John Cowell is a construction marketing consultant and brother of pop mogul Simon Cowell, which makes him well qualified to write a series of articles on self-promotion in the building industry.
Hello and welcome to the X-factor. No, this is not a plug for my brother’s show – as if he needs another one – the X-factor I shall be writing about over the next few months, is effective business development. The process involved in finding and keeping new business is as elusive as any other talent contest. Some firm's have it – a lot don’t.
The building trade press is full of articles on claims, arbitration, contracts and who’s-suing-whom. There is little or nothing written about the first and most important aspect of the business – how to get it in the first place. Anyone from outside the industry reading these tales of doom, gloom and litigation may wonder why anyone would want to be a designer or contractor when it so often ends with fights in the playground and tears before bedtime.
Our industry is one of the greatest in the UK, yet who outside of it is aware of the key players, what they achieve or their contribution to the day-to-day quality of everyone’s life. We are dogged by negative media images and undermined by every makeover programme that suggests that projects can be completed by ‘gifted’ amateurs with the help of a fey designer and a ton of MDF.
While this goes on most industry managers are more concerned with getting “mine’s bigger than your’s” quotations in the trade press than conveying any sort of positive message to the outside world.
We are dogged by negative media images and undermined by makeover programmes that suggest that projects can be completed by ‘gifted’ amateurs with the help of a fey designer and a ton of MDF.
Defining good business development, including marketing and sales activities, is like spotting the X Factor. A lot of what passes for it is rarely successful and a good proportion of what is done is plain embarrassing – although potentially entertaining to an outside audience. Maybe I can make a show out of it.
In future columns I will be attempting to define what makes a good company, who sets the benchmarks, and find out what customers really think of our efforts. I’ll also be inviting plenty of comment and controversy. Sound familiar?