Chris Ashworth of specialist construction sales and marketing consultancy, Competitive Advantage, takes a look at how research can improve marketers’ effectiveness, especially during challenging times.
The budget season is now upon us and construction marketers are faced with the challenge of planning for next year while faced with a high level of uncertainty. What will happen with Brexit, will the UK return to full lockdown, when will Coronavirus cease to be a hazard and to what extent will home working continue once it is over?
While it cannot answer all of these questions, market research will give a better understanding of your customers’ attitudes, concerns and future needs. Yet so often when companies have to cut budgets, research is one of the first things to go. The consequence is that other budget activity is wasted, or at best less effective, due to a lack of understanding and measurement. Here are some examples of how research can improve effectiveness.
We conduct a regular brand awareness survey amongst tradesmen for one of our clients. The report includes an overlay of awareness by geographical region, which highlights where their competitors are most effective. This allows a targeted approach to PR and sales activity and also provides a measure of the effectiveness of this. Instead of a sledgehammer approach to the market, they can use a focused and more cost-effective approach.
We recently reviewed brand awareness amongst installers for another client. This independent research suggests that the messages fed back by the sales team of an installer network with strong brand loyalty is not correct. Independent validation will now allow the marketing team to refine engagement which has the potential to increase their share of their customers’ business.
Research is also about ensuring the success of a new product launch. By interviewing the different members of the project team it can establish where the influence sits (usually with more than one member of the team) the strength of that influence and what really matters when it comes to product selection. This knowledge will allow a CPD strategy to be developed, and blog articles to be written, which can effectively target the right decision makers by offering solutions to their problems.
Customer surveys are another important investment. All good marketers need to know how good their customer service is, but also how it compares with not only competitors but other organisations who also supply that customer. And in the current environment learning about your customers’ principal concerns allows you to perhaps help solve their problems or at the very least show sympathy and understanding.
Finally, there is the choice of communication channel. Our recent work has shown that a blended approach is necessary, combining a mix of channels representing both traditional and digital. But which channels to select for each decision maker? That is where an off the shelf report like the Construction Media Index is very useful. Providing a quick answer to your questions at a fraction of the cost of bespoke research.
As you plan your budget for next year don’t dismiss research, it is an investment which will enable the effective use of your other marketing resources.
Competitive Advantage specialise in the construction sector, conducting bespoke market research and publishing reports to help marketers understand their construction markets. Research can take the form of online surveys, telephone interviews and focus groups. We also undertake market studies and analysis on behalf of clients.
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