By a quick show of hands, how many out there have ever listened to a sales pitch from someone who had no idea what your role was within your organization, your responsibilities or who you were in general?

We’ve all been there. So why as building product marketers, do we communicate to key specifiers without truly understanding who they are? In last week’s blog, How Many Interior Designers Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?, we discussed some trends occurring in the design space that are affecting specification habits. This week, I’ll examine how building product marketers can create a foundation for effectively communicating with architects and designers.

Okay, I’ll grant you that it’s not as easy it sounds. The sheer fragmentation that exists between architects, designers and other specifiers is enough to make you throw up your hands and instead, focus entirely on the channel and end-user. But despite value engineering and substitution trends from general contractors, architects and designers still influence 90 percent of commercial building product dollars, so failing to invest in reaching this group is a huge mistake.

First, let’s consider some signs that suggest you might not know your architect and designer audience as well as you think (or could). See if any of these sound familiar:

  • You know your target specifiers’ demographics, but lack insight on their attitudinal and behavioral characteristics
  • You know what they are looking for in a manufacturing partner, but lack insight on their specification process from start to finish
  • You know the type of content they value, but lack insight surrounding the specific resources and tools they use to conduct product research
  • You think “getting specified” is slang for having too many cocktails at the company happy hour

Let’s assume that no one out there is making the last mistake. Here are some ways you can address the first three and begin influencing and driving specification results:

  1. Define your situation. Understand what your current business and marketing realities are to identify challenges and opportunities in how to get your products specified. For example, we know that architects have a tendency to be brand loyal if they find something they like. So it’s critical to review your competitive landscape to determine who the specification leaders are, discover displacement opportunities and measure the effectiveness of past marketing efforts to identify gaps.
  2. Prioritize audience and market segments. Develop prioritization of your audiences based on their influence in specifying your products. Then, connect that audience prioritization to the market segments that either have the highest opportunity for the growth of specified products, or are most vulnerable to the competitive market. Depending on your building product category, we usually find that there’s anywhere from 8-12 market segments (commercial, hospitality, education, multifamily, healthcare, etc.) that architects and designers affect. Determine which market segments are right for you and focus your efforts in those areas.    
  3. Create audience personas. Gain a deep, multi-dimensional and behavioral view of your target specifiers through primary and secondary research. Talk to a mix of current and potential future customers to get clarity on what inspires architects and designers and what their beliefs are of your brand. And decipher whether they are more likely to specify a brand or if their specification is based on a performance requirement for a given product’s application.
  4. Articulate your brandDefine your brand’s core value proposition and point of differentiation to fuel your communications strategy. It should go beyond simply listing out your products’ features and benefits. How can you align your service and value attributes with the demands that architects and designers present?

Once you have a keen understanding of your specification competitive landscape, the importance of product specification, market segment priorities, audience needs and brand proposition, it’s time to develop a compelling communications strategy to engage and connect with your architect and designer targets. In our next blog, Take the Drama Out of Getting Building Products Specified, we look at some of the biggest mistakes that building product marketers make in this phase and how to avoid the pitfalls that come with it.

Until then, download our white paper on Marketing to Architects and Designers.

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