Case study: Building the foundations of a brand

Our latest article provides an insight into how a building company chose to enhance their reputation through a detailed and carefully thought out marketing plan.

The key to effective marketing is interpreting a business vision, building strategic foundations, creating a timely and realistic plan and then delivering against these agreed actions. This draws direct comparison with the construction industry where a similar process is followed to create the ideal home or building. Clearly the opportunity exists to combine the key elements of both functional disciplines into one major project to provide a challenging and rewarding experience for both parties.

In May 2013, RCR were approached by Focus Building Solutions, a construction company based in North West London, to help them structure and implement their marketing. This case study is the summary of a year’s active marketing which has culminated in sales growth and a burgeoning reputation which has ideally positioned Focus Building to move into a new commercial sector.

The business vision

Following a number of years of dramatic growth, which elevated their profile from a small local building company to an integrated construction company, the company had an ambitious vision to grow their revenue by approximately 25% in two years. To achieve this they had also set the ambitious target of changing their mix of clients away from residential to commercial.

At the time of engaging RCR, 80% of their business was derived from residential sales and 20% from commercial. The plan is that by the end of 2016 this will switch around to 20% through residential and 80% through the commercial sector.

Delivering this strategy also required restructuring the business to align their revenue targets with their resources and labour, as well as setting up functional departments with clear processes and organisational structures and regular formalised staff training to ensure that targets are met.

Developing the marketing strategy

The first step was to develop a clearly-articulated marketing strategy.  Following a lively initial workshop led by RCR, which included company directors and senior management, the following three marketing projects were agreed as priorities:

  1. Communications – central to all marketing activities was the development of a new website and marketing materials.
  2. Starting Conversations – to gain a better understanding on how and why customers buy Focus’ services, through client interviews. This was followed by direct marketing campaign designed to generate leads from a number of different sectors.
  3. Channel – to facilitate the change of strategy from the residential to the commercial sector a new approach was sought to developing referrals

RCR then helped Focus to develop a detailed strategy based on these three priorities, including project plans, budgets and timelines.

Communications

Digital Marketing

Central to the communication strategy was a new website which was delivered on time and within budget in late 2013 and project-managed by RCR, working with the design company Liquid Bubble. This was followed by an active social media schedule to promote the new site and drive traffic.

Social Media

Once the website was live an active social media campaign commenced. Highlights include:

  • Setting up a discussion group on Linked In which increased followers by 5%
  • Regular Facebook activity highlighting completed works and commenting on the UK construction industry
  • Promotional activities on Twitter and Facebook increased following by 15%
  • A Valentine’s Day competition to encourage participants to send photos of “The most romantic building in the world” to the Focus Facebook page. This grew followers by 30% and is shown below.
  • A number of other ideas, such as a You Tube channel interviewing specialist professions such as interior designers, are scheduled for release in 2015

Valentine's Day article 2-1

Other communications – which are shown below include:

  • A new sales brochure
  • An article in National Construction magazine

comm1 comm2

Starting Conversations

Client interviews were conducted with the view of gauging the residential customers’ perspective of Focus Building. These were conducted over a 2 week period and 15 clients were contacted.

From the overall responses received, the company was seen in a highly positive light and with a strong propensity to refer their services to relatives and friends who were “looking for a builder”.

Within 4 areas of criteria measured the following results were observed:

  • Product – High quality and standards of finished work, just needed to ensure that snags list were promptly dealt with
  • Market and Price – Their price and perceived service/product offering was comparable to local market competition
  • Service – Quality of service was high, one customer viewed them as master craftsmen!

 Direct Mail

A number of communication pathways were also developed taking into account a plethora of alternative communication opportunities targeting both B2B (business to business) commercial clients and (business to consumer) residential clients. The types of different variables chosen for the various sectors are detailed below.

B2B

Criteria selected:

  • Different professions – architects, quantity surveyors, property developers and interior designers
  • A general or a job specific communication
  • A basic or edgy tone
  • Follow up letters sent 2 weeks following the initial communication

B2C

Criteria selected:

  • A general or a job specific communication
  • Promotional offer (John Lewis voucher)
  • Seasonality – Christmas, Easter, Diwali and Jewish holidays. The last two campaigns were geared towards the demographic of the North West London area, which was the principal catchment area
  • Follow up letters sent two weeks following the initial communication

Approximately 70 different letters were prepared and direct mail used for the campaign.

This list was purchased through an agency specialising in compiling local council planning application data and a fresh list was acquired at the start of each week, targeting key postcode areas.

This list provided the data fuel for the residential campaign letters. Following a few adjustments to the list criteria, through inclusion of architects, quantity surveyors and developers, the list was also used for the commercial campaigns also. It also served as a useful database builder for future campaigns.

Channel

The main objective of channel marketing was to increase the number of referrals from architects, property developers, estate agents and other leading professionals within the construction industry.

A great deal of the activities in this section have already been discussed as part of the changes in ‘Starting Conversations’ above, especially with regard to the new data lists and the varying professional sectors, which now have over 1,000 contacts in the London area.

This has been followed up by active networking through elite groups such as Trafford Enterprises as various local Chambers of Commerce and RIBA functions.

The Mayor of Brent actually attended the 2013 Focus Christmas party acknowledging their contribution to the local community and sponsorship of local charity projects.

mayor

Conclusions

Following a year of active marketing, a summary of results is shown in the table below.

Marketing Activity What What we do Target Achieved
Letter Campaigns  Targeted letters to B2C and B2B clients Weekly Direct Mail to B2C prospects  Aim to issue approx. 4.6k leads per quarter to provide 47 enquiries 5.2k leads generated leading to 102 enquiries
Channel marketing Regular attendance to elite networking events e.g. Trafford Build good relations with key attendees getting introductions to commercial projects Aim to conduct 2 face to face meetings per month. Look at an introduction to 1 big commercial contractor every quarter 1 quality lead created a Potential £1M job!
Through E-Mail Marketing Target professional sectors Weekly Direct Mail to B2B prospects We should aim to get at least 2 new meetings a month through this type of activity 1 meeting permonth achieved
Through Social Media A series of insightful blogs were written and broadcast through Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. Largely focussed on B2C but development of thought leadership for B2B Aim for 2 meetings a month through increased company LI and twitter activity Facebook followingincreased by 50%during year.Twitter followersin excess of 650.

 

 

During the period of activity sales increased by 10% in line with the business vision. This was in part attributable to a major commercial project that was gleaned through a networking contact. Of equal importance were the various marketing initiatives that were tried and tested, some of them providing more success than others, but all going a long way to build a brand for the future and position Focus Building Solutions for the challenges of the commercial sector.

Sas Soubhi