Back to basics

Martin James, managing director of Dutemänn, explains how marketing is a frame of mind, not just a series of hoops to jump through.

People say that marketing runs through the DNA of the glass and glazing industry. After all, that’s what many businesses were built on, and they are rightly proud that their success is down to – in part – the right communication with the suppliers and customers.

However, I think those marketing experts who put their success down to something inherent within the industry are doing themselves a disservice. We all know how the marketing landscape changes from year to year (if not from month to month) and it is the responsibility of marketers to adapt with the times and remain relevant.

While we can discuss the merits of various marketing techniques, I believe that marketing requires a specific frame of mind.

For me, this came into sharp focus because of two specific events: the launch of our FD85 bifolding door; and the reorganisation of our management team.

The FD85 is the result of three years of research and development. We focused on the design elements that homeowners want from a bifolding door – the first rule of marketing is surely to sell what people want.

Therefore, we concentrated on: thermal efficiency – a standard-sized door using a standard IGU will deliver a U-value of less than 1.5W/m2K; slim sightlines – the FD85 has a 105mm mullion and, since we can make panels up to 1.35m wide, a three-panel bifolding door boasts a maximum overall width of over 4m; and security – the door has achieved PAS24:2016 thanks, in part, to our exclusive Quad-bolt system.

Of course, like the majority of suppliers in our industry, we don’t target the homeowner. Furthermore, many of our customers want to promote all installations under their own name, so ‘Dutemänn’ – and any branding that we’ve built up – is lost. However, we have invested a lot of time and money to ensure that the FD85’s USPs are properly communicated so that our customers can compete on features, not on price.

We’ve also developed an extensive marketing package that gives our customers the choice of selling our doors under their own name, or promoting the Dutemänn brand. Each marketing package is tailor made to each company (we have a proper conversation with our customers to make sure what they get from us suits their needs) but it can include: showroom display stands; lifestyle brochures; technical downloads; and personalised press adverts.

Over the last two years we’ve reassessed our marketing direction, coming to the conclusion that more of our budget should go to our smaller customers, because we’ve seen time and time again that they are the ones that benefit the most from even a small investment from a supplier like Dutemänn.

Feedback I’ve received shows that even a brochure or a print ad can help them successfully target new markets.

Many companies on this sector are racing to the bottom in terms of price, and I could easily join them. However, I’ve found that when I help my customers promote the benefits of the FD85, for example, everyone benefits.

Alongside this change in marketing direction, Dutemänn has restructured its management team: Kevin Kenealy is now product manager; Steve Prudence is technical manager; and Marcus Farrell is office manager.

This has created a business that is stronger and more secure. Kevin, Steve and Marcus can handle orders and technical queries from the office, allowing me more time to spend developing relationships with our customers, which is surely the most important aspect of marketing.