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7 Seismic Shifts Vital for Construction Marketing

Updated: Jul 11, 2023


A slot machine with three 7's on it

As a marketer, you will always get asked questions about communications, channels, websites, email lists, presentations, and promotions, most of which are valid but usually, for short-term gain, sales orientated or with a heavy focus on a quick ROI to hit some number or quota that has been set by the business.


If you know your construction marketing from your elbow, you’ll know that we need to think much more strategically than this (sales, promotions and short-term tactics are part of this, but are just that, part of it).


And if you are in the construction industry and happen to know your arse from your elbow, you’ll also know that there are seismic shifts happening that will and have affected the entire built environment and in turn an organisation’s strategic development.


But as a marketer within construction, what are the shifts that will have a dramatic effect on what we do? What do we need to take into consideration as we plan for the next 12 months and beyond?

The 7 Seismic Shifts Construction Marketers Need to Know About

Here are the top 7 most important changes to the construction industry that will affect the way construction marketers plan and implement;



1 Sustainability

You could be fooled into thinking it’s still the year 1994 as sustainability started to become a focus for all marketers when John Elkington first proposed the triple bottom line concept. But here we are in 2022 and it’s developed into quite a beast – for some.

Ironically, sustainability is a poison chalice.

On one hand, you know that doing the right thing is always the right thing and it’s crazy to think we ever thought differently. But remember it wasn’t that long ago that bloodletting was a legitimate cure for illness and smoking was allowed in the office – times change. But are we doing the right thing because;

  • we are pressured into it

  • told we are supposed to

  • or is it part of our organisation’s DNA?

The first two are not legitimate reasons and if you’re developing practices that are not what you are about then you need to take a step back, realign your goals and go again.

Just to make this clear, I’m not saying pollute the rivers and scrap the recycling, I’m saying that sometimes the cultural fit just isn’t there and forcing it is not being transparent and true to your brand.

This brings us to the other hand. Battling with the greenwashing brigade – you know the type;

Let’s just do this minimal viable thing so it looks like we’re into this green stuff, but really it’s all talk and no action – basically NOT doing the right thing AT ALL. Here are a few examples;

  • Paper recycling bins.

  • Stickers saying ‘switch the lights off’.

  • Reporting zero waste to landfill.

  • Offering a bike-to-work scheme and car share incentives.

This leads to a big question – should you care?

Should sustainability be part of your marketing planning?

YES you should care about the perception ANY comms has on your organisation

YES you should care about what you publish as it’s your integrity that you have to live with

YES you should care about doing the right thing

NO, you shouldn’t HAVE to care about sustainability if it isn’t in the culture of your business. There are plenty of other ethical stances that you can take – but only if they align with what the business is all about.

It’s despicable that organisations, that for so long were the issue that led us to where we are today with waste and pollution seem to find it OK to praise themselves for doing something they should of know was the right thing to do before being forced to do it.

Perfect examples:

  • Supermarkets – For decades uses single-use plastic bags.

  • Legislation changes force them to cut these back / phase them out / charge for them.

  • Years later – Promote the fact you’ve reduced plastic waste by billions (slight exaggeration).

So should you care about sustainability in your marketing?

Yes, if it’s the right thing to do. Don’t be forced into claiming it’s a focus when it’s nothing more than a side note.

You will get more gratification, satisfaction and probably client by focussing on the Product or Distribution side of Marketing and how these can improve the customer experience:

  • Reduced packaging.

  • Less wastage.

  • Shorter delivery distance.

  • Localised stock.

  • Sourcing more viable raw materials.

2 Golden Thread

The golden thread probably needs some explaining first of all as it isn’t part of a Rumpelstiltskin fable. According to BRAC (the Governments Building Regulations Advisory Committee);

‘The golden thread is both the information that allows you to understand a building and the steps needed to keep both the building and people safe, now and in the future’.*

It’s an impossible task to create this thread on individual terms so as marketers we need to stop being such a hogger of all that lovely knowledge, data and information. Not only that, we need to show and encourage others to do the same further up or down our own supply chains.

We like to think that all the information we keep secret, the data we are collating and the knowledge we have within our organisations should be closely guarded more than Gollum does with that ring – that’s how ridiculous it is holding onto the wealth of information – just imagine yourself stood by your server staring at the flashing lights and saying ‘my precious’.

The usual argument is usually to not let anyone have it as they’ll steal it for themselves and use it against us (more of that later when we look at data specifically, but this is about the golden thread).

