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PROFILE: Chris Wright - Worldwide Marketing & Brand Director, JCB

  Chris WrightBreaking the diesel engine land speed record is a marketing ploy that's likely to attract attention. And that's exactly what happened when JCB's Dieselmax engine hit 350mph at Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, in August 2006. The resulting PR campaign captured the imagination of the public and media in 38 countries – during the month of the record attempt, JCB achieved 5.6 million hits on its website at the rate of 656,000 per day. It also took home the Grand Prix at the B2B Marketing Awards last year.

Using innovative methods to attract attention is nothing new to JCB though. For a brand that started life in a lock-up garage in 1945 when its founder, Joseph Cyril Bamford, built a tipping trailer using a £1 welding set and sold it on for £45, it has come a long way, and now its yellow and black branded diggers and no-nonsense logo are so distinctive, it is used colloquially as a household name for any similar type of engineering vehicle, even appearing in the Oxford English Dictionary. It is now also on the road to achieving international brand recognition under the impetus of Chris Wright, its worldwide marketing & brand director.

“When I started at JCB, one of my goals was the development of an international marketing capability and a consistent worldwide brand in terms of product, customer experience and communications. I think we are now seeing JCB move from being essentially an exporter from the UK to becoming a truly global company,” he explains, talking from the company's sprawling world headquarters in Staffordshire.

JCB has seen new factories set up in China, India, Brazil and the US and since Wright started with the company four years ago overall sales have doubled from 35,000 units to 70,000. “The emerging markets are key to us as these are the economies that are developing their infrastructure,” he says, adding that last year India overtook the UK as its largest single market. “It shows that selling all over the world is becoming more and more important to us as a business, so we see developing our international marketing capability as an ongoing project.”

Expanding worldwide has been a primary influence behind the increase in sales, but Wright's focus on “driving the customer into the heart of the business” has had an equally strong impact. This has included implementing a customer satisfaction survey as well as a market segmentation strategy. “Harnessing data in this way to better understand and retain customers is key,” he says. “It's ten times more expensive to attract a new customer than to maintain an existing one, so measuring customer satisfaction is so important. Segmentation has also helped us find out who our customers are and what they want and as a result, we've been able to sell more machines with higher values to each customer. We're looking at it from our customers' point of view now – we want to be their eyes, ears and voice so we can identify all their needs,” he adds.

 

So alongside the development of an international marketing capability is a drive to continually improve customer relations. “Regular communication is the basis of any good relationship – I feel it's really important in terms of letting customers know you understand their business and that you understand them,” he says.