The Truth About Marketing Spending in the Construction Industry

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Turn on any media channel, browse internet news sites or scroll through social media feeds and Brexit it sure to appear.

Three years after the 2016 Brexit Referendum we’re still not out of the European Union, we’re still uncertain as to what will happen next and we still don’t know what the true impact will be on jobs, business or the economy.

One thing’s for certain, however, the propaganda machines on both sides of the debate are still thriving and the constant to and fro of speculation and counter-speculation would give the volleys at a Wimbledon tennis match a run for their money.

That’s why CME decided to do our own construction industry survey to find out whether construction sector companies really are concerned about Brexit and whether it’s affecting their marketing budgets and decisions. The results might surprise you.

Why is Construction a Barometer of Brexit Anxiety?

The construction industry and speculation about the future prosperity of construction-related businesses has been one of the most common themes of speculation about the fallout of Brexit.

There are good reasons for this:

  • The construction industry is a good indicator of the amount of confidence in the economy, the level of home-grown and inward investment and of general business growth, because there is a direct correlation between vibrant economic landscape and demand for commercial space.

  • Construction is a sector that works on tight margins, which makes the industry vulnerable to small fluctuations in overheads and purchasing costs. Consequently, uncertainty about import tariffs and labour costs are very real considerations for the whole delivery chain; from specifiers through to consultants, contractors and building products suppliers.

  • Much-discussed skills shortages are a major concern in the construction sector and the industry has become reliant on core site skills from across Europe. There has been speculation that many migrant workers will no longer have the right or the appetite to work in the UK construction market, however, earning potential for many skills would seem to counter these concerns.

  • There is widespread anxiety that an exit from the EU will lead to a lack of investment from overseas companies and a lack of growth from UK companies, resulting in lower levels of investment in property and construction projects. The actual number of starts on site since the Brexit Referendum would seem to paint a very different picture, however, and the Deloitte Crane Survey published earlier this year indicates that the UK’s cities are very busy with construction projects.

With such a complex picture, it’s no wonder that construction is both the focus for questions about the impact of Brexit uncertainty and the subject of so much speculation and supposition. While we completely agree that the construction industry can provide a snapshot of the bigger economic, investment and employment landscape, we wanted to look at the hard facts of what Brexit uncertainty really means in terms of decision making, marketing strategy and budgets in the construction sector.  How is Brexit actually affecting Construction marketing budgets?

A survey was a natural choice for digging a little deeper into what construction sectors companies really think about Brexit and how it’s actually affecting what they’re doing now in terms of marketing, along with what they’re planning in the future.


The Truth About Marketing Spending in the Construction Industry

While there has been plenty of talk in the construction sector of marketing budgets plummeting as businesses tighten their belts for predicted tougher times ahead, it would appear that this really is speculation rather than an accurate picture of what’s really happening in the UK construction industry.

Our survey revealed that less than a quarter of construction businesses have reduced their marketing budget over the past two years, while more than 28 per cent have actually increased their spend over the same period. Meanwhile, half of the companies we asked stated that their construction marketing budget has remained roughly unchanged over the past two years.

These results are very revealing as they indicate that the level of uncertainty talked up in the media has had a net positive impact on marketing budgets in the construction sector.

  • The fact that around 21% of construction companies taking part in our survey have reduced their marketing budget reflects general fluctuations in spend and the prosperity (or challenges) of individual businesses. 

  • The survey results that indicate the post-Brexit Referendum era has not affected marketing budgets for half of respondents indicates that we remain in a business-as-usual environment for many companies in the construction sector.

  • The most interesting figure of all, of course, is the 28% of respondents that  have increased their marketing budget as this could either indicate increased confidence in the construction market or an understanding that a robust marketing strategy and higher levels of activity is the best way to remain resilient in the face of Brexit uncertainty.

One thing is clear, however, our survey has completely busted the myth that construction marketing budgets have been slashed since the Brexit result or that construction marketing activity has been delayed as a result of Brexit, challenging common assumptions in both the construction and marketing professions.


