the process quite simple and user friendly. I especially loved the fact that the second I typed in my VIN number, my exact car showed up in the database on the next page. This in turn led to a "personal" web page being automatically created. as did my "personal" webpage dedicated to my car. Unfortunately, I didn't have my "Honda Finance" number, which would have automaticallly integrate my personal web page with an online payment and management tool for my finances. But it looks like a very simple process.

Hard to say how well this site will truly "nurture" my ongoing relationship and passion for Honda, but a couple things jump out that give me confidence. First, they make the experience really easy, and convenience is what really powers the web. Second, they answer obvious questions really well, and it just seemed as though as soon as I scratched my head about where to find my VIN number, I'd see a hyperlink to a question "Where to Find Your VIN number?" Third, they appeared sensitive to my strong desire NOT to receive unwanted e-mail or spam, and allowed me to customize what I receive -- although I must say, I frown on any company including Honda that automatically checks off the "opt-in" boxes. It puts the onus on me to remove the checks, and reflects a broader problem with marketers in putting excessively "liberal" parameters around the definition of "permission marketing." Anyway, at the end of the day, I only kept a few boxes checked, including the one for e-mail reminders around maintenance. That's a big need plus for me.


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