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Developing a marketing strategy for your construction or building products business can seem like a daunting task. While it’s not a 5-minute job, it doesn’t need to be a huge burden for you to create your new marketing plan.
Without one though, your time, effort and money can easily be misdirected and even wasted, negatively impacting your ROI and personal success.
A well-researched and crafted strategy document will add real clarity and focus to all of your marketing, and sales, activity, improving your brand, market share, product offering and profitability.
By following a systematic process, you will be able to quickly establish where you are currently, where the opportunities are and how to realise them. Here are a few pointers, describing how we approach construction marketing strategy with our clients.
We start with in-depth sessions to understand as much as possible about the business, challenging all assumptions and trying to base opinions on data and evidence.
Here are the key elements of the fact-finding stage.
1. Situation Analysis
Start by defining your current position. What is your sales performance and what are the trends, product by product, sector by sector, market by market?
Where is your profit coming from? Which products are driving your profitability, which have the potential to and which are costing you money?
What is your solutions role in your customer's world? Establish what your customer wants and check your business gives it to them. Once you have identified your customer's needs, figure out what is your unique selling proposition (USP).
Who are your customers? Can you describe them in a manner that allows you to find more like them with data analysis? Who is your ideal customer? What is their profile? What is a poor fit customer? How can you stop attracting them?
What are your current marketing assets? People, technology, marketing collateral, systems and processes, brands.
As an organisation, what are your internal strengths and weaknesses?
2. Market Analysis
Where are your markets? What is the geographical spread of your customer base? Does this match the geographical range of your website visitors? Are you missing opportunities or is your external field sales team based in the right areas?
What verticals need your solutions? Who are the specifiers, buyers and influencers? What sized business are they typically? How hard is it to get decisions made?
What is the buyers or specifiers journey? How do your target audiences discover solutions like yours when they are looking to solve their problems and challenges?
What are the buyer personas of the people you need to engage with and influence? What information do they need? How can you help them in their job? What trust signals do these look out for? How can you build authority in the space? Who do they trust?
How can you build confidence in your brand and position yourself as a trusted advisor?
What are the market needs? What are the trends? Are there regulatory changes looming? What are the political and environmental influences? Where the opportunities for you in the market?
3. Competitor Analysis
Who are your competitors? Direct and Indirect? Which solutions offer different ways for your market to get their job done? How is market share split between all of the options?
Competitor by competitor, what are their strengths and weaknesses? How can you position yourself to be a more attractive proposition to the audience?
Are there regional differences? Are they active in one area and overlooking another? Where are the gaps for you to focus on?
How do the available solutions, products and services differ? What does the pricing look like in the market? How can you differentiate your value proposition to everyone else to stand out?
Who are the best people in the sector? Who are the key influencers? Could they work with you? Can you afford to employ them? Can you afford not to?
Where are your external threats now and in the future?
What is the route to market? Which distribution channels are used? Who are your partners and facilitators?
Where is the power, risks, opportunities and cost to your business?
Do you employ a push or pull strategy?
Explore movement of information as well as products and materials.
5. Your Marketing Mix
How do you develop your products and services to meet the needs of your audiences? Is your pricing strategy effective?
How do you promote your proposition? Are you using outbound or inbound methodologies, or both? How effective are they?
Are you focussing on the right place, either in a geographical sense or a vertical/sector?
How much are you spending on this and what return are you getting?
Usually, we find that the fact-finding sessions bring exciting challenges and opportunities to the table.
The next stage is to prioritise those regarding managing risk and exploiting opportunities. Balancing long-term visions with short-term goals to inject velocity into your strategy execution is vital.
You can't create your strategy without a goal. It is essential that your marketing goals align with and support the higher and longer-term goals of the business.
Never forget, the critical role of marketing is to facilitate sales success, so goals should be revenue orientated and short to medium term in nature.
Use the SMART method when setting goals, Specific, Measurable, Ambitious, Realistic & Timebound.
You should never swerve Return On Investment (ROI) targets. Bin any fluffy, unmeasurable goals. They don’t wash in 2018 in a professional marketing setup.
Finally, make sure you can translate all of your goals into actions. Ask yourself, “great idea, but how will I deliver that?”.
The Action Plan
Punchy action plans with short, focused sprints will drive results. If your goal is going to take longer than a few weeks or a month to deliver, break it down into sub-goals and tasks to make the process easier to keep track of and manage. The last thing you want is mission creep.
Use project management tools such as Trello (our personal favourite) to plan out your campaigns. Delegate work to your broader team and check-in at least weekly to ensure task are getting completed on time and to the right quality.
Sales Pipeline Management
Align your sales and marketing teams to get the best results. If sales and marketing are working together to achieve the same results, you are on to a winner.
Map out the sales and marketing process and agree where responsibility for leads shifts from marketing to sales.
Set KPI’s around metrics such as;
- VLR: Website Visitor To Lead Ratio
- LQR: Lead To Quotation Ratio
- AQR: Average Quotation Value
- QOR: Quotation To Order Ratio
Monitoring these will give you insight into which levers to pull if things start to slip with your sales pipeline.
