Conversation with Alisha Lange, Director of Marketing at Vandalia Rental

Alisha Lange is the Director of Marketing at InTempo customer Vandalia Rental. With a third location coming to Southwest Ohio, Vandalia Rental’s diversified fleet mix of construction equipment is in high demand. InTempo’s Director of Marketing, Kate Miller, sat down with Alisha to learn about her marketing strategy.

KM: What is your career background?

AL: Marketing a new product or service in today’s highly competitive environment can be a challenge to any new or existing business. My marketing experience includes B2B in the industrial, municipal, commercial, and manufacturing industries. I developed diverse skillset that includes marketing strategy, social media campaigns, interactive media, and so on. At Vandalia Rental, I am implementing inbound lead marketing through lead nurturing, drip campaigns, marketing automation, SEO, analytics, and content marketing. I also have certifications in AdWords, Bing Ads, and Construction Marketing, all of which have helped me increase exposure for Vandalia Rental. My experiences have proven to be instrumental as I was tasked to develop a new marketing department from the ground up bringing Vandalia Rental into the modern age of marketing. I came on board last fall, and we’ve begun making some exciting changes and improvements.

KM: What drew you to Vandalia Rental in particular?

AL: I saw that at Vandalia Rental, there was so much potential for growth. This was an opportunity for me to build a marketing department from the ground up. I realized this could not only help Vandalia Rental further its goals, but also challenge me and help me grow professionally. Another thing I was really drawn to is the culture. Vandalia Rental is a family-owned, third generation business that truly cares about the communities it serves. A lot of companies make that claim, but here, it’s not lip service. We have a set of core values on which we base everything. Our focus is on building strong relationships with our customers and our communities. One way we do that is to invest time and money on programs like safety training; we take safety very seriously. Vandalia Rental supports and is involved with respectable organizations such as Mid-America OSHA, the Ohio Valley Associated Builders and Contractors, and the Ohio Valley Construction Education Foundation.  I have also been on the marketing sub-committee for the OVABC and OVCEF, on behalf of Vandalia Rental, since February.

 

Alisha Lange in Vandalia Rental yard

Alisha enjoying the view from the Vandalia Rental yard

 

KM: How do you feel Vandalia Rental stands out from competitors, especially big box stores?

AL: One thing that sets us apart is our involvement in the community. The team members at Vandalia Rental are encouraged to give back through numerous sponsorships, events, and donation matches. One of the organizations we provide significant support to is the Ronald McDonald House. Just recently, the entire company voted from a list of charities to unify our support, and the Ronald McDonald House won. I designed a wrap for our Genie SX-180 boom lift to show our support for the services that the Ronald McDonald House provides. In fact, when the boom is rented, 10 percent of the profits are donated to the Ronald McDonald House Charities. We are also proud supporters of the Pink Ribbon Girls, an organization that provides those who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and women’s reproductive cancers with healthy meals, transportation to and from treatment, and even housecleaning, when support is needed the most. There is a sense of pride and satisfaction knowing that the work we do together as a team not only strengthens the businesses that come to us, the communities we are in, but it also provides a meals and care for women, children, and their families as well. It feels good because the whole point is to give. From a marketing perspective, it does help us build brand recognition, trust, and gives a glimpse of our culture.

The company was founded in 1961, and we’re still growing.  Initially, our reputation of amazing customer service grew by word of mouth, and we have developed longstanding customer relationships based on trust, value and dependability; that is, and will always be a key part of our business identity. Contractors and construction companies alike have been encouraging us to continue to expand into other areas of Ohio because they appreciate our customer service, speed of delivery, competitive pricing, and honest sales approach. We inspect and service every single piece of equipment when it is returned because we understand the cost of downtime and how it affects our customers. We want them to prosper. These are just a few examples of how we differentiate ourselves from our competition.

 

The Vandalia Rental crew having a blast at the community July 4th parade in Franklin, Ohio. 

 

KM: From a marketing perspective, what are some of your priorities?

