Communicating across the construction supply chain [2017 Insight]

Communicating across the construction supply chain [2017 Insight]

Competitive Advantage Consultancy Ltd has completed the 2017 Construction Media Index research. The reports provide findings on how key decision makers in construction gather information to inform their purchase and design decisions.

In this article Chris Ashworth, of Competitive Advantage, provides a glimpse at some of the findings to discover how construction specifiers are sourcing information. This insight can help to provide guidance on how marketers can effectively communicate across the construction supply chain.

Construction is one of the more complex B2B marketing environments
The delivery of a construction project involves many different decision makers and influencers. Often this group of people are brought together for one project and then disbanded when the project is complete.

Construction product marketers need to understand why their product is being specified. Which is simpler said than done! Understanding the various construction product specification influencers takes careful consideration. Knowledge of your construction market sector and contract types can also be valuable.

Naturally we advocate the practice of regularly researching your customer base and developing personas to inform your communications. Research often answers the most fundamental of questions construction marketers ask themselves and can be a cost saving exercise in the long-run, by helping you to avoid potentially costly inefficiencies in your marketing strategy.

Communication channels used by construction professionals
The Construction Media Index 2017 considers how best to communicate with construction decision makers. Now in its fifth edition, the research considers the channels available to the marketer and how they are used. It provides research based evidence for use of trade journals, social channels, online information, product directories and information events.

The wealth of communication channels available to the marketer adds complexity to the already daunting challenge of influencing specification. Digital marketing is now the norm. With half of the world’s population having access to the internet and half of internet traffic being mobile. (Source: Digital Trends 2017).

You will be pleased to know that the Construction Media Index shows that Manufacturers’ websites still rank top for specifiers seeking product information, particularly those with a bias towards technical data. The research also shows an increase in the use of social media by construction professionals. In 2015 only 53% accessed social networks for work, this now stands at 89%. And we have also seen a significant increase in the use of Apps with just under half of respondents using them.

On a more traditional front, The Construction Media Index continues to show challenging times for trade journals. Hardcopy-only readership has dropped to just 10% in the 2017 survey. And those reporting not to read trade journals at all has more than doubled. Referencing product directories has remained steady with usage at 56% in 2017, similar to the 2015 research findings.
Change in Journal Readership

Can social marketing be used effectively in construction markets?
The Construction Media Index shows an increase in the use of social media by construction professionals. It shows that LinkedIn is the most popular network. But marketers need to be bear in mind that the average LinkedIn user spends just 17 minutes per month on LinkedIn (Source: Katy Elle Blake); So it is a less active user base than other networks. But statistics by Hootsuite show 50% of B2B buyers use LinkedIn when making purchasing decisions. (Source: Hootsuite).

Our desk research shows there are more than 1.6 billion social network users worldwide (Source: Statista) With the leading network, Facebook accounting for one in every six minutes spent online! Hubspot figures show 74% of people say they use Facebook for professional purposes (Source: Hubspot). And the 2017 Construction Media Index shows that for construction professionals the use of Facebook has overtaken Twitter.

Communication Channels

Creating an effective marketing strategy for construction markets
It's obvious that no matter what method of communication you choose, digital or traditional, the channel selected needs to place you in front of your target market. What might work for Merchants may not work for Architects. In this day and age there is no excuse for not tailoring your communications. Which is why the Construction Media Index is split out across 5 key decision makers.

As well as knowing which communication channels to use, is it also important to understand your customer. Developing a marketing persona can help you know what makes them tick. Then, and only then, can you deliver relevant and timely communications. And in doing so you can build brand. Our desk research shows that 62% of consumers said that if brand content was more personalised to them they would be more likely to seek out other information or content to learn more about the brand. (Source: Raptmedia)

Ultimately marketing is about engaging with buyers and building loyalty. Construction professionals are no exception.

More about the Construction Media Index research
The Construction Media Index is comprehensive and impartial research detailing the communication channels available for engaging with the construction sector decision makers.

The Construction Media Index is published by Competitive Advantage Consultancy and sponsored by MRA, Ridgemount PR and CIB. It is supported by Barbour Product Search.

The 2017 Construction Media Index is available to purchase online at
• Architects £500 + VAT
• Main Contractors £500 + VAT
• Housebuilders £400 + VAT
• Offsite Manufacturers £400 + VAT
• Builders Merchants £400 + VAT

Construction Media Index

Further Information

“A strategy for communicating with specifiers” is a seminar for product manufacturers, hosted by Barbour Product Search on Wed 22nd Nov. More details here.

Promoting your company and building products with Barbour Product Search can help to increase your visibility to the full specification audience. Email for more information.

Sign up to the Competitive Advantage newsletter for an overview of construction market activity as well as construction sales and marketing advice.

Chris is a specialist in specification strategy and founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy which specialises in market research and training for the construction industry. He is a member of the BIM4M2 steering group and Deputy Chair of the organising committee for CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry Group.

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