3Cs - the guiding principles of an industry in recovery
The latest BMF Marketing Forum was, as always, an enlightening and informative event, shining a light on initiatives and campaigns that are driving the industry forward after such a turbulent year. We all know that there are plenty of challenges ahead, and that while sales are currently buoyant, the longer term issues of supply chain and an unstable economy, as well as a shifting customer base, will not make life easy for merchants.
Across the various speakers, who included BMF CEO John Newcomb, Bradfords’ Marketing Director Paul Malloy, Adam Turk from the CPA and Simon Bicknell, Marketing Director at Toolbank, there were certain standout themes that emerged. Therefore, rather than take you through the forum line by line, we wanted to highlight some of those guiding principles.
The BMF has undertaken many initiatives to support merchants in many areas; through the recovery from Covid, the issues of Brexit, the need for new talent engagement across the industry and of course, in meeting the NetZero 50 targets through the ConstructZero campaign.
Digital transformation is a major focus for merchants and is an inevitable and important evolution for the whole construction industry, driven both top down by government and bottom-up by consumer expectation and behaviour. Collaboration is going to be incredibly important; sharing best practice, learning from collective mistakes and supporting one another through a period of accelerated change.
The BMF itself is championing some new initiatives, including the new “Power of Networking” campaign, including marketing packs and training guides for merchants, which will highlight the importance of learning from one another and using our connections to drive forward; it will be updating its website and launching new forums such as the sustainability forum, later in the year.
With new directives around product information coming into force later this year (more on this below), the industry will have a lot of new guidelines and regulations to conform to and realistically, digital management will be the only feasible way to cope. Initiatives like ETIM feed into this and it is important for merchants, suppliers and service providers to get involved and have a voice at the table. There are several working groups providing opportunities for this and the BMF encourages you to register interest.
However resilient, flexible and responsive we have all been in the last year, good communication remains a top priority.
Bradfords Building Supplies' Marketing Director Paul Malloy talked us through their marketing initiatives over the last year, from public reassurance and safety, to celebrating staff and highlighting the power of its people, to a positive and dynamic recovery campaign, and it was wonderful to see their own principles being highlighted so proudly. Communicating and celebrating its values has been a huge success for Bradfords and there is a lot we can all take from that.
Toolbank has also been active in communication over the years, but in a different way, gathering feedback from its customers using the idea that if you don’t ask, you don’t get. They have really shown that they listen to what their customers want, from experimenting with the format of survey to implementing the feedback gathered. They have demonstrated very clearly the power of asking the right questions and really listening to the answers – even when they’re not necessarily the ones we’d like to hear!
Finally, Adam Turk from the CPA spoke about the upcoming Code for Construction Products Information, the new regulation that will apply to all construction products following the findings from the Hackitt Report after the Grenfell Tower disaster. It’s a huge change and while the onus will be on manufacturers, there will be big implications for merchants too, particularly if they are re-labelling, repurposing or repackaging products. More information can be found here.
There’s no doubt that these changes will have a big impact and they will create a lot of work for a lot of people, but in the longer term they should create a safer built environment. The communication of initiatives such as this is critical, and the more merchants, suppliers, service providers and customers are aware of them the smoother the rollout is likely to be.
We will be covering the initiatives of product information (both ETIM and CCPI) and the implications for merchants, eCommerce and ERP software in a later blog so do watch this space.
It has been a really tough year for everyone, and for some more than for others. The road ahead is far from smooth but there is a growing sense of comradeship and collaboration across the industry that is very welcome. By taking the time to empathise and consider other people’s motivations, fears, anxieties and concerns, we can all provide a more responsive and supportive service.
The Bradfords campaign was an emotional reminder of the people behind the businesses and an inspiring example of a business that really values the humans at its heart. Yes, economic recovery is vital, but to do that we must work together, and remember that behind the brands, the sales charts and the awards, we are all people, recovering from a period of immense strain and trauma, and struggling to find a new normal and a new kind of future.
In an age of digital transformation, technological advance, AI and machine learning, it was a heartwarming reminder that in the end, it’s humanity - people - who really make the difference, and we are all lucky to work in an industry full of great people.