The construction industry has been hit hard by the economic recession. Construction has been one of the fastest growing and lucrative businesses in the world. However, in 2007 the bubble started to burst and by the middle of 2008, many house builders were in serious trouble. Now we see some light at the end of the tunnel but in order to capitalise on the growing number of opportunities, many are rediscovering the essentials of construction marketing to build a solid foundation for future growth. Knowing how to procure work in a changing economic climate through an understanding of sound business development principles and construction marketing strategies is key to the future of the industry.
Construction marketing has had a bad press. This has largely been due to a misunderstanding of what modern marketing is all about. Gone are the days of the fancy sales talk, over promising, irrelevant jargon and hype. These days marketing is all about building relationships, making the right connections, offering genuine solutions and forging collaborative partnerships. In order for effective construction marketing to take place, the right person needs to be appointed.
Most Managing Director’s of smaller construction companies spend a lot of time on public relations exercises for which they may not feel cut out! They have enough on their hands managing the business. So someone to concentrate on marketing, client relations and business development is crucial.
Construction Marketing is a specialised area and should be an essential ingredient in your business plan if you want to expand and take on the new challenges of a changing industry. Of course there are marketing techniques and general principles that work in any industry, but whoever does your marketing, needs to know the business.
The construction industry is evolving and changing with new demands and challenges to be faced. This will inevitably mean that we live in a climate of change. Any marketing person worth their fee, will stay ahead of the game and spend time focussing on key areas of development.
Although the opportunities in the construction business are growing rapidly with every government led initiative, the competition for work is getting more intense – especially with the growing emphasis on partnering and frameworks. If your company is to stay in the front line of business growth, you need a Marketing and Promotions Budget and the right person to take things forward.
There are eight essential characteristics you should look for in a marketing person. This may be a special appointment or someone within your company who has the skills and abilities to be at the front end of your marketing and business promotion efforts.
They need to be:
1. A people person. It is essential to have an open personality that connects easily with others and is able to understand how human psychology works. Knowing how people tick, what their key motivators are and what is likely to grab their attention in terms of that new business proposal, is an essential characteristic.
2. An excellent communicator. It’s no good being at the front line of business development if you can’t articulate well. This is more than picking up the telephone. Creativity is essential if your prospect is to be won. So keeping accurate records of every conversation and a knowledge of the company you are targeting is crucial together with relevant personal details of the target. For instance, knowing birthdays, important anniversaries, hobbies and interests can enable a good communicator to respond appropriately. Sending a personalised birthday or Christmas card can be a powerful way of building relationships which form the foundation for business opportunity.
3. Un-flappable! The marketing person will encounter a number of hurdles on a daily basis. The pressure of meeting Key Performance Indicators set by the management can create undue stress for instance. Then there is the unpleasant business of rejection, which is inevitable when targeting new prospects. Sometimes in a busy office environment, especially in the construction industry which often doesn’t rate the marketing role, there can be tensions and a conflict in perceived priorities. The marketing person needs to hold firm in times of uncertainty, believe in the company and it’s products and services and have a determination to grow that sales pipeline.
4. Focussed on the big picture. Getting the next tender through the door and securing that letter of intent is only part of the picture. The marketing person will always be thinking ahead, three to six months down the line, to ensure that all important sales pipeline is healthy. Especially in construction, where the lead in time from tender to job on site can often take months.
5. Highly motivated and a motivator of others. Marketing people need to be self starters. People who see what needs to be done and then just get on with it. They need to be people with initiative and drive and have the ability to take others with them.
6. Well informed. The problem faced by the construction industry in terms of business development is that there have been few specialists in this area. So the danger of appointing a marketing consultant with no real knowledge of the industry has been a real one. At the very least the marketing person needs to have a working knowledge of the industry if not a background in construction.
7. Creative, flexible AND organised! A disorganised marketer is doomed to failure. So although creative and flexible approach is essential, accurate records should be kept using an efficient Customer Relations Management System.
8. Well presented! First impressions do count! They way the marketer presents themselves is crucial. By all means, they can be modern and trendy, but they do need to wear a suite and tie!
So best of luck in finding the right person to carry your business forward! Be careful who you appoint and then give them the resources they need to do their job.