Capturing trends: Putting your money where it counts

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passivehause
women in construction feature
One of the “Women in Construction” features

I realize the following assertions aren’t scientific, and may be based on local or special-interest considerations. However, when I see businesses and individuals opening their wallets with seemingly surprising interest and putting money into projects without much prompting and no pressure, I take notice.

“Women in construction” has become more than a concept, and represents a leading-edge trend.

Net-zero, “Passivehaus” construction has gone beyond the theory and tree-hugging stage, to become a vital building business practice, both in residential and non-residential sectors.

The background . . .

Women in construction

About four months ago, Chase decided to test whether companies in one of our markets would support advertising-supported editorial features in a “Woman in Construction” section. Soon, he had sold enough ads to fill one section, then another (in another publication). One reached 12 tabloid-size pages. We’ve tested the concept in a diversity of our special interest/market titles, and each time, several advertisers sign on. This is good for our revenue, of course, but our freelance writer (a woman) has reached the stage where she has challenges in finding something new to say about the theme.

I believe the exceptional response has occurred for a couple of reasons. First, while women still represent a small minority of construction employees and leaders, the pioneers have proven their worth to their employers, who certainly wish to share the news, as they encourage more participation from the female gender. The stories indicate that women continue to have special family/life balance challenges. Nevertheless, I think (based on what I see here) we’ll see a surge in the actual number of women in trades and construction-related professions in the next few years.

Passivehaus (Passive House)

Gunter Lang
Gunter Lang

A few weeks ago, Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) Ottawa chapter vice-chair Sonia Zouari suggested that we invite Austrian Passive House expert Gunter Lang to speak in Ottawa. He would be in Toronto the day before, so we wouldn’t have to pay for his international travel costs. However, his time availability — late Friday afternoon on Sept. 26, scared me.

I had never heard of Lang before Sonia’s call asking me to commit CSC chapter resources (I am the chapter chair) to this initiative.  Should we proceed? Should we not?  I suggested we see if he will provide a cancellation option (with a modest fee), and if so, we could take the risk in case no one wanted to attend.

Within days, with a few emails and calls, Sonia attracted almost 10 sponsors, each ready to pay $250 to support the event. The Ottawa Regional Society of Architects contributed $500. Sponsors agreed to pay Lang’s hotel and travel-to-Ottawa costs and the hall rental. And as soon as we started selling tickets, even with very little marketing, people came out of the woodwork. I expect we’ll fill the hall to capacity, and the CSC Ottawa chapter will end up with a healthy surplus.

So, what can you read from these observations?

If you aren’t already doing it, take a close look at your business and see where/how women can have a greater role. As well, consider Net Zero/Passivehaus concepts — and you may find exceptional marketing resonance when you apply these themes in your branding/messaging.

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