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An Interview with Peter Chesters, Content Marketing Manager at Barbour Product Search

January 2022
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Barbour ABI Content Team

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    This month in our 4 Questions interview, we spoke to Peter Chesters, Content Marketing Manager at Barbour Product Search (BPS).

    We discussed how the service has progressed from becoming a directory book to a specialist marketing tool that puts construction products in front of key decision makers from across the entire specification, procurement and supply chain.

    With over 200,000 page views each month and a readership in excess of 80,000 – find out how this powerful platform can benefit your business.

    You joined the Barbour ABI group nearly three years ago, can you tell us about how you’ve progressed through the business and your current role in Barbour Product Search?

    So I joined the Barbour ABI family, as you say, around three years ago and it was actually in Barbour Product Search where I originally started. I was an Editorial Account Manager, so what’s been really helpful for me from that regard with Barbour Product Search is that I’ve known it from the bottom up. I’ve done the role of the really hands on stuff in terms of getting hold of the content, learning how to interact with the clients, learning what’s best for the clients, learning how to get the most out of each client’s piece of content that they are going to get up on their profile.

    Since then I then moved into the Barbour ABI Marketing team where I found a real passion for content which I already had a bit of background in from the BPS editorial role. From there I was doing digital marketing then content marketing and then around six months ago I then became the Content Marketing Manager. At that point I then took over management of the Barbour Product Search Editorial team, so that was the first time I was working directly with Barbour Product Search again within the last year and a half after taking a break from it. At that point it was nice to get my hands back into Barbour Product Search at that higher level and be able to think more about the strategy and implement things that are hopefully going to be better for the customer journeys, customer experiences and also the experiences of the people who are going to be using the website as well.

    Since then I then moved into the Barbour ABI Marketing team where I found a real passion for content which I already had a bit of background in from the BPS editorial role. From there I was doing digital marketing then content marketing and then around six months ago I then became the Content Marketing Manager. At that point I then took over management of the Barbour Product Search Editorial team, so that was the first time I was working directly with Barbour Product Search again within the last year and a half after taking a break from it. At that point it was nice to get my hands back into Barbour Product Search at that higher level and be able to think more about the strategy and implement things that are hopefully going to be better for the customer journeys, customer experiences and also the experiences of the people who are going to be using the website as well.

    Barbour Product Search has evolved significantly over the years to become more than a building product search platform. What services do you now provide clients and what are the benefits of working with Barbour Product Search?

    Certainly a long time before my time at Barbour Product Search it was known as ‘the big red book’ which is something that I’ve seen a very old version of around the office at some point. But there was a big red book that did exist and it was a compendium of essentially the basics of everything we have on a Barbour Product Search profile now, but in book form almost like a construction Yellow Pages of products from product manufacturers across the industry. You’d have company information and product entries and the idea being of course that a product manufacturer could pay to have their products advertised in the compendium. So if you needed a product for your project, you would find the red book, search through it, find the exact product you needed for your project, call up whoever it was and that was how it was used.

    Obviously once the move to digital started occurring, it became an online platform and that was where we really started to be able to expand what we could put within a profile and within an offering for customers. Now at this point across the last few years, there’s been a big increase in digital demand, in views to the website and accordingly we’ve also slightly shifted what we offer and we’ve started offering CPDs on our platform now. So we’re interested in not just being a hub where people know they can find products on but also an information hub, an education hub. So again, customers of ours know that not only can they showcase their products to interested, potential clients of theirs from across the industry, but they can also show themselves to be thought leaders. That’s a big development that we’ve found in the last couple of years that is really being successful for us at the moment.

    We also started doing newsletters and we’ve really developed our offering in the last few years. We have newsletters that are general ones that go out to our wide audience. We have ones that are more technical that go to an audience that are going to be more interested in the more technical content that some of our clients have on Barbour Product Search. We also have sector newsletters where, let’s say if you’re in education or you do projects that are based in education, you put your case studies, products, whatever it might be on the site and we’ll then promote them in the sector newsletter to an audience that’s built up of people we know specifically are in education projects and get those newsletters out to and audience we know are specifically going to be engaged in that exact industry you’re looking to target.

    The newsletters for our audiences span across the entire specification, procurement and supply chain. The idea for these being that traditionally I think people have thought of the Barbour Product Search audience as being largely made up of architects, which it still very much is. We’ve still got a massive base of architects who use our website all the time, engage with our newsletters all of the time. But we actually have a really wide range of people who consume our newsletters and visit the website, so that can stretch from everyone from buyers, specifiers, contractors, architects, installers. Everyone, not just the people who are going to be reviewing the products and specifying them, but the ones who also have the power to buy and install them as well which is a really crucial benefit – that we get the products and your case studies, news stories and everything you want to promote about your business in front of the people who have that decision making power.

