The Chartered Institute of Marketing states that “Marketing is the management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably” When marketing construction products how is this best achieved? The construction sector poses unique marketing challenges, with a complex decision making unit and many influences on product selection. In this blog I take a look at the challenges unique to marketing construction products.
Identifying trends and opportunities within your target construction sector
The construction industry is vast, representing 9% of UK GDP. More often than not your construction product will be suited to a particular construction segment. Knowing your target market is critical. This could be one or a combination of residential, education, commercial, healthcare or many more. These sectors can have differing trends or fortunes. Knowing how to target the construction projects in these sectors and the key decision makers working on them is essential.
Regularly checking construction project leads and keeping informed of construction market activity is important for any construction marketer. Another tool is research. Conducting research specific to your needs can truly help you understand the market potential and target opportunities effectively.
Knowing the dynamics of the construction Decision Making Unit
The construction sector’s Decision Making Unit (DMU) is far more complex than many business-to-business markets. This is because the team responsible for designing, selecting, purchasing and installing products are employed by different organisations, usually come together for a single project and then disperse. To further complicate matters, the nature of the relationship between the members of the project team will depend on the type of contract used (Traditional, Design & Build, Management, PF2). And BIM is also altering the influence of different members of the DMU.
The Architect has not been the sole specifier for many years. It is important to understand the different members of the DMU and their influence. You need to know what is important to each decision maker and how this will influence their product choice, to then promote to them relevant benefits. Understanding how the construction industry has evolved, knowing why the industry operates in the way it does, allows the marketer to understand the DMU and target key decision makers at key stages of the construction project.
Keeping informed about influences on construction product selection
The decision to specify a product is based on many factors, some of them conflicting. Construction products may be selected because of their aesthetics, speed of installation or availability for example. The overriding concern is that it is fit for purpose, performing its role effectively and throughout the design life of the building. Knowing what is of importance to your target market is critical, customer research is a valuable tool for this.
Also of importance is keeping up to date with the latest construction regulations and initiatives, so you can present relevant benefits that meet these challenges. There are many influences on the selection of construction products. For example the construction skills shortage is a major concern, products that are either easy to install or come with technical guidance and installation training may do well in this environment.
Government also plays a significant role in driving product selection with construction initiatives, building regulations and planning. Building Information Modelling (BIM) is an example of an initiative being championed by the government. BIM gives the potential to change the way the construction team shares information, avoiding component conflicts and reducing operating costs for the client. Increasing adoption of BIM by architects means products supported with BIM content are more likely to be selected. Sustainability is also a key factor in construction product selection. It is important to demonstrate how your construction product meets government regulations and standards. Think about Part L compliance, BREEAM, BES6001 and any other proven certification or test data.
So what is so different about marketing construction products? The main differences are that the market place is complex and there are many influences on product selection. There is not one decision maker but a team of decision makers, all with varying influence at different points of the construction project. Finally the lead time from decision to specify through to installation can take two years or more. This makes marketing construction products a challenge. Meaning as a construction marketer there is never a dull moment.