Challenges Facing Construction Marketing In 2018: Experts Discuss

We asked 3 Marketing & Sales professionals from the Construction industry what they see as the biggest challenges facing the construction marketing and the industry in general this year.

Our research found there are common challenges across construction niches, from renewable energy to contracting.

The aim of this piece is to share some of the ways other Marketing Managers and Business Development experts are planning to tackle common marketing challenges in 2018, in the hope it gives you some ideas to tackle them in your business.

Let’s get cracking on the top challenges facing construction marketing

Matt Walker
Group Marketing & PR Manager at Colmore Tang Construction

Contracting specialists with over 450 years combined experience in design, construction and development of multifaceted buildings.

“One of the biggest challenges we’ll be addressing this year is how we change the perception of the industry to attract young talent into construction. As a main contractor, we need to recruit the best people into the business, as well as bring onboard trainees and fresh talent to help secure the skillset and longevity of the business.

To do this, recruitment is going to be a key marketing focus for the coming year, however we’ll need to look at new ways of making construction ‘sexy’.

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is a fantastic case study of how an organisation can help shift perceptions of an industry. It has successfully turned around the image of engineering not only to inspire future generations, but also to help boost the number of women in the sector.

We need to look at the lessons we can learn and approaches we can adopt.

Technology has proven one of the most successful ways of appealing to a younger, more diverse audience. Whilst this might seem like common sense, there’s still a lot of catching up to do for construction to maintain pace with its engineering counterparts. JLR’s need to recruit software and electrical engineers for its next-generation electric vehicles saw it team up with band Gorillaz. It used mixed reality tech and an app-based code-breaking puzzle to attract a younger, more technologically-savvy crowd, with over 41,000 people tackling the challenge.

2018 will be the year we embrace virtual and augmented reality to help us overcome common construction issues and help visualise designs for clients. We want to ride a wave of industry ‘firsts’ in order to demonstrate the role of technology in our sector, and shout about the potential of technological advancements in improving safety, productivity and quality.

Partnering with organisations outside of our industry will shine a light on the opportunities and challenges in construction, and demonstrate the transferrable skills that people can bring to the sector. 2018 will be a significant year for us, as we announce a partnership with a global organisation that will put us at the forefront of people’s minds for innovation in construction.

This year will be all about the content. More than ever we need to focus on a content strategy that gets us in front of the right audience and with the right message.

  • We’ll be using social media to showcase the young people already within the business and to highlight the different roles within construction.
  • We’ll focus on positioning our CEO as a leader in the sector, ensuring we comment on industry issues and ways in which we can improve. And we’ll grow the lines of communication people have with the business, whether that’s live chat on our website, social media channels or face-to-face activity.

The collapse of Carillion has provided us with many fantastic press and recruitment opportunities, however with an industry giant able to fall so quickly, many will be cynical in investing their futures in what they perceive as a volatile sector. We need to demonstrate that construction can be an innovative, exciting and prosperous sector to work in.”

Marcus Franck
Co-founder at Smart Renewable Heat.

Providing renewable heating solutions for residential and commercial properties all over the UK, working with property developers and builders on major projects.

“Marketing managers in the construction industry must maintain in-depth knowledge of topics that are evolving at a fast pace. In particular, the demand for energy efficient properties and renewable energy power.

Sustainable construction is a huge priority across Europe, and rightly so. Marketers have a responsibility to understand the wishes of their audience, and with the added influence of government and planning authorities, awareness of these issues is paramount.

Every business operating in the construction industry has a mission to cut their carbon footprint and help develop the next generation of super-efficient housing and commercial property.

Marketing managers must have the background knowledge to communicate these activities to their audience; whether it be clients and partners in other areas of construction, or self-builders. This is very challenging, due to the complexity of different technologies and constantly changing regulations.”

Tom Reece
Business Development Manager at Jamieson Contracting

North West based construction services company working with the public and private sector businesses.

“2018 will see the construction industry see unprecedented levels of projects arise and as a result the dog fight for a piece of the pie will begin. With private investors, local authorities and existing building owners all looking to improve, redevelop and meet targets. The level of construction throughout the Greater Manchester region is ever increasing.

This is great news for the region and the industry but it does however create the age old problem of who will build it and for how much.

Local Authorities and organisations open up frameworks and appoint all manner of contractors to the table. Being appointed on these framework is fantastic for any company however it can often prove that it is no guarantee of work. With many frameworks including big hitting companies who work on a nationwide basis, with the capacity to either price out the local competition or in many cases prove to be the ‘familiar name’, the ‘safe bet’ and ultimately the preferred choice.

This in itself is a frustration due to the volume of work a framework application entails and the amount of work undertaken for the subsequent mini competitions for each individual project. Smaller SME’s can often be left behind and not thought of during the process, when really it is them that need the most thought.

2018 will see public sector projects increase as well as the private sector with the economy slowly rising following a tough few years. As an SME ourselves we see the goals of 2018 to break down barriers and enter the private sector on a large scale. There is work out there for those who do it well and those who ask.

Whilst local SME’s don’t carry the large branding or familiar household name, they do however provide something that no large corporate can, that human touch, that genuine pride in their work and the level of service only a family owned and run business can provide.

But here lies the challenge ….. how do you convey these strengths to your target audience?  How do you open the door to showcase your point of difference?

Opening the door, has and always will be the most difficult challenge in SME construction marketing. The public sector provide an open opportunity to tender for works but the private sector is a completely different animal. They have the choice of the whole market, they know people who know people and they know of brands.

Getting a conversation with private sector organisations is hard and must be approached by multiple angles. We all want to avoid the dreaded cold calling and blanket marketing email. However these do form part of any strategy but they cannot be the sole tactic for breaking down this barrier. I believe that there is a wider game plan to provide the best opportunity to open doors and get that face to face meeting with a potential client, a more holistic plan.

As alluded to earlier the brand awareness is key and this should be constantly being built upon. This is done through the usual avenue of social media and your own website but also there is more to it and these extra steps are so easy that they are often overlooked.

  • Your current projects provide a great platform to showcase your brand, signage to show exactly who is doing the work, branded clothing and a clean site also have massive benefits not only to the on looking public but are ideal for any photographs for social media and other avenues.
  • Boast, tell everyone who you are completing the work for. Make detailed case studies and ensure that the journey of the project is captured visually. The more detailed the CV the more chance you have of standing out to your potential client.
  • References, at the completion of every project ensure you get thorough feedback from the client and more importantly have permission to use the reference on media outlets and case studies.

These methods are great for organic growth but there is a need to be more proactive and this for us takes shape in the form of regular networking and meeting people as any conversation can have a benefit if you take the time to listen and make the effort with your peers.

Keeping your ‘Ear to the Ground’, looking at planning portals, construction notice boards and of course your network of professional services such as architects, solicitors and planners. By doing this you can see who has upcoming projects and look to make early contact with a view to submitting a tender.

Opening the door will continue to be the hardest of all challenges faced by those in the construction industry with more and more larger contractors looking to our region as a gold mine.

We must stand firm, chest out and believe we still have a point of difference and an offering they cannot match. To do this though we must adopt some of their practices whilst always remembering to stand by our SME model and more importantly the fibre and foundation of our company, without this we lose our point of difference.”

Do you see any of the same construction marketing challenges in your business?

Marketing in the construction sector has always been a challenge and will continue to be in 2018. If you’re just starting our and need an introduction to marketing in the construction sector – read our introductory blog post.

If you’re looking for new construction marketing strategies then this post will be be perfect for you…

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