Going round in circles

Glass Times features editor Rebecca Clegg puts marketing under the microscope.

In years gone by, marketing your business was a much simpler affair; placing your annual ad in the Yellow Pages was supplemented by weekly ads in the local newspapers and, for the more adventurous, newspaper inserts were another option.

OK, so that might be a simplified view, but you get where I’m coming from.

Fast forward to 2018 and advertising for the window industry, like nearly everything else in our lives, has largely moved online. This is good for many reasons. For example, online spend is much more accountable than offline – it is possible to see how every pound spent has performed, unlike print adverts, which are often not much more than a stab in the dark.

It also allows us to speak solely to those people who are likely to buy from us, rather than just shouting out into the abyss and hoping that the people who would buy from us might hear what we have to say.

Online marketing is quick, and there is no waiting for the ad to come out in next week’s paper if you’re having a quiet week – you can do something right now that could bring instant rewards.

John Marland, director at glazing industry specialist Noise Agency explained just how the internet has impacted on marketing.

“Overall, the digital age has improved campaign accountability – the best performing campaigns can be identified and the budget commitment be more qualified,” he said. “We can engage with customers post-website visit using re-marketing tools to remind them about products, or build brand awareness. And we now have a full range of tools to target b2b customers or b2c customers, but choosing the right platform and message is important eg, Facebook Twitter Adwords Linkedin.”

How can there be any kind of downside to a medium that is cost effective, instant, traceable and available to all? Moving online has given marketeers full visibility of the user journey rather than running a traditional campaign – we can now track users and predict ROI.

The truth is that for many, advertising online has become too complicated. It’s not as simple as just creating an ad, or a simple website or adding a few posts to your social media feed anymore – you need to understand the latest Google algorithms, know your SEO from your PPC, understand the quirks of advertising on social media, the list goes on.

It’s a huge task to be knowledgeable enough to fully maximise your online opportunities and, for many installers, where once the internet was their marketing friend, it is now a daunting, complicated place that takes up too much of their time as they try to keep up with the ever-changing landscape.

So, what’s the answer? Consumers continue to use search engines for every aspect of their lives, including home improvements, and so installation companies can’t afford not to be a part of this.

The answer lies in support. The fact is that each aspect of online marketing – whether it be website creation, SEO, PPC or social media – is a specialism in its own right. Successful agencies no longer have one person working across these domains – they have a team of skilled professionals who are experts in their own particular field. The SEO specialist, for example, will live and breathe every aspect of what they do and keep abreast of the latest changes which happen on an almost daily basis, and so on.

For installers to truly maximise their online opportunities in this ever-changing online landscape, their best option is to partner with a digital agency or a fabricator that either has a digital expert, or can work with an agency on their behalf – taking away the hassle and simply delivering results.

One such fabricator taking this supportive approach is Glazerite, which has recently responded to the increase in the use of online channels by further strengthening its marketing team with the appointment of a digital specialist.

Michelle Wright, group marketing manager, said: “As an installer-focused business we’ve supported our customers with a tailored marketing approach for some time. We’re now also able to help installers better understand the digital tools available to them. We begin by undertaking a digital audit to identify how the customer is currently performing online and what can be done to improve their presence.”

The company will then tailor an individual online strategy for each customer, which includes helping customers to navigate the often daunting social media channels such as Facebook, providing them with fresh content and helping them schedule posts that will engage their existing audience and attract new customers.

They also help customers to navigate the often daunting social media channels such as Facebook, providing them with fresh content and helping them schedule posts that will engage their existing audience and attract new customers.

This level of support is invaluable to busy installation companies, as Ledbury-based Shane Howells can testify. With ambitious growth plans, Shane approached Glazerite for help with a digital marketing strategy. Following a digital audit, and to boost orders over winter, Glazerite worked with Shane on a series of Facebook adverts aimed at showcasing an offer and expanding his customer base across a wider geographical region.

For a very modest budget, he saw instant results and within just a week the enquiries flooded in.

Shane said: “We wanted to try new things but this was a real leap into the unknown and I was hesitant about using Facebook at first but with Glazerite’s help, this low-cost ad campaign has really proved its worth.”

Next on the agenda is the transition to a new website, with the aim of further increasing awareness of Shane’s business.

Although digital methods may be the key focus for many businesses, Michelle maintains that traditional marketing remains just as important, a sentiment echoed by Paul Downey, marketing officer at Bennett Architectural.

“I think in the glazing industry and construction as a whole we always try to innovate with our marketing approach,” Paul said. “Naturally not everything works but I think we are seeing a trend of moving online – maybe not as quick as other industries but the change is coming. However, in terms of marketing spend we feel there is certainly still a balance between using print and digital methods as it all depends on who you’re are trying to reach – your target audience may be not online savvy.”

This view that print ads still have a place to play in the marketing mix is borne out by recent figures published by the Advertising Association and ad intelligence agency WARC, which show that display ads in national titles saw revenue growth of 1% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2018, putting it at a total of £152.6 million for the period. 2010 was the last time growth was recorded for this medium.

So online marketing is still king but print media is also making a comeback.

Confused? Then find yourself a good digital agency or partner with a fabricator or systems company with staff skilled in this area of expertise. They’re there to offer support and hands-on assistance through this ever-evolving world of marketing.

And if you’d just mastered one aspect of online marketing but now feel you’ve wasted your time as things have already moved on, hang fire. It’s a well-known fact that if you keep your clothes for long enough they’ll eventually come back into fashion. That’s because fashion, like most things moves in cycles and marketing, it seems, is no different.