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Engaging with Specifiers

Engaging with Specifiers

As we start to come out of lockdown the prospect for construction is not good. Despite possible increased government investment in the construction sector, as proposed by the Construction Leadership Council’s Roadmap to Recovery, we can expect a slowing of private sector investment. Also, social distancing requirements mean that less people can work together on a site, extending the time to complete a project, contributing to the steep fall in output predicted by the forecasters.

We have also seen stockists, like Travis Perkins, planning branch closures where premises are too small to allow effective social distancing. All of this is creating a new business environment for manufacturers to adapt to, in many cases with reduced marketing budgets.

Indications are that during lockdown the majority of architects and engineers have continued to work – mostly from home. Enabled by the adoption of digital design tools such as BIM and the use of the Cloud. Research shows that many were already at this point before lockdown, but we can expect that the remainder have brought forward implementation programmes to give them this capability. Feedback suggests that they have also found that working from home has not impaired their work processes. As the government is still encouraging home working, we can anticipate that these new work practices will not change any time soon.

Our research has shown that it is still possible to speak to architects in smaller practices, but the receptions in larger practices will not transfer calls or give out mobile numbers. So cold calling by the sales team is not an option, which is no bad thing as it really is an outdated practice.

Reports from manufacturers suggest that since lockdown there has been an increase in specifiers requesting product data in a digital format. So, the techniques of marketing automation are more important than ever before. Presenting an opportunity for marketing departments to initially engage with decision makers via high quality website content, build relationships and gain the trust of specifiers, taking the relationship to a point where the specifier requests a contact with the manufacturer when the sales team can become involved. This has the potential to make the sales process much more cost effective.

In the research we conducted a year ago for the Construction Media Index we asked architects about their use of social media. At the time 34% said they had increased their use in the previous 12 months and 19% said they expected to increase their use in the next 12 months. I’m sure that when we repeat the research in 2021 we will find that far more actually increased their use of social media.

Another finding from last year’s Construction Media Index is the number of architects who follow influential industry personalities. In the business-to-consumer sector celebrities are paid to endorse brands, but there is cynicism from the audience about this. So, I would not suggest you do that. But there are opportunities for association with leading industry commentators, or perhaps you can develop one of your own team as a leading authority.

For my final point I’d like to return to the issue of Trust. One factor that influences trust is the accuracy and consistency of product information. Very often we find that because of the way the different sources of information are updated, particularly if there is only a small marketing team, there are often inconsistencies across the product manufacturer’s range of marketing collateral. If you want to present your company as a leading and trusted authority you must ensure the information you present is accurate. So don’t forget to plan an audit of marketing material amongst next quarter’s tasks.

Further Information
Chris Ashworth is founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy which specialises in helping building product manufacturers to be more effective at getting their products selected, conducting market research and providing a range of sales and marketing tools to help with specification strategy.

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