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Author: Ross Sturley – CIMCIG Committee Member (@rosssturley)

Last week the CIMCIG team held a marathon judging session for the 2014 Construction Marketing Awards. We received 25% more entries this year than in 2013 – a clear sign that the recovery is definitely on!

Not only that, but the entries were generally better – better results, better presented – which made the decision making process even trickier. The discussions were long and detailed, but eventually we came to our conclusions. Some will be delighted they have made it onto the shortlist. They should be. It was harder this year and, subsequently, there are more disappointed entrants than ever before.

The trend towards digital communications continues, with a move towards much more integrated campaigns. It is now unusual to see a communications campaign exclusively relying on advertising, or direct mail, as most run across multiple channels – the sophistication of construction marketers has increased significantly during my involvement in the industry.GleniganNewsletter_CIMCIG_Oct-14

What’s really noticeable, though, is the improvement of marketers’ ability to justify their activity through a demonstrable effect on profits.This year’s winners have evaluated their return on investment (ROI) like never before. This is important. When it comes to beating the bean counters, who generally think marketing is somewhere between colouring-in and the ‘work of the devil’, you need numbers.

CIMCIG members are discovering that if you take on people who instinctively want to cut your budget with tools they’re supposed to understand, you discover that, as the saying goes, ten out of nine accountants can’t add up. ROI wins arguments.

But you can’t calculate ROI for everything. Take branding, for example. How do you calculate the ROI on something so conceptual? Well, there are ways. Look for the symptoms of the change you’re effecting. If you’re changing perceptions, what happens as a result? Do you sell more? Does selling become easier (and therefore cheaper)? Do you convert more leads to sales? All these things can be expressed as a bottom line effect and related back to the cost of the marketing activity. There is your ROI.

If, rather than saying that half of your advertising is wasted, you can say it delivers 9.4% ROI, then your budget, team, department, function, and career will be better protected. ROI matters; if you’re not calculating it on everything it would be a wise idea to start.

Ross Sturley is principal at Chart Lane, a strategic communications company specialising in construction, property and regeneration, and a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group.

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