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Recession-Busting Strategies for Construction Pros - Part I: Four Ways Your Competitors Out-Promote You

April 16, 2009
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Many of your competitors will survive this recession, but only a handful will grow stronger. How in the world are they doing it?

Using the expertise of Clear Seas Research*, we surveyed members of the Buildings Materials Panel, a cross-section of construction pros who read BNP Media trade publications, to learn their 2009 marketing strategies.

A healthy 184 construction pros responded to our just-completed survey, which focuses on marketing, advertising, organization membership and employee motivation. In this week’s blog, we’ll focus on successful marketing and advertising techniques.

We asked the following question: In 2009, what new marketing/advertising techniques has your company implemented or planned to implement to improve sales?

If you assumed your competitors were not investing in new marketing and advertising strategies, think again. Only 27% fall into that category. The other 73% are aggressively marketing--maybe to your customers!

Print Advertising was the top new marketing technique listed by survey respondents, which might surprise you. It surprised me and I’m in the publishing business.

It’s true. Print Advertising tied with Launched/Enhanced Company Web site as the number one selection with 34% of survey respondents selecting both answers (see first bar chart).

Next came Enhanced Customer Retention Programs (28%), Internet Advertising (27%), Direct Mail Advertising (25%), E-mail Advertising (24%), Yellow Page Advertising (23%), Radio Advertising (10%), Cable/Local TV Advertising (9%), and Telemarketing (9%). Multiple answers were allowed, which is why these totals exceed 100%.

I found these responses reassuring, yet curious. With one foot placed firmly in print media and another in electronic media, BNP Media lives in both worlds.

I expected Launching/Enhancing Web site, Internet Ads, and E-mail Ads to generate even higher responses. After all, we’re living in the digital era, right?

I should not have been so surprised. Other recent surveys we’ve conducted demonstrate that marketers still trust print more than online advertising.

So should you gather your marketing dollars and buy some print and Internet ads? Yes, but that’s not all.

We followed up that first question by asking: Which techniques have been most successful?

The 2009 marketing technique deemed most successful by 28% of respondents is Enhanced Customer Service Retention Programs (see second bar chart). If you’re not following up with your clients frequently and working hard to keep their business, then you had better start.

Print Advertising and Internet Advertising tied for second at 22%, followed by Launched/Enhanced Web site (19%), E-mail Advertising (15%), Yellow Page Advertising (14%), Direct Mail Advertising (10%), Radio Advertising (8%), and Cable/Local TV Advertising (6%). Additionally, 10% of respondents said none of their 2009 new marketing techniques have been successful.

If you are like many revenue-starved construction and maintenance pros, you are struggling to invest in marketing right now. And yet the annals of history are filled with the stories of leaders who acted decisively during downturns, while others retreated. Those visionaries saw their companies recover faster, grow more quickly, and gain market share at the expense of their timid competitors.

To summarize, the top four ways your competitors are out-marketing you in 2009 are:

1. Stronger customer retention programs
2. Advertising in print
3. Advertising on the Internet
4. Launching/enhancing company Web sites

Will you join them, or watch them pass you by?


Next blog: Part 2: Four Marketing Techniques That Provide the Most Value


*To obtain a copy of the survey results, contact Kelly Clinton at clintonk@clearseasresearch. Results from this study are copyright © 2009 by Clear Seas Research. All rights reserved.
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