At Fieldtrip, we take pride in getting to know our clients, their audience, and their competitors so that we can deliver the best work possible. Sometimes this requires countless interviews with employees, fans, and stakeholders. Other times, it requires deep dives into historical data. And sometimes, if we’re lucky, we get our hands dirty by testing out massive construction equipment.
This brings me to a great experience we had with Whayne Supply, the Caterpillar dealer of Kentucky. As one of our newest clients, we’ve been working with Whayne to learn everything about their organization, their successes, their opportunities, and their audience. But how do a bunch of creative marketers learn what it truly feels like to operate construction equipment?
Simple – we had a day in the dirt. To gain a better understanding of how it feels to operate Caterpillar equipment, we tested out a skid steer, a backhoe, and an excavator. Before you say something like, “well that doesn’t seem safe,” there was plenty of training and supervision provided, and no one got hurt in the process.
First up was the skid steer. If you’re not familiar with skid steers, they are primarily used for loading and lifting materials like dirt, hay, and construction materials in order to cut down on manual labor and time. More importantly to me – and Andrew (one of our designers) – they can go incredibly fast. If you’re in an open grass field, you can even pull a wheelie.
Learning to drive it was a lot easier than expected. It was controlled through a series of joysticks that determined the direction, speed, and height of the front loader. We were all able to adapt to the skid steer quickly and have a lot of fun with it. By experiencing it firsthand, we were able to imagine how this machine can be utilized on a construction site, or even working on a farm.
Next up was the backhoe. This was probably my favorite because we got to play a game. The rules of the game were simple: whoever could knock off mini tennis balls from three orange cones without hitting the cones, and then set down the excavator portion of the backhoe the fastest, wins.
I felt ambitious. And then I was humbled.
I started off on fire knocking the first two balls off in no time, but the third one was a different story. I hit the cone. Five seconds deducted. I hustled back to the starting point to put the claw down on the ground and well… the claw went into the ground. No style points for me. Still, it was a lot of fun. And for the record Melody, one of our digital strategists, and Andrew won.
The excavator was the final machine tested. Its massive size and positioning on top of a hill added to the intimidation factor. For someone who spends most of his time behind a desk, riding the excavator felt exhilarating. The power behind this machine was amazing; we were able to do an entire day’s worth of manual labor in less than 30 minutes. So what did we learn?
The Little Things Matter. A Lot.
There’s so much going on in these machines that the slightest difference in the positioning of the controls can make a huge difference for the user. This is where Caterpillar is unmatched against some pretty tough competition – they consistently get the little things right.
Training Is Essential.
If you’re going to work with these machines then you need training on how to use them. Whayne Supply dominates their competition when it comes to their training and customer service. Whether you’re a large customer making a big acquisition or a contractor renting equipment for the first time, Whayne is going to make sure you have the knowledge to get the job done right. This can’t always be said by their competition.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions.
If you don’t know something, ask someone who does. There’s no shame in not knowing everything and it’s something we take to heart when working with our clients. No matter how hard we try, we’re never going to be experts in our client’s field. But what we can do is work with our clients to learn as much as we can, as fast as we can, in order to give us the chance to succeed.
The Fieldtrip team learns about our clients and their products and services, not just because it’s fun, but because research informs strategy. We don’t want to waste your time and money by seeing what works; we fully immerse ourselves in your field so we’ll know what works. Our ability to collaborate with you in this process is the foundation of that success. And when you get to test drive machines the size of Transformers, it’s a nice little bonus.