Ask Silver Bullet: September 2016
We’re planning to launch a new product for the construction industry but having great difficulty in understanding how to market to this sector.
The construction sector presents a good example of both Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) marketing and of the importance of properly understanding the Route to Purchase before you start spending your hard earned marketing budget.
In 2014 the UK construction sector contributed some £103bn in economic output, around 6.5% of the total economy and was responsible for around 2.1m jobs, around 6.2% of the UK total, so this is a vast market which seems likely to continue to grow. It was, however, until quite recently, notoriously conservative in its attitude to marketing, although this is rapidly changing.
The route to the construction market is varied and quite complicated involving, end users, who include both commercial organisations and consumers, architects and other specifiers, and buyer groups such as Fortis and National Buying Group. In addition, the variety of services and products the sector requires is truly vast from the provision of Health & Safety services such as advice on CDM regulations to the supply of everything from bricks to light bulbs.
The first act must be to decide where your products are likely to be used as this will determine to whom you need to target your marketing, and, in turn, how this is to be achieved. For example, steel lintels are not targetted at the consumer market as their use involves skills beyond most DIY practitioners and are aimed at both builders’ merchants and direct to construction companies. They are also, with utmost respect to their manufacturers, a strictly utilitarian item, the purchase of which is determined by weight to strength ratio and, of course, price, meaning branding is of lesser importance than features. They are also specified by type by architects and other construction professionals.
Our advice for marketing lintels would therefore be a strategy that included CDP sessions for specifiers, printed and digital sales collateral, including Point of Sale for stockists, trade exhibitions and direct sales to buyer groups and construction companies. Marketing strategies of old were usually sales promotion based (there is nothing wrong with this) but there is now an increased investment in customer engagement through informative, entertaining content aimed at the end user.
At the other end of the scale, however, are say, kitchen fittings, which require marketing to end user consumers, buyer groups and developers whilst they too can also be specified by architects and construction professionals. But here, functionality is no longer the most important criteria with appearance and pricing bringing in the all important question of branding and the old adage of “selling the sizzle not the steak!”
The CMA (Construction Marketing Association) recently found that 86% of their members have increased their marketing activities and budget with increased spend in website development at the expense of traditional trade shows. Many manufacturers have identified that end users often require more than just the bare bones of product information, but are looking for installation guides, product certification and quite often something as simple as friendly advice. SEO and social media are now heavily utilised by the manufacturers and the merchants alike - with both parties understanding the importance of regular, interesting and often exciting blog/social and website content updates.
The main marketing challenges facing companies selling to the construction sector are the lack of strategy, a dated websites, lack of social media activity and a failure to differentiate from competitors. Overall, however, the construction sector is realising that marketing is becoming a key priority, to both build strong relationships with the merchants, but also to engage with the end user on a consistent basis to become the industry expert on your product type.
Do you need to some assistance with your marketing? Do you need to review your strategy or do you have another marketing question we can help with? Talk to us. Email your questions anonymously to us today firstname.lastname@example.org or Tweet us (not so anonymously) @SilverBulletPR and use the hash tag #AskSB