Industry Spotlight: Keeping Up With The Built Environment

Donna Harris

By: Donna Harris

Built environment industry spotlight

This is the first post in our new series, “Industry Spotlights,” about industry trends and how they impact marketing strategies. We'll delve into the specific industries we serve and share what B2B marketers need to know.

As a senior strategist at Godfrey, I spend part of my day diving into the trends and challenges that keep our clients up at night. Many of our clients work in the built environment or building materials industries. In this post, I share some of my observations for this complex, ever-evolving category and discuss three areas marketing should cover to reach target audiences.

Q: What are some challenges in this market?
A: Many of our clients are facing the challenge of keeping up with changes in sales and distribution. Manufacturers and contractors are currently navigating the “Amazon effect,” with shifts to online sales changing at an unprecedented rate. Companies like Amazon, Grainger and Home Depot are causing building material companies to struggle with managing the changes within sales and distribution.

A couple of other noteworthy challenges include the shortage of skilled labor. This is a problem that continues to plague construction firms. Hopefully, we’ll see a renewed interest in vocational schools and building trades over the next few years. I think it would be wise for companies within this category to beef up their efforts and entice talent by showcasing how rewarding a career in this industry can be.

Another challenge that may come as a bit of a surprise is extreme weather patterns, which are driving demand for more durable and resilient building materials. I believe the proliferation of building certifications and organizations like the Resilient Design Institute are the result of these challenges.

Q: What are some industry trends?
A: Not surprising, many of the industry trends have a direct correlation to the industry challenges. Some of the top emerging trends in response to the skilled labor gap include:

  1. Design-Build - This growing movement encourages collaborative project development in all phases of design and construction. This collaboration can result in significant cost and schedule savings, as well as increased quality.
  2. Modular Construction - Modular components can be built offsite in a factory or warehouse and then transported and placed on site. Advancements in modular technology allow for more durable structures, while enhancing speed and efficiency.

Resilient Design and Design for Carbon Reduction are two trends related to social and environmental changes that I would anticipate continuing to impact choices related to the built environment. According to Gensler, “Nearly half of greenhouse gas emissions comes from the built environment. We cannot address climate change without putting the built environment at the center of the conversation."

Q: What are some industry opportunities?
A: Several years ago, everyone was talking about green and sustainability as it related to the built environment and elements used in building materials. Today those conversations have evolved to also encompass the impact on building occupants. This shift is an opportunity for building owners to attract and retain occupants. However, we are seeing a proliferation of voluntary green and well building certifications. Some of the top green certification programs include:

  1. BOMA 360 Performance Program
  2. BREEAM
  3. ENERGY STAR for Buildings
  4. Fitwel
  5. Green Globes
  6. LEED: Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design
  7. Living Building Challenge
  8. Net Zero Energy Building
  9. Passive House
  10. WELL Building Standard

Each program has its own process, cost and criteria for certification; making it difficult to know which program will be most beneficial. This presents an opportunity for manufacturers to educate engineers, architects, contractors and building owners on how their products help achieve various certifications.

Q: How will these factors affect marketing to target audiences in this industry?
A: Of course, everyone is transitioning to digital marketing, improving their social media presence or using a CRM, but in general I would say marketing needs to cover three key points:

  1. Education – Contractors, architects and engineers continue to rely on manufacturers for education on product-related information. From hands on lunch and learns to webinars and videos, manufacturers need to make education a marketing priority. Installation and demo videos are also important to help ensure proper product installation. Contractors rely on manufacturers to keep them informed.
    Marketing tip: Contractors are typically accessing this information on a mobile device from the construction site, so this needs to be considered when developing and posting the content. Think outside the box, consider using a QR code directly on the product that a contractor can scan for installation tips when installing the product.
  2. Application – Architects, engineers and building owners are typically reluctant to be the first one to try a new product. Application stories and case studies are great tools to help move a potential customer along the buyer journey to purchase.
    Marketing tip: Make case studies with relevant project details, products used and photographs easy for potential customers to find online.
  3. Visualization – Architects are becoming accustomed to having access to tools that help them visualize building products in use.
    Marketing tip: Be creative, think of ways to use virtual reality, augmented reality or online design software. These tools are great ways to engage prospects online and at trade shows.

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