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Access 101

Access Your World Lets You Kick the Tires in the Virtual World

Blog Posts - Jan 22

Access Your World Lets You Kick the Tires in the Virtual World

Jennifer Stiansen
Director of Marketing
____
JLG Industries

Hanging out in the construction industry, sooner or later, someone will suggest that you go “kick the tires” on equipment. Kicking the tires dates back to the trucking industry when it meant determining whether the vehicle was road worthy — with so many tires on one axle, a tire could look inflated but be flat because the other tires were holding it up. So, owners and operators kicked the tires to determine whether there was a flat.

It’s taken on a different meaning in the construction industry. Here it means that you are being encouraged to learn as much as you can about the quality of a product or service before you buy it.

A New Way to Kick the Tires at a Glance

Traditionally, kicking the tires happens at industry events like trade shows or in equipment dealers’ lots, but the COVID-19 pandemic changed all of that. Trade shows were rescheduled, and in some cases, canceled. Travel halted, and businesses’ physical doors were closed. Now nearly two years after the start of the pandemic, many industries face an additional challenge — pent-up demand for goods coupled with supply chain constraints have created lengthy backlogs.

Kicking the tires, though, is still an important step in making equipment decisions. So, how has that process changed amid a pandemic?

Expanding our approach

Customers’ behaviors have significantly changed, and we’ve entered a new era of doing business. People are doing more online than ever before. And, the accelerated use of mobile devices to manage day-to-day work and personal obligations has made it apparent that manufacturers need to offer online alternatives for traditional in-person activities.

According to Jennifer Stiansen, director of marketing at JLG, the increasing usage of portable technology led the company to rethink how it communicates with customers and colleagues. “With the diversity of technology options available today, there is so much that can be done online from any location, at any time of the day,” she says. “And in talking with customers during the pandemic, we discovered that there was an appetite for on-demand, immersive online experiences that would allow them the opportunity to research and kick the tires on demand.

“What we now know is that customers weren’t simply looking for a COVID check-the-box immersive experience,” she adds, “but rather a long-term place they could go to learn and explore products virtually.”

The JLG® solution to meeting this need was the development of an experiential marketing environment.

Access Your world

What is experiential marketing?

Also known as engagement marketing, live marketing or participation marketing, experiential marketing is a strategy that immerses customers within a situation or scenario that deeply engages them with a brand, not to just see or touch the products or services — but to actually experience them.

A more traditional example would be in-person test drives or try-before-you-buy events.

But in today’s world, experiential marketing has become much more than in-person experiences. It has evolved beyond physical interactions to digital.

“With modern technology continuing to advance, we can offer customers new and exciting, yet meaningful ways to engage and collaborate online. We started thinking: What would happen if we merge experiential marketing with digital technology to offer virtual job site experiences?” says Stiansen. “And, this seed idea is how the JLG Access Your World virtual experience began.”

A new way to kick the tires

“Interestingly,” she adds, “we found data from the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (in their Global Virtual Event Trend Series) that suggested that more than 50 percent of exhibitors, including manufacturers like JLG, attended a virtual tradeshow or hosted live presentations online since March 2020. But, 90 percent of those events were private, not open to the general public.”

And, Stiansen adds, most of these events also are hosted on a specific date, at a certain time — limiting opportunities to participate.

So, although many tradeshows and other in-person events are flipping the script and going virtual, she says, many of JLG’s customers are struggling to find the time to attend during their traditional workday. And when they do, many don’t feel that these events deliver the opportunity to “kick the tires.”

“With Access Your World, we set out to deliver a truly unique, memorable experience that could bring product walk-arounds and demonstrations into a flexible, educational and realistic (life-like) virtual environment,” she says.

Here’s how: Using 3-D equipment models, Stiansen says that visitors are able to navigate through four different job sites environments to better understand how JLG equipment can be used in specific situations, such as site preparation and steel erection work on the outside of a stadium in the first job site. Doing truss, fit out and finish work on the inside of the stadium in job site #2. Taking on finish and maintenance work within an office environment in job site #3. And, construction, maintenance and landscape work in a retail and entertainment complex in job site #4.

And in each scenario, a variety of JLG products and services are featured in the work, and visitors can click on the machines or solutions they want to know more about, gaining access to additional content that will give them the information needed to make informed buying decisions.

“Access Your World allows our customers to do what they want to do — virtually kick the tires,” says Stiansen. “And because it’s all online, the on-demand access provides everyone with the flexibility to visit and navigate the job sites solutions at their own pace.”

Personal touchpoints

As Stiansen and her team brought Access Your World to life, they looked for ways to build customized experiences for site visitors because digital experiential marketing offers greater opportunity for ongoing customer touchpoints.

“This meant that we didn’t just build out the job site scenarios,” says Stiansen, “but we also worked to provide a wide range of other marketing content from within the virtual environment that customers could click on for more information on our products and services, like videos, spec sheets and brochures.”

And, she adds, everyone also gets access to resources and tools that can help them complete their daily tasks, such as tips and trends through articles on #DirectAccess, financing from JLG Financial, sizing and spec’ing equipment using the JLG augmented reality app or BIM library, parts ordering on Online Express, signing up for training through JLG University or contacting JLG or a nearby equipment distributor through the JLG Sales & Service Locator.

“All of these features give Access Your World users the ability to explore what is of greatest interest and benefit to them,” says Stiansen. “And, if site visitors want even more interaction with JLG, this virtual world gives them the ability to schedule a meeting with a JLG representative.

“The flexibility of this environment truly supports the needs of a multitude of customers and puts each one in charge of what they consume, when they consume it and how they’d like to experience the JLG brand,” she says.

Access Your World

What’s coming next?

According to Stiansen, Access Your World provides JLG with another channel in which to engage customers, which includes rental companies and end-users.

But, is the investment worth it? Stiansen says there has been steady growth in the subscriber rate since its launch — in fact, her team has seen key spikes in traffic as each new scene was unveiled. “We view Access Your World as a starting point to a broader, longer-term commitment to creating virtual environments that both educate and entertain.

“In terms of what’s coming in the future, user behavior and feedback will be the guide for our next steps and the evolution of our efforts in the virtual space,” finishes Stiansen. “We are looking at key metrics such as traffic, dwell time, content played or downloaded and return visits to measure success. We have also engaged ‘registrants’ directly to understand what they are finding most valuable, as well as what enhancements they’d like to see in the future.” 

Check out Access Your World

Access Your Worldis a one-stop virtual experience for learning more about JLG products and services. It's interactive, open to the public and always available. Access it anytime, from anywhere, on any device by clicking here.


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