This week’s Construction Products Association’s third quarter trade survey found that 86 per cent of heavyside manufacturers reported significant falls in trade, with three quarters of lightside manufacturers also reporting falls.
On top of that three out of five contractors said that output in the industrial sector had fallen and half said that output in the commercial sector had fallen in the same period. Not surprisingly the CPA said prospects looked “bleak”, with construction on course to show its largest ever decline in output and expectations of a further fall in 2010.
So what are we to do throughout these tough times? Keep calm and carry on? Not do very much, because there is not very much anyone can do?
At CIMCIG we regularly bang on about maintaining, increasing even, your marketing activity in tough times so that when things improve (and they will) you will be amongst the companies that are recalled first.
And a key element in being recalled is your brand. It is the single most important marketing asset your company has; what my dad called “The good name of the company”. Despite times of contraction and reduced spending there are things that should never be slimmed down and the quality of your brand is one.
Most companies do not have brand managers or brand defenders or the brand police or whatever they may be called so the task of ensuring that brand consistency is maintained may slip down the back of the metaphorical sofa. Don’t let it happen.
Things to be aware of are magazines and websites offering you fantastic deals and offering to put the ad together for you. No! You can easily lose control of what is going to appear; publishers will squidge up your logo, or stretch it out, to fit the space available. In fact in general be wary of any offers which include someone unfamiliar with you and your products writing the copy, creating the artwork, adding ‘some pictures’ or anything else that seems very tempting and money saving.
The same thing can happen with printers; they will offer to design your literature, business cards etc at apparently little cost. Sometimes this will be overwhelmingly tempting – you are seen to be doing something and at an apparently bargain cost. Sadly the results may do little to enhance your good name.
At least one company I know is using different logos on its website and its advertisements as a direct result of trying to save cost. They run the very real risk of mucking up a hard earned and long established brand.
A good name in business takes a long while to become established and recognised but it can become confused and messy very quickly. What is expedient in the short term can prove to be expensive in the long run.
Rick Osman is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group (CIMCIG) organising committee, a partner in Highwire, www.highwiredesign.com, a design and marketing agency that specialises in the construction industry, and one of the team that created www.hotel-standards.com.
Anyone planning to think ahead will be interested in CIMCIG’s December Conference – Strategy 2010 – designed to help you plan for the coming year. For further details visit www.cimcig.org.