12 Priority Construction Marketing Challenges for the New Year

Forget Predictions, What Will You Do Differently in 2014? 2015?

Updated Jan 2015

It’s still true that the majority of generic B2B marketing predictions mean very little to the modern construction marketing professional.

Whether its building products, materials, contractors or professional services within construction generally, the route to market is typically protracted and complicated.

Let’s be kind to ourselves again this year.

Let’s choose today, right now, this minute, to select and conquer no more than 3 key construction marketing challenges.

Those that that will have the biggest impact on our businesses over the next 12 months.

How do we identify which those ought to be? Good question.

The question we should start by asking is ‘What can I do differently this year?’, ‘What can we as a company do differently this year?’

What will we do differently this year, starting now, to make our customers life easier?

I challenge you to pick out the biggest and ugliest of business challenges or issues you face from the list below and make them a burning priority over the next 6, 12 or 18 months.

1. The ‘No Priority Actions’ Challenge.

MD’s, CEO’s, Heads of Sales and Marketing please… give the marketing department a freaking chance this year and list down some priority actions. Some real business goals that marketing can influence. Then put a plan together, add some KPI’s, throw in some resource and budget, and commit to help making it happen. There’s a great article here on why CEO’s don’t trust marketing and how to build a credible plan. Marketers help yourselves and read it.

2. The ‘No Customer Relationship Management [CRM] System’ Challenge.

Whatever you’ve got make it work. Measurable marketing can’t really exist without it. Whether it’s Salesforce, Dynamics, Epicor, SAP, Update, a simple spreadsheet, whatever it is you use (or don’t use) for your business CRM, it’s the one and only thing that’ll make your marketing pay long term. Deal with it as a priority. I’m talking about customer segmentation, top customer profiling, average quote values, average order values, quote to order ratios, geographic analysis, key distributor analysis and so on. So much good stuff, it’ll transform your marketing strategies going forward.

3. The ‘Marketing Offline without Digital Integration or Tracking’ Challenge.

Measure it, make it pay or ditch it. Whatever it happens to be; printed brochures, print Advertising, print publications – how are you ensuring a good return? How are you integrating your on and offline messages? By implementing digital techniques properly, that’s how. For a real view of each channels effectiveness benchmark their impact right now and then again in 3, 6, 12 months time. What are the trends? Test the results. Do real marketing. Read the very last paragraph of this article on search marketing in 2014… Then read the rest of it.

4. The ‘Inactive Approach to Developing Personal Relationships’ Challenge.

Marketing is only one part of the ‘new business’ jigsaw. It serves to back up the sales team and create awareness for those who are unaware of your business. Is your MD, CEO or PR agency out there making time to meet the influencers. Do they know the construction industry movers and shakers, the trade editors. Can they sniff out and capitalise on the opportunities around the corner. Are they chasing the right contacts in the local authorities, the main contractors, pressing the flesh, getting on the ‘preferred supplier lists’. Marketing can only do so much on it’s own. Get across the importance of meeting the right people and then knowing what to say to them – watch this refresher on networking skills.

5. The ‘Fuzzy Understanding of SEO and Web Analytics’ Challenge.

Pauley Creative has always had ‘Measure what matters‘ as it’s mantra. We’ve always challenged the vanity metrics, the numbers that might look or sound good but when given the ‘So What’ test are found out to be meaningless. Whether you use lead management software like Pardot, Hubspot or Infusionsoft, visitor tracking like clicktale or crazyegg or web analytics software like Google or Adobe SiteCatalyst, understanding the data and thus proving what works (and what needs improving) is essential for any marketer who wants to be taken seriously in the boardroom. Take time to learn what an important metric looks like, why it’s important and what we can change or test as a result.

6. The ‘Reluctance to Think Clearly about Mobile Strategies’ Challenge.

Your websites traffic from mobile devices will be increasing dramatically. Small as it may seem now, if it continues to grow at its current pace, are you going to be in a position to capitalise on the resulting opportunities? Who is your mobile traffic? Is it the same as your desktop traffic? What do they need from you on a handheld device? What are they seeing right now? Is it different from what you or they want or expect? Find out and start to create a multi device friendly experience. Develop content specifically for those audiences. What might installers, architects, site managers want whilst out and about? What do they want when at their desks? Think about stockist locators, installation guides and videos, an easy to find local phone number!

