In the lead up to the FIT Show this year there were some good, solid, innovative marketing campaigns. Nothing over the top. Nothing cheesy, which some definitely have been in the past. In fact I would go as far to say that this year the marketing build up was perhaps a little understated in comparison to other years.
During the event, the stuff being shown on stand and in the halls was nearly right for 2017 too. Many companies trying different things, showing their graphic competence with the help of stand designers. There were some really corking ones this year.
However, there continued to be one or two questionable marketing ideas that I believe didn’t need to be used. Now, before I go on, this post is very much my opinion, not a matter of fact, and I know that there will be some reading this that won’t agree with me. If you don’t, the comment section is at the bottom.
I counted three companies at the very least using promo girls as part of their exhibition marketing. For those who read this regularly you will know that I am not a fan of this sort of thing for our industry. For a couple of reasons. First, in an industry that claims to be professional, the use of promo girls as part of on-stand marketing or to roam the halls flies against that for me. We claim to be trying to rid ourselves of a certain reputation, this works to do the exact opposite, and demonstrates that our industry is still heavily overloaded with men.
Second, our industry is part of the construction sector, which is grappling with trying to attract more women to the construction sector and all the other sub-industries, including our own, to try to plug a plethora of skills gaps. What do we expect women to think when they turn up to industry exhibitions to see promo girls instead of something focused to attract them to a prosperous career in UK fenestration?
An industry friend of mine, also a woman, explained how she thought it was demeaning and insulting to the intelligence of both men and women. It was fair to say that we shared the same view. And from what she has told me, her conversations with other women gave the same feedback.
We’re an industry making some incredibly advanced products at the moment, with some superb innovations and marketing ideas right now. Does our industry really need to keep using marketing strategies from the “bad old days” to push the message. Or should we be leaving it to our products and sales reps to do the talking?
A wider conversation about women
Thoughts on the following:
Tongue in cheek I am sure from the company, and likely not to reflect any personal views of the company on women. But this wasn’t the only example of such methods being used in the run up or throughout the show.
We have to have a wider discussion about the role of women in our industry. Women at every level. In the last few years I have seen a much more obvious increase of women holding roles at all sorts of levels at fabricators and systems companies. Great to see. However, when I have been shown around fabrication plants and the shop floor, there is a distinct lack of women.
There is also a distinct lack of women when it comes to installers. Actual installation, not working in the offices of an installations company. I mean women actually on site installing windows and doors. In my 12 years working at an installations business, I think I have seen just one female window and door installer. In my time at our business when we have advertised for new installers, not a single woman applied. We all know how short of installers we are, so why are we not trying to attract women to these roles as an industry?
For me there is no physical aspect to this. There are plenty of women out there perfectly capable of fitting windows and doors into a home. Rather, I suspect it’s an attitude and generational problem. For as long as we can all remember, trades like window installation, plastering, building, electrician and so on have been seen as jobs for men. But we’re moving quickly towards a society where these old fashioned ideals are redundant. We should be embracing this.
We don’t have anywhere near enough fitters as an industry. Not enough surveyors. Not enough fabricators, skilled ones at least. We are lacking in so many areas. I think it is the right time to be reaching out to attract more skilled women into our industry, and indeed into wider construction. The training facilities are there. The wages are there. We all know those who do well in our industry can make good money out of it. What we need to do is to show women that this is an industry that even though traditionally dominated by men, we are an open industry, open to change, welcoming and willing to expand.
That starts by ditching the above. Change and expansion starts from within. Lose the promo girls from the exhibitions and trade shows. Alter marketing to focus solely on product, quality and customer service. Perhaps then we become a better place to attract new talent, both of women and men too.
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