This post will discuss how to steer your construction marketing efforts towards architects, with the aim of providing you – as a building product manufacturer – with key insights into what architects are looking for, in order to become a truly invaluable resource.
There’s plenty written on how you should NOT be marketing your building products, systems or components to architects and specifiers.
We shouldn’t call them, email them, visit them, write to them, send them anything in fact, unless they’ve explicitly asked for it.
On the contrary, architects are actively seeking your product knowledge and your technical expertise.
And, if you’re not there when they’re looking, your small window of opportunity – to steer their loyalty away from their usual choice – will have been lost.
Architects Love Technical Experts.
For us, the role of the building product manufacturer in the Architect/Building Product Manufacturer relationship is to educate.
And the simple truth is, we do NEED to be marketing to architects – only using a much more considered approach.
A building product manufacturer’s marketing communications goals are three fold:
- To build credibility.
- To prove capability.
- To earn trust.
In short, to teach, to guide, to provide advice. In other words, to be an “Invaluable Resource”.
Not to sell but to provide the information at a time when they’re looking.
As an example of this, Glazing Vision use technical whitepapers to discuss industry-led topics that they know – through stringent customer research – architects are looking for. These whitepapers, rather than selling a product, focus on making the architect’s job easier by discussing the latest standards and regulations that will impact their role. This may include the latest information on Part Q and Part K, or as outlined below, the assessment of energy efficiency in buildings.
Architects Don’t Know Everything.
Strip them of their Mont Blanc pens, their uber-stylish, monotone roll-necks and dark rimmed specs and you’ll find architects are indeed just human.
Just like you or I – they don’t know everything.
They ask for advice, they seek out information, they listen to their peers and they use the internet.
You won’t (read: shouldn’t) be surprised to find numerous surveys carried out, trotting out stats on the increasing use of social media platforms, mobile devices, online publications, blogs and so on.
And this speaks true for architects as well.
So far research by Cadvantage shows that 90% of professionals in the construction sector – including architects – are active on social media, and this will only continue to grow.
Furthermore, newer social networks that have established themselves in more recent years have been more image based such as Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. 87 percent of users cite Pinterest as the reason for buying a certain product, while 93 percent of Pinners have used the site to plan for a future purchase!
Check out the below GA stats showcasing our client’s construction marketing efforts towards an architectural audience over the past 6 months; Pinterest soars above the rest for bringing traffic through to their website and assisting with goal conversions.
[Click below to enlarge]
This shows that the world of social is morphing in the architect’s favour as they search for specification information and ideas.
Aside from social, architects will also ask questions in online forums, browse product manufacturers websites and Google stuff they don’t know.
I read somewhere that an Architect will only ever deviate from his tried and tested products when he/she’s either a) let down, or b) can’t find the information they’re looking for.
This isn’t some quirky architect anomaly, it’s simply normal behaviour.
And it’s also the building product manufacturer‘s opportunity to apply some clever construction marketing tactics.
Architects Don’t Share Their Details.
Believe me, when an architect needs something they will fill in forms, they will provide project details, they will give you their email address.
In that hour of need, the architect is as amenable to suggestion as a motorway-warrior-salesman at the drive-thru window.
“Would you like fries with that?”… Of course he would. “And a drink… And make it large!”
So, in order to be successful in your online communications with Architects, you might try considering these three key actions:
- Being there when they’re looking – Is my company showing up when Architects are looking: in search engines, on social platforms, on the tip of the tongue of peers.
- Being Authoritative and Invaluable – Is my company providing insightful opinion or an invaluable resource; are Architects using our specification tools time and time again?
- Being Easy To Deal With – Is my company easy to deal with, is my website easy to navigate, are the data sheets at product level, do my calculators work properly?
Let’s delve a little deeper into each of those three…
Be there when they are looking.
It’s not easy, and due to our ever-evolving digital world, as we touched upon in the first section, it’s more important than ever to have a bullet-proof search marketing strategy.
But to be visible online does not necessarily mean to be ‘number 1’ on Google for one or two word search terms.
