​How Caterpillar revived an untapped market segment

The construction brand’s marketing manager reveals how it reconnected with its small equipment customer base to boost sales and engagement

Leveraging data has been key to building Caterpillar’s brand in the compact and small equipment market segment and reviving its customer engagement strategy in a way that boosts revenue.

While the 90-year old global company is known for its large construction equipment and ‘Cat’ boots, marketing communications manager and certified brand advocate, Connie LaFlamme, said a lot of people didn’t know the company also sells small, compact equipment.

“We’ve only been doing compact equipment for 15 years, so the challenge was to try and market a product that not a lot of customers knew about,” LaFlamme told attendees at the ADMA Global Forum 2016 in Sydney.

The brand’s customers mainly work in sectors such as commercial and residential construction, landscaping and agriculture and are usually business owners and operators.

“What we found was we had 58 per cent unknown customers in the small equipment segment, a sort of big black hole in the market,” she said. “It was my job to find these folks.”

Caterpillar’s marketing communications manager and certified brand advocate, Connie LaFlamme
Caterpillar’s marketing communications manager and certified brand advocate, Connie LaFlamme


To do this, the brand leveraged rich data sources in the US and Canada, along with third-party data and external sources, to find those unknown customers, LaFlamme claimed.

“Through the data, we looked at standard industry codes where these customers may be involved in and also see how many of these customers were purchasing equipment, the types of equipment and quantity of machines,” she said. “We could also see whether they were financing or paying cash, so there was a lot of data out there.”

But given Caterpillar’s traditional business model of not directly selling to the customer but via dealers, LaFlamme said the challenge was to essentially leapfrog the distributor.

“I had to get to those customers and create pull for the dealers,” she said. “I almost had to play matchmaker.”

Another challenge was that while customers already saw the Cat brand as aspirational and conveying success, those just starting out felt they couldn’t afford the products.

“The new guy with the dirty vest and shoes isn’t comfortable with going into the ‘Taj Mahal’ of a dealership to buy Cat products,” LaFlamme explained. “And we felt the dealers aren’t going out to reach to these customers, we’ll find a way to do it for them.”

With most Cat customers onsite and not using mobile or email as much as other industries, LaFlamme organised physical letters delivered to their mailboxes.

“I sent mail to either their home or business address and what I incentivised them to do was to go on that ‘first date’ with their Cat dealer,” she said. “I offered them to have a sales consultation with their Cat dealer and receive a pair of Cat boots. And I tell you, a pair of Cat Boots will get the customer moving to pick up the call and call their respective Cat sales representative.”

LaFlamme then wanted to pave the way for customers to establish long-term relationships with dealers so that they purchased the right machines, rented equipment or purchased parts. But if the dealer doesn’t follow up, then all of these efforts would be of no value, she said.

“The next challenge was to push dealer engagement with customers,” she said. “I had to create a turn-key solution for the dealers, and make them believe that they will success with this. I needed to ignite competition between all these independently owned businesses - and a lot of work goes into these sort of conquest campaigns.”

As a result of her team’s efforts, Cat saw an increased reach to more than 510,000 customers, yielded over 4200 sales consultations and leads, saw an average sales close rate of 33 per cent and achieved $53 million in revenue.

“We continue to learn and debrief to see what worked, what didn’t work and what we can do better,” she added.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Join the CMO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Supporting Association

Blog Posts

Disruption Down Under – What’s Amazon’s real competitive advantage?

Savvy shoppers wait in anticipation, while Australian retailers are gearing up for the onslaught. Amazon’s arrival is imminent.

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve

Traditionally the non-executive board of a company acts in an advisory capacity - attending monthly board meetings to offer overarching advice and guidance typically focusing on:

Jodie Sangster

CEO, ADMA

The most desirable customers you’ve overlooked

“What will really move the needle?” This is a question that keeps leaders awake at night. And at the intersection of some of their top priorities – finding pockets of growth, redefining the customer experience, and making an emotional impact – lies a latent market: Their diverse customers.

Really inspiring !

Goldenboy Media

Jaywing sets sights on Australian growth with digital and data-driven agency model

Read more

Being aware of regulations or guidlines is just the start. As our CEO Emma Lo Russo stated exactly two weeks ago at an event we supported...

Alan Smith

​Are the Wild West days of influencer collaboration over?

Read more

Rebranding is always nice solution to get better organisation. Businessman may apply certain special services (for example, https://www.l...

David Hill

CMO interview: Spearheading the global rebranding of OFX

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing this article.Top Digital Marketing company in Bangalore

Way To DM

Predictions: 17 digital marketing trends for 2017

Read more

Thanks for the great article Jodie, agree many boards and senior execs are operating in outdated modes, just as we need some reverse soci...

sharyn

Change across the board: Why boards need to digitally evolve - Data-driven marketing - CMO Australia

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in