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How to avoid a digital disaster   

It’s a changing world. The economy is bumping and bouncing along, providing a rough ride for all those linked to it.

The real fall out from the global recession is only just beginning to be felt, and the upcoming Comprehensive Spending Review is likely to produce public sector cuts the like of which this country has never seen.

Whole towns could find their economies devastated. Places like Doncaster, where public sector employees vastly outnumber those in the private sector, could be brought to their knees.

In amidst all this, the cheerful few construction marketing people lucky enough to still have jobs are supposed to deliver “campaigns that really win”, and to produce “exceptional ROI” – code for “can you magic some sales up without spending any money or actually going anywhere”.

“Use the e-mail – it’s free”, says the boss. And of course, he’s right. Although technically he’s wrong – e-mail costs, just not very much. At least in direct cash out that is. The cost to your organisation of pelting your customers with ill-targeted and poorly produced e-mail communication will be felt most strongly in your sales for years to come.

No, e-mail needs strategy, design, and craft just as much as any other communication.

The same is true of the other “free” stuff – search engine optimisation, online PR, social media. It all takes, at a very basic level, a load of time to do badly, and even more to use efficiently and effectively.

Thing is, right now, if you can do it all properly, the benefits will be massive. As your competition stumbles around like a blind bull in a china shop full of top-heavy vases balanced on the edge of poorly put together shelving you can steal a march with their customers, and by looking even vaguely competent, steal market share by the bucket load.

By Ross Sturley

Ross Sturley is a committee member for CIMCIG (www.cimcig.org) and principal of Chart Lane, a strategic marketing consultancy.

You can learn more about the digital frontiers, and best practice e-marketing in the UK Construction sector at the CIMCIG Conference, 2010, on November 25.

See http://www.cimcig.org/events.php?id=209 for more details.