One or two pages of your website fighting for high-competition, low-conversion keywords such as ‘decking’, or ‘insulation’, is not a search strategy.
Whilst these types of keywords are attractive – they obviously come with high volumes of traffic – the traffic is most likely not as qualified as you’re sales team would like.
Instead try focusing on long tail keywords: these are search phrases with typically 4 or more words searched for by architects who are looking for specific results, such as:
Try writing specific content, focusing on what an architect would typically need help with, such as legislation and regulations, design considerations for a particular product or category, product application guidance and evidence of where a product has been installed in the form of case studies or testimonials.
And by creating content which is specific to what an architect is likely to search for, they’re more likely to click on your search result, consume your content and if it answers their question, more likely to convert into a technical enquiry or sample request or CPD booking – all of which might be top priorities for lead qualification.
Be Authoritative and Invaluable.
In order to be the go-to building product manufacturers, ensure that you’re crystal clear on all the latest regulations; have somebody who is a tech-savvy member of the team proofread your work for any confusing paragraphs or ambiguous phrases.
Be honest about the performance criteria of your product.
And where relevant, provide calculators applicable to the efficiency challenge. As we’ve said, the nirvana is a recommendation from a peer.
“Have you tried this decking coverage calculator – it’s great!”
“I found this product selector tool really useful…”
” I always use this U-value Calculator…”
All of this will build your credibility as a technical expert in the market and that ultimately, you can be trusted with providing invaluable data and the latest, most relevant industry news.
To back this up even further, try providing the architect with further back-up to remove doubt and build reassurance eg. testimonials, case studies, CPD’s and so on.
Be Easy To Deal With.
From a website usability point of view, there’s a huge difference between having useful information on your website and it actually being useful.
If the architect has to stop and think about where your contact details are, or how they can access a piece of information; you’ve failed.
Rather than leading the architect to look elsewhere, try supporting them along their user journey, try second guessing their next move and provide that ‘Next Step’.
You can do this in a number of simple yet effective ways:
Provide a phone number for the technical department on each product page
Provide a clear and simple call back enquiry forms, sample requests, brochure download (and measure the outputs)
Provide easily accessible downloadable white papers but don’t be afraid to ask for details in return (Value for Value)
Provide colour variations, calculators, product comparaison and selector tools, in a format that is easy to work with (and measure their usage)
Follow enquiries as soon as possible
Be listening to further enquiries or queries across social platforms
Remember, regardless of whether you have the information that an architect needs, it is the way you present this that will determine whether an architect remains on your site, comes back to your site again, or looks for the answer elsewhere.
We’re here to support you with your construction marketing needs; if you need an effective user-friendly website that sits at the heart of your business, find out more about what we provide here.
Change your mindset.
You are NOT marketing to ALL architects – only those interested right now, this minute.
Architects worth expending energy on are typically clear on the application where your product will be installed eg. School (classroom), hospital (clean room), office (Above 10 metres) or house (roof pitch) etc.
Try thinking about the questions they’ll likely ask your sales or technical teams upfront – provide answers, don’t hide stuff, be transparent not paranoid – read this post by Su Butcher extract from an Architect below:
Many manufacturers are reluctant to share their digital information, hiding it behind a pay wall that they expect us to pass by giving up email addresses. We don’t like giving our email addresses for product information unless there is a genuine benefit for us, because construction product companies are notorious for spamming us afterwards. So we make up fake email addresses, and curse the extra time it takes us to fill out forms.
And if you take anything away from this blog post, remember the following:
- Architects don’t like to be sold to – unless they have a specific need – then they want everything in the same place.
- Do not make Architects think about usability – be easy to deal with.
- Architects will share their details with you if they trust your guidance and feel the information they’ll be getting is of value to them.
- Think of your content and tools as currency. What is your content worth to an architect who needs it?
Marketing To Architects By Being Invaluable.
To talk to us about your construction marketing strategy give us a call on 01908 671707, or for further tactics on how to enhance your construction marketing, download our Essential Guide for free here.