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Feb 11 2009

Mission-crittall

 

No, the title’s not a typo – it reflects an interesting part of my presentation at today’s CIMCIG conference at the Building Centre in London. As outlined on Monday, I was down to talk about the rise of online communications as part of the marketing mix, particularly during a construction recession.

Last week I asked the organisers (Ross Sturley and Chris Ashworth) if they could let me have a list of delegates, and – almost randomly – I selected a business from the among the organisations attending. I wanted to illustrate some points I was making about Web 2.0 by looking at the online ‘buzz’ that might exist about a business. I picked out Crittall Windows. I say “almost” randomly as I wanted a firm I knew almost nothing about (which ruled out several well-known construction names) and which would be relatively straightforward to find (some brand names have numerous doppelgangers on the web).

The presentation was going OK, but when I suddenly unveiled my slides about ‘Crittall’ (and ‘Crittal’ – I also searched for the misspelt version of their name), people suddenly sat up and took notice. Here was a business/product whose online presence included:

  • seven Wikipedia mentions
  • more than 20 blog articles
  • hundreds of Flickr photos
  • 15 YouTube videos
  • a Twitter user talking about specifying the product
  • several discussion forum articles
  • at least one Facebook user, and
  • a local community Facebook group proud of its local manufacturer.

To his great credit, John Pyatt, managing director of Essex-based Crittall Windows, was in the audience and was very sporting about the surprise that I had sprung upon him. Afterwards, I explained that I had simply selected his company to make a point and had been pleasantly surprised at the extent of its Web 2.0 footprint (for a historic if relatively unglamourous construction products business). I also stressed that this was only a superficial view as – among other things – a proper audit would have looked more deeply into the key marketing messages, competitive differentiations, etc, that Crittall wanted to project.

The presentation certainly seemed to excite some interest among other delegates too, underlining my perception that, while some sectors are getting web 2.0-savvy, there are large portions of the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) sector that have yet to grasp the significance of social media.

The event included some excellent presentations (some very gloomy about the recession). I particularly enjoyed the presentation preceding mine from Andrew Cassie of CIB Communications. He talked about a recent CIB/CIMCIG survey of AEC marcoms professionals, and I hope the full findings will be made more public shortly. In the meantime, for more event background, see also the Twitter stream about the event (thanks also to Liz Male for maintaining the flow while I presented).

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