Architects have to sell, too. Are you giving them the support and tools they need?
Ask a commercial building product manufacturer who their primary target is, and usually architects rank number one. "We sell to the architect. They're our bread and butter."
This is certainly true for most, and the small universe of architects is usually the most efficient target for precious marketing dollars. But don't forget that, oftentimes, selling an architect on the merits of your product doesn't translate to actually selling your product.
Today, along the extended design and construction process, your product is vulnerable to being bumped out at any time – from schematic design phase through pre-construction. It's a harsh reality of our business.
Fact is, architects no longer wield god-like creative power over the built environment. Their power is now shared with a myriad other players – owners, owner's reps, G.C.s, subcontractors, etc. – any of which the architect may have to "sell" to ensure your product is, in fact, used.
So what can a product manufacturer do to support this effort?
Our years of experience, combined with insights gained from the architect focus groups we conduct regularly, reveal a few basics.
For starters, architects should know that you're available to assist them at any time in justifying the use of your product – from supplying any relevant product or performance data, to attending a building team meeting to present your product's merits in person. While this may not always be feasible, the personal approach can do wonders to ensure that your product remains on a project.
Well-written, factual and objective case studies are another go-to sales tool that architects rely on to sell your products. They can cement credibility in your product and brand with any doubters or nay-sayers. Include testimonials: Not only from other architects, but from contractors or installers related to timely turnaround and product delivery and ease of installation or installation support; and from owners or building mangers related to performance, low cost of ownership, and ease of maintenance. The idea is to address and assuage any concern that a member of a building team may have with your product.
Another potent sales tool for architects are articles in trade magazines or websites that feature the merits of your products. In this case, your product is so important that an independent media outlet judged it worthy of coverage. The credibility factor is hard to beat.
Both case studies and articles should be promoted to architects and made available to them from your website.
And speaking of your website, be sure you've addressed each influencer on your site with appropriate messaging – at minimum, a page each for contractors and owners that enumerates why the architect's decision to incorporate your product is sound from their point of view.
Finally, manufacturers should never scrimp on project photography. If your product is aesthetic in nature, it's critical that you make the best impression possible by hiring a professional architectural photographer. You'll never regret the investment, as these photos will be used time and again; for sales presentations, your website, sales literature, ads, etc. Often, the merits of a single project photo is what earns our clients cover stories, infuse an advertisement with needed stopping power, or make the difference between being bumped from a project or actually being used.
So go ahead, market and sell to architects – they're still your best bet. But don't forget to support them in their effort to keep your product on the project, through to installation. You'll sell more by decreasing losses to alternative products and any so-called "or equals".