The spring 2021 edition of the BMF's Marketing Forum was chaired by Mark Mallinder, Marketing Director of EH Smith, and took place on 31 March 2021.

The first speakers of the day were John Newcomb and Hannah Taylor for the BMF. 

Newcomb talked about the Construction Leadership Council and its Vision (Safe and Sustainable Built Environment), showing a video about it. He also mentioned the CLC Roadmap to Recovery, a three year plan with many working groups. 

He also talked about Construct Zero, asking BMF members to sign up to be Business Champions to ‘Race to Zero’ to become best practice organisations –  ten BMF members have signed up to be Business Champions, including four merchants. 

Taylor gave a BMF marketing update. She talked about the BMF's Project Excellence and the work that the federation has been doing for merchants. Having received feedback that networking opportunities are missing at the moment, the federation is preparing to launch a new initiative called 'The Power of Networking'.

There are plans to update the BMF's website later this year. The new site will include a section for policy documents and another listing the companies offering a 10% discount to NHS workers (32 have signed up to this, so far, including a national merchant).

Paul Malloy, Head of Marketing at Bradfords, then gave a presentation on Bradfords' ‘We’ve got your back’ campaign, which is one of the finalists of the Builders' Merchants Awards 2020 Marketing Initiative of the Year.

The next speaker was Adam Turk, Chair of the CPA Marketing Integrity Group, who talked about the Code for Construction Product Information on what was the last day of the industry consultation. CPA Marketing will spend April reviewing the feedback, and embed the legal framework into the code in May with the aim to launch it in June. The first approvals are expected for Q4.

The certification will be similar to the BBA certification. Merchants and suppliers will be working together to get them. Merchants have been worried about the amount of work this will generate for them but Turk emphasised the fact that the pressure will be on the supplier to provide all the information needed to the merchants. In the long run, this should make a huge difference to the amount of information available to merchants.

Simon Bicknell, Marketing Director at Toolbank, who is due to retire within the next three months, talked about customer feedback surveys. It started with direct mail paper surveys sent out with a self-addressed envelope; the idea behind the campaign being that “If you don’t ask you don’t get”.

The surveys asked for feedback on staff and products. For the 6,000 surveys sent out, 600 replies came back, which in turn all received a personal response from Toolbank. Most feedback was positive but it gave the company the opportunity to address any negative response. When the surveys were moved online, they received only a 4% response rate. Therefore, the next year marked a return to a formal letter that got an 11% response rate.

Bicknell's take away from this experience is that it is important not to rule out ‘old school’ marketing channels, as the physicality of a paper survey made a real difference.

However, all the data in the world is no use if you don’t know what to do with it. Toolbank used the surveys to address the top problems that its customers were facing, such as, for example, sustainability and the black plastic wrap that Toolbank used in its packaging. 

The next BMF Marketing forum will be on 29 September and is expected to be a physical event held at the BMF in Coventry.