    So there’s a really wide range of things we’re doing for customers that is continually developing all the time as our technology gets better and as our understanding of what the industry wants and needs at any given time keeps evolving.

    What types of businesses is Barbour Product Search designed for?

    The platform is really beneficial for product manufacturers, as they’re the ones who have their products on the site, they’re the ones who have the profiles and get to see who is viewing their profile at a company level. However, as we’ve expanded Barbour Product Search across the last few years, we’ve found that the platform can be massively helpful to businesses across the supply chain, a big part of that being because of the CPD platform.

    So traditionally architects would get a lot from the Barbour Product Search platform because they could see the products that they were potentially going to supply and specify on their projects. However, since we’ve brought in the CPD learning centre in the last few years, it’s also been a great education hub for generally architects but everyone across the supply chain. The hub is open to anyone, anyone can sign up for it, anyone can do a CPD. If you have CPD hours as part of your role, you can fill those in, you can get those hours from the CPDs that are available on the Barbour Product Search profile. We have a range of those from across plenty of different manufacturers that are live on the site. So basically, no matter what your industry is, there will hopefully be a CPD there for you that you can get your hours from that will be beneficial for you and we keep adding to those all the time.

    The Barbour Product Search profile is available to all product manufacturers that work in construction, which means that there is a much wider scope for the potential to get your products onto the platform than a lot of businesses might realise. So of course we have a real base of clients that are in the traditional construction materials businesses – literally bricks and mortar, and aggregates. However we have a wide range of products and businesses on the website because, as everybody knows, that construction can consist of many things and we allow every type of construction product manufacturer on the website as all those parts are equally vital to the construction of a building. So it doesn’t matter whether it’s interior, exterior, it doesn’t matter if it’s facades or whether it’s lighting. We’ve had smart lighting companies, smart heating available on the website in the past, even down to climbing walls that can be installed in residential properties or gyms, those type of places.

    Especially as the construction industry develops over time, there’s a massive scope for things like smart products or offsite building materials. Modern methods of construction – for any products in those type of ranges, we are seeing really good success with for the clients who are putting those things on the site because as those industries grow, there’s a massive interest in ‘how can we develop these products?’, ‘can these fit into projects that may have been using traditional methods in the past, but using these methods now and sourcing these products now?’. People start to see how having those products on their projects can reduce costs, reduce production times and get your projects across the line in a better fashion.

    If a business is already utilising the Barbour ABI platform, how can Barbour Product Search be used in conjunction to help them achieve their commercial goals?

    So with the Barbour Product Search profile, every single one of our clients now gets access to the Enhanced Insights section of the profile. What that means is you can go on, view your stats and see exactly what businesses at a business level are viewing your products, your case studies, your files – whatever it might be that you want to promote on your profile. You can see who is viewing those and how many times they’ve viewed them, and you can see at what time they viewed them – you can view the journey across your entire profile. The beautiful thing with, if you have both Barbour Product Search and a Barbour ABI subscription means you can then take the name of that company, search it within Barbour ABI and you can see every single project we’ve got named that company is based on. You can see contact details as well of key players within those companies that we have fully GDPR compliant details of within our system. So you can then see ‘ok this company has gone and viewed my products a bunch of times and they’re named on this project that’s either in my region or my sector, and now I’ve got the contact details for the exact person who I need to get in touch with to find out how I can get my products on either this project or maybe the next one’. So it’s a brilliant way to use the two tools together to build relationships and get your products onto projects that you may never have even known about beforehand.

    So with the Barbour Product Search profile, every single one of our clients now gets access to the Enhanced Insights section of the profile. What that means is you can go on, view your stats and see exactly what businesses at a business level are viewing your products, your case studies, your files – whatever it might be that you want to promote on your profile. You can see who is viewing those and how many times they’ve viewed them, and you can see at what time they viewed them – you can view the journey across your entire profile. The beautiful thing with, if you have both Barbour Product Search and a Barbour ABI subscription means you can then take the name of that company, search it within Barbour ABI and you can see every single project we’ve got named that company is based on. You can see contact details as well of key players within those companies that we have fully GDPR compliant details of within our system. So you can then see ‘ok this company has gone and viewed my products a bunch of times and they’re named on this project that’s either in my region or my sector, and now I’ve got the contact details for the exact person who I need to get in touch with to find out how I can get my products on either this project or maybe the next one’. So it’s a brilliant way to use the two tools together to build relationships and get your products onto projects that you may never have even known about beforehand.

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    About the author

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    Barbour ABI Content Team

    The Barbour ABI content team is apart of the Marketing department and they thrive to produce engaging, relevant content to keep you up to date with the latest construction industry insight.

    At Barbour ABI’ we’re revolutionising the way we deliver content to the the construction industry. From blog posts to reports, we’re want to deliver the key information that you need at a pace that allows you to quickly digest and continue with your busy work day.

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