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7 Marketing questions to deliver value for your construction industry clients

Updated: Sep 22, 2023


Lots of question marks over a road

Download the ebook - 7 Marketing Questions to Deliver Value for Your Construction Industry Clients - 1 in a series of 9 ebooks.


If you provide a service or even work in-house, these seven questions are invaluable when understanding where a business is currently and what it is trying to achieve. Without understanding these factors, you can run down a blind alley simply doing busy work.


To provide any kind of value to an organisation it is important to gain those foundational pillars of knowledge that everything must be based around. Although there are 101 different questions and areas that need to be understood to provide the best possible marketing advice, guidance and follow-through with the implementation of a plan that achieves targets, the following seven questions are what we find integral to delivering the best possible outcomes.


 

#1 What is your target market and what problems do they have?


If you don’t know the type of people you need to be talking to then you’re chatting with a brick wall. A wall of silence, or shouting into a big, empty room.


The construction industry is made up of many other industries and within these industries, many other market sectors and sub-sectors. Here are a few examples;

Industry

Construction

Construction

Industry Category

Roofing

Plumbing

Market Sector

Pitched Roofing

RMI

Sub-Sector

Timber Trusses

Bathrooms

Whenever you are looking at an industry as a whole you will find different categorisations but there aren’t many industries that are as diverse as construction. Due to this complexity, it is extremely important to know your target market and the more detailed you get, the more you will understand both the market and its incumbents.


We still haven’t covered the ‘why’ bit here so let’s crack at that now.


Let’s take one of the examples above, the RMI Bathrooms category. Firstly, we know that their problems will be centred around, you guessed it, bathrooms (that and the weather). Straight away we’ve narrowed down our field quite considerably and with a little more effort we can uncover the sweet spot between the solutions your client has and solving the target market's problems.


For example, it could be that a lot of people want to upgrade their current bathroom but are unsure about where their current bathroom will end up. Will it be recycled or will it end up dumped in the countryside somewhere (only for 3 old chaps to end up hurtling down a hill in it in hilarious fashion (any Last of the Summer Wine fans out there?).


With this knowledge we can start to tailor messages accordingly, focusing in on the delivery and removal of packaging, old bathroom furniture and any other waste. This could even be part of the offering, or if you wanted to take it even further, make it engrained into the organisation's processes that the waste will be tracked to the point of recycling.


Understanding a target market, their specific problems and how you can help fix them is where everything starts.

 

#2 What is your current market positioning?


It's not just about understanding who the target market is and the problems they face. You could have the perfect solution for this particular demographic but have taken a position within the market that makes it impossible to resonate with them.


This positioning could be based on a variety of factors, the most commonly used are price and quality. If you have a product or service that serves a purpose or is a solution to a known problem, it may be priced too expensive for your target market to see as a worthwhile investment. Alternatively, if priced too cheap it may be seen as an inferior product to others with a higher price point. These aren't the only two factors however, the list is pretty endless but should be focussed on topics that will be influential in the decision-making progress including, but not exclusively;

  • Time.

  • Frequency.

  • Size.

  • Variety.

  • Location.

  • Age.

  • Support.

  • Guarantees.

  • and we haven't even mentioned positioning in relation to competitors here!!!!!!

Understanding the positioning within a market is critical as it can tell you how the organisation perceives itself in relation to the actual market positioning. Sometimes fixing this with subtle tweaks or big changes can be all that is needed to enhance visibility and subsequent sales!

 

#3 What are the main pain points in your business right now?


Regardless of what you specialise in, whether you are a full mix marketing agency or focussing on a specific area of marketing such as SEO, branding or strategy, you must understand the pain points of a construction business before you can provide a service that will have the impact your client will be expecting it to.


This is a fundamental question for more reasons than one. Firstly, understanding the main pain points will help you avoid any major pitfalls when it comes to delivering a service within the construction industry. It’s important to know where there are issues internally, around;


Resources - usually revolve around being thin on the ground in terms of market bods.


Raw materials and stock - Changes in European legislation, exiting the European Union, pandemics and wars have impacted the delivery of raw materials and subsequently the manufacturing of goods. Stock could be an issue for some.


Skills shortages - For the same reasons above.


Budget constraints - In times of recession, marketing budgets are usually the ones to be hit hardest, especially when points one and two are factored in. This is of course complete idiocy but worth the warning


Processes and procedures - Within construction, there are many organisations that are progressive, forward-thinking and embrace new technology, and there are others who ‘have always done it this way’. It's worth taking the time to find out the processes that may prohibit your plans and either advise a change, work out ways to show a new way of working or factor these into your planning.


Authorisation - Similar to the previous point. Understanding how an organisation authorises activities will help with mapping realistic timescales.


