Ever been faced with finding solutions to several business and customer issues? Could you be one step away from resolving a multitude of problems in parallel? What if the missing link is an effective marketing strategy?
This case study describes, in particular how strategy helped structure internal resources, whilst improving customer support - thus making the brand even stronger, leap-frogging the competition through creation of added value.
Short on time? This is the long version - executive summary available here.
Understanding of the ‘commercial marketplace’ and issues
The ‘commercial marketplace’ was basically large refurbishment and new build contracts within sectors such as social housing, house building, education, hospitals – replacing windows and doors, however was on a much larger scale than in traditional domestic homes.
These projects were perfectly suited to the most experienced fabricators, involving contracts and lots of legal small print. Commercial projects were not something a window and door fabricator should consider lightly. Lots of fabricators are attracted by the continuity of work a 5-10-15 year maintenance contract can offer them, diving into deep uncharted waters.
Even experienced fabricators needed to fully prepare themselves for the complexities arising from complex design requirements, structural complications, building regulations, site control, scheduling, contracts and paperwork - it is certainly not for the fainthearted.
The Approved Contractor Scheme was geared at supporting customers through-out the process – whether already operating in commercial sector or commencing their first contract.
Why was this needed?
A market leader in supplying the fabrication of windows, doors and curtain walling systems to the specification market had an objective to grow its market share. The seed of the idea was planted by a previous managing director several years prior.
The commercial channel requires specialist experience in order for projects to be successful and smooth-running without devastating consequences. The difficulty was that some of the fabricator base lacked co-ordination and inexperienced customers were quoting for work.
It was difficult to know who was getting themselves into deep-water before it was often too late, with smaller fabricators quoting for work and generating a lot of ‘reactive’ technical support demands. The technical resources were as a result over-stretched due to unpredictable and urgent ‘please save-us’ requests.
The thinking behind the strategy – what was it?
The concern was of brand reputation damage that these potentially ‘out of control’ projects could bring in terms of customer dissatisfaction on all levels. A way of improving the situation was needed fast! Fortunately, we had the solution and just needed to make it happen!
What if we had a network we could rely on, offering a package of benefits to members in return for a membership fee? The motivation for joining for the customer (fabricator business) would be access to market information, lead generation tool, legal training and support that would otherwise be unaffordable – push strategy.
The motivation for the specification market (architect / local authority / contractor) when choosing a window and door system brand was access to not only technically savvy high performing products, but also a network of qualified, higher calibre professional partners who could hit the ground running.
The motivation was three-fold: to offer outstanding fabricator support, co-ordinate internal resources more effectively and generate more project leads through reassurance of standards.
How did we go about it?
The project involved extensive research for feasibility – what else is offered on the market, who would be potential targets, what would we offer exactly and how would it be delivered? We needed to know what was important to the specifier in choosing a fabricator, so through research key requisites were identified such as: reliability, trust, experience, financial stability of the company and contract knowledge.
This enabled compliance criteria to be developed for members, which was based on standards, accreditation and sector experience) and with that knowledge certain customers were targeted. We needed to know how the large fabricators quoting for work, where they got their leads from and how we could help them achieve success with the sector.
Overview of marketing activity:
Communications campaign – fabricator (push) and specifier (pull)
Leads database setup (with later CRM system integration)
Approved window contractors directory – national & regional
Email & direct mail campaigns
Integrated communications – online & offline (promotion across all media)
Online customer portal (to enable members to access information)
Public relations (features on the scheme & success stories / project casestudies)
Tools for selling (website, presentations and literature)
Scheme administration (welcome packs, setting up of accounts etc)
Supplier negotiation for necessary tools (part of package)
Training & seminars (contract law, construction, design, site management)
Legal advice line (to obtain answers to any legal queries or help in crises)
Document templates (terms & conditions, management documents to satisfy needs of contractors and provide legal cover to the fabricator)
The package of benefits
A package of benefits was drawn up which included lead generation services from Barbour ABI, market sector newsletters, commercial training, unlimited technical support and assistance with marketing.
A monthly fee was chargeable which covered the costs of the benefits package overall. From this the Approved Window Contractors scheme was developed. An online members portal was set up to enable member to access leads and information.
The scheme was launched in 2009 to selected customers base via invitation letters and a benefits booklet outlining how the scheme worked. A sales presentation was produced to sell the scheme into fabricators.
Once established with a few members the scheme was promoted to the specification market via a ‘pull strategy’ to attract project leads for the members. This involved a programme of extensive campaigns that were rolled out. The original campaign was “Our seal of approval” geared at communicating the intentions of the network.
To follow several years later the “Get it Right” campaign, which delivered the message “remove the hassle, extend the resource”. The marketing campaigns were delivered through a carefully thought-out plan communicated via PR, online and offline advertising. Key specifier channels to communicate the message such as RIBA, NBS and online directories and specialist sector magazines.
The campaign evolved further to include case studies of successful projects achieved by Approved Window Contractors to endorse both the scheme and the network through showcasing real examples with the message look how we “Got it Right”.
What were the results?
Initial take-up was very successful securing several members. Project enquires increased as specifiers requested a list of ‘Approved Window Contractors’ by name we knew that the campaign was a great success.
The customer portal was created and integrated with our CRM system for greater control and dissemination of project leads. Due to continued success, the scheme was later rolled out to further brands.
A full-time sales resource was employed to manage and track the lead process further enabling cross-selling of further products.
Greater control over projects was gained, internal resources were better managed, fabricators were supported, and brand reputation improved due to consistency of the specification process.
If you need help defining a way-forward for your next marketing strategy - why not get in-touch? Clear Goal Marketing offers a no-nonsense, friendly marketing service that will bring structure and integration to your customer-facing activity.