Give Marketing clear targets for volume, quality and timeliness of leads and task Sales to follow them up promptly and professionally.
Following this method, we have seen significant improvements in conversion rates across the board.
We also recommend at least weekly sales and marketing check-ins to discuss leads to learn what is working and what needs to be examined to improve leads quality.
How much is all of this going to cost and when can you expect a return? Look at all of the elements that you need to deliver your strategy and sense check it against the expected sales increase.
If it is a bit rich for you right now, scale it back. Plan shorter phases to ensure things are working before you roll out fully.
It is always easier to go to finance with a proven model than get a huge budget signed off on an unproven campaign.
Delivering The Plan
Now the fun begins. You have a strategy. It’s been broken down into a deliverable plan, and you are ready to go.
So, who delivers the plan? Depending on how ambitious the program is and the budget, you may need additional resource to provide it, or indeed specialist skills that your existing team may need support with. What is the best way to manage this?
In-House, Agency, Freelance or Blended?
To maximise success to need a high-performance team, consisting of members that have ability, drive, focus and the will to win.
For long-term roles, bringing resource in-house can be a good choice. A highly motivated and focused team member can deliver excellent results in a generalist role unless you have the budget for a large team of 15-20 marketers when you can afford to hire specialists for every conceivable marketing role.
Outsourcing to agencies gives you access to high-level expertise and cross-functional experience, which you can find difficult to bring in-house. Plus, with project work, you can switch the resource on and off as you like.
For longer-term, strategic partnerships, such as shifting to an inbound marketing strategy, bringing an agency onboard with a monthly retainer can be a good fit but ensure that you have the deliverables established before you engage, and negotiate break clauses after 3 and 6 months if agreed results are not being achieved.
Beware of automatic continuation clauses in contracts too (check the small print) and be mindful of notice periods for termination. Don’t accept anything over 60 days.
Freelancers can offer a cost-effective solution on the face of things. Getting writers, SEO technicians and web developers from India or The Phillipines may sound like a great idea. Paying $4 per hour, why not? But be careful who you work with. Focussing on cost rather than value can be short-sighted. Trial and error is often involved until you can build up a team that you can trust.
Your role though will become a managerial one, sending out briefs, checking work, grammar and spelling and video conferencing. In our experience, engaging freelancers isn’t always as easy as you would hope. Although the good ones are worth their weight in gold.
A Blended Solution
Probably the best solution is to build a blended team. External strategic support to sense check and challenge progress is healthy. Specialists agencies for PR, content writing, web development and marketing tech can supplement your day to day activity on a project by project or short-term retainer basis (6-12 months). Freelancer networks can be built to collaborate with your blended team to help you through busy periods or specific periods.
Utilising Marketing Technology
With more and more content and engagement being delivered online (think email marketing, social media, video content), you will probably need some high-tech platforms to help you pull everything together and manage your marketing activity.
Sales & Marketing automation solutions such as HubSpot can bring all of your activity together, track campaigns, integrate your website with your CRM system and report on your sales & marketing performance and ROI all in one place. Starting with a free platform, working up to Enterprise level, HubSpot caters for marketing teams and budgets across all levels of sophistication and budget.
You will need to take the time to stop and take stock of your activity. Plan monthly and quarterly reviews to check progress and investigate how you are performing.
We're often asked how much time should be spent in each phase of marketing. A healthy ratio would be something like 5-10% strategising and planning, 80-90% executing and 5-10% reviewing.
Be objective, learn to love failure, as it can fuel greater successes if you learn from it. You’re dealing with psychology, so be prepared to flex your messages and methods to suit your audience, rather than expecting them to flex to you.
Take lessons learnt forward into your next phase of planning. I think it was Einstein who said: “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.”
If something isn’t working as expected, then test new executions, changing things scientifically, one thing at a time to see what the impact is. Fine-tune your approach, with pace, to improve and perfect your marketing.
Develop Your Own Construction Marketing Strategy
We have developed a step-by-step process for developing winning marketing strategies for businesses just like yours
Bringing all of the elements above together with a small, inexperienced or non-existent marketing team can be overawing. We specialise in supporting ambitious companies move to the next phase of their evolution by identifying and prioritising their growth opportunities, driving their customer engagement and lead generation, allowing them to close deals and focus entirely on growth and delivering sales success.
If this sounds like the type of support that you would benefit from, then we would love to hear from you to discuss how we can add real value to your growing business.
Insynth Marketing is a leading UK construction marketing consultancy based in Shifnal in the West Midlands. Insynth employ the latest inbound marketing techniques such as construction inbound marketing, to help building product manufacturers grow their businesses by aggressively driving sales lead generation activity.
As the only HubSpot certified agency to major on construction marketing, we bring together construction marketing strategy, digital strategy, website design, SEO, content marketing, email marketing, sales automation, marketing automation and HubSpot CRM implementation to produce successful campaigns and great results for our clients.