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How to Implement a Marketing-led Approach within Construction: What We Can Learn from Humpty Dumpty

Updated: Jun 23, 2023


Close up of Humpty Dumpty

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall… A wall that was constructed of bricks and mortar.


As he sat on that wall he disrupted the entire construction industry and f*cked everything up for everyone.


The Dickegg.


Like many rhymes and child-focused activities, we hardly ever question them or ask why they even exist, and Humpty Dumpty more specifically the nursery rhyme, is one of these things.


Why would an egg sit on a wall?

What are the learnings from this that are important for child development?

Is this a tale from history or literally an egg on a wall?


Yes of course I’m going to link this to construction marketing….. It’s what we do :)


Note: if you want to know the real reason I’m using Humpty Dumpty here you should take a look at this: The Real Reason Why Humpty Dumpty can go f*ck himself.


And here we go:


Just like we don’t question what the meaning of a nursery rhyme is in terms of teaching our kids….er……what I’m not sure, the same thing could be said for construction industry marketing.


We don’t question most of it, especially if it’s working or not, we just do it because it needs to get done. ‘just let marketing get on with it and we can cut their budget in 3 months when it isn’t working anyway’


(I only half-joke here).


And ‘needs to get done’ is very dangerous.


Eating needs to get done.

Drinking needs to get done.

Hygiene needs to get done.

Marketing needs to get done.


But we all have different levels of ‘needs to get done’ and within construction, it seems this bar is very low.


A massive 81% of construction marketers agree that marketing in construction is of a poor standard*. The epitome of the industry calling out itself!


In reality, we should be doing a lot more questioning around our Marketing functionality. But what do we mean by questioning?


Too many times have I been involved in conversations around communications, promotions, advertising, and product and service launches that go right for the spoon without boiling the egg first. They focus on getting ‘stuff’ out there without first having an objective, a real target to aim for. Targets should always include a monetary value somewhere (unless you’re in that select club where revenue isn’t the thing that keeps your business open - but I think it will be).


What can we do about this to stop the madness?

There are three simple ways of stopping your marketing eggs from falling off the wall of success where all the kings’ horses and all the kings’ men couldn’t even help you.


1 - Team structure

Ensure you have the right people doing the right roles with the right person leading, which is easier said than done. This is probably the number one reason Marketing isn’t working, the people employed to do a certain role aren’t up to the job! Soz but it’s true, especially when it comes to generalists within the Marketing space - you’ll usually find a lot of communication specialists instead (not the same thing).


Just to be clear, although you don’t need an omelette full of qualifications (I’m a strong believer in learning by doing), foundational knowledge is critical. If you don;t have this foundational knowledge it’s just like trying to make scrambled eggs without a whisk, at the start everything is great but at some point in the future - you’re gonna get burnt!


I’ve been a tutor of marketing in my spare time for over 10 years now and there is a marked difference between those with a foundational knowledge of marketing and those without. I’ll almost guarantee that there is someone in your Marketing department right now without any marketing credentials. Can you say the same for the financial department? They are needed!


The best way to test this theory is by asking your construction-based marketing department to do this:


‘Work a full week without the focus being on communications/promotion.’ If panic sets in, you need to invest in some recruitment to steady the ship…. Or ask us :)


2 - Plan

We plan when we go on holiday, Christ, we plan when we do a big shop! Not planning your marketing is criminal.


If you’re not sure what this entails, check out our 10-step, 4-page marketing plan to help you on your way.


This plan should include at the very least one quantifiable goal. Too many marketing departments a being run day-to-day, ticking those to-do boxes and not achieving any goals except, well, ticking off those to-do lists.


‘We did a thing’ is one of the crassest lines you’ll ever hear, but it seems to fit the point I’m trying to make. Don't do a thing, make a plan.


Plan to achieve and stick to it, yes you’ll be diverted sometimes as things change (just like buying almond milk, not oat milk in the big shop due to stocking issues), but stay the course and move with the circumstances in front of you while still focussing on achieving what the business wants you to achieve.


3 - Make it a company-wide thing (Marketing-led approach)

There are many different departments that can lead a company and you’ll usually see it being sales taking the lead within construction. In general, this leads to a company purely focussed on sales at any cost, usually at the cost of a profit margin and when every penny counts it is this mentality that is why we find ourselves facing so many issues within construction, such as a skills gaps, material shortages, enforcing better regulations, and the increase in the requirement for sustainable products.


This isn’t the only way however, there are also those that are product-led and manufacturing-led. Each has its merit but a marketing-led company gets my vote every time.


A marketing-led approach typically entails:


1. Market orientation: Solving clients' problems with the right solution.

2. Market research and insights.

3. Customer-centricity.

4. Branding and positioning.

5. Integrated marketing communications.

6. Innovation and adaptation.

7. Measurement and analytics.


For more on a Marketing-Led approach in construction, check this out: What does marketing-led mean?


Marketing isn’t just a Marketing thing. Just like sales isn’t just a sales thing or talking to clients isn’t just a BDM thing. Everyone should be doing their bit.


Summary

Prevention is better than cure and following these three pointers will mean that, unlike the aforementioned kings' horses and men, you won’t be unsuccessfully trying to fix your broken Marketing eggs.



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