Marketing to the construction design team

Marketing to the construction design team

Guest post provided by Chris Ashworth, specialist in specification strategy and founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy.

For all of us, marketing to architects is a key business strategy. We want to create awareness of our products so that they will become included in designs, creating “demand pull” through the supply chain and eventually sales.

But while the architect is possibly the most important influencer of product selection, he is just one member of the design team and it is important not to forget the others; Client, Specialist Consultant, Engineer, Quantity Surveyor, Main Contractor and Sub-contractor.

Having conducted research into the process of product selection on numerous occasions for our clients, it is clear that while the architect may be responsible for final product selection there are strong influences from other members of the design team.

The Client will have strong views about how his building is to be used and the impression it creates. He will set performance requirements, have a say on the appearance of products, and may even insist on certain products being used. Clients are becoming increasingly aware of the lifetime costs of buildings, selecting products which will minimise these. Some are even starting to require design with BIM to make it easier for facilities management during the life of the building.

Today the complexity of buildings and the regulations which govern them mean there are many specialist consultants and engineers giving advice and setting performance requirements. If it is a small project or a minor aspect it might be the manufacturer who performs this role for the architect. On a complex project many consultants could be involved covering subjects such as fire, acoustics, security and sustainability.

It is the Architect’s job to bring these performance criteria together, some of which may be conflicting, and develop a practical specification. In doing this he will be looking for practical advice from manufacturers and often the sub-contractor.

The Quantity Surveyor is a role which is often ignored by the manufacturer. But it is very important, providing the initial budget for the project, giving advice on products to use and ensuring the project proceeds in the best interests of the client. If a manufacturer is contacted with a request for product prices, it is important to provide them as that information will form the basis of the project budget. Pitch your prices too low and your product could be excluded at a later date.

The Main Contractor is also important. If it is Design & Build then it is the contractor who will determine the approved products and brief the design team. Even in a Traditional Contract the contractor can influence product choice simply through his selection of a sub-contractor.

The Sub-contractor will suggest products which he believes will meet the performance requirements for the project, that he is happy to use and where he thinks it will give him an advantage over his competitors.

Many manufacturers make the mistake of only having contact with the contractor’s buyer, as this is often where enquiries come from. It is also where you will be told that your product is too expensive – after all that’s his job. Identify other members of the team who will be more interested in non-price issues such as Estimators, Project Managers, Contract Managers and Site Managers.

This specification process is a dynamic and changing one. As a manufacturer wishing to succeed you need to be aware of all of these influences and ensure each influencer is aware of your products, the performance that they deliver, the relevant benefits and that they are happy to use them.

Further Information
Chris is a specialist in specification strategy and founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy which specialises in market research and training for the construction industry. He is a member of the BIM4M2 steering group and Deputy Chair of the organising committee for CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Construction Industry Group.

Chris will be participating in a twitter chat organised by Barbour Product Search on 23rd June. Click here for more details.

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