A building material supplier’s and manufacturer’s number one marketing target should be architects and designers. Both are responsible for specifying and suggesting the materials used on their projects. By directing your marketing efforts to people in these positions, you’ll improve the effectiveness of your marketing spend.
Any successful marketing plan starts with your customers. Before you begin marketing, you must know who you are marketing to and what information your customers want and need about your product. Once you develop this potential customer biography (called a persona), then you can strategically target your marketing for their benefit.
Who are you selling to?
There are two main personas that material suppliers and manufacturers need to keep in mind when marketing to architects: the junior designer and the project architect.
The junior designer is responsible for providing the initial research to select products for a project. Once they’ve gathered the information, they’ll present it to the project architect for final selection. A junior designer needs information about ease of use and maintenance, costs, and product availability. They need to know what problems the material will solve for their clients. They may even work with the general contractor to gather information about installing the product if they are unfamiliar with it.
The project architect is responsible for working with the client to choose the appropriate materials for the project. They describe the options and provide guidance on product selection. Once construction begins, they are also responsible for working with contractors on installation or procurement issues.
What information do architects need?
During the design and specification process, architects need information about your product to help them make selections and educate their client and the contractor. This information takes several forms and should be easily accessible on your website.
Architects should be able to order samples of your material. Samples allow the architect and client to see and feel how the product will interact in their space. Don’t make potential customers hunt throughout your website for them.
If your material is part of a system that is regulated by building codes, architects need to know that your material meets the specifications of the various code bodies. This information can be provided in the product information packet or brochure.
Contractors like materials that are easy to install, or similar to other products in the same category. Architects review installation instructions for differences or special processes. Part of their job is to describe the installation process to the contractor within the specifications for the material. They must understand it in order to be able to answer questions about the material and its installation.
Providing architects with details and data files for various drafting and BIM (building information modeling) programs will help them easily integrate your product into their drawings and specifications. More designers are using 3D and BIM software, so their popularity will continue to grow.
Architects work within the confines of their clients’ budgets when selecting materials. Providing information about the cost of your products helps them better meet their clients’ needs.
With the rising popularity of LEED building certification and other programs, more architects are looking for products that contribute to meeting these requirements. Often products will be selected based on their performance in the certification programs. Providing the information required to document your product’s contribution will make the architect’s job easier.
The sales process for construction materials has many potential interruption points. For example, a certain product may be specified for a project, but another may be purchased and installed due to cost or scheduling issues. Because of this, your marketing strategy needs to address all of these potential interruption possibilities.
Your marketing strategy must answer all the possible questions an architect or client could have, preferably on your website. The information must sell your product not only to the architect but to the contractor and project owner. Your content must rank for the keywords architects use to find the information they need about your product.
It’s key to provide your content in the media type that architects use most. These days they rely on videos, product information, and drawing details or models to research and specify building materials. Make sure that you have a variety of resources of different media types that answer the questions and concerns of the whole project team.
Besides the information above, your website should also answer the following questions for architects:
- What types of buildings does this material work in?
- What are the strengths of the material?
- Are there aspects of the material that affect the cost (such as added elements required for installation, finish type, etc.)?
- Can you show examples of the product in use?
More architects are providing their clients with interactive or virtual reality experiences. Providing these types of experiences on your website will help architects show their clients your product in action.
Selling your product
Once your product makes it into the project specifications, your job isn’t done. Due to the number of potential opportunities to change a product, you can’t count your sales until the product is installed. Therefore, you must continue to provide information on the benefits of your product throughout the sales cycle. This can be achieved by providing robust information on your website or sending information directly to the specifying architect through email or other communication.
Architects often work with project owners to value engineer product selection. This entails trying to find products of similar quality for a lower cost. If your product could be a solution for architects and owners looking for value engineering options, provide this information on your website as well.
Your marketing team should regularly review both your lead and sales data to measure the effectiveness of your website and the information you provide. Marketing plans should be adjusted as necessary to meet the changing needs of your audience.
Your marketing plan
Material suppliers or manufacturers that want to market to architects need to target their website content to provide the information designers are looking for. This includes a variety of downloadable content, as well as access to samples and virtual reality experiences. Your content must sell your product throughout the project design and construction process, as there are many opportunities for substitution. Regular review of your sales data and adjustment will keep your digital marketing strategy effective.