Marketing In the Upturn
Although the economic situation is looking considerably brighter, all industries are being cautioned that we are certainly not yet out of the woods, with further budget cuts and insolvencies still taking place.
Research undertaken following on from the 1991 recession has proved that companies who maintain or increase their marketing activity during a downturn, are in a better position to recover quickly, when the economy improves.
What construction companies can do is to look differently at how they communicate to their target audience. This may mean, however, having to adapt their existing core offering to meet the new needs of the customer base or even identify a new target market. For example, it may be that forthcoming public sector cuts could mean a significant reduction in the number of affordable housing projects across the UK.
However, continued interest in renewable energy and the government’s soon-to-be launched series of tariffs assisting both homeowners and organisations in implementing energy-saving technology in their buildings, could bring about a brand new target market for construction firms. It seems worthwhile then, to begin to build relationships with renewable energy firms, in anticipation of this demand.
In addition, business owners in the construction sector should not instinctively look to reduce prices in order to remain competitive. Customers will learn to expect these reduced prices as a matter of course, causing companies to lose their differentiation and become unable to raise prices again. Instead, focus on the customer experience – your services may be identical to other construction companies, but what can you given in addition, that no-one else is doing? This, believe it or not, can make all the difference.
A Great time to Launch
Despite the popular myth, an upturn is a great time to launch a new service, with many business owners and marketers turning their back on ineffective, costly traditional marketing and instead embracing digital marketing, with 17% of companies surveyed now spending more on online marketing than traditional, and a further third planning to do so in the near future.
So why digital marketing? It’s less costly and is easier to tailor/personalise, particularly if you have an effective CRM system in place. Firing off emails to unknown businesses who may well not care about your offering, is likely to signal a failed campaign and can damage your brand.
Social Media Is About Being Sociable
Social media (Twitter,Facebook, LinkedIn) is sadly still often used as a soapbox from which to shout about your brand. If you’ve been doing this with zilch results, don’t be surprised. These sites are simply platforms for you to engage in two-way conversation and build relationships (particularly encouraging brand loyalty) with your target audience, to be used in conjunction with other marketing tools. They also have the added advantage of giving you true, honest feedback very quickly.
It is important to make good use of SEO and Pay Per Click campaigns. Remember that most people won’t ever go past page one of a Google results page, and many never go past the first half dozen hits – a handy guideline for SEO measurement. If you can’t afford the ongoing SEO effort needed to remain here, make sure you have an excellent presence on the social media sites.
Ultimately, to succeed in the upturn, construction companies need to remain focused and innovative, with many needing to shift their focus from their core offering, diversifying slightly or even identifying a new growth area.