A CMA webinar hosted jointly with The Think Tank
Held 11am, March 3, 2020. Panel member details at end.
The panel began by considering what are the things that are driving marketing in the construction sector. Key issues were the COVID pandemic, Brexit, and the impact of the Grenfell inquiry.
Unsurprisingly Will Johnson-Marshall picked out product marketing – in particular traceability, tracking which product eventually gets installed – as a key issue. Knowing what is in a building, who specified it, and why, is likely to be important for some time. This was likely to be important in decommissioning or demolition too, so it would be important that this information could be kept.
Marketing ethics came up naturally from this strand of discussion. With the Grenfell Inquiry ongoing, it’s clear action is needed, and that construction product marketers need to be aware. The CPA have set up a marketing integrity group, and that has led to a draft Code for Construction Product Information which sets out a series of practices and is out to consultation.
As Will Johnson-Marshall said we need product information and marketing to be clear, accurate, up to date, and unambiguous. This is a key issue for product marketers now, and will be for a while.
Chris Ashworth said that process matters, that people need to record where and when information is posted, so it can be updated. You don’t want people referring to a four year old CPD webinar as current if it isn’t, after all. Phil Wise agreed, saying version control is extremely important. A good way to give it the emphasis it needs is to have someone senior sponsoring it.
The panel felt that SMEs might struggle digitising product information, but that there was support for them from an array of digital tools, and from trade associations. And as Jo Wilmot said, you don’t always need a huge budget to move to digital formats.
This brought us to another key issue – digitisation. The pandemic, with much increased working from home among other effects, has meant, as Izy Herrera said, that there has been a significant acceleration in the digitisation of marketing.
Izy said that last year NBS had to throw their marketing plan out of the window and start afresh. In particular they had done a large number of webinars which had been very effective. She felt that zoom fatigue was not yet a factor, and expected to keep running webinars, indeed they are now looking at adding podcasts.
She said the most important thing in channel choice was to look at your target audience, and see how they are behaving.
Phil Wise agreed that digitisation had accelerated, and that it was now a huge factor for marketers. He identified a particular challenge around integrating product sampling with digital.
Phil observed that traditional channels were not working as well right now, for example with trade magazines usually delivered to office addresses, and major events cancelled. He said we need to be more agile. This will continue, he felt, and would mean a positive impact on digital channels. Radio, for example, could pick up as a marketing channel. However, he also cautioned that marketers should remember to “switch the traditional back on” when the impact of the pandemic lessens.
The panel urged marketers not to bow to the pressure for immediate results and to keep some effort focussed on brand building. Those that invest in brand when times are tough should reap the rewards in increased share when the recovery comes.
Jo Wilmot also reminded people of a key marketing principle, that at a time like this it’s easy to get swallowed up by tactics, we should remember to have a message. You need to have something to say – right people, right time, right message.
So it’s clear that there are many effects on marketing activity right now, but we should remember our core principles, which work at any time.
- Chris Ashworth, Competitive Advantage and CMA
- Ben Hancock, Managing Director, Oscar Acoustics
- Izy Herrera, Marketing Manager, NBS
- Will Johnson-Marshall, Head of Operational Delivery, BSI Identify
- Jo Wilmot, PR Director, The Think Tank
- Phil Wise, formerly European Marketing Director, Formica Group