Competitive Advantage Blog: Marketing insights from the U.K.

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Competitive advantage blog
Chris Ashworth
Chris Ashworth

Chris Ashworth’s Competitive Advantage Blog provides comprehensive and useful marketing information and an enlightening British perspective about construction marketing best practices.

While there are differences in market practices, regulations and so on between Britain, Canada and the U.S., we share some important qualities. Notably, of course, you should expect that the blog, as I’ve found most British written material, to be exceptionally well written. (This shouldn’t be too surprisingly, as our language originated in Britain.)

For example, recently he discussed specification writing and provided advice on “how to deliver an epic blockbuster”.  I don’t think most people directly associate construction specifications with drama.  However, undoubtedly anyone interested in construction marketing should be extremely concerned and aware of the specifications process.

Think of your specification as a composition, the information to be presented to the contractor can be likened to film-making. Film-making is a form of visual art, with images, but there is also the script. Roll out the red carpet and premier your movie without the sound and your audience may get some understanding of events, or vice versa by simply listening to the sound track, but to fully understand the story the pictures and words need to come together seamlessly, to create an epic that will scoop an Oscar!

For a construction project the drawings and the specifications come together in a similar manner to fully inform the contractor of what is required. Okay maybe it’s less dramatic than the latest Spielberg production, but it is important to consider each element and how it fits into the whole.

I’ve always believed that one of the wisest marketing decisions you can make is to get to know and be a part of the specifications process. If you produce or distribute building products or technologies, success at this stage greatly increases your chance of success, no matter which contractor actually builds the project. If you are a contractor, knowing where and how the specifications are being written provides you advance knowledge about upcoming opportunities, and perhaps an opportunity to influence or suggest value-added contributions before things are locked down.

Ashworth writes:

A great film is enhanced by having a great cast. So why not help the Specifier by providing standard descriptive and performance specification clauses for products? This way they are poised to select an all-star cast.

Epic blockbusters deliver entertainment that wins over the audience. With specification selling do not overtly promote your product, instead provide good reason for proposing an approach, this way you will position yourself as a trusted advisor with the Specifier.

Equally consider providing a service to review specifications, identifying anomalies or brands that are no longer available and giving advice on the best form of specification for a particular project. In effect become part of the production team, one of the unsung heroes that work behind the scenes: a researcher, a runner, a gaffer! This way you can support the team in delivering a five-star specification, one equal to an Oscar winning epic. And most important, improve the chance of your product being used on the project.

This advice rings true, everywhere.  In the U.K., Ashworth’s consultancy provides training programs on specifications writing marketing. In North America, Construction Specifications Canada and the Construction Specifications Institute (U.S.) provide certification and training programs for technical/manufacturers representatives, as well as working specification writers. These programs are worth every cent (or pence). The Competitive Advantage Blog is a worthy addition on your bookmark list.

Best Construction Blog voting continues until April 1.  You can see real-time results here.

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