By Sue Allport
For almost three decades, Stormking has been designing and manufacturing GRP products for building and construction companies, property and land developers, architects and the public sector. Its focus on the continuous innovation of production methods and product range has helped turn the company into the largest supplier of GRP products to the construction industry.
When the Staffordshire Marketing Academy (SMA) first met the team at Stormking, the company was well-established, but needed something to lift it beyond the plateau it had reached. The SMA carefully reviewed Stormking’s commercial aspirations and plans and then delivered their sales and marketing recommendations live on stage at the Action for Business Live 5 event organised in March 2013.
Stormking measures its success based on improvements in turnover, head count, retention, new business and additional business with existing clients. Almost a year after its marketing makeover, the company has created enough breathing space for product innovation and business growth, using four main actions.
Market insight and diversification
Stormking moved into untapped markets. They launched a “light tunnel” based on their Smartstack Chimney that met the needs of their customers’ customers, allowing more natural light into buildings and saving energy. A number of local authorities and social housing projects came on board – a market Stormking had never accessed before.
"For the first time, we had to formally pitch for work in a new sector,” explains Paul Wilkison, Stormking’s national sales manager. “It was a different way of doing business, which forced us sit back and really think about the way we presented ourselves to different clients with different needs."
Attracting new customers with new products
In parallel to gaining more market insight, Stormking designed, packaged and marketed new products like the WARMA Dormer – a lightweight dormer with improved thermal efficiencies, aiming to meet higher governmental insulation standards.
"We’ve completely reworked our company literature,” enthused Wilkinson. "A website that should convert more sales is underway and we’re considering video guides to help our installers as much as we can."
Investment in strategic technological advances
Affected by a long-standing downturn in the construction market, Stormking focussed on not being overly cautious, as many of its competitors had done. The company re-equipped a factory floor to produce more of its most popular products and extended the loading facility and transport capabilities.
Stormking invested in software to present its designs using CGI and 3D modelling. This allowed the GRP manufacturer to serve the needs of its customers – whose own technologies had advanced – and stay ahead of its competitors.
Objective external advice
The Staffordshire Marketing Academy is a team of individual business owners who specialise in different marketing disciplines. The SMA members coordinated their efforts to recommend improvements and changes to the way Stormking marketed itself, whilst supporting the company’s long-term commercial plans.
"I came away from the event motivated with ideas. We now take a structured approach to our marketing: the knock-on effect has been extra involvement from our stakeholders and improved communication across departments,” explains Wilkinson. "The whole process has opened my eyes to how ‘dressing the shop window’ sparks progress."
Stormking’s marketing makeover has contributed to a business growth reflected in turnover and head count. By building on the SMA’s recommendations, the company now has a better understanding of its core markets and has moved into new market segments. Investments in infrastructure, technology and new products have been complimented by a more cohesive company image and more coherent marketing messages.
The next Action for Business Live event will take place on May 16 at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent. The event will focus on offering practical tools to help businesses understand and improve their online and offline marketing strategies.
About the author
Sue Allport is a copywriter at Stoke-on-Trent based Wamplify Copywriting.
The Staffordshire Marketing Academy offers advice and expertise on marketing strategy, business development, public relations, customer relationships, design and branding, video production, digital marketing, copywriting, social media, personal branding.
Staffordshire Marketing Academy: http://www.staffsmarketingacademy.co.uk/