Marketing planning in the construction industry
Firms in the construction industry who excel at working in complex, rapidly changing environments, sometimes committing to deadlines years in advance, often fail to organise and administrate basic marketing activity. The problem, may stem from our enjoyment of tangible activities which require us to be reactive, responsive and decisive and project work fulfils this criteria exactly. Marketing is often seen as an intangible, non-measurable activity, primarily an overhead, and any time spent on non-fee-earning activity is thought of as wasting resources.
Yet if carefully planned and implemented, marketing can be extremely effective and easily accounted for its annual budget. If the management team can agree in advance their exact financial targets and the specific, quantifiable marketing objectives they wish to realise over the year ahead, then marketing strategies can be developed to achieve them. However, it is essential that the management team shares this desired direction and is willing to contribute time to individually drive forward and report progress on their assigned objectives.
 Strategic approach
There has to be an emphasis on taking a strategic approach to marketing. This entails understanding the organisation’s wider goals and understanding how they are going to be achieved; setting marketing objectives in relation to those corporate goals and corresponding marketing strategies to deliver on those stated marketing objectives.
Only by adopting such a logical and reasoned approach can marketing rationalise its right to be at the heart of the management decision-making process, a cross-functional discipline that “...is too important to leave to the marketing department”. By being both logical and strategic in nature, it is possible to help dispel the image held by many in the construction industry that it is about advertising, PR (public relations) and general promotional activities.
Careful thought must be given as to how each marketing objective can be achieved, and just as in project work, the overall tasks can be broken down into strategies, initiatives and specific actions and their associate costs. Clear identification as to who is responsible for each step must be made so that staff and managers alike know what is required of them to implement their part of the overall plan. Furthermore, a programme must be established which shows when specific campaigns or marketing initiatives need to be completed.
Outline steps for marketing planning:
- Analyse the changing business environment.
- Identify the options relevant to the firms’ core competences.
- Establish a business strategy and define marketing objectives.
- Set marketing strategies and performance targets.
- Confirm feasibility by undertaking market and client research.
- Formulate tactical initiatives and action.
- Seek individuals commitment to implementing their part of plan.
- Create monitoring controls to evaluate performance.
The process described above is project management. So if the company board believes project management has helped improve the control and efficiency of project administration, it will not take much to get them thinking about what it could do for their marketing activities.
A marketing plan is:
- A formal management process.
- All marketing resources are allocated to meet specified marketing objectives.
- The marketing plan should knit together the strategic cornerstones of the corporate / business plan.
- It is a standard against which day-to-day marketing decisions are made.
In being able to knit together both strategic and tactical elements, the marketing plan should correspondingly include both strategic and tactical aspects.
For the purposes of implementing the marketing plan:
- The strategic and tactical elements can be differentiated by time frame.
- Any planning process needs to take account of both the long and short term.
- The broad three year marketing plan should be treated as the strategic plan.
- The first year as the tactical short-term plan.
Marketing plans should be a focus for the whole business unit and / or firm and should not be restricted to the marketing department. They should also be based on the market(s) in which the business unit is operating. This is a simple but important point.
Marketing plans should take account of budgets and other financial measures but should not be based on them. Similarly, sales-led organisations may base their planning and budgeting around sales targets, but these might be overly optimistic to motivate a sales force rather than a realistic assessment of what the market will bear.
- Careful, realistic assessments of what the market is doing in terms of its external environment e.g. economic conditions, market sector growth versus saturation / stagnation, competitor activity etc.
- What the firm can do in response to those external factors e.g. new service launches, service extensions or improvements, improvements through new distribution (new offices, new locations), better promotion (hospitality, mailshots, campaigns etc.), increased sales force (often not required as it easier and cheaper to get existing staff to take on a small degree of marketing responsibility).
- Numbers and quantifiable targets (actually measurable and not just wish statements).
- Targets that are tangible and realisable so that they do not de-motivate.
However the use of numbers, financial or by volume is not enough on its own. Soft factors that require written explanation are just as much a prerequisite as the quantifiable elements.
In summary, the approach to marketing planning is that it is:
- Not only a formalised system.
- One that complements the wider corporate aims and strategies of the organisation as a whole.
- At the heart of the firm and its planning and is accordingly cross-functional.
- Not simply a tactical description of how marketing resources will be allocated over the forthcoming twelve-month budgeting period.
If a marketing plan is founded on solid, factual information about the market place itself, then the starting point for constructing the plan will be the search for data organised in such a way as to become useful information. See marketing audit for more information.
This article was created by --Philip Collard 10:41, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki:
- Constructing a three year strategic marketing plan.
- Embedding successful key client management.
- Market segmentation.
- Marketing audit.
- One-year tactical or operational marketing plan.
- Winning work.
 External references:
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