To market with impact, you have to light up the imagination. And sometimes, this needs to go beyond the computer screen. In today’s buying environment, information is readily available for the customer who wants to know more about a product before they purchase. But information can’t replace the experience of touching or testing a product in person, so how do we help the hands-on customer?

This is where experiential marketing can make a difference. Customers who attend an activation event are more likely to actually purchase—up to 98% more likely, according to EventTrack. So, if you’re ready to get your hands dirty with hands-on marketing in 2019, take a look at this brand’s success story.

So, how did a Fortune 500 company like Caterpillar do it?

Picture this: you’re out in the desert in the middle of a thunderstorm. There’s a clap of thunder over to your right, and you can’t see until a lightning strike lights up the area. And then you see it: a machine revs its engine next to you and starts to move.

As 2019 begins, there is a new force coming across the landscape in the construction industry. It’s been decades in the making and is coming to the world this year. It’s the brand-new Cat® D6 XE dozer. Caterpillar began spreading the word last year – there was a new, fully redesigned dozer on the horizon. And Simantel got to help tell its story.

This was no small product update. For the first time in 30 years, Caterpillar redesigned a dozer from the ground up, creating a machine that works harder for its customers. New features like an electric drive and VPAT blade make operating this machine and moving earth easier. So, we knew that we had to tell this story in a big way.

Take an inside look at the experience.

In two separate unveilings last fall, customers and dealers were able to experience the new D6 XE up close—and with a boom. Viewers walked into a built environment simulating a thunderstorm as the show started, and then the dozer appeared on the big screen, larger than life and covered in rain. The first event took place in an auditorium at the Edwards Demonstration Facility, where walking into a controlled environment felt like an alternate reality. In the second experience, customers were driven to a desert quarry in Las Vegas where the arid landscape was leveraged as an unexpected setting for a storm, and the dozer was in its element.

Hands-On Marketing

Once customers’ imaginations were stoked by the big reveal, they were then given the opportunity to leave their auditorium seats and experience the dozer with a subject matter expert. From the stands, the dozer was a celebrity, but beside it on the dirt, it became a possible addition to their fleet. In this sense, the opportunity to ask questions not only helps generate excitement—it also builds confidence in Caterpillar’s dedication to rolling out exceptional machines for the most important audience: their customers.

Hands-On Marketing

Why give the opportunity to get close to your product before they buy?

Because people care about their options, and only you know how to personally introduce them to the one that’s best for them. And this has proven to pay off. Sixty-five percent of brands say that their event and experiential programs relate directly to sales, according to EMI & Mosaic. Yes, the marketing landscape is going digital, but the importance of being there and touching and feeling will never go unappreciated.

If you are also looking to bring your brand to life and provide your customers with a hands-on experience, here are a few things to consider:

  • Have a vision. You already know you want to build a hands-on experience. Now how can you highlight your product in a unique way? Bring your outside-the-box thinkers to the table.
  • Have a plan. Make sure you have time, budget and resources dedicated to your efforts so you can maximize your impact.
  • Push the envelope. Whether you’re at a trade show or hosting a one-time experience, events are the perfect opportunity to showcase your product in a new way—then talk to customers about it.
  • Measure the outcome. Knowing the success of your hands-on experience will help you get better results each time.

As we look back at the events of last fall, the lights and special effects were pretty cool. But what we liked best were the side conversations we overheard, like the dealer who raved about the amazing machine demo to a colleague, or the guys who crowded around a machine in the desert post-show even though cold beer was waiting for them just inside the tent.

Why make your marketing hands-on? We think you’re getting the picture.