Westco - Blog images-Feb-06-2024-06-35-39-3319-AM


What’s more, they are likely to be considered ‘peers’ of the audience group you’re targeting, recognising that ‘peer-to-peer’ messaging is far more powerful than a top-down messaging approach. This is the cornerstone of storytelling, which is all about conveying a fundamental human experience that builds a powerful connection. 


This is the reason why tabloid newspapers and magazines (in print or online) are so popular – we are fascinated by other people’s experiences, especially if they’re relatable to our own experiences. Think about how we might deploy this approach in marketing. Public health obesity reduction or mental health awareness campaigns are so much more influential when real people are expressing their own experiences in a way that others can relate to.


Peers persuading peers: Leveraging authentic voices in marketing


The use of social media influencers is one example of how this approach can be deployed in marketing, although authenticity can be eroded if they are being paid to plug a product or service. Westco used authentic peer-to-peer voices to develop a campaign to encourage young people to consider a career in the construction industry…


Nationally, there are around 48,000 construction vacancies, which is threatening to hamper economic growth. Anyone who has tried to hire a builder in certain parts of the country will understand the problem. The challenge is made even more difficult because of the lack of experienced people to teach courses in colleges. We had to overcome some of the existing perceptions about the construction industry, i.e. it being a ‘dirty job’ with limited career progression routes.


Our approach was to tell the story through the eyes of young people who could talk about why they became an apprentice, what it’s like, and the benefits. Their powerful stories naturally busted many of the myths. We did the same for people in the construction industry who went on to become tutors.


A case study on overcoming perceptions 


Take a look at our case study and some of the other learnings in this spotlight on a campaign to recruit construction apprentices and tutors.


About the campaign 

South London Partnership (SLP) comprises five local authorities: Croydon, Kingston, Merton, Richmond, and Sutton. They commissioned Westco to develop and deliver a campaign to encourage young people to think about construction as a career – and in doing so, plug a large skills gap across the region. As a secondary goal, we were asked to promote opportunities for people approaching the end of their careers in construction to become tutors. The campaign ran for 12 weeks from mid-January 2023 through to mid-March. 


The budget 

Digital media buying: £10,000
Filming: £3,125
Design: £2,450


The problem 

Across the UK, there are 48,000 construction vacancies combined with a shortage of tutors to teach construction courses. According to the Association of Colleges, 85% of colleges report that they do not have sufficient staff.


Our objectives


  1. Raise awareness of construction apprenticeship and tutoring opportunities with 25,000 people aged 15-21 across the SLP region, reaching them at least 10 times during the 12-week period (250,000 impressions).
  2. Raise awareness amongst people aged 50-60 in the construction industry about opportunities to become tutors as part of flexible semi-retirement.


  1. Interaction rate of 2%.
  2. 1,250 website visits for 15-21-year-olds, and 250 clicks for 50-60-year-olds.


Audience insight 

Barriers to the profession are perceptions that the profession is a ‘dirty job’ and ‘male-dominated’, while young people also cited a lack of career advice. But there are many myths about the construction industry and through our messaging, we overcame the barriers by focusing on: 


  • Learning and development support that came with being an apprentice. People get paid to study and grow. 
  • The variety of roles and opportunities in the construction industry, including engineering, architecture, site manager, surveyor, as well as traditional roles such as bricklaying and carpentry. 
  • Financial benefits, with an average wage (once qualified) of £45K a year.
  • Lifestyle benefits of becoming a tutor, which, for many, is a route into semi-retirement. 


The strategy 

We worked closely with our partners, Council Advertising Network, and our client, SLP, to develop the strategy, based on: 


Research and insight: Desktop research of the market and audiences to refine calls to action and understand the behavioural barriers of engagement with the campaign. 


Digital marketing: To generate awareness amongst younger people (apprentices, 15-21) and older people (tutors, 50-60) using targeted paid digital advertising. We served high-impact video ads to refined audiences, retargeting engaged users with a strong visual and call-to-action (CTA), encouraging them through to the landing page. 


Creative content: This included the development of authentic peer-to-peer content by developing ambassadors and advocates for the campaign where individuals talked passionately about why they became an apprentice or tutor and why others should follow their path. Our strapline for the apprentice campaign was, “Think Big, Think Construction,” with secondary messaging that included key motivators such as, “I get paid to learn, grow, and move up the career ladder.



Media campaign: To support and amplify the campaign through coordinated media activity in trade and regional media. 



  • 451,523 paid impressions
  • 37,070 organic impressions 
  • 51,468 interactions (10.53%)
  • 5,590 clicks (1.23%)
  • 76 inquiries  


Key learnings 

  • Authentic peer-to-peer imagery and content is better able to cut through the noise.
  • The more precise you can be on audience targeting, the higher the engagement rate you will get.
  • Reviewing dashboards (even on short campaigns) can help move resources to where they will be the most value for money. 



Simon is a former chair of LGcomms. He has worked as a Head/Director of Communications in local government since 2007. 


Here to help

At Westco, we offer both a campaign design and delivery service alongside training and support. If you are interested, contact simon@westcocommunications.com.


Simon Jones


The importance of using authentic voices in the design and delivery of campaigns and marketing cannot be underestimated. What do we mean by authentic voices? They are likely to be people who believe in your values, brand, mission, or purpose. They are also very likely to be people who have ‘lived experience’ of the issue you’re trying to convey or the problem you’re trying to overcome.


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