What makes Construction Different?
Author: Chris Ashworth CIM
Although marketing in the construction sector lacks some of the glamor of consumer marketing, for me, it makes up for this through the challenges of dealing with a very complex Decision Making Unit (DMU). In fact, I would go as far as to say the most complex DMU in the B2B environment. Let us consider the typical DMU for a building.
The Initiator of the project will be a client or developer. They will have requirements for their building’s performance as a home, office, retail unit, school or other establishment. These requirements will include how the building will be used by the occupants, the maintenance criteria, capital cost, lifetime cost and will increasingly have more complex needs such as sustainability or health & wellbeing.
The User of the building may be the same as the Initiator, but is more likely to be a tenant or home owner. They will probably not share the same aspirations as the Initiator. For a home it might be affordability, location or standard of kitchen fit-out. For a commercial development it could be productivity, flexibility as well as the method of funding.
The Decider tends not to be a single person. The ultimate decision may rest with an Architect, Engineer or contractor subject to the type of contract. But increasingly, with the involvement of BIM, we are seeing a more collaborative approach to decisions including method of construction and product selection.
The Influencers are many: Planning Officers, Building Control, Insurance, Quantity Surveyor and specialist Consultants are some of the most obvious. Their influence is applied via documents such as the 17 Approved Documents of the Building Regulations or the more than ten thousand standards relating to construction.
The Buyer is the final part of the DMU. Probably, but not always, within the contractor or sub-contractor. But then with a second tier of procurement represented by the distributor, merchant or wholesaler who influence price and availability. The Buyer is working on behalf of other members of the DMU but with the brief to get the ‘best price’ and can contribute to an adversarial approach which undermines the project design that went before. Even resulting in a building which does not fully meet the needs of the Initiator and User.
As if this is not complex enough, these decision makers will be based in different organisations, many of which have had to market their expertise to become part of the DMU. And the Decider, Influencer and Buyer will be making decisions based on different, sometimes conflicting, features and benefits.
For the marketer, it is key to understand who will influence the decision to purchase your product or service. This in turn needs an understanding of a whole raft of features and benefits relevant to people as well as the different communication channels to enable engagement.
It may not be as glamorous as consumer marketing, but it certainly requires an understanding of a broad set of issues, which CIMCIG aims to help you understand. For example, in our next seminar we will be learning how AECOM inspire their people and showcase the brand. Further details of this seminar can be found here bit.ly/2oLjryP
Chris is founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy which specialises in market research and training for the construction industry. He serves on theorganising committee for CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry Group.