Silvia Petroni – Petroni and Partners Business Consultants
After two decades in the cement industry, I must admit: I just don’t like marketing cement – I am passionate about it! It is such a broad, multi-faceted domain, which guides companies to successfully navigate increasingly challenging markets and times.
Marketing helps cement companies to respond to pressures such as climate change and reducing CO2 emissions, and coping with aggressive cement importers or erratic independent players driving prices down in their chase for market shares. Cement is most often depicted as a commodity, with no distinction between products: marketing works to contradict this label via meaningful, strong differentiation, for example with regards to a particular cement’s superior performance, service, environmental impact, to prevent the erosion of prices on the market. It does not fall for the “digital hype”, but develops pragmatic, value-generating initiatives, supported by available technology.
A solid technical marketing strategy lobbies for shifting standards and codes to enable greener solutions. Marketing builds that trusted brand and increases engagement.
Ultimately Marketing is Strategy: it starts with an in-depth understanding of the market which leads to clarity, it enables the proactive tackling of challenges in this faster-than-ever changing industry. So, in light of this, how can companies get the most out of their Cement Marketing?
Step. 1: Trust Marketing
Marketing Cement is not about pretty, colorful bags, shiny brochures, nifty giveaways and customer events! It is about making bold, strategic moves which grow businesses and taking tactical steps to contain potential damage in challenging market situations. You need professionals to help you do that!
The best performing cement companies I’ve seen in the world engage top marketing people, i.e. technical marketeers, to analyse the performance requirements of specific applications and segments, to translate them into the best: product compositions, sales force training, complementing technical services, effective communication to target segments, etc. They also hire marketing experts in consumer goods to design best suited distribution formats and loyalty programs, and fruitful partnership with enablers.
Invest in very good people – the return of investment is guaranteed as they’ll prioritise and focus resources where it really matters.
Step. 2: Trust a sound Market Mapping
Market Mapping is a representation of the estimated usage of cement in various applications in local markets and regions, segment by segment, for example what proportion of domestic cement volume is used in plastering in simple houses, in power plants, in structural concrete in high-rise buildings, motorways, infrastructure etc.
Once this comprehensive quantitative market and application segmentation is assembled, it should be complemented with information about local working practices, locations of specific cement users, the segment’s growth dynamic, building codes and regulations in place, etc.
Finally, put this Market Map at the centre of all strategic and operational decisions, aligning the entire organisation around what to do and how to do it most efficiently. After all, without a good map, it’s hard to navigate!
Step. 3: Courageously address any challenge and… keep it simple!
For any challenge you’ve got out there, just take a structured approach: review the Market Map, check what the best answer would be in that specific context. Articulate that answer clearly, align your cross-functional teams – and off you go!
Going systematically about it and keeping it simple is key i.e. market efficiently and effectively by investing into those actions and those segments that maximise results. Create clarity for your internal teams and clarity for the target segment.
Everything can be measured, tracked, acted on, corrected if needed – but always stick to the plan! It’ll pay off, promise!