AL: We’re currently in the development stages of building a new website. Last year, global mobile Internet usage surpassed desktop usage. This has huge implications for the rental industry. Our website will be user friendly and responsive, meaning it will be easy to use across mobile, tablet, and desktop devices. Once the website is ready, we plan to do more advertising online with tools such as Google AdWords. We’re also in the process of rebranding our logo; the owner’s aunt designed it back when she was in high school. The beloved little cartoon man is staying though—he’s just getting a modern refresh!

KM: How do you drive your marketing strategy and come up with ideas?

AL: Cross-department collaboration is crucial to our success. I’ve worked to build relationships with IT, HR, Finance, Training and Leaderships—everybody is an expert in their particular field. We also hold regular brainstorming and whiteboard sessions to come up with ideas. The president of Vandalia Rental is Kurt Barney, whose grandfather started the company.  Kurt has worked every single job here, so he’s an incredible source of information, but everyone has something important to contribute.

 

Vandalia Rental President Kurt Barney

Vandalia Rental President Kurt Barney on the cover of Pro Contractor Rentals magazine.

 

KM: Across your two Facebook pages, you have nearly 2,000 likes. What’s your secret?

AM: First, we have one page for each of our locations so we can target relevant information to our customers. In each location, the demand varies. Our customers in smaller towns need different equipment than those in larger cities who, for example, need taller boom lifts. It’s more work, but it creates less confusion for customers. If we run a special, we don’t have to specify that it’s only good at one location because we post it to the associated Facebook page. We are also on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn.  Another way we engage our customers is to put out interesting content to reflect our culture. We want to show that we’re down to earth, and that we tailor solutions to every customer. Creating a “personality” through social media allows us to distinguish ourselves from our competitors. It’s not only about giving coupons or running specials. Our pages are fun, playful and engaging.

KM: Do you see Facebook as simply a channel to connect with customers on a personal level, or has it actually helped drive business?

Both. One of the posts that I created offered free rides on our 180’ boom lift. I didn’t really think we’d have any takers, but I thought it would be fun.  Low and behold, people actually called and wanted to take a ride! One of the guys that showed up was a window washer. He went on a ride and after talking to one of our trainers, Joe Mohler, about fall prevention and aerial safety, he realized his employees could use the boom lift instead of lowering themselves on a platform with rope from 18 stories up. He ended up signing up for our Aerial Work Platform (AWP) training, became certified, and is now servicing sites using aerial work platforms. In addition to the safety benefits, he can’t believe the amount of time it saves his crew.  It’s a great example of the power of using social media to drive business while keeping it fun, being creative, and showing the human side of the brand.

Vandalia Rental Facebook Page

A post from one of two Vandalia Rental facebook pages. The pages have nearly 2,000 combined "likes."

 

KM: What else have you done from a marketing perspective?

AL: Our main focus is on educating the customer.  Our goal is to give them the information they need when it comes to issues like Silica and new MEWP guidelines. I’ve developed a lot of literature so our customers have a list of what’s compliant and what’s not. I also put together information on topics such as aerial training.  We offer guidance on why you need it, how to do it, and how we can help. This is going to be changing because of new MEWP requirements from OSHA, but we keep our materials updated as the certifications change. One of the first articles I published was Vandalia Rental: The Benefits of Rental Equipment.

KM: Do you have any particular marketing-related advice for other rental businesses?

AL: In today’s marketplace, image is everything. How your company looks to the outside world sets the tone for all of your interactions – with customers, partners, media and other key stakeholders. You cannot afford to present an unprofessional or inconsistent image in a competitive and crowded landscape, or fall behind in an increasingly digital world. As we’ve talked about, taking advantage of technology by developing a mobile-friendly website and building a presence on social media is important, but at the foundation is whether your company is viewed as trustworthy and respected. We feel that being honest and open with customers, supporting the community we serve, and focusing on safety is what brings our customers back. Once you have those building blocks in place, marketing is about amplifying everything that grows from that strong foundation.

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