Tim Mahoney culture

Tim Mahoney’s Success Recipe for Working Across Cultures? “Human Stories, Simply Told”

The automotive marketing maven tells his cross-cultural tales of selling Porsches, Chevys, Subarus, and VWs around the globe

Selling a product requires understanding the needs and desires of your potential customer. You need to recognize what problems customer have and how your product can be a solution to that problem. Sales and Marketing are professional tasks that are difficult enough in your domestic market – which is an ever-changing arena. Now imagine promoting and selling your product around the world, where consumer demands are often widely different and where the problems your product wants to solve are either not the same as in your home market, or people perceive the solution you provide in a different way.

Meet Tim Mahoney who spent more than three decades selling cars around the globe. He didn’t sell them himself, through a dealership. Tim was the marketing mastermind for internationally renowned automotive brands like Subaru, Porsche, Volkswagen, and General Motors. He sold Foresters, 911s, Passats, or Camaros via the ads and commercials you see online, hear on the radio, and see in a magazine. Tim’s engineering colleagues designed the vehicles, he and his marketing team designed the brand images and the campaigns to make the cars attractive to you.

Tim Mahoney

During our conversation we talk about what it takes to successfully sell across cultures. Tim’s formula for that sounds straightforward: “Human stories, simply told” – and yet, there’s a bit more to that narrative. “A lot of data suggests people will forget facts and figures and names and faces and everything else, but a good story they will remember, and it improves the retention significantly. The question is how to do that across cultures,” Tim says.

In this episode we look at some examples how he and his team adjusted the storytelling to different markets and across cultural differences. In a way, Tim’s eduction prepared him for this challenge. As a foreign exchange student in Austria and Germany he quickly learned to adjust his behavior and his communicative style. Later on, in the early stages of his car career, he did it again in Japan.

Transferring this skill set into finding the right message for many different consumer types around the world shaped Tim’s line of work. During our conversation he also shares some examples of when that didn’t work out.

From Power Points to Sausages

Here is a link to the Subaru heaven commercial hat Tim mentions during our conversation. And another one to a successful VW commercial: “It’s the one that seemed to thread the needle between a general population and a hispanic target.  This commercial also managed to get me deposed in the Dieselgate inquiry.”

Now that Tim is retired from the automotive world, he is following a passion which he has been nurturing for years: food. During the times he spent in the German-speaking world Tim developed a love for meat products. Sausage making and meat curing are more than hobby for him – he has spent a small fortune on educating himself around butchering skills and assembling the proper equipment to produce his delicacies.

Tim Mahoney sausage maker

You can connect with Tim Mahoney via his LinkedIn profile. Please direct serious inquiries which might lead to sausage making opportunities for Tim at us – we’ll connect you.


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The music on this episode is provided courtesy of Sepalot.
“Duum Diip” – Artist: Sepalot – Label: Eskapaden – Copyright control
“Rainbows – Live” – Artist: Sepalot – Label: Eskapaden – Copyright control


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