When developing strategy for construction markets we like to think we know our customers and what they want. We like to think that we have the information we need to market effectively to architects, engineers, contractors. That we can skip the construction market research, saving time and money, to get onto the more interesting part, the marketing campaign, the creative.
But how many times do you debate specifier behaviour with your colleagues to simply end up in a circular discussion, because you don’t have the data? Or throw about answers based on assumption and gut-feeling?
Construction markets are complex, the decision-making unit is made up of many specifiers and influencers. Value-engineering and specification switching being a constant challenge. Construction contract type, legislation and market forces all influence the specification of building products. Therefore, when marketing construction products it is important to have a good grip on the current market, as well as understand the construction specifiers that specify your product.
Market research is about managing risk. The greater your understanding of your construction sector the lower the risk of failure and the higher the chance of success.
Construction market research does not need to be expensive and time consuming.
Often, Competitive Advantage is approached to conduct a research project on a subject we have already published a report on. Our Construction Media Index and Personas are two good examples where we can share the knowledge from these with a client, allowing them to use this to refine their requirement into a more incisive research project. And by having a background knowledge of the subject, we can also suggest further issues to investigate, as part of your research questionnaire. The implications of Value Engineering in the light of the Grenfell tragedy for example.
There are a number of quick research wins, to inform and navigate your marketing strategy. Here are some ideas:
1 – Survey your frontline sales team. Using a third party to conduct this research means you are more likely to get responses that are not sugar coated or biased. Making the survey responses anonymous is also a good idea. This type of research can give marketing insight into influences on specification, tools required by the sales team, insight into customer satisfaction and much more.
2 – Desk research is a great way of conducting a quick informative piece of research. This is particularly applicable when researching market size and identifying market opportunity. Asking an expert to complete, means your time is freed up to get on with those all-consuming marketing tasks, preventing the project from becoming one of those jobs that always has to wait until tomorrow. The expert can also draw meaning and conclusion from the findings, findings that you can apply directly to your strategy.
3 – Online surveys are fabulous for gaining instant responses that can be monitored as they come in. Providing an incentive to gain responses, such as vouchers or a prize draw, speeds results. Perhaps conduct a short sharp NPS survey prior to a communications programme, and again following the comms campaign? If time is really pressing then responses can be supplemented with telephone research to chosen key contacts.
Research is the foundation of good marketing.
Consider what you already know and what information you need to gather. Identify one objective and stick to it. Professional construction research, that provides clear results which are easy to interpret and apply to your strategy will not be a waste. Stop the guess work and start building your strategy on market fact.