Marketer Issues for 2017
In March 2017 a group of leading marketing professionals from building product manufacturers met for a round table discussion, hosted by Chris Ashworth of CIMCIG, to discuss the key issues and challenges they face in 2017. Here are some of their views:
The most immediate impact of Brexit has been the effect on currency which has driven up the cost of imported raw materials and energy. Some UK based manufacturers have found the weaker value of Sterling an advantage when competing with competitors with imported products.
The uncertainty of Brexit does make it difficult to plan ahead. Certainty of budgets can be an issue as the business looks to support its profitability. In particular, this presents problems with recruiting or developing people.
Digital is seen by The Board as a way of saving money, rather than an activity to invest in as an opportunity to grow the business.
Because of the analytics available from digital marketing there is a greater focus on ROE and an expectation of similar levels of information for non-digital activities, such as exhibitions.
Social Media – how to measure return and justify effort? The problem with engaging is that there is a very short attention span. One business decision is whether to keep it in-house or out-source.
Non-digital activities such as physical direct marketing can be effective because it is now less frequent, but it should not be treated as a mass marketing approach.
People are less brand loyal than in the past. The more product performance is standardised, the less the need for a brand. But standards can be exceeded and the role of brand is to give confidence in how products perform.
The problem with brand is that people think they know what your brand offers.
There is also more talk about “solutions” and less about specific products.
Must also contend (or become) with Disrupters missing out Distribution. More distributors are also introducing their own products.
The approach to the market is starting to become more granular. Software provides the means to sub-divide customer groups. Personas are useful, but need to go beyond categories such as Architect and Contractor to include Advocates, Passives and Detractors. Also, Early Adopters and Laggards. But done properly, this can be very effective.
Timing and frequency of engagement needs be just right, too much and it becomes irritating. But customers expect to hear more from the manufacturer, and there are times when they may appreciate contact. After downloading product data for example.
A digital relationship can be more effective than a one-to-one relationship and Marketing Automation software is starting to be used, but only by a small proportion of manufacturers. In implementation, there is the challenges of developing workflows, which need to be unique for construction.
There is a shortage of some marketing skills. Bringing in people from outside the construction sector means they have a very narrow field of relevant experience.
Many recently trained people know about Digital Marketing but lack an understanding of other key aspects such as Product Management or even digital specialisms such as Marketing Automation.
Marketing training needs to go beyond NVQ3.
Image of Construction
The construction industry is seen as traditional, not for women and with very little diversity. From the perspective of marketing this may be unfair, but it remains a challenge to attract people into the sector, especially as they don’t know about the wide range of activities and challenges in construction marketing.
Author Chris Ashworth is the owner of Competitive Advantage, a marketing consultancy specialising in the built environment.