07 - 09 March 2023 | ExCeL, London

07 - 09 March 2023
ExCeL, London

Opinion piece

Why Marketing is at the forefront of industry collaboration: A route to a safer future

An opinion piece article by Peter Sumpton, Construction Marketing Consultant, Marketing Study Lab

Competition is Healthy

In any industry, competition is healthy. If there is no competition then a monopoly occurs which means a singular company can dictate or even manipulate the market to its benefit.

Competition also pushes boundaries. It means innovation and creativity must remain a focus for an organisation to stay competitive; if it doesn’t it can be left behind (we only have to look at Netflix and Blockbuster, or Nokia and Apple to see how this rings true).

Competition isn’t just an individual organisation having the upper hand or ‘winning’. When there is a healthy attitude towards competition, the whole industry benefits. Standards are raised, collaborative approaches are recognised and the industry can grow exponentially.

But competition can also lead to unhealthy outcomes, where the focus is on self-preservation, holding on to what you have and an uncollaborative culture. Innovation becomes stagnant, growth can be stunted, and (more worryingly) the biggest impact of this is felt by the consumer, the end-user.

Marketing Leading the Way

As a marketing consultant, I’m always thinking about the diagnosis of a situation: Where are we now and where do we want to be? This always leads to strategic approaches that serve clients well, as they are born out of the circumstances surrounding an organisation rather than hypothetical jargon that you may see in most marketing today.

Every strategy must be followed by tactics, and although you may think of Marketing as just promotion (getting people to buy stuff they probably don’t need), this could not be further from the truth. Good marketing, marketing done correctly, will lead to the tactical execution of the 4 P’s of Marketing (Product, Price, Placement and Promotion). And from the correct delivery of these 4 P’s, both organisations and the wider construction community can thrive in a competitive and safer landscape.

Making the Construction Industry Safer, Through Collaboration and the 4 P’s of Marketing

How can marketing make the construction industry a safer place?

We can all agree that regardless of where you sit within the supply chain, we all have a duty of care towards our stakeholders; a duty of care that extends further than just our own clients to that of the wider industry. After all, construction is about collaboration, whether on a building site, office, or manufacturing facility. Treating others with the respect they deserve cascades up and down the supply chain, as should the sharing of information and data which enables others to make more valid choices.

The 4 P’s of Marketing

 

  1. Price

We all like a bargain. We all like to feel that we’ve ‘won’ in some way when it comes to our purchase decisions, but most of the time cheaper doesn’t mean better – buy cheap, buy twice!

Rather than competing on price, which is a race to the bottom (low production value, using cheaper materials or trade, making things faster not better), we must start to compete on the quality of our products and services. Focussing on the quality of a product or service rather than making it a price war means more time and resources can be spent on making better things, things that are fit for purpose and subsequently safer.

  1. Product

The pricing concept leads nicely onto the products themselves. If we are competing on quality at a higher price point, this means more can be invested in new product development, innovative approaches and additional safety features. One way to validate this is through testing and certification.

Testing and certification can sometimes be viewed as just a requirement, a process that needs to be completed so that an organisation can stake a valid claim in specifications and tendering processes, rather than being used for the right reasons: proof of concept, the ability to independently show that a specific product can do a specific thing.

This isn’t just down to those that manufacture products however. Accountability should run right through the supply chain:

– From the Manufacturer producing the products to more than the minimum standard

– Specifiers and Architects looking for the right products with the right credentials

– Installers understanding the onsite installation and application

– To the Testing and Certification Bodies to provide clear and user-friendly results

The collaborative approach here cannot be understated.

  1. Placement

From the start to the end of the supply chain, the flow of information and data needs to be robust – almost unbreakable – rather than the potential Chinese whispers approach we can sometimes be unwillingly dragged into. This can only be rectified with a collaborative, industry-wide approach, with the sharing of information that benefits the industry at the heart of it, and where new technologies such as Blockchain can be utilised to offer a secure audit trail, reducing the risks of breaking specifications, or using replacement products that are not like for like or indeed fit for purpose.

  1. Promotion

As was stated before, we all have a duty of care to make sure that the correct information is visible, at the right place, at the right time, and is in the right persons hands. Within construction, this usually means multiple people requiring very different information at different times (think of what an architect may need compared to an onsite foreman).

One size does not fit all.

When it comes to the dissemination of such information, it is imperative that;

– The information is freely available

– It is in a format that is usable

– The language used is clear

– Changes and amendments are communicated effectively

A great example of this is the Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI), which looks to help organisations drive higher standards and present product information in a way that prioritises building safety, not convenience.

We are not short on communication channels and we are not short on data, but marrying these two in the right, ethical way could really make a difference.

More Than Just BOGOF

It is very rare that there is a singular solution to an industry-sized problem, and it is no different here. Making an entire industry more collaborative with the aim of making it safer isn’t as simple as passing a few legislative processes, or all agreeing something has to be done about it, and subsequently doing these things but in isolation from the rest of the industry. We should instead focus on a Marketing-led approach, that isn’t about selling at the cheapest price or doing the bare minimum to reach the current industry standards, but is about adding value throughout the supply chain, using collective strength to build better infrastructures and sharing knowledge, data and information to make our industry safer for all stakeholders.

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