Communication is a fundamental yet complex part of a construction business’ marketing efforts, and one that is often misunderstood.
In this forever-changing digital world you can no longer expect your construction audience to be drawn in by hard-selling facts. They don’t want to be ‘sold to’. You need to be focusing on emotion and empathy, you need to be thinking ‘how does my construction business make their life better? How will it save the house builder time or money? How can it improve the productivity of a specifier, or provide something unique and invaluable to their success?’
People always remember when someone has solved an important problem for them – purely because of the feeling they received when they realised how beneficial it was to their situation. Quite simply, memory is tied to emotions, and emotions form the strongest connection between your brand and your audience.
So if you apply this concept to construction marketing, it seems pretty straightforward, right? Well, not quite. Not only do you need to identify how to communicate with your target audience – you also need to know which marketing channels will be most beneficial. It’s all about being present in the right place and at the right time.
In this post, David Schindler, organiser of Materials 2017, discusses his views on event marketing as a potential communication tactic – and how he thinks the construction industry is currently utilising this to engage with their target audience.
First things first David, what was the Materials show all about?
Materials 2017 was formed via collaboration between netMAGmedia and me where we combined over 40 years of product knowledge and experience within the construction and built environment sector. This year’s exhibition hall combined stands with a major conference and CPD seminars to enable exhibitors and industry experts to discuss and advise their audience on a variety of building materials – from pre-cast concrete staircases and aluminium lighting products, through to thermally treated timber and engineered technical films for façades.
In short, the show served as a base for innovators in material specification to highlight their influential ideas and share seminar topics, based on major developments and alternative functionalities of architectural materials.
And how do you think this show is different from other construction events out there?
I think the significance of building materials is frequently overlooked by larger trade shows; we wanted to build a show that would revisit the fundamentals of architecture and construction, with a real focus on structures, facades, the envelope of buildings and interior finishes.
Moreover our show had a solid focus on engaging the audience via educational-led discussions and information – each seminar reflected that need to be the ‘problem-solvers’ for architects and specifiers alike. In some cases, it was all about discussing unique and creative approaches to the structural use of construction materials, looking beyond their primary purposes towards other functionalities.
Were you pleased with how the first Materials show went?
We were really pleased with the outcome of the show – the vibrant exhibition area included some big names in the manufacturing world including ROCKFON, Xtratherm, Imperial Bricks, Metamark Technical Films and Kallisto Stairs.
Working with netMAGmedia Ltd’s key industry publications such as its flagship title, Architects’ Datafile (ADF) and other brands, we were able to create a powerful platform for our launch. We also worked alongside leading trade associations and implemented the use of social media and location targeting via email to feature the benefits of the upcoming show and what people could expect.
This initial online engagement, which was carefully planned and carried out over a set time-frame, resulted in effective face-to-face engagement between top materials manufacturers at the show itself with their prospective clients, and it’s this careful blend of online and offline communication that is fundamental with construction marketing. I think in this industry offline marketing is still hugely important, and it was great to see so many companies acting as problem-solvers and demonstrating their depth of knowledge within the construction sector.
Do you think exhibitors were using this event as a communication tactic in the best way possible?
I think the exhibitors did a great job in terms of re-asserting confidence in their audience’s specification choices. Topics such as sustainability, cost, life-cycle performance, thermal and acoustic efficiency, and potential for re-use/recycling were just some of the variable characteristics discussed on both exhibition stands and throughout the many seminars that took place.
However I think there’s room for improvement when it comes to exhibitors using these events as an effective communication method, particularly when it comes to post-show analysis and forming those close connections with their audience. Companies are missing a trick here – there seems to be a lack of measurement when it comes to tracking the success of shows and following up with leads obtained from all of their hard work.
We need to work on tapping into the emotions of their audiences a little more – both before the event and also post-show by simply letting them know you haven’t forgotten about them and are there to provide them with further information as and when they need it. This is what will trigger that close connection and enhance the chances of them remembering you as and when they may need your service. One simple idea would be to provide them with a small report perhaps discussing independent market research around a particular product – all valuable information for the architect or contractor to take away with them.
What are your thoughts on the future of event marketing for construction businesses?
In this sector event marketing will always remain a strong communication tactic; however if the future of event marketing is to continue being successful, then companies need to be thinking about implementing a more thorough, strategic plan from start to finish to maximize their return on investment with any stand presence.
And as we look into growing the number of exhibitors for next year, creating an even better content element will be crucial, and for construction marketers, this will be about working harder than ever to get their voice heard above the crowd – experimenting with different tactics and integrating both online and offline tools more effectively.
And lastly what can we expect from the Materials show in 2018?
We are looked to significantly reformat the show in many ways – primarily with much more focus on innovation within the exhibition hall such as the Innovation Zone/a materials display area, and also within the conference. The Innovation Zone will have Pods at just £950 for smaller, truly innovative companies, which offers a really low-price entry level. We will also increase the exhibition floor from 40 exhibitors this year to around 70 companies and have a real focus on the evening reception on the first day. With a much longer run up to the show for the 2nd edition, we will be working much closer with our exhibitors in the lead up to April 2018 on joint marketing initiatives, and generally work to up the numbers of visitors from the key buyers of architects, specifiers, contractors and housebuilders.
Many building product manufacturers fail to see the huge disconnection between the messages their company promotes externally and what their customers actually want; event marketing should be used to remind them that you’re not simply a brand but a human being with feelings, who perfectly understands their problems and how to fix them.
How well do you actually know your customers, and how effective would event marketing be for your business?
You can find out about more about the next Materials show here or David can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on 07815 888800.
And if you haven’t already, take a look at our other videos on event marketing or get ahead of the game with your content strategy by downloading our eBook.