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Fenestration Forum: August 2011

Strategic marketing techniques for the fenestration industry Part 1

August 17, 2011  By Brian Burton

Not only are the elements involved in marketing imprecise and uncertain,
but also the business environment is constantly changing.

Not only are the elements involved in marketing imprecise and uncertain, but also the business environment is constantly changing. As a result, successful marketing for fenestration-related industries represents a true challenge in planning and execution. This article is the first of two parts that will focus on the topic.

Developments in recent years have brought increasingly intense competition, rapidly changing market conditions and a client base that insists on value for their expenditures. These conditions have created a need for careful assessment of marketing strategies because flying by the seat of your pants is risky business – in the true sense of the words.

Strategic marketing involves the systematic analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of your firm and your products or services. It also involves assessing your competitors and the market. When properly executed, this enables a firm to develop and implement a plan of action with a much greater probability of success. In theory, this means you may also be able to concentrate resources on market sectors that have strong growth potential and greater profitability. To see how we might be able to do that, we need to start with a look at the early days of marketing.


The fundamental concepts of economics, where products or services are exchanged for mutual advantage, or for profit, can be traced back to the beginning of recorded history. The market, which is made up of producers and service providers on one side and prospective purchasers on the other, has been described as the hidden hand that maintains the equilibrium of supply and demand. It is also viewed by some as mankind’s first computer, operating as a self-regulating mechanism, driving the economy and providing control and balance of economic activities.

Marketing was generally considered more of an acquired skill than a science until quite recently. It involves any activity that accelerates or expedites the movement of goods and services to the consumer. Over the last 60 years, marketing professionals developed, tested and refined the principles to form the basis of what we now recognize as a science and a professional specialty.

This scientific approach involves the study of behavioural, social and survey sciences, psychographics, economics, statistics, cognitive dissonance in the fields of communication and many other sophisticated concepts. Marketing science, with its emphasis on the probabilities of social and behavioural science, is in many respects the total opposite of the physical sciences.

For many centuries there was unwavering faith in word-of-mouth advertising, coupled with the belief that marketing would, for the most part, take care of itself. According to Thomas Edison, if you invent a better mousetrap the world will beat a path to your doorstep. This statement demonstrates the long-standing assumption that the public will somehow find out quickly that your better mousetrap exists and discover the location of the nearest retail outlet carrying it.

There is a remarkable shortage of written documentation regarding the early attempts at systematic marketing.

However, conventional theory suggests that it was linked to the growth of consumerism that followed the industrial revolution. Although the exact date is impossible to pinpoint, the creation of the instruments of commerce, capitalism and international trade combined to create a vigorous and constantly expanding market economy that allowed individual citizens to accumulate wealth. In the early 1950s the study and practice of marketing began to gain acceptance as a science that involved understanding, predicting and influencing human behaviour with reasonable accuracy.

As the body of knowledge relating to psychology, survey science and consumerism expanded, the technology involved in mass communications evolved. Techniques used to influence purchasing decisions became more efficient.

Technology also improved various media such as radio and television, and computers were quickly exploited as potential tools in reaching consumers.

Next time, I’ll take a look at the eight steps that make up a modern marketing strategy.

Brian is a research and development specialist for Exp (The new identity of Trow Associates). He can be reached at

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