All of these could be potential blockers that prohibit progression and subsequently the delivery of results.


External pain points are just as important to understand (and of course, this would be uncovered by your diagnosis into the industry….. You do a diagnosis right? RIGHT?). This could be anything from; competition, investment, visibility in the market, a poor recruitment market or industry-wide issues that are not apparent a first glance. These pain points are the ones you will probably have to navigate around rather than try and fix.


Within construction the industry-wide issues at the time of writing are;

  • Sustainability.

  • Golden Thread.

  • Skills Shortage.

  • Transparency.

  • CCPI.

  • Building Safety Act.

  • Data.


What may look great on paper to you, but could be setting everyone up for a fall. With insider knowledge, care and attention, pain points can be avoided or even resolved as part of your services - a win-win.

 

#4 What are the main goals you want to achieve in working with us?


You can manage what you can’t measure. But to measure correctly you need to place a marker in the sand to understand if what you have measured is a success.


There are two things to consider here.


1 - The main goals of the business. These could be revenue based, revolve around margin or market share, or something completely different, but if you have a clear understanding of what these goals are you can make sure that you are delivering a service which either directly or indirectly helps to achieve them. Working with a manufacturer will be very different to working with a wholesaler or a company that provides secondary services such as data or aerial photography, so be mindful of the variety of business goals within construction.


2 - The main goals of actually working with you. They have come to you for your expertise, for your services, to solve a particular problem that they cannot fix alone. But why? Why is this a problem (a pain point - which we should have discovered in answering the previous question) and why will it help move the business towards achieving its main goals?


I’ve found there to be two main goals construction businesses look for from a marketing agency:


Leads and Revenue: This means you need to first think strategically before executing tactically


Content and Visibility: This means you need to first think strategically before executing tactically


See the theme there?


These two points should be intertwined, and have a clear link or at least one that can be explained to you. Given a clear narrative, one that can explicitly show success or failure is one you should embrace - pin it to your wall, write it on a mirror, this will be the sword by which you live or die (metaphorically speaking - unless your client deals with swords and in which case, take precaution).

 

#5 What budget do you have to achieve this outside the retainer?


This can be a really tricky question as most find talking about budgets and finances difficult, but it's majorly important that this is discussed as it will determine what can be considered and what can’t. This is not to say you should go looking for additional funding, not if it isn’t needed. But if paid advertising, sponsorships, exhibitions, print and online events are going to be an important part of the marketing plan, then the cash that is available to make all these things happen is crucial.


It’s important to note that there are always alternatives to paid-for tactics and it may be a balance is required between an ideal scenario, a realistic scenario and the budget that is there to achieve your goal(s).


If this question is explained in this way, it will avoid even more difficult conversations further into your working relationship. Imagine you said you could deliver on running events, coordinating a number of exhibitions and complimenting these with PPC to discover that once you’d signed up to participate and run events and exhibitions any additional costs above a retainer and current spending were severely limited by revenue generated now!


This kinda changes the whole dynamic of what needed to be done in the short-term to facilitate long-term plans.


Make sure you are clear on budgets from the start.

 

#6 What is important we know that we may not already have asked?


This question is open to interpretation but allows a client to bring to the table anything that hasn’t already been discussed. One of those ‘er, I think thats everything …… oh yeah, I forget to mention…’ moments.


It could be as simple as a new product development that isn’t quite ready yet, a change in market sector policy or even a project that has a non-disclosure agreement on it that could add value once disclosed.


This is a great question to ask face to face or even remotely giving your clients time to think about it and respond in a diligent way. There should be no pressure to think of an answer here as you may already have the answers but sometimes it can uncover a little golden nugget that is critical to planning in the future.



#7 What do you not want to be known for?


Final question. Odd question. But one that is very telling as it gets people to think about what is really important about how their organisation is portrayed by looking at the no-nos - a sophisticated marketing term :)


Try to get people within the organisation to finish these sentences:


We are not...
We don't...
We won't...

Completing the above sentences gives you an indication as to what (as a marketer) you must avoid, which is great when getting to know and understand an organisation. It means when developing campaigns or working on a detailed strategy you know what won't be accepted without the influence of a client guiding you to what they think is the correct solution.


What this does is remove the focus on what can be a blinkered view of an organisation - from the inside out (which as we know has a degree of bias in it - once you start to work for a company you will see it very differently to those that don't).

 

In Summary


There are clearly many more questions that will need to be answered when building a working relationship, particularly as (as explained earlier) the construction industry is so fragmented.


In asking these seven simple yet effective questions there is much knowledge and insight to be gained.


The trick is to know what to do with this construction industry marketing insight and knowledge!


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