How do you get ahead in a traditionally male-dominated field? If you’re Becky Blanchard, Director of Marketing for Ram Trucks, you follow your passion and show great acumen for the job. Beginning her career as an engineer and moving eventually into marketing, Becky has developed a rare—and valuable—double perspective on the auto industry. Here, she answers questions about upcoming vehicle trends, the truck-buying public and how to decide on the right vehicle.
NAWBO: What percentage of your customers are women? How much does this influence vehicle design and marketing?
Approximately 10 percent of our customers are women. However, we know from research that women influence a far greater number of purchases—around 80 percent. When we develop new products, we try to address the needs of all our customers. But we also understand on a basic level, women require the same things from their vehicles that men do: capability, efficiency, dependability and reliability. So, we don’t necessarily change our message based on whether it’s a man or woman listening. The message is always that our trucks will get the job done. What changes is how we convey that message.
NAWBO: What are some exciting automotive trends you can tell us about?
From a business owner’s standpoint, the most exciting development in the industry is choice. Five years ago, customers essentially only had one choice of van type in the U.S. from two manufacturers. Today, they can choose from multiple van types from many manufacturers. It has been important for Ram to be one of the companies to offer new alternatives. We now have a small van called the Ram ProMaster City® and a larger front-wheel-drive van, the Ram ProMaster®. More choices allow business owners to pick the right vehicle for their needs instead of compromising.
NAWBO: What challenges and opportunities have you faced as a high-level woman working in a traditionally male-dominated field?
I’ve never felt like I’ve had different challenges or opportunities being a woman in this industry. Since there are traditional “truck guys” on the Ram brand, it makes sense to have some differing perspectives in the room, because traditional “truck guys” are not the only people buying trucks anymore. But the bottom line is, we’re all professionals working toward a common goal. That’s really all that matters at the end of the day.
NAWBO: How are female executives like you changing the auto industry?
Women have clearly come a long way in this industry and in many other industries. There are women leading companies now, and lots of them. It really goes to show how the opportunities for women are endless. If you have the passion for this business, and you want to be part of it, there’s no reason not to get involved. I think my presence in Ram Trucks, and the presence of women in similar positions, across industries, supports that idea and helps set an example.
NAWBO: Why was the partnership with NAWBO important?
Having partners in many different spaces allows us to form more direct bonds with our customers. As we continue to develop the Ram Commercial brand, our partnership with NAWBO is mutually beneficial. It provides Ram the opportunity to tell the story of our reliable trucks and vans while NAWBO members can enjoy preferred pricing and the assurance they’re purchasing a vehicle fit for their needs.
NAWBO: Tell us about the vehicle that will be on display at the NAWBO National Women’s Business Conference and why attendees should check it out.
We’re displaying a Ram 1500 at the Opening Reception at this year’s conference. This truck is one of the most versatile vehicles on the road today. Not just capable, it’s efficient as well, delivering a best-in-class fuel economy of up to 29 mpg* when equipped with the EcoDiesel option (it’s what I drive!). The Ram 1500 sets the standard for comfort, ride and handling, and it features well-appointed and functional interiors. We have configurations to meet a wide range of customer needs with a lineup that ranges from an entry-level regular cab Tradesman® model up to a premium crew cab Limited model.
NAWBO: What advice would you give an entrepreneur who’s headed out to buy a vehicle today?
Do your research. There is a wealth of product information out there right now, especially online, so it should be relatively easy to identify a vehicle to perfectly match your needs. Also check with local dealerships to see what programs are available to small-business owners. FCA US LLC (parent company of Ram Trucks) offers a program called BusinessLink, where business owners are paired with dedicated account managers and given access to some great incentives and services. And I’d definitely consider a Ram truck or van.
Attending this month’s National Women’s Business Conference hosted by NAWBO? Be sure to check out this RAM 1500 truck at the Opening Reception! Also, stop by the NAWBO booth in the exhibit hall to learn how members can save hundred of dollars on the purchase of any Fiat Chrysler automobile.
*EPA-estimated mpg with 3.0L EcoDiesel and eight-speed automatic transmission, 4X2 HFE model. Actual mileage may vary.