Jeremy Foster was named NoteVault's chief marketing office in May 2015. According to NoteVault, Foster joined the company after running group-level initiatives for eight years at Ericsson. Previous to that, he worked for Vodafone New Zealand for five years in a wide range of sales and marketing leadership roles. In addition, Foster has worked with NoteVault as an advisor to the CEO for over eight yeras. CBO recently spoke with Foster on all marketing best practices for any business. Read his insights below.
CBO: What is the most important marketing tip you can provide for construction business owners looking to expand their brand?
JF: A company brand is all about trust. In the construction industry, this is even more of a challenge because no one really knows how a project will turn out until it’s done. I would offer two main tips for construction companies to focus on to drive their brand:
- Ensure that your people, processes and tools are absolutely as efficient and as capable as possible. If there is anything that isn’t efficient in a modern sense, this will hold every company back.
- Find a way to prove your worth to your customers. Prove that you have the most talented and disciplined staff and that your processes and tools are efficient and effective by being as transparent as possible.
One way to raise the level of transparency into the way you run your projects would be to lift the quality and/or quantity of reporting you provide to your customers. Not only will you solve problems fast for your customers, but they will also come to trust your judgment in advance of bumping into issues in the future. We have bet a lot on helping our customers differentiate in this way and we’re happy to be a part of lifting the entire industry. Those companies who move first in this space will make it very difficult for others to catch up.
CBO: Based on your international experience working in Sweden, Middle East North Africa, how can United States-based construction companies harness marketing to access overseas business?
JF: I think businesses in the U.S. have many strengths that are completely relevant in foreign markets.
First, the scale and complexity of projects in the U.S. means all players need to be highly professional at what they do. Secondly, the level of technology and innovation is highly advanced due to developments in adjacent industries. Third, the level of litigation in the U.S. is well-established, which means that everyone needs to be very disciplined throughout a project to avoid issues down the track.
As a company assesses its opportunities abroad, I’d suggest they reflect on their success in this tough environment in the first place:
- How did they overcome complex issues?
- How did they manage post project litigation?
- How did they scale their capability to a project?
These attributes will form the crux of the reason why a company will be successful in a foreign setting or not. If there was one attribute that is easy to state, but hard to do, that would be being transparent. I read a book recently called ‘Extreme Trust, Honesty as a Competitive Advantage’ by Peppers and Rogers, which cited many cases of leveraging transparency directly. I think that this could be a lead differentiator in U.S. businesses broadening their horizons, so long as they can translate that transparency into foreign operations effectively.
CBO: What best business practice(s) employed at NoteVault will translate well to a construction firm?
JF: We are focusing a lot at the moment on building best practices where construction companies have materially improved their projects using technology. We’re not precious about where that technology came from and it’s thrilling to see so much innovation happening and so much vision about the future of construction.
Some key questions we pose to our customers at the outset are:
- Did you ever have a time when you turned up on a job and the plan you had was incorrect? And it was your problem?
- Did you ever have a time when information provided to you on a job was incorrect? And it was your problem?
- Did you ever have a time when a decision was scheduled to be made and it wasn’t, causing a delay? And it was your problem?
- Did you ever have a time when a small problem landed on the critical path and created a really big problem? And you could have saved a ton if you had fixed it at the outset?
These are some of the compelling questions that drive our customers to consider using our technology. At the moment, all players add margins in time, costs and quality to manage the unforeseen issues in every project. We’re optimistic that our customers will need less margin than others as they will simply have better transparency over what’s really happening on every job. This will drive profitability and predictability for everyone.
CBO: What do you see as the biggest technology game-changer shaping the current market?
JF: Great question. Mobile technology.
Sure, phones have been around for decades now, but there are four major attributes to the modern handset that did not exist before.
- Mobile Internet is rocket-fast and almost everywhere now.
- Smartphones are incredibly capable.
- Cloud computing means you have unlimited processing and storage at the users fingertips.
- Everything above is so cheap.
This means that we have flipped from a mobile device being too expensive to give to someone in the field, to being too expensive for them not to have a smartphone in the field. I honestly think this turning point has only really happened in the last 18 months and we will see a dramatic acceleration of mobile technology use in construction in the coming decade that everyone will benefit from.
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