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buildDifferent | Construction Marketing | UK

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What is a Marketing-led approach within construction?

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

A bookworm reading about marketing-led construction

Marketing-led construction refers to an approach or strategy where marketing plays a central role in driving and shaping a company's overall business decisions, goals, and operations. In a marketing-led organisation, marketing activities and considerations are prioritised and influence the direction and decisions of the company. Within the construction world, this means influencing such strategies as positioning with certain sectors such as residential, commercial or industrial as well as product development from emerging market trends or custom research.

BUT. That’s a big but!

This can prove difficult to implement within constriction for the following reasons:

Traditional mindset

Technical expertise and operational efficiency over marketing

Long sales cycles

Complex procurement processes, multiple stakeholders, and lengthy decision-making timelines.

Fragmented market

Numerous small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in local or regional markets.

Technical products/services

That requires specialised knowledge and expertise.

Relationship-driven industry

Heavily on relationships and personal connections

Risk aversion and regulatory considerations

Hesitation to adopt new marketing strategies or tactics due to fear of risks, compliance concerns, or lack of familiarity with marketing best practices.

Resource constraints:

Limited resources for marketing, including budget, personnel, and technology.

Wow, long list, better not do it then.

NO! Cut that out right now.

The benefits of understanding customer needs, solving their problems and improving brand identity and developing a unique position within the market to drive business growth outweigh these difficulties any day. Especially with construction where most of these are ignored for quick sale tactics or dip into the promotional aisle to stimulate sales (it’s a fool's game).

Now we’ve sorted that, what does a marketing-led approach typically entail?

1. Market orientation

The company focuses on understanding and meeting clients' needs and wants. Basically solving a real problem with the best solution. Within construction this can be harder than it sounds as traditional methods (not just within the actual construction of a building) can be difficult to change.

2. Market research, customer insights, and feedback

Actively sought and used to guide product development, pricing, distribution, and promotional strategies (all of which marketing should be adding their voice to). This can take some time to achieve however, the fragmentation of the market means there are a lot of variables throughout the supply chain that can have an impact on findings. Selecting the right demographic and being selective in who you are targeting will help.

3. Customer-centricity

Customers are at the heart of all business decisions. Marketing-led organisations prioritise building strong customer relationships, delivering value to customers, and maintaining customer satisfaction can easily be forgotten due to long sales cycles and multiple people/organisations being involved in projects, but starting by understanding clients' problems and focussing on fixing these is a great way to direct your customer-centricity towards success.

4. Branding and positioning

Building a strong brand and a unique market position is central to a marketing-led approach. Due to a lack of resources, branding may find itself behind other requirements as it is a long-term play rather than a quick fix, where results may not be seen from your branding efforts for some time. The offset here is generating a strong sales focus that can complement your branding efforts short term.

5. Integrated marketing communications

An emphasis is placed on a coordinated and consistent approach to marketing communications across various channels and touchpoints which are aligned with the overall marketing strategy. Within construction, we see too much activity used in isolation from other channels and assets and not enough integration (kinda why this is being written).

The real test here is to plot a customer journey - from the first point of contact to conversion (you can use our free customer journey template here), viewing the communication efforts in-between these two points to help you understand where your weak spots are and why posting about dogs in your office isn’t leading to a sale.

6. Innovation and adaptation

To gain a competitive advantage construction companies must be agile and responsive to changing market dynamics, customer preferences, and competitive landscapes. Continuously innovating and adapting marketing strategies and tactics to stay ahead and meet evolving customer needs. Doing point 2 here helps to realise this and although mass marketing across the whole industry can help with brand identity and relevance, a more targeted approach in a fragmented market is just as important.

7. Measurement and analytics

Marketing-led organisations use data-driven insights and performance metrics to evaluate marketing effectiveness, optimise marketing campaigns, and make informed decisions. This includes tracking and analysing key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess the return on investment (ROI). These should be discussed and agreed prior to any activity taking place.

You should be asking your Marketing department to be achieving certain goals (be it project, campaign or long-term), hold them accountable and challenge them to innovate, perform and above all lead!

In summary, there are many departments that can facilitate these factors, but only Marketing can sit in the middle and facilitate (integrate) all seven points within a marketing-led construction approach.


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