The truth is humans are lazy and even if they did have access to all your knowledge and wealth, they’d still need to know how to use it AND they’d still need to get off their arses and use it in a way that makes a difference.

Not many people will or would anyway (it’s called ethics and we’ve already covered this one). Even if they did, you know they’re up to no good and can be shut down quite quickly and easily.

As marketers, we need to review our processes for the dissemination of data and while keeping control of it, make sure it is convenient for others that need it.

Some ways we can do this;

  • Have a single source of truth – If you have your data stored in multiple locations then you’re asking for trouble further down the line.

  • Use a robust yet agile system – Similar to how we’d use a CRM.

  • Automate as much as possible – Let the machines do the work for you. Human error occurs more than technical errors do.

The aviation industry leads the way in sharing data in order to keep air travel it the safest mode of transport and we can learn from this model as it echoes exactly what the golden thread is trying to do – sharing information to better understand how buildings are built and what they are built out of for an overall safer building to inhabit.

In other words, make it the safest form of modern living.

There is a note of warning however. It’s easy to say you want to be part of this, to make the industry safer, but are you collaborating to do this? Are you willing to provide your data and intel to make things run smoothly?

This runs deeper than just the data that keeps a building safe. It is about a collaborative approach within your own sector, with your own clients and perhaps competitors to maintain a safer industry in the full cycle of a project:

  • Demolition of old buildings or if they are salvageable the retrofitting of these

  • Building new houses and commercial properties

  • Maintenance that goes after the build.

Be the leader, lead the pack, and make it accessible, all of it that will be of use in making the construction industry a more progressive place to be. Don’t be afraid of the baddies. If they REALLY want your info, they’ll find a way. You should always be looking to collaborate with clients, suppliers, distributors and competitors en mass, for the benefit of the industry, its workers and other stakeholders.

There are many organisations that are trying to bring the industry together but it’s almost a thankless task with others vying for the same data, the same attention and the same goal yet they are working in a pocket of the industry rather than looking at the long-term picture and trying to create a universal platform that is future-proof and industry-led.

We need to take the golden thread seriously, but this only happens when we start to open our own front doors and welcome people inside.


3 Skills Shortage

The construction industry skills shortage is something that we need to take seriously.

But this isn’t just the shortage of people, it’s the shortage of skilled people. And this isn’t just the shortage of skilled people, it’s the shortage of skilled people throughout the industry both at the manual labour end as well as the support services, many of which don’t generally spring to mind when you think ‘construction’.

So the skills shortage means a lot more than simply not having people in your business that are competent at what they do. It means a whole industry suffers.

But this factor is more about learning, developing skills and improving as a marketer, but it will influence every part of the built environment, generally speaking.

Competition is healthy, it always has been, always will be. Take sports as an example. In any sporting scenario, it’s the competition that pushes you to greatness. If the competition wasn’t there, it’s easy to take your foot off the gas, become complacent and standards drop.

The competition is there to be beaten from a sporting sense. Within the built environment it’s there to push you along to make you better in order to make better things;

  • Products.

  • Services.

  • Events.

  • Efficiencies.

  • Safety.

  • Communications.

  • Integration.

  • Automation.

  • Innovation.

the list is almost endless.

But what can be done and why should you be involved?

Like other industries construction isn’t just about, well, construction. There is a long list, a very long list of skills and professions that are needed to keep the industry turning and getting the best people into the industry means it becomes a progressive, innovative environment which is constantly growing and developing. Which means opportunities for you, your colleagues and all stakeholders. But this doesn’t happen without a constant stream of talent to push the boundaries that we put up to keep us in our comfort zone.

Going back to sports, think of it like this:

Do you want to win a competition where its entrants are non-existent?


Or do you want to be challenged, to be the best version of yourself, to always be developing and learning?

Generally, we need to show that our organisation is the best at what they do, talent is drawn to talent and bringing experts into your own organisations, regardless of their field of expertise, making the business better and subsequently you a better marketer.

In summary, our marketing communications are as much about brand building around the areas that may not show a direct ROI as it is around promoting the organisation to prospects to generate revenue.


4 Transparency

One thing I try to do as a marketer is show people that giving away your BEST info is a great idea.

This usually comes up against all the obvious objections:

‘what if our competition steals all our ideas’

‘what if people just do it themselves and don’t need our services?’

