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Construction has a marketing problem

By Joe Coleman

Construction has a marketing problem. 

The construction industry is one that's plagued with stereotypes but is also one that not many people understand fully. And without that understanding it can be really challenging to get people bought into and wanting to work in the industry. 

Okay, let's rewind a bit to how I came to this conclusion. I was chatting to Bhragan - writer of the brilliant 'Last Week in ConTech' newsletter - and we got talking about how best to attract new people to the construction industry and the opportunity for them to shape the future. 

As the son of an electrical contractor who saw his Father attending callouts on Christmas day and coming back exhausted, covered in insulation and plasterboard, that career path was never painted as a desirable route for me.
So how can the construction industry solve its marketing problem and reposition itself to be more exciting to candidates, particularly the newer generations?

Here's what Bhragan and I had to say on the topic…

J: I don't think a lot of people really understand the construction sector, particularly younger people. They have a preconceived idea of it and I don't think people in the industry are doing enough to change that. 
B: I've had a few discussions about it and the way I see it is that we need to shift from 'old school' construction to how the construction industry is powering the future of infrastructure. You talk to people and there will be a Founder saying 'Hey, I've built this drill' and that's kind of boring. 

But you know, by the end of this decade we're meant to be on the moon. We’re meant to have a permanent settlement on the moon! Then it becomes 'how do we actually achieve that?' and it all becomes a construction start-up problem, right? 
J: Exactly, it's the construction companies that are making this future stuff possible. 
B: There's Astroforge doing asteroid mining, there's construction companies designing railway lines for the moon to connect different resources. I think as soon as we start talking about that, saying 'well you can be building things on the moon' or 'you can be building things on Mars', that's when we'll start to get the uptick of every young graduate wanting to join our industry. As soon as someone says 'oh we're now going to use our thing on the moon' young people are more likely to want to work for them and be part of it.
J: I guess then when people are thinking about career avenues the discussion about that route happens earlier too. You know, you don't see a BBC or CNN news article on the latest investment in construction tech very often. 
Okay, we're building on the moon, but how did we get to the point where we can build on the moon? Is it Elon Musk's new shiny toy or is it actually genuine technology advancements with construction startups. 
B: Yeah, and it's a great point, right? He talks about Hyperloop and everyone gets excited about it. It's 'I want to work for it!'. But it's just a construction problem. He's really good at his marketing.
J: I think it's the marketing of the industry as a whole that's the problem. People don't see the exciting stuff that's going on. And they don't fully understand the industry, they still see it only as hard hats, and long hours, and building sites. 
B: It's the reason I started my newsletter, because as an industry we aren't really defined. What is a construction tech start up? How do we find information on this? What's the construction technology industry like as an industry? It becomes very difficult for an outsider to define, and really difficult to understand. That's why I think dedicated media offers value and can say things like 'hey, this is a really cool thing that we're building'. When you look at a construction tech start-up website so often it's unclear what they're actually building. 
J: Exactly, and to get people excited about the construction industry they need to know what the industry is actually like!

Solving the marketing problem

Part of the process is going where the talent is. Begin by identifying what platform your next hire exists on and produce content there. TikTok, Instagram Reels, X – platforms that you would never associate with construction but where we will find the next generation to drive technology adoption.  

When we're taking roles for our ConTech clients to market we're all about telling people about the exciting developments happening in the space. The more we talk about the cool stuff the construction industry is paving the way for (living on Mars, anyone?) the more the industry will benefit. 

That's not all from my chat with Bhragan either, watch out for our final instalment on what makes a great ConTech founder coming soon…