Marketing lessons from a tiny car

I recently purchased a 1976 MG Midget Convertible. I needed a car to get me around town since I’m changing jobs and no longer have a company vehicle. My search narrowed down to two choices. A 1991 Acura Legend and the MG Midget. Both were in decent shape, both cost less than $2,000, both got good gas mileage, and both accomplished the same basic need of transportation.

The difference is that the MG gets noticed. And that’s where the marketing lesson comes in.

Since I purchased the MG, I’ve driven it around town several times and observed reactions when people see it. Some people almost get a crick in their neck watching it drive by. Others give it a quick glance and go on their way. Some barely notice it at all. But almost everyone at least acknowledges the uniqueness of this car among the hundreds they see everyday.

So, what can the MG teach us about effective marketing?

• Effective marketing doesn’t have to be over-the-top extreme, it just needs to differentiate you from the pack. Sure, a hot pink monster truck would get even more attention than the MG, but at the expense of reputation, tact, and cost.

• Marketing should be unconventional, just like my decision to buy the MG. Most people would never even consider buying a 33 year old car, yet its age is one of the things that makes it all the more interesting. People just don’t see cars like this very often. The Acura was conventional and expected.

• It should tell a good story. When people hear about or see the MG, they want to know more about it. What does MG stand for? Where did you find it? Why does it have three windshield wipers?

• It doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

• It should be talkable and easily spread by word of mouth. People have been talking about the MG before they even see it. It has created quite a bit of anticipation and interest.

• The name you choose should be catchy and memorable. “MG Midget” is just fun to say. And you remember it because the name relates directly to the main characteristic of the car, it’s size.