PERSPECTIVES: 20 years of change in construction industry innovation and marketing

20 YEARS OF CHANGE IN CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY INNOVATION AND MARKETING

PERSPECTIVES: 20 YEARS OF CHANGE IN CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY INNOVATION AND MARKETING


Integrated Communications Manager Anastasia Narkiewicz looks back on the changes she’s seen – and many personally rewarding experiences – over her past two decades with the Boral and USG Boral marketing teams.

Beginning her building industry career with a constructing reporting company acquired by Cordell, Anna joined Boral Plasterboard in April 1998 as Technical Publications Manager, producing the Plasterboard Installation Manual. She also marketed the D-Stud and CinemaZone™ systems, and the first decorative cornice and DIY product ranges.

With the introduction of ‘One Boral’ in the early 2000s, Anna became part of the Boral Communications Centre. A shared, centralised marketing and digital communications team, it operated across all the Boral Building Materials divisions – effectively an internal marketing agency for Concrete to Quarries and everything in between.

LAUNCHING A NEW BRAND

Soon after the United States Gypsum (USG) and Boral Joint Venture was formed, in May 2014 Anna took on the new role of Integrated Communications Manager for USG Boral. It was a time of great change; the JV was new, the Marketing team was small, and the business had an ambitious strategic imperative to launch a new brand and innovation offer to the market.

“We had to establish an entirely new brand to an existing customer base who knew us as Boral,” Anna says. “We designed a new logo, developed go-to-market messaging, introduced new product innovation and launched a new website – all within the first six months. We were combining two established and well-regarded businesses – so we were in a unique position of needing to introduce a new brand while paying homage to the trusted legacy brands that our customers know and love, leveraging their leading positions in the Australian and Asian-Pacific markets.”

Professionally, it was an exciting remit. “Many of us came from Boral, a large Australian business and leading manufacturer and distributor of plasterboard products and accessories. USG is the market leader in the US – in fact, they invented gypsum plasterboard over 100 years ago. They brought their culture of innovation and cutting-edge technology into the mix.”

The Marketing team settled on the tagline ‘Innovation Inspired by You’ as part of the new approach. “We were launching SHEETROCK® in the Australian market, a significant innovation from USG. At the same time, we were building an integrated channel with our customers – including architects and interior designers who specify materials – through to the tradies and subbies who use and handle our products. The key is enabling our customers to leverage USG Boral innovations for their own success!”

INTEGRATION IS KEY

Anna says there have been many changes to marketing over the past two decades. The practice has become a lot more integrated, and she feels this is one reason USG Boral is able to take major new offers and innovations to market so effectively within a relatively short space of time.

“Digital marketing has really revolutionised the customer journey,” she says. “With the help of abundant tools now available we’re developing a clearer understanding of our customers’ needs, which is helping to better inform our sales and marketing communications. Marketing Automation has given our own team and other areas of the business much greater visibility over our customers’ overall experience.”

“The emergence of digital marketing also means we have the capacity to respond more rapidly to our customers’ needs. In fact, it is the customer who now drives marketing with social media a critical channel. As a smaller, more agile company, we’ve really been able to reach our audiences through social without getting tied up in red tape.”

Anna says that it’s a testament to the quality of the people within the USG Boral company that the marketing team has been able to ‘dare’ freeing social media activity up. “We’ve put processes in place and given our customer-facing teams the confidence to use social media both within and outside the company. It’s a great connection to the customer in their workplace communities – areas our experienced teams are very comfortable and familiar with.”

She foresees the value of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning in coming years. “They’re not just limited to B2C; B2B businesses can play too. The integration of marketing across technology platforms holds tremendous promise for anticipating customer needs and being more responsive to them.”

MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Apart from working in a young, agile company, Anna enjoys being part of a business operating across several regions and collaborating with great people in all areas of the business. “We need to communicate effectively across 12 countries, and that means sharing and pooling our data and resources. In some countries, product and process innovations are leading the industry to a new way of building – easier, more cost effective and safer for both workers and occupiers. In Australia we’re working with leading construction firms to ‘raise the bar’ with innovations that deliver more liveable and environmentally sustainable buildings.”

However, for Anna, by far the most rewarding are opportunities to work with our community partners. “Habitat for Humanity is a wonderfully purposeful organisation to which we provide people skills, hands-on effort and materials. H4H projects we support together with Boral Australia include building homes for families in need in Vietnam and Indonesia, and locally helping to construct homes for victims of Victoria’s Black Saturday bushfires in Shepparton and Yea.”

Anna oversees a number of other collaborative industry projects, supporting Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal in conjunction with Henley Homes – in 2018 achieving a record sale price of $860,000 for a home built with USG Boral products and contracting services, our 25th year of partnership. Other causes where USG Boral products and services contribute include Juvenile Diabetes, Care4Kids and community facilities such as The Goods Shed in Claremont which was awarded a WA Architect’s Institute of Australia Heritage Award in 2017.

She says, “USG Boral has a strong sense of corporate responsibility, and it’s a privilege to be involved in facilitating and promoting our community initiatives within the building industry.”    

Read more industry perspectives in this occasional blog series.