These are interesting times for the building products industry. With most having felt more than a pinch during the recession, the majority of industry reports and headlines this year are pointing towards increases in project work across the board. However, all this good news seems to have diminished somewhat with caution over the impending election. Talking on a daily basis with the market, I will no doubt form an opinion on this extravaganza once everyone has digested what affects Labour’s manifesto is likely to have this week.
Marketers, business owners and Managing Directors are likely to agree when I say that back in mid-2008, in addition to those expected redundancies, marketers were some of the first to be cut from budgets. Manufacturers and distributors alike were quick to shield and even embrace star Sales personnel. I witnessed companies investing further in product innovation, whilst at the same time slicing large chunks of budget out of target market steer, developed via strategic marketing. Through the intervening years more and more firms seemed content to let a hybrid Marketing Manager or Sales & Marketing Director carry the in-house expertise as to the direction needed to develop market share.
Reflecting on the financial year just gone and given the change of optimism, there has been a definite shift by larger privately owned and PLC companies. Rather than allowing the market to dictate, investment is being made, with organisations now looking to gain advantage through the use of insightful, strategic market knowledge. Working in tandem with R&D, the creative side of marketing and sales-force, companies are investing in Strategy Specialists, with key skills in market data collection / manipulation, strategy review / development for given verticals, and plan roll out at company-wide level. It would seem companies are no longer content to see where the market takes them, and would rather provide the solution to foreseen needs based on legislative, geographic and project specific requirements. This in turn has led to sustainable and meaningful value propositions which resonate with clients, leading tostrong forecasting and profitable sales pipeline.
Over the past year, having successfully completed a number of assignments within this space, I would have to say there is a marked increase in demand for high quality individuals with such specialisms, invariably leading to a hike in salary expectations. This was perfectly illustrated when recruiting for a Product Manager, in an unfashionable part of the country. My client was expecting to pay c.£40k for the role but having identified in excess of 70 individuals through our headhunt approach, we concluded that the company were some £15k light for the calibre required. As always, perceived ROI shapes clients expectations…and if anyone is in the right position to demonstrate this, it should be a strong strategic marketer!