At ClickThrough, we believe in getting truly under the skin of the companies we work with. As an integrated digital marketing agency, it’s important for us to ‘be the brand’ of the businesses we represent.

Many of our team members conduct regular ‘working together’ days where they base themselves in the offices of a client and, essentially, work together.

So when waste management company Biffa – a long-term SEO, PPC and web development client – asked us to go and work alongside their team for a day, we jumped at the chance. However, what lay ahead was a far cry from our stylish offices in the beautiful cathedral city of Lichfield.

Team members from SEO, client development and web development, along with ClickThrough’s founder and managing director, Phil Robinson, donned their high vis jackets and steel-capped boots and set off in the early hours to ride a bin lorry for a day.

Working a full-day shift shadowing some of Biffa’s most experienced waste management operatives, our team learnt a lot about waste management, as well as discovering digital marketing opportunities along the way.

Allowing our team to get this level of exposure to Biffa’s day-to-day operation has enabled us to truly understand the essence of the problems they solve for their customers. The extra insight this has given us is certain to give us more ideas on how we can drive greater awareness and leads from digital marketing sources such as paid search, SEO and inbound content marketing strategies. – ClickThrough’s founder and managing director, Phil Robinson.

“I gained a lot of insight into how waste management works and where it all goes. I realised that more work needs to be done to educate people and businesses on waste and recycling – which in turn presents Biffa with an opportunity to lead the industry on recycling and waste education,” Phil added.

ClickThrough team in Biffa jackets

Left to Right: ClickThrough’s Phil Robinson, Neil Paterson, Rob Allen and Alan Rowe in their Biffa high vis.

Here’s what the team learnt:

Director of web development, Alan Rowe, got up at 2:40am for his shift on food waste. Assigned to Carl, he spent the day in a 14′ 6″ pod truck – one of Biffa’s largest and finest. Alan and Carl undertook 45 pick-ups in one day, travelling to Tipton, Bilston, Wolverhampton, Tetenhall, Pelsall, Cannock, Hednesford and Burntwood.

Talking to Carl, Alan developed a new level of respect for truck drivers.

“One of the things that struck me the most about Carl’s attitude was his obvious concern for safety. He is clearly a very talented driver. Some of the corners he turns, some of the reversing he does, the way he talks about the law. A highly professional driver,” Alan explained.

“He showed me the digital and analogue tachometer readings and explained some of the infringements a driver can incur when spot checked by VOSA,” he added.

On some shifts, Carl can handle 260 bins – efficiency at its best.

“There’s a strong sense of team spirit. Carl is happy to do extra work. Sometimes you might get stuck waiting somewhere or the truck breaks, and you have two choices: clock off on time or work late to finish your round. He figures (like me), that if he doesn’t do it now, then he will have extra tasks next week or the customer will complain and someone else will have to pick it up. Just get it done today. It keeps the wheels turning,” Alan remarked.

Web production manager, Neil Paterson, found his day on the bins interesting and enjoyable, especially seeing another side to the city. Neil’s route included familiar Birmingham city centre locations such as New Street, the Arcadian, Digbeth, Broad Street and the Jewellery Quarter – including the shop where he had picked up his wedding rings just six months previous.

“I was out with Wayne. He was a really nice bloke, said he enjoyed his work – he liked being his own boss during the day. He was very knowledgeable and I can see just how hard they work: long, unsociable hours as well as the physical nature of the bin emptying. Big respect to the Biffa crew!” said Neil.

SEO account manager, Jordan Moxham, had no end of fun on her day out with Ian from food waste – her inordinate amount of selfies a testament to just how much she enjoyed her time.

Jordan's Biffa selfie

Jordan Moxham with Biffa driver Ian.

Jordan rolled her sleeves up and got stuck in to the business of loading bins, operating the lorry’s back-end loader, and confirming all bins had been collected.

“Ian was amazing – we didn’t stop talking throughout the whole shift. He happily answered my endless questions, allowed me to participate in all aspects of the day and even shared his Very Berry Tea with me as I hadn’t brought a warm drink along with me,” Jordan said.

“He was also passionate about educating people and businesses. At a few of the collection points, we found that their general waste bin was literally spilling over, but their food bins were practically empty. He explained that if businesses were better educated about the importance of separating their waste, and what should go where, this would make his job much easier.”

Director of client development, Rob Allen, also undertook a food waste round, ending at the anaerobic digestion plant in Cannock. Here, the food waste is turned into energy – an area of the business ripe for future growth, according to Rob.

“It was a really good day. It gave a sense of the scale of the business, as the sheer volume of Biffa bins I saw was incredible. Customers don’t, perhaps, understand the scale of the operation or how much of this waste is transformed into energy or recycled materials. It’s a compelling story!” Rob said.

Rob Allen and Biffa driver Mark

Rob Allen and Biffa driver Mark.

The ClickThrough team got a new appreciation for the scale, efficiencies and operations of Biffa. Our new client knowledge will undoubtedly help us to keep delivering a digital marketing strategy that is on-brand and in line with their business objectives.

But one thing we hope Alan, Neil, Rob and Jordan don’t bring back to the work place is the smell. We’ll leave it for Alan to describe the fragrant bouquet that emanates from the anaerobic digestion plant:

Wow, the stench hits hard! It’s like being on a farm but intensified ten times, and I had a cold!

Our respect and thanks go out to the Biffa team for their time and hospitality.

Learn how ClickThrough increased Biffa’s conversion rate by 20% with a bespoke online order widget. Read our case study today.

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About the author:

Sarah McCay Tams is senior content and PR manager at ClickThrough Marketing. This includes planning and delivering on content for our clients as well as our own marketing materials. When her fingers are not dancing across the keyboard, her feet are on the dance floor – Salsa, Bachata and Rueda put this dancing queen in a spin.