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NEC BIRMINGHAM   08-10 OCTOBER 2019

Marketing has such a vital role to play in construction

27/11/2018 | By: Lauren Barker | #Skills

0H6A7331 Lauren Barker

It is just over 3 years ago. I sit there in my interview for a marketing role, waiting for those predictable questions… “What are your biggest weaknesses?”… “Out of all the other candidates, why should we hire you?" I know the process, contract/freelance work has been my life and sitting for interviews is a common occurrence. My answers are ready to flow off the tip of my tongue, when the gentleman interviewing me throws a curve ball.

“We are aware you come from a retail marketing background. We have seen your work, entertaining and adventurous.” There is a slight pause and a sign of concern. “We sell wood. It is quite bland. Why are you interviewing for a contract with us?” Even though he was confirming slightly how I felt, I had never thought that it would be acknowledged. He continues, “Compared to other industries, we are seen as a little dull and behind with technology. I guess what I am trying to say is, are you sure that this is exciting enough for you?”

I was intrigued and interested to find out. Determined to prove that creative marketing had a home in this industry, I started working for Lawcris Panel Products Ltd the following week.

I think stepping into this role was one of the hardest and most enjoyable times of my working life. The company had something about them, their drive to succeed, their commitment, their ambition… and this was infectious throughout the business. And yet, you wouldn’t be able to tell from the outside how enjoyable it was to work for them. They distribute wood-based panel products, after all, where is the fun in that?!

It was an interesting first few weeks with a mixture of views about my role, a lot of hurdles to overcome and some folk to persuade. It was clear that the construction sector had yet to adopt digital marketing on the scale of other industries. I found myself realising that this was not a refusal to move with the times, it was an honest lack of knowledge.

It was time for change. This is where it got really exciting - I wasn’t afraid to go against the norm. Some people think it is difficult to be creative in B2B but it is quite the opposite, especially in the construction industry which is flooded with standard, very corporate marketing, potentially boringto-read messaging, stale content and uninspiring visuals. It felt like somewhere along the line, people had forgotten that businesses are comprised of individuals. That PEOPLE make decisions, not businesses.

So, this is where I started. I built a strategy which comprised of digital stuff that other humans would like. Cool stuff. The best thing about it is that analytics showed us that our strategy was working!
After completing and launching the brand new Lawcris website in January 2016 (which went on to win TTJ Website of the Year award later that year) I hired two others to join me, creating further cool stuff. Month by month, we saw our digital footfall increase, social media followers climb and our campaigns making more and more impact, leading to increased sales. Lawcris continue to be incredibly supportive and I have never worked for a company quite like them.

I invited a school in recently to show round our operation and as I was talking about the company with our standard - if a little out of the ordinary - not so corporate - but very amusing - presentation, they were stunned to see how different our company was to what they had imagined a big woodbased panel product trading giant would be. We were fun! And I get so much gratification in showing this to people. It is such a great reward to see how our department makes such an impression within the company.

I would happily admit that I accidentally fell into this job. My intention was never to get into the construction sector. But for the last three years of my life, it has been the most exhilarating time. It frustrates me to see how much the construction industry down-sells itself through unappealing marketing and not fully taking advantage of what the digital age has to offer. I would consider myself lucky to have tapped into this treasure trove that has yet to be explored.

And this is what awaits new digital marketing folk. Generation Z is the first generation that can really claim to be true digital natives. They have entered a world that is fast paced, and only continues to get faster. Gone are the days of traditional marketing (although not totally disappeared, there are still benefits to this when used right) and the doors are wide open to change the marketing landscape of construction through their digital talents.

I don’t blame people for thinking that our industry is boring. We continue to portray construction with our average, corporate messaging. But imagine if the new generation could change this. Mix it up! Turn this on its head. As I write this, I have a feeling that I could be seen as a bit of a fraud, only being in this sector for 3 years, plus my role can be taken into any industry, but marketing has such a vital role to play in construction. Not only to promote products and services, marketing are also behind how the company is portrayed to the world. Without a strong marketing strategy to develop
a brand, it can be challenging to find the right talent to work for you and could in turn impede growth. Marketing can help show the fun personality of a company and encourage candidates to want to work in construction because it is considered attractive. Which it really is!

I guess it is a massive mountain to climb. It may be tough with many hurdles on route, but I am one determined girl. I love my job and wow is it rewarding.

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