We’ve seen some of these objections before when discussing the importance of the Golden Thread within construction, but this is slightly different as this isn’t about data sharing as much as it is about the sharing of what you might class your IP (Intellectual Property) – the stuff that people come to you for and generally pay for! Your services, your products, your skills, your software.

It’s time to call bullshit on ALL of the excuses and start to share. Especially within the built environment.

Everyone and I mean everyone works, lives, comes into contact with and is affected by the built environment – unless you’re the Bear Grylls type in which case you probably aren’t reading this anyway. This is why we could really do with openness and transparency. For too long most organisations have worked in isolation to the detriment of the stability and growth of both the organisation and the industry.

If someone wants to copy you…. they will

If you’re that worried about your competition then you should take a much longer look internally and start to do things better

People are lazy – most things can be learnt on YouTube but how many go to even that length of opening a web browser or app, typing in what you want to learn about and learning the damn thing?

If you’re worried about losing all your clients, not having anything behind lock and key or concerned that the people in power will disown you like you’re Darth Vader’s son, then take a look at what we’ll call the Joe Wicks model (#mancrush)

If you don’t know who he is he’s The Body Coach and can be found on most social channels chatting, giving advice, working out or cooking.

Not sure yet? He’s the one that during lockdown was on every kid’s TV showing them how to keep active.

Still don’t know? He’s the one that has;

  • Written 10+ books.

  • 2.8 million subscribers to his YouTube channel.

  • Broken a number of world records.

  • Is worth around £15 million.

  • AND gives most of his stuff away for FREE!!!

It works like this:

Top of the funnel

Inspirational videos, short recipes and cooking (which he called Lean in 15 – eventually becoming book titles) and snippets of him recording new workouts

Middle of the funnel

Detailed recipes from his books and other additional cooking tips, 20-minute workout videos for all ages, a weekly newsletter with lots of other info in

Bottom of the funnel

Free app which you can also pay for includes his bespoke 3-month fitness and meal plans specific to an individual, paid-for books and now he puts his name to various products such as kitchenware.

If you are willing to be transparent, add value constantly and be present always;

You will be seen in more places than you think

You’ll always be ahead of your competition as that is hard to compete with

You’ll end up with more advocates than you started with

It’s mainly free to do

Sharing is caring and caring builds connections far before a BOGOF promo.


5 CCPI

Only read this if you’re a generalist marketer. None of that fake comms specialist masquerading as a marketer shite!

This is a prime example of understanding the 4Ps, that tactical execution isn’t just communications based and by implementing all 4 (product, price, place and promotion) through a marketing function, with synergy, will only create good things for your organisation.

But what is the CCPI and why is it important for us marketers?

The CCPI (Code for Construction Product Information) is focused on producing higher construction product standards that prioritise building safety. This means we need to be vigilant with any and all product content.

Although it is the responsibility of the wider organisation to conform to CCPI protocol, marketers should take the lead with the ownership of both Product and Promotion (as well as Price and Place) as CCPI touches all four tactical elements.

We have a responsibility to make sure that new products (and current products) both solve clients’ problems and furthermore are producing these products in a way that allows appropriate, clear, and unambiguous evidence of the products’ makeup and other important info – basically we need to be in charge of the fun creative bit as well as the dry important bits.

Here are some comms channels and touchpoints you’ll need to review when it comes to reviewing what is being said about individual products;

  • Packaging.

  • Brochures.

  • Websites.

  • Digital comms.

  • Presentations.

  • Reports.

  • White papers.

  • Webinars.

  • Podcasts.

  • Videos.

  • Specifications.

  • Tenders.

  • And also the products themselves.

But here is the kicker, the one that you probs have all been waiting for. To be part of this safer, trackable world that benefits the entire industry….

there is a fee depending on the size of your organisation

and a verification fee on top of this.

So make sure it’s in your budget along with enough cash for that old rope that ironically will need to conform to CCPI!

This takes us back to the Golden Thread again (it’s like this thread is supposed to run through everything hey) and the fact that this may feel like you need to back one horse and gallop, as the CCPI isn’t the only organisation that is looking to universally establish itself as the construction industry’s VHS option, appose to everyone else Betamax, there are others in the running such as BSI Identify. So proceed with caution but make sure your products are as transparent as your communications need to be.


6 Building Safety Act

You can be fooled into thinking that the Building Safety Act 22 is squarely aimed at those with a responsibility to design and manage buildings, well it is you fool!

As a marketer there is still a lot to be mindful of here, you should know what this act is and not be blind to the pitfalls of assumption.

