I’ve never asked a pilot if they are qualified to fly the 179-tonne metal bird I’ve just boarded, I just take it for granted. After all, they wear their jackets with wings and stripes and look like they know what they’re doing, so why bother asking?
If you’re still reading this, I’m guessing you have never asked a pilot to show you their credentials before taking a cramped seat on their plane either.
But why don’t you? It would make sense to understand their background and qualifications before they take you 35,000 feet into the air.
We don’t as there is an element of trust here, that the airline has done its due diligence and is sure all pilots and co-pilots have passed enough tests and qualifications to complete at least this flight, due, in part, to the openness and transparency that exists within aviation.
Nothing to hide means there is everything to be gained.
If we take this logic and apply it to the construction industry, what we find is a supply chain that needs to be as robust as the airline industry. Testing and certification of both the pilot and the aircraft are a pivotal part of airline safety alongside the sharing of knowledge, data and information by competitive airlines and other stakeholders. Learning from each other and as a collective helps stop the worst from happening and make sure the industry is safer than it previously was.
The construction industry should take note of this model as it is one where collaboration right through the supply chain benefits all stakeholders, from pilots (construction workers) to passengers (inhabitants).
And construction marketing can be at the forefront of this evolution (as the next H2 title states).
Why Marketing is at the Forefront of construction industry collaboration: A route to a safer future.
Competition is Healthy
In any industry, competition is healthy. If there is no competition then a monopoly occurs which means a singular company can dictate or even manipulate the market to its benefit (naughty).
Competition also pushes boundaries. It means innovation and creativity must remain a focus for an organisation to stay competitive; if it doesn’t it can be left behind (we only have to look at Netflix and Blockbuster, or Nokia and Apple to see how this rings true).
Competition isn’t just an individual organisation having the upper hand or ‘winning’. When there is a healthy attitude towards competition, the whole industry benefits. Standards are raised, collaborative approaches are recognised and the industry can grow exponentially.
But competition can also lead to unhealthy outcomes, where the focus is on self-preservation, holding on to what you have and an uncollaborative culture. Innovation becomes stagnant, growth can be stunted, and (more worryingly) the biggest impact of this is felt by the consumer, the end-user. In the case of construction and the built environment in general this covers a whole host of stakeholders – from designers and builders to the inhabitants of a building.
Construction marketing leading the way
Running a construction focussed marketing agency, for clients I’m always thinking about the diagnosis of the situation: Where are we now and where do we want to be? This always leads to the development of a strategic approach that serves our clients well, as these strategies are born out of the bespoke circumstances surrounding an organisation, rather than hypothetical jargon that you may see in a textbook or classroom. What is great on paper, doesn’t mean it will work in the real world.
Every strategy must be followed by tactics, and although many fixate on Marketing as just promotion communications (getting people to buy stuff they probably don’t need) this could not be further from the truth.
Good Marketing, Marketing diagnosis and strategy done correctly will lead to the tactical execution of the 4 P’s of Marketing (Product, Price, Placement and Promotion). And from the correct delivery of these 4 Ps both organisations and the wider construction community can thrive in a competitive and more importantly safer landscape.
Making the construction industry safer through collaboration and the 4 P’s of Marketing
But how can marketing make the construction industry a safer place? It’s certainly not just through clever designs, smart slogans and well-placed ads!
We can all agree that regardless of where you sit within the construction Industry supply chain, we all have a duty of care towards our stakeholders; a duty of care that extends further than just our own clients, a duty of care that extends to the wider industry. After all, construction is about collaboration, whether on a building site, office, or manufacturing facility. Treating others with the respect they deserve cascades up and down the supply chain, as should the sharing of information and data which enables others to make more valid choices.
The 4 P’s of Marketing
We all like a bargain. We all like to feel that we’ve ‘won’ in some way when it comes to our purchase decisions, but most of the time cheaper doesn’t mean better – buy cheap, buy twice!
Rather than competing on price, which is a race to the bottom (low production value, using cheaper materials or trade, making things faster not better), we must start to compete on the quality of our products and services. Focussing on the quality of a product or service rather than making it a price war means more time and resources can be spent on making better things, things that are fit for purpose and subsequently safer.
The pricing concept leads nicely onto the products themselves. If we are competing on quality at a higher price point, this means more can be invested in new product development, innovative approaches and additional safety features. One way to validate this is through testing and certification.
Testing and certification can sometimes be viewed as just a requirement (hitting the minimum required values), a process that needs to be completed so that an organisation can stake a valid claim in specifications and tendering processes, rather than being used for the right reasons: proof of concept, the ability to independently show that a specific product can do a specific thing.
This isn’t just down to those that manufacture products however. Accountability should run right through the supply chain:
From the Manufacturer producing the products to more than the minimum standard.
Specifiers and Architects looking for the right products with the right credentials.
Installers understanding the onsite installation and application.
To the testing and certification that provides clearer and user-friendly results.
The collaborative approach here cannot be understated.
From the start to the end of the supply chain, the flow of information and data needs to be robust - almost unbreakable - rather than the potential Chinese whispers approach we can sometimes be unwillingly dragged into. This can only be rectified with a collaborative, industry-wide approach, with the sharing of information that benefits the industry at the heart of it, and where new technologies such as Blockchain can be utilised to offer a secure audit trail, reducing the risks of breaking specifications, or using replacement products that are not like for like and therefore disrupt the system build-up culminating in questions around their suitability and fit for purpose credentials (the ‘but if it’s cheaper, let’s use it’ attitude is a dangerous one to take).
As was stated before, we all have a duty of care to make sure that the correct information is visible, at the right place, at the right time, and is in the right persons hands. Within construction, this usually means multiple people requiring very different information at different times and in different languages – be it ways of reframing the same thing or a completely different language (think of what an architect may need compared to an onsite foreman).
One size does not fit all.
When it comes to the dissemination of such information, it is imperative that;
The information is freely available.
It is in a format that is usable.
The language used is clear and coherent for its requirements.
Any changes and amendments are communicated effectively.
A great example of this is the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI), which looks to help organisations drive higher standards and present product information in a way that prioritises building safety, not convenience.
We are not short on communication channels and we are not short on data, but marrying these two in the right way, the ethical way could really make a difference.
More Than Just BOGOF
It is very rare that there is a singular solution to an industry-sized problem, and it is no different here. Making an entire industry more collaborative with the aim of making it safer isn’t as simple as passing a few legislative processes, or all agreeing something has to be done about it, and subsequently, some doing these things but in isolation from the rest of the industry.
We should instead focus on a Marketing-led approach, that isn’t about selling at the cheapest price or doing the bare minimum to reach the current industry standards, but is about adding value throughout the supply chain, using a collective strength to build better infrastructures for sharing knowledge, data and information to make our industry safer for all stakeholders.