Reaching Out to Idle Architects, Engineers, and Specifiers
The upturn in construction is coming. Several indicators point in that direction, such as the McGraw Hill-2011 Construction Outlook.
To position your company to take advantage of new business opportunities when they start to arise, now is the time to build the foundation. We previously talked about using business downtime to update your marketing materials (Positioned for the Upturn? 11/30/10), so you’re ready to hit the ground running.
Now consider this: if your business is currently slow enough that you have time to work on your marketing materials, then architects, engineers and specifiers may be similarly slow. If your sales are (or should be) spec-driven, the best time to reach out to design professionals is when they have time on their hands to listen and pay attention.
MAKING DESIGN PROS AWARE OF YOUR PRODUCT
When projects begin to flow, the designer or specifier may not have time to do extensive product research. So now is the time to make your product top-of-mind, while they have time to learn about it.
Design Pros often like to see and feel materials. Sending samples as part of a direct mail campaign can be very effective. Some things can simply be mailed as is – an insulating material or a fastener. Other products will need to be made into something, especially something useful – specialty concrete made into a paperweight with your logo stamped into it, for example. I daily use a small sample of a pervious paving material, set into a little plastic dish. It’s the best condensation-collecting coaster I have ever owned.
Idle designers have time to read, and publicity gives you a great way to tell them your story. Placing articles in design-oriented magazines gives you the space to make your case in detail, and gives that case the credibility of being published as journalistic content. The time to begin this process is right now. Magazines often have a long lead time – 2 months between submission and publication is not uncommon – and some book their articles far earlier than that. To get your story told and into an architect’s hands before the design process begins, it’s never too soon.
Designer professionals, and in particular specifiers, depend on accessible, reliable data. Do your product data sheets contain up to date information? Now is the time to review them. It may be worthwhile to update them to the ProductData Format published by Construction Specifications Canada (available free at: https://secure.spex.ca/siteadmin/freedocuments/images/14.pdf). This is currently the only standardized format for product data sheets. It organizes your information in a way that makes it easy for specifiers to access what they want to know. It also says to design professionals that you understand their needs and speak their language.
Using your downtime to prepare for opportunity is a terrific investment. Indications are that opportunity will soon be on the rise. Be ready.