Plus it would be a bit of a pointless act (of mine) to try and bump up these factors that a construction marketer needs to be mindful of by adding something in they don’t need to be mindful of.

If we take a run through the act itself (as you can imagine it’s pretty clear), there are a number of main points that you need to be looking out for:

Firstly remember, doing the right thing, is always doing the right thing and I’m a big fan of openness and transparency as you may have gathered by now if you could be arsed to read what was written before this paragraph – the whole thing and nothing but the whole thing. Share your data, your info, and your wealth and people will value it and trust you more.

Cooperation is critical and making sure that product information is accessible and up-to-date is numero-one on the Building Safety Act hit list (work out how best to display this information and where it can be found – the more places it’s stored, the more you have to remember to update it – centralisation is always better than a scattergun approach and automation of this is much better than manual input).

At the end of this year (2022) many EU regulations will be transferring to UK regs and although most of these will match their European counterparts, there may be some nuances you need to consider – at the very least all products must conform to new UK standards. You may hear acronyms such as UKCA (United Kingdom Conformity Assessed, replacing CE marketing – that little logo you see on products that have been verified to not blow your head off or choke a child) or UKTA (United Kingdom Technical Assessment) which does a similar thing to UKCA.

With product development and current product reviews or enhancements, there is a greater emphasis on manufacturers making sure products are safe and fit for use. Within a Marketing capacity, this means we champion both ends of consumers’ requirements – safety and quality with affordability and accessibility.

AND HERE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT BIT:

Claims can be made against manufacturers AND suppliers where a product has been mis-sold or defective. Processes are a marketers friend here, processes and diligence to communicate internally and externally when new products are developed or changes are made.

They say rules are there to be broken. The Build Safety Act is an exception to this rule.


7 Data

The devil is in the data.

Too many marketers focus on too much data (or at last pay lip service to it), so much so that they usually miss the point – so much data is available now, data and access to this data is not the issue, it’s using it in an effective manner that is the skill all marketers need to learn.

Let’s break it down as it is easy to be fooled into thinking we need to pile more data on top of our already huge pile of steaming data – as long as we keep scooping and dumping, we’re doing our job. Incorrect as this next part shows;

  • They’ll say they need data (and lots of it)

  • So we gather lots of data from various sources as they are there and the data can be gathered, way too much data but in a manageable format

  • The recipients, blinded by the depth and sheer amount of information will struggle to find those golden nuggets from this (as they aren’t an analysis, and if they are analysts let’s get out of their way and crack on with other things)

  • So what are we asked to do, get MORE data to hopefully solve the problem of not understanding the first batch

  • Finally, we can blame whatever software we are using for outputting ALL the data and not just the right intel, with actionable insights to boot

This final factor is probably the easiest to resolve and it required clarity and focus.

What you need to worry about is getting the right data, the data that will help you achieve what you a looking to achieve, not all the data, just that intel that will tell you if you’ve achieved what you set out to in the first place – these things that were in your plan originally and were the focus to help the organisation get to where it wants to be.

If your objectives consist of lead generation for a particular part of the business and brand awareness for a new product, then choose one or two data sets that will tell you if you are fulfilling these goals.

Don’t get carried away and become data blind thinking that ALL stats are equal, that you need ALL the data, you don’t.

If these initial data sets are all positive and in line with the objectives then nice work – tick.

If these data sets show you are struggling to meet a target, THEN we can delve a little deeper and understand at what point in the plan are things going wrong, work backwards and fix the faults.

Focus on that data that will really improve things and help you achieve your objectives. As we stated initially, we have data coming out of our ears (metaphorically – if anything but ear wax comes out of your ears, see a doctor), so make sure the objectives dictate the data, and not the data that is easily accessible dictating what data you focus on.

The data points are pretty endless now but to give you a flavour, these could be;

  • Drop-off rates on a customer journey.

  • Key search terms for SEO.

  • Engagement, sentiment analysis or comments.

  • ROI.

  • Pageviews.

  • Sign-up rates.

  • Sales (imagine).

Summary

This isn’t a definitive list, marketers still need to do all the basics they’ve been doing for years – planning, pricing, communication, research, market intelligence and the likes, and I’m sure there are many nuances across the built environment and the sectors within that will drive different factors than the ones we’ve discussed here that construction marketers need to take note of, but the above seven topics aren’t going away and marketers need to at least be aware of these if not understand them religiously.



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