Needle in a large haystack
It is encouraging news from the Construction Products Association’s (CPS) latest forecast. They indicate that the construction sector will grow 23% by the end of 2018. http://www.cimcig.org/news.php?id=1081
Think about that in terms of your company. If it just grew in line with the market, then your organisation would be 23% larger than what it is today. That’s 23% more sales and 23% more staff, for starters.
That is good news for any company which works in the sector. Many, quite naturally, are already thinking about ways to make the most of this opportunity and here are our top tips for ensuring that you don’t get left behind in the race for growth:
Done properly, PR is one of the most effective methods of getting your product or service noticed in an increasingly competitive marketplace. It can be less costly than the traditional ways of getting your products in front of customers, such as advertising.
The question, of course, is how you get your construction products into the press. All too often companies find out that, for example, Construction News has run a feature on roofing only after it has appeared in print! Far from ideal and by that time some of your competitors already have an edge on you.
If that sounds familiar then chances are that you either don’t have a PR company, in which case you may be losing out on valuable media exposure, or, if you do, they aren’t doing their job properly!
Either way, there’s no substitute for working with a PR agency that specialises in the construction sector. Think about it in terms of your own house – if you have a leaking sliding sash window, you’re more likely to choose a company that specialises in sash windows!
That’s because you know that they will understand the problem better, have more experience in fixing similar issues and get the job done properly!
The big question for most companies in the construction sector at this time of year is usually: Is it worth going to Ecobuild?
It is still certainly a good show, but nowhere near as must-be-seen-there as it once was. As a result, many of our clients in the construction sector are thinking twice about attending exhibitions this year. If they do then it tends to be because they have something big to shout about, such as a new product, in which case it’s worth a punt.
However, many are now looking at smaller, less expensive exhibitions such as 100% Design. These still attract the right target profile – in this case architects – and have definitely created opportunities just as much as bigger shows such as Ecobuild.
The old adage still applies: you only need one good enquiry to make an exhibition worth on the time and expense!
Yes, definitely worth doing. Especially Construction News, Building, Housebuilder awards automatically generate media coverage if you are shortlisted or win.
PR agencies that enter construction awards? We’re not sure about that – they should be concentrating on their clients rather than blowing their own trumpet!
If there is one thing that needs to be in your marketing plan in 2015 its social media.
Chances are that it already is as the majority of construction marketers know that the first thing a potential customer does is search online for a product. Whether it’s a homeowner looking for replacement windows or an architect seeking more data on BIM (Building Information Modelling), they’ll start from the Google homepage!
That why, when we write a feature as part of a PR programme, we make sure that we create an onlineversion too. Whether that means adapting it into a blog, case study or tweet, it’s such a good opportunity to capture all those potential customers searching online.
A word of warning, though, just make sure your PR or social media agency includes appropriate links back to your website and that it is good quality content. Do this and you’ll soon see the spikes in your Google Analytics when you post a blog or update your social media.
In our experience, agencies that focus purely social media and that don’t have an understanding of the construction sector end up using uninteresting, waffly blogs that have little value to the reader.
This usually ends in two ways, neither of them good! Firstly, it has little pick-up online and therefore doesn’t really help optimise your search rankings for construction products. Worse still, and especially if there is much ‘cutting and pasting’ as they don’t write new, engaging content, your website ends up getting black listed, in which case you’re in real trouble.
Which brings us nicely onto the subject of websites for construction companies.
As with all websites, visitors need to find what they are looking for within a couple of clicks.
We’ve just completed a website for our client www.eltherington.co.uk. They had three distinct groups of customers a) architects b) leisure home manufacturers c) firms that buy aluminium components.
Our approach was to present a visual depiction of these three areas on the home page. Visitors could immediately associate which group they belonged to and click the appropriate image. From there it took them through to a full list of the different solutions and bingo! Within two clicks, a complex set of customers were neatly taken to the product groups they were searching for.
As with PR and social media, it is always better to go with a company that understands the construction sector. Perhaps these agencies may take some tracking down – like finding a needle in a haystack – we hope not, for if they are as good as they say, then you should easily be able to find them.
Try it yourself: just type ‘PR agency specialising in construction’ in Google.