Everybody Gets A Car!

Remember the scene? Oprah, resplendent in red, jumping up and down screaming “Everybody gets a car! Everybody gets a car!”

She gave away 276 free cars that day. And yes, Pontiac covered the taxes too, so they truly were free.

But even in a giveaway (Pontiac donated the cars), Oprah’s team stayed true to her brand.

The audience was carefully selected. It was packed heavily with teachers, the unsung everyday heroes that Oprah celebrated. And not just any teachers, but those who desperately needed a new set of wheels.

The model—a Pontiac G-6 sports sedan—was chosen by the show as the right fit for her demographic. They chose an array of features to load into each car. The variable? Winners chose the color.

Now fast forward. To your business, your service mix, your clientele. How well do you know—and target—your sweet-spot audience? Which features do you always include as part of your work and which can your client customize? How do you help them create their best ride?

Hint: consumers—clients, customers, employees—prefer having choices. Not a dizzying array, but the opportunity to customize their experience. Which of course enmeshes you more tightly to your audience. The art of it is pinpointing the perfect mix of your best delivery while allowing clients to make choices that fit their DNA.

Have you discovered the right mix?


  • Thanks for the article. You make a good point that while it’s important to have choice, too much choice can be a bad thing. I’ve previously written about the perils of having too much choice on my website – http://gunterrichter.com/?p=93

  • Fabulous! When I worked at the Getty Museum, many of us joked about using footprints to guide visitors to the highlights. As long as they knew how to get to Van Gogh’s Irises or the Photography Collection, they felt more comfortable exploring the remainder of the museum. Finally, I think someone listened. Too much information and/or very difficult information can be overwhelming. It is our responsibility as advisors is to make life easier.

  • That was a zinger, Rochelle! Great food for thought.

  • Thanks for the fab comments Gunter, Diane and Aaron! Choice is often a finer line than we think–some is good, too much means we make no choice and walk away…

  • Choice in my field goes to timeliness, nice-looking, quality and cost. You often pay more for quality and time. I outline that differential. In the political realm, sometimes good enough trumps outstanding or even “good” – that also goes to quality; I aim to offer quality products in a timely matter to differentiate myself. Sometimes I face nice-looking products (graphically) that will fail to produce the desired result.

  • Hi Corey, thanks for your thoughts. It sounds like you’ve positioned yourself on the quality/time continuum. It’s a stronger pull than “nice-looking” and should allow you to charge premium rates and avoid those who are more interested in how it looks than how it works.

  • Susan James

    What a great story to illustrate your point, Rochelle! I remember about the car giveaway, but not all the ins and outs, like the hand-picked audience and controlled variables. Oh! To know my target that well!.

  • Hi Susan, Thanks for stopping by! Yes, knowing your audience well is priceless. You might also remember the show hired a doctor to stand by in case anyone was overcome…

  • Having been hand picked for one of Oprah’s Favorite Things episodes, I can say that we can learn so much from how Oprah tailors her messages to her audiences. This was a great analogy. The tickets to her Fav Things shows were the golden tickets of television. She figured out very quickly that people like getting stuff for free, but Oprah always, always, has a lesson to be taught in every show. She doesn’t do a show unless there’s a lesson to be passed along. Even her favorite things episodes – they were to teach us to be more philanthropic and to give of ourselves. She always stayed true to her message – true to her unique value proposition. That’s why this is such a great analogy. Thanks Rochelle!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.