David Venables: I think you have to get the consortium of interests together and combine resources. For instance the Wood Awards already showcase your products. If WFG is having to reinvent itself with a limited budget, here’s a vehicle that already has that collective energy, so why not use it? We need more joined up thinking.

Geoff Rhodes: I do think we’re perhaps coming back to the point of considering some form of wide-ranging levy system to finance timber promotion – a penny per cubic metre for every wood-based product sold, for example. This is something that was considered some years ago, but the timing wasn’t right. If we really have a solid voice and an interesting message to give consistently, we should try as an industry to develop and bring a sustainable long-term financing programme together, rather than the current begging bowl, can-anybody-divvy-in-to-help-out approach.

Tony Miles: I can see how a levy would work, but the difficulty would be how that’s managed. A question will arise as to who gains most. Larger organisations will probably immediately see a benefit, but we also need the merchant on the corner putting money in. You’d need complete fairness and transparency. Then you might get everyone buying in.

Camilla Hair: In PR we’re expected to achieve results on modest budgets. The Wood Awards are a fantastic example of achieving a lot on a small budget. If WFG can mirror this, it will get others enthusiastic about dipping into their pockets.

Jon Stevenson: Most effective marketing is common sense and doing a few things well rather than lots and lots of things moderately.

David Venables: The US hardwood industry has been blessed with a serious injection of government funding for years that has facilitated overseas promotion. What’s been missing is adequate promotion at home. The industry has woken to the challenge; the Hardwood Federation was formed as a political voice and now there is a plan on the table to possibly introduce a production levy to raise serious promotion funds. I think this has to be on the agenda here too, but along with clarifying the roles of the different organisations. Where does WFG sit with the UK Timber Trade Federation for instance? To be successful, WFG must have an infrastructure and the backing of the whole industry. Does it yet have the broad mandate it needs? It’s laudable having an umbrella branding, but only if it engages what’s already out there. Often we are not aware of what others are doing in terms of wood promotion.

Tony Miles: I also think we’re still not selling the technical side of the product as well as we need to. We let consumers use what they think is good enough for the job and when they get it wrong, it can mean huge cost. We’re still not good at educating customers.

Jon Stevenson: The intention is to carry on the Wood for Good education programme.