Has construction marketing changed over the last 25 years?

This month we’re focusing on how marketing has evolved in the construction industry. To get some insight into the history of marketing, I interviewed one of experts, Eddie Horrocks.

How has marketing changed since you started out in business?

In the early days the main forms of marketing were reputation or word of mouth, direct relationships, direct marketing or cold calling. The process was much longer; you had to be prepared to invest considerable time into your marketing.

This made it more difficult to expand your client base – for smaller businesses trying to get ahead it was a huge barrier to growth, as there simply wasn’t enough time or resource.

What has made the most difference to marketing?

In my experience, the arrival of websites made the biggest change to marketing for construction companies, along with blogs and social media too.

In the late 90’s we launched our first website. Back then there was very little online competition, it was just the larger main contractors; they were always first to try everything.

In my opinion people resisted the uptake of online marketing due to two reasons:

  1. The cost of a website was much higher then, than it is now.
  2. The cost benefit to having a website was far less, due to the low percentage of internet users in the construction industry.

Justifying the cost when you’re an SME was very challenging. Thinking back it was a good move for us; it gave us an edge on our competition. But for the majority, traditional marketing techniques took precedence over online for at least another five years.

By early 2000 companies in the construction industry started taking notice, and it became recognised as necessary to have a web presence, but they were still very basic.

How do you feel the internet has helped construction as a whole?

The internet has been revolutionary as a way of procuring products, sourcing materials, subcontractors, and labour, where as previously we had to rely on business directories, and established business relationships. So the internet has become a very useful tool for construction companies.

I also feel it has helped speed up innovation and new ideas coming to the industry; such as new energy efficient products, and better ways of working.

The internet has presented us with faster time to market; getting information out to relevant target audiences – allowing us to be more competitive.

Our next post will explore marketing campaigns that have worked for Eddie.

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