7. The ‘Dis-functional Website’ Challenge. 

Decide that 2014 is the year you make your website easier to use both for yourself and your customers. Can you add or amend all your product content at will? Do you need to? If you do and you can’t, are even the smallest amends costing you time, money, stress? Is your site capturing the right leads? Are your calls to action [CTA] in the right places, are they being tested, could they work harder? Is your traffic increasing, are your web goals being measured correctly? Do you have any web goals? Can architects get what they want quickly and easily? What’s getting in their way? If you audited your web presence both in terms of technical performance and usability would you be better equipped to make improvements? Make it a priority in 2014.

8. The ‘I want to Rank No.1 in Google for [insert broad product search term here] Challenge.

Being found on google is one thing, but allocating resource to rank for single or double word search terms with high competition and low lead quality is a very poor strategy especially when the competition are typically much richer than you. Understand Google’s 200 ranking factors and what works for Search Engine Optimisation [SEO] and get much better results quicker and more cost effectively. Understand the long tail and make the question “Are we on page one yet?” more meaningful and less costly.

9. The ‘Un-sociable, anti-engagement’ Challenge.

If you haven’t made the time or your construction company hasn’t provided the resource to be on social platforms you probably don’t have a good enough reason to be there yet. The busy, modern, marketing manager has limited time to spend on any kind of real marketing so setting time aside for what the MD see’s as a unnecessary luxury is a tough gig. However, social comes into it’s own when there is a consistent content strategy in existence. If you’re ready to prove your company’s technical expertise then you’re ready to get the most out of Social Media, make 2014 the year you engage fully on social understanding both why you’re there and what you’ll get out of it. And before you ask your agency to be social on your behalf, understand why that’s a crappy idea…

10. The ‘Ad-Hoc Approach to Marketing Budget’ Challenge.

Learning how to allocate budget for maximum marketing impact is as much about understanding what is working now as it is about what needs improving to work better in the future. Can you believe some marketing budgets are still allocated on the whim of the MD who decides last minute he wants to be at Ecobuild or Grand Designs or 100% design or wherever (again) despite the fact he knows not if it was financially worth it last year. Or it’s the Sales Head who decides arbitrarily that they want more brochures/golfs balls/pens/polo shirts/mugs [delete as appropriate] because you’re running low and “the customers love them”. At best, this is just stock control. It isn’t marketing. Make your budget work harder for your construction business in 2014 by working out which channels are actually generating the right kind of leads for your business and then do more of that!

11. The ‘Saying “No” Much More Often’ Challenge.

Say “No” to Random Acts of Marketing. “No” to prolonged runs of costly coffee-table brochures. Say “No” to exhibitions and events that the company has always been to and never measured. Say “No” to golf balls and mugs and pens and mousemats and calenders and all the other ‘customer’s love ‘em type requests. At least until you can prove that your company can’t live with out them. Just think of the budget you could save or (God forbid) re-allocate to proven marketing tactics, like say content creation or better email lists because your old list is exhausted. Read ‘Start with No’ and make it your new mantra for 2014. You can always come back to yes once you’ve been convinced that the request is worth your valuable time.

12. The ‘Finding Help and Asking The Right Questions’ Challenge.

Is your ‘full service’ agency adding real value? Or are they just nice people to deal with? Is it your agency that is holding your digital efforts back rather than your boss or your own desire to be better and more accountable? Are you more than a little concerned that your not getting good advice on new marketing approaches? There has been an explosion of new marketing techniques and available integrated strategies over the last 5 or 6 years and yet most agencies have slimmed down their staff over this time. How can they still claim to be full service with any degree of credibility? It’s becoming increasingly clear that the ‘Full Service’ claim is a very real threat to your businesses marketing success. No, the challenge for the savvy client side marketer is managing their specialist agencies so that each one is working toward the same goal. Step out of your single agency comfort bubble, hunt down some trusted partners and get them in the same room. Only then will the magic happen across all platforms and media. Make that a priority for 2014.

Face it, the major challenges we face as digital marketers in the construction industry this coming year are unlikely to be any different to the challenges you faced at the beginning of last year.

Pauley Creative has developed a unique intelligence-led process designed to create massively successful digital marketing strategies for construction companies. The process includes an in depth diagnostic followed by recommendations that help you achieve your goals faster.

Go ahead, be good to yourself this year…

About Stuart Dinnie

Stuart has worked in the world of digital marketing for over 15 years. With his measured and planned approach, he has delivered robust digital strategies for construction companies to achieve real business growth. He now heads up the team at Pauley Creative as Managing Director and is leading his team & clients towards digital marketing excellence. He’s worked with over 100 construction clients; helping them on their digital transformation journey, providing sustainable strategies that return year on year incremental growth, delivering award-winning websites and adding value from board level to marketing assistant.

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