Marketing : Alan Gayle

Alan Gayle writes a monthly column on marketing in Natural Stone Specialist magazine.

Alan Gayle is a sales and marketing consultant specialising in the construction industry. He has worked in the stone sector for more than a decade. Here he offers advice on how to make an impact in the market.

Alan Gayle has worked in sales and marketing roles in the construction industry since 1993. Following a successful career with some of the UK’s leading building product manufacturers, he has worked in the stone sector more than a decade. He now runs keystone Construction Marketing, a marketing agency specialising in the construction industry. The agency works with building  contractors, subcontractors and building product suppliers to help them increase their sales and improve their margins. [email protected].

Last month, when I wrote about advertising, I said it’s important to keep the publication or website that you’re intending to advertise in at the forefront of your mind. What I mean by that is to be aware of their readership and design your advert to resonate with those readers.

Remember AIDA: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. The first thing you have to do is attract attention with your headline and / or image(s). You may well want your message to reach both architects and main contractors but be aware that their roles are different. They need to solve different problems and therefore they often have very different motivations.

Even if you’re advertising the same thing, your advert in Architects Journal or Building Design should probably have a different focus to your advert in Building magazine or the Construction Enquirer.

When you consider which publication to advertise in, ask yourself this: Does my target market actually read it?

As I said last month, there are dozens of both online and printed construction industry ‘magazines’ offering cheap rates and claiming to have huge readerships. In my experience, you get what you pay for. Adverts, features and editorials are only of use if the publication is actually read by your target customers.

When you visit a client, architect, main contractor, sub-contractor or anyone else you want to sell to, make a note which magazines are on the coffee table in reception or on your client’s desk. You’ll probably see, as I have, that they tend to keep the more expensive, high-profile journals and trade magazines, while the bulk of the ‘non-paid circulation’ publications are rarely read.

Which leads me on to my final point on this subject: Beware of the salesman / woman calling to offer you a great deal to advertise alongside a main contractor, developer or architect’s feature for a specific project.

They’ll tell you they’re producing a special feature on your customer’s project(s) and, as your company is a key part of the supply-chain, they’ve been asked by your customer to offer you a prime slot next to the project feature. Sometimes they’ll try to guilt-trip you into placing an advert by suggesting you would be ‘supporting’ your customer’s feature and thereby showing your commitment to them.

To be fair, sometimes these feature magazines are put together quite well and they can make the projects and the main contractor / architect / developer look really good. But in my opinion, the problem is that they are unlikely to be read by the decision-makers you want to reach.

It’s also worth knowing that these project feature magazines are funded by the adverts of sub-contractors and suppliers. A bit like your local ‘freebie’ newspaper, there is no cover price, they are given away, and the main contractor / architect / developer pays nothing. All they have to do to receive a lovely project feature, or in some cases an entire online ‘magazine’, is supply a list of the sub-contractors and suppliers that worked on the project(s).

Once the publishers have the supply-chain list, the salespeople sell the advertising space.

There are exceptions, such as the various annual RIBA directories, which sell project feature adverts. At least they have a wide circulation among architects and clients. Even so, as the directory is primarily designed to promote RIBA architect’s expertise to clients in various sectors of the industry, I’m still not convinced.

So… whether it’s online or in print, be very careful where you place your adverts. Where you place the advert is just as important as the advert itself.

As David Ogilvy, the ‘father of advertising’ once said: “Don’t count the people you reach, reach the people who count.”