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How contractors can lead the way on marketing

Last week saw a good showing by contractors at the prestigious Construction Marketing Awards.

The award for use of Sustainability as a Marketing Strategy went to Carillion. Best Use of Advertising went to Murphy, ISG won Best Advertising Campaign under £25,000 with Clugston was highly commended in the same category.

While these companies can hardly be described as SMEs, it emphasises the fact that marketing by contractors is now more than a few company pens and a golf day. To be effective and win business, you need to first understand your clients, their issues and perceptions, then engage with them.

Carillion did that with its winning entry: the company created a blog site which acted as a portal for other information about sustainability.

What they did was use other people’s work to provide a good point of information for their clients, suppliers and stakeholders.

They were able to become an opinion leader without the need to employ a raft of experts. Although Carillion is a large organisation, this initiative could have been just as easily done by an SME.

Money no object

And thanks to the magic of the internet, we could perceive a three-man band as a leading authority in the industry. Marketing is about original thinking with good execution and does not need vast budgets.

It was the planned approach that won ISG Best Advertising Campaign under £25,000. Before undertaking any advertising, the firm invested in a perception study so that it understood its customers’ opinions of the company.

ISG could then tailor a targeted campaign. Runners-up Clugston also demonstrated a unique approach.

It showed commitment to the local community by raising £75,000 for a number of local and regional charities, raising its profile and creating a positive image at the same time.

Shifting opinions

In Murphy’s case, it also wanted to change people’s perceptions, demonstrating the scale and complexity of projects it could handle.

This involved showcasing what they had done and routing people to their website. It also ensured a consistent look to all of their communication material.

The smaller contractor might not have the budget to do this in the same way, but a series of project stories posted on the website and issued as press releases could achieve a lot a little cost.

So think about how you can understand and engage with your customers and then promote your company.

Have a look through the stories of the winners and runners-up at the Construction Marketing Awards for inspiration and then see how you can create a cost-effective campaign.

Perhaps you can be collecting a trophy at next year’s Construction Marketing Awards.

Chris Ashworth is founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy, which specialises in strategy, market research and sales training for the construction industry. He serves on the Promotional Working Group of the government’s Green Construction Board and is also a member of the organising committee for CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry Group

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