Building Resilience through Marketing in Construction

While the question about marketing budgets alone offers a range of possible conclusions about why construction marketing budgets remain buoyant, when viewed in combination with one of the other questions in our survey, it brings a much clearer picture into view.

We asked ‘How concerned are you about the impact of Brexit on your business and sales performance?’

The responses were startling:

  • Around 43 per cent stated that they are very concerned

  • Just over 28 per cent responded that they are concerned but feel well prepared

  • A further 28 per cent claimed not to be concerned at all

So what can we conclude from this? It seems clear that whether companies in the construction sector are concerned or confident about Brexit, they remain committed to investing in marketing.

Marketing spend can either be an indicator of construction market confidence or of a concerted effort to build resilience for difficult times ahead. Interestingly, this reflects the experience we’ve been having with current construction industry clients and new enquiries. The majority of the companies we work with are keen to capitalise on growth opportunities and ensure they don’t miss out by stepping back at a time when perceived confidence in your brand, your products/services and your long-term prospects are more critical than ever in a competitive construction market.


Where is Construction Marketing Spending Going?

So, we’ve established that construction sector spending on marketing remains healthy, despite the impact of Brexit uncertainty, but did our survey reveal anything in terms of trends in construction marketing spending?

Of course it did! We asked respondents to tell us which areas of marketing practice are the highest priority for their marketing spend. They were able to indicate more than one preference for this question and this is what we found:

  • The company website and SEO are the top priority for 53 per cent of construction companies

  • PR and social media, ranked even higher, with 60 per cent of respondents choosing this area of construction marketing

  • Brand strategy and marketing collateral like brochures are important to 32 per cent

  • Less than 15 per cent of respondents named events and exhibitions as a marketing priority

So what does this tell us? To the team at CME it’s clear that these responses are part of a continuing trend towards digital and content-led marketing activity for construction businesses, with time out of the business at exhibitions and the significant costs associated with events continuing to de-prioritise these tactics.

For us, there is always a clear rationale for combining face-to-face customer contact with content, PR and digital channels. One thing is certain, however, it’s essential to ensure your company is discoverable, searchable and engaging online, because this is an increasingly important part of every element of the sales and marketing process on construction; from creating brand awareness to generating leads and nurturing repeat business.

Our advice is always to consider what you want to achieve as a construction business and to let us design your tactical approach around that in order to deliver the right combination of activity to achieve the results you want. It’s all about engaging consistently with stakeholders at ever touchpoint and balancing your online and offline presence in a way that is meaningful and relevant to your target audience groups.

Beyond Brexit

Regardless of whether Brexit uncertainty is a concern for your business or not, we can ensure that you maximise your construction marketing budget to remain ahead, whatever the months and years ahead may bring.

Why not get in touch and let us audit your marketing requirements as part of our free of charge proposal development process so that we can help you identify how your construction marketing budget could work harder for you and enable you to steal a march on the competition during these uncertain times?


CMExpertise Builds a Better Business

As a multi-award-winning construction marketing consultancy, we not only understand the built environment sector; we live and breathe it.

To market your business successfully, you need a partner that understands you. Only then can you build a better business.

That combination means that we can advise you on an effective marketing strategy for your construction sector business and implement it successfully to deliver tangible commercial results.

Meaning you can focus on what you do best, while we help build your business.

Working nationally across all elements of construction marketing, our client base includes main contractors, subcontractor specialists, architects, consultants, civils and groundworks companies and building products suppliers.

Our campaigns are based on market insights, creativity and an under-the-skin understanding of our clients. Our integrated marketing experience means our programmes deliver genuine value to your bottom line, with the right mix of tactics to fit your individual business needs.

Wherever you sit in the delivery chain, Construction Marketing Experts can help you build a better business.

Contact Us For a Free Consultation

Email or call 0843 506 5202 to tell us about your business.