Predicting the future for construction in 2013 isn’t that hard. While recent GDP figures show that the sector grew by 0.3 per cent in Q4 of 2012, no-one can pretend that the next 12 months won’t be another difficult year.
This is where the marketing team can help with an effective communications plan. Here are five key issues for construction marketers in 2013 and beyond.
It’s no surprise that mobile marketing is top of the list. Media regulator Ofcom conducted research in 2012 that found ownership of tablet computers had leapt from 2 per cent to 11 per cent in just 12 months and that the proportion of people accessing the internet via their mobiles had grown to 39 per cent.
CIMCIG’s annual Construction Marketing Awards has a category for mobile campaigns. Increasing entries and exceptional campaign results have now become the norm.
The lesson is clear: communication channels such as websites need to optimised for a number of platforms – primarily smartphones and tablets, as well as PCs.
Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are now part of our everyday fabric. Construction hasn’t always been quick to pick up on these, but the time is right to embrace them.
Not all social media sources are suited to every industry. Choosing the right platforms means understanding how your customers access information online.
There can be issues – social media can quickly spread rumours. It is best not to chase false stories; instead, take the initiative – have expertise to hand, either by employing a social media manager or engaging a digital marketing agency.
Old channels are good channels
While the tendency is to think of email marketing as old hat, the reality is it’s still an integral part of the communications mix. The challenge is dealing with the exponential increase in emails that people receive.
Consequently, email lists must be up to date and provide recipients with a compelling reason to open and read them. Done well, email marketing is a relatively simple and cheap way of communicating with your target audience.
The old adage that ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’ is never truer than now. A 2012 report suggested that 80 per cent of CEOs don’t trust what their marketers are telling them.
This presents an issue both for managers in understanding how marketing works, and for marketers in demonstrating that marketing creates value. Marketing metrics should revolve around generating demand. Individual marketing activities can have their own metrics but should be connected back to this strategic focus.
Finally, a relatively new topic called ‘big data’. According to IBM, 90 per cent of the world’s data has been created in the past two years. This creates opportunities to communicate with your audience but it also creates a problem around data management.
Organisations hold a lot of operational information, including stock control, supply chain management, finance and customer services. These data sets can be analysed to establish patterns of customer behaviour that can be used to improve products and services, underpinning existing revenue streams and building new ones. Big data looks like it will be an idea that runs and runs.
Having seen just some of the trends that could affect construction in 2013, the question is how does it all connect together?
The starting point should be the strategic plan. With continuing turbulence, executives and marketing professionals would do well to understand the upcoming issues and ensure they are incorporated into their plans.
David Mycock is head of marketing for Shepherd Gilmour, an international engineering consultancy based in Manchester. He is also a national committee member of CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry Group, as well as chair of the Lancashire branch of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and a committee member of TARGET, a construction marketing organisation based in Leeds.