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NMBS 2014: Marketing and branding matters – Mike Rigby

Marketing is expensive, but not doing it is even more expensive, claims CEO of MRA Marketing Mike Rigby.
Speaking to delegates at the NMBS Conference in Tenerife last week, Rigby stressed the importance of marketing, particularly for small independent companies. He said: “It’s not the job of the public, the media or government to know or understand us, it’s our job to promote ourselves and the issues which are important to us. That’s what marketing is for.

“Going back to basics, most people don’t know who builders merchants are,” said Rigby. “They used to, but merchants isn’t a word that people use today. After 30 years of high intensive marketing, everyone knows B&Q, Wickes and Homebase, and what they sell but builders merchants have slipped off the radar.”

Working on a project with the Worshipful Company of Builders Merchants, they decided to spread the message of merchants by having a float for the Lord Mayor’s Show in November 2013. Televised on the BBC, the company went for the tagline of “Supplying Britain’s building needs” to tell people what builders merchants do.

A survey by MRA Marketing commissioned for the conference which asked 121 builders merchants and 33 suppliers on their views on branding and marketing revealed nationals and regional merchants were seen as not doing enough to market suppliers’ products.

Independents are seen as doing the most, with suppliers recognising their knowledgeable staff, ability to promote new products, keeping to prices and effective merchandising.

When merchants were asked what they wanted suppliers to invest in, they wanted better pricing, creating demand and helping to sell, investing in new products and improving deliveries.

Suppliers want merchants to invest in knowledgeable staff, depth in range and selling the way its customers now buy. The survey also found that one in five merchants don’t think that brand matters.

Merchants were asked which suppliers were most effective with their branding and marketing, with Velux, Marshalls, Polypipe, Dulux, Makita and Worcester, Bosch coming out on top. Jewson, Ridgeons and Travis Perkins were declared most effective with their branding and marketing by suppliers.

Rigby concluded by reminding delegates that builders may work in the trade, but that they continue to be brand consumers in their private lives and will bring those across to their work lives as well.

He said: “Whoever tells the story, wins the battle of what people know and remember, and that is what will boost market share.”

The full research report by MRA Marketing will be released on 31 July.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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