Final approach: Focusing on the big picture


Fluency Marketing’s managing director, Gemma Smith takes a peek over the years, looking at the way we market our products and services and maintain much-needed customer contact.

When I look back to my early ambitions, I am not surprised I find myself in a highly technical, science-led sector. And whilst choosing to study all of the sciences at school, it was indeed the passion and interest for business and people that led me away from my biochemistry degree and on a path to being the Chartered Marketer that I am today.

From the start of my career, I’ve been involved with concrete, steel, composites and advanced materials - where I have remained over the last decade - and hope to remain for many years to come. It’s a significant time to comment as we work our way through these Coronavirus times. Talking of composites specifically, I’ve always described the industry as small, but global – it currently feels very small indeed. When can I go out?

The composites market is an interesting one and still very young and naive. It relies on face-to-face meetings. Within our sector, many businesses ordinarily devote part - or even most - of their marketing budget to tradeshows, exhibitions and events. I’ve attended many over time, but highlights have definitely been my first SAMPE North America show in Long Beach meeting the industry for the first time, visiting the Airbus chalet at The Farnborough Airshow watching the take-offs and landings, feeling up close and personal with the pilots, and of course feeling like Christmas as I come down the escalator to a buzzing JEC show in Paris (yes, I am that sad!).

Like a child in a sweet shop, exhibitions provide an arena of innovation and ‘wow’ technology. We’re currently feeling challenged to adapt to online events or other forms of marketing due to the recent pandemic, where many tradeshows have been, and still are, being cancelled. Fewer people are interested in face-to-face meetings. The cancellation of the Farnborough Airshow was a further kick in the teeth to many who rely on it as an important platform for business growth.

I’ve written and read many news releases over my time, and it’s amazing to look back and see how they really did shift the industry. As well as gaining the trust of an industry and its customers. From the Dreamliner to the A380, we’ve seen composite materials progress in use throughout aircraft. It’s been an exciting development to be part of, watching innovative materials and processes progress in one of the world’s most important industries.

What I will say is that magazine editors will work with you to create insightful and meaningful content. They’re experienced in working with their readers and know what makes them tick, so take time to chat with them. Listen to the questions they ask because they have also been working with your customers to find out what interests them. Think of this as your pre-sales.

Whilst the press still remains an important tool for getting out our latest news, product information and important updates, we’ve seen the shift to the direct voice that social media offers: a low cost/free of charge solution to companies wanting to keep in touch with their customers, maintain relationships, and attract new customers.

We should all strive to continuously learn, researching hot topics and key trends and ensuring we adapt our business in response. It's a volatile world and we as an industry are affected hugely by current affairs, whether it’s terrorism, fluctuating oil prices, governmental decisions or the recent pandemic. Budgets are of great importance to the industry and marketing spend is often the first to be affected. Sales drop, so marketing spend drops – something I’ve never understood but it happens nonetheless.

With all of this in mind, we must remember that data is key, and is nothing without goals that ultimately lead to ROI. We must constantly analyse the industry from a local, national and global perspective. We need to find ways to build our network and spend time understanding key industry challenges, goals and achievements.

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