Guest post provided by Chris Ashworth
The construction Client can be an important product influencer and is worthy of attention. Here are some facts to consider:
• Members of the Client’s construction team are the most likely people in the Decision Making Unit to insist on a product brand, if they see its benefits.
• Within the Client organisation there may be a number of influencers, with roles such as Architect, Engineering, Estates and Project Management. I found 500 different client job roles in the Barbour ABI database.
• And if you search Barbour ABI you will find more than 52,000 client organisations based in the UK.
What makes a client organisation different from say an architects’ practice, is that there can be many influencers all with different functions, with varying construction-related interest and expertise.
Step 1: Identify sector opportunity
With 52,000 organisations to choose from, the starting point is to select the sectors which offer most opportunity. If, for example, you see Hospitality as a growth sector that is where to look for your key account clients.
You also need a good understanding of the drivers in that sector - those issues that will be front of mind for the people working in the client organisations. This will allow you to focus on how your products or services can help to solve their problems. We have developed our sector reports on Education and Healthcare to help gain that understanding.
Step 2: Understand what the Client wants
Increasingly we are seeing a realisation amongst clients that the new build operating cost can be more business critical than capital cost. Or to put it another way; they need to focus on how much it will cost to operate a building rather than allowing the contractor to compromise on product performance to reduce the initial cost of construction. This has the potential to be an important selling benefit.
Another factor which is starting to be addressed by some organisations is Health & Wellbeing, as data becomes available that demonstrates a pleasant working environment can improve productivity in an office, or increase spend in a retail environment. This is an opportunity to demonstrate how your product can contribute value to their operation.
Step 3: Engaging with the Client
You also need to focus on those clients who employ staff with a technical understanding of the issues around the construction process. Smaller organisations will often lack these skills, employing professionals to advise them. The ones to look for will have a large property portfolio and employ a team to manage it. Within that team there will be the main drivers for construction but also the stakeholders; marketing might focus on the image of the organisation while HR will be concerned about employee health and productivity. These are all people who can indirectly influence product selection.
A good tool to help focus your thinking about how to engage with the Client’s decision makers is a persona. The persona is a generic image of the person you want to target. It places them in the context of their organisation, defines their likely professional memberships, highlights their challenges, identifies the communication channels they use and even lists likely key words they would use when searching Google. You can use the persona to help frame the content of your blog articles, CPD seminars and other communications.
Competitive Advantage have developed a Client Persona which is available for you to purchase and download.
Promoting your company and building products with Barbour Product Search can help to increase your visibility to the full specification audience. Email [email protected] for more information.
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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 Marketings Construction Industry Group.
Understanding Specification Influencers: The Client
Guest post provided by Chris Ashworth