Media Buys

Marketing Value of MasterSpec

A building product rep addressed a question to specifiers on the LinkedIn CSI group:
I am interested to hear how much MasterSpec is relied upon in creating your specifications. Some of the products I represent are listed in MasterSpec. I am trying to gage the importance of having the products that are not in MasterSpec added to the service.
My reply:

MasterSpec. Buiding System Design, and other subscription specification services affect building product marketing strategy in two ways:

1. Visibility at the "Point of Specification"
For many types of products, product selection is not considered until someone starts writing a spec. If your product is listed in the master specification, it may stimulate someone to include your product in the specification. It can also be considered a type of very targeted advertisement and part of your media buy. The companies you represent should contact the subscription services and "sell" them on including your product in their documents.

1. Can the Subscription Specification Service Present your Product Property?
Subscription specifications have to treat all manufacturers fairly. This makes it difficult for them to include language necessary to specify the unique requirements about your product. More, the subscription specification will also name your competitors and could, in fact, lead your customer to go astray. For these reasons, manufacturers of proprietary products should also consider offering their own guide specification. It will be a valuable part of your product literature and good content for your website.

You can read my posts about guide specifications at Feel free to contact me directly if you want to discuss your unique situtaion.

These presentations from Hanley Wood's recent Foundations conference provide eye-opening research, challenge conventional wisdom, and will give you plenty to think about as you plan your next move:

The New Now: Marketing and Media for Construction
Frank Anton, CEO, Hanley Wood, LLC

Charting the Course of a Nonresidential Construction Recovery
Kermit Baker, Chief Economist, The American Institute of Architects

Housing Hits Bottom
Mark Zandi, Chief Economist, Moody’s Analytics

The Chaos Scenario
Bob Garfield, Editor at Large, “Advertising Age”; Co-host “On the Media” produced by WNYC and distributed by NPR; Author, “The Chaos Scenario”

Hanley Wood Housing 360: Insights Into Home Ownership
Kent W. Colton, President, The Colton Housing Group and Senior Fellow, Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies

Hanley Wood Housing 360: Insights Into Home Ownership Executive Summary
The Colton Housing Group, Kent W. Colton, Ph.D., Gopal Ahluwalia and Jay Shackford

5 Trends in Commercial Design
Ned Cramer, Editorial Director – Commercial Design Group, Hanley Wood, LLC

Residential Design Trends
Boyce Thompson, Editorial Director – Residential New Construction Group, Hanley Wood, LLC

Hot and Not: The Latest Trends in Housing
Jonathan Smoke, Executive Director - Research, Hanley Wood, LLC

PR - Silver Cloud in Recession

Most construction industry publications depend on contributed articles written by building product manufacturers or their PR consultants. The need for contributed work has grown in this Great Recession (what's so great about it?) as publishers have trimmed staff. On top of this, many manufacturers have had to cut back their expenditures for PR.

There is an upside to this downturn. It is easier than ever to place stories in the trade publications.

Publicists usually have to call editors. But in recent weeks, I have gotten calls from an unprecedented number of editors looking for content. They include magazines focused on:
  • Architectural design
  • Specifications
  • Sustainable building
  • Canadian construction
  • Interior construction
  • Structural engineering
  • Concrete repair
  • Jobsite management
  • Hospital construction
PR is surprisingly affordable. 

And wonderfully effective.

I invite you to contact me to discuss how you can take advantage of this boom in editorial opportunities. Call Michael Chusid at +1 818 774 0003.

Another Magazine goes Online Only

Masonry Construction is the latest trade publication to drop its print edition and become online only. This trend has important implications for advertising and PR.

An announcement from its editor explains:
Being nimble and quick on your feet are necessary when business prospects become challenging. As unpleasant as they may be, sometimes changes are necessary. Masonry contractors know this as well as anyone. The publishing environment has been very similar the past couple of years. So we are moving in a different direction and have ceased publishing the print edition of Masonry Construction magazine. But along with this, there is also good news: Masonry Construction will still appear in various electronic formats to keep you up to date about the masonry industry.
No doubt the Great Recession was a factor, but it also reflects changes in how the industry gets its information. Watch for Masonry Construction and others to start publishing for mobile devices that contractors can read in the field.

Ad produced in 72 hours

Sometimes there just is no time.

On Friday morning, I got a call from a client stating that she had just signed a contract to place a full page ad in a major architectural magazine. Then the call from the ad sales rep came, informing me that the press ready ad had to be delivered to the printer no later than Monday morning.
Ad in a hurry. Produced in just 72 hours.
72 hours later, the ad has been designed, approved by the client, and delivered to the publisher.

Many thanks to Stephen Klippenstein, our award winning art director and graphic designer, for giving up his weekend, and to the rest of the Chusid Associates team for pitching in.

GreenWizard - Free Directory Listing

"GreenWizard is the only data-driven marketing solution that brings green building products and green building materials face to face with decision makers in the design and construction community actively engaged in projects."
The basic functionality of GreenWizard is to allow a designer or builder to search for a product by potential LEED credits associated with the product. As an online marketing channel, it provides FREE listings for building product manufacturers. The price is right, and I recommend you take advantage of the offer.
They also have a Pro version that offers more features that may appeal to some manufacturers. For example, once a contractor finds a product that meets the LEED requirements, the contractor can place an order for the material from within GreenWizard. The fee for this service is two percent of the sales price. This makes the website a cost effective "sales rep" for products that can be purchased off-the-shelf.

Like most new products, GreenWizard is still trying to work out kinks in its system. My associate, Vivian Volz, RA CCS LEED-AP reports that the firm was responsive when she called to report a concern.

Contact Michael Chusid if you would like help discussing how to use GreenWizard in your business. Call 818-774-0003 or email

Prospects for AIA Show in 2011

The AIA Show website shows that there are still many unsold booths for their May 2011 gathering in New Orleans.  This means you can still get good booth locations if you decide to exhibit there. But by most accounts, the AIA's show in Miami earlier this year was sparsely attended by architects.

What are the prospects for the upcoming event?
Attendance may be a bit better this year:
  • The economy has begun to turn around a bit, (I hope.)
  • New Orleans is more centrally situated for most of the country.
  • Who wanted to go to Miami in the summer, anyways?
  • I think many architects are curious to see how New Orleans is being rebuilt (at least I am).
Attendance may be up the show has new management -- Hanley Wood. HW's magazine, Architect, will become the official publication of AIA as of January. I suspect Hanley Wood will be pouring lots of resources into building the show this year.

Unfortunately, I don't see that yet. Their website, just six months before the event, is still little more than a place holder saying, "Continue to check back for more details."

Where to spend your marketing budget?
HW has other challenges. When AIA produce the event, it could tap into its members' sense of community. Now, the AIA Convention is at risk of being seen as just another of HW's events for architects. This is a weak position. For example, I don't go to HW's CONSTRUCT trade show because it is a major trade show (it isn't), but because I identify with the Construction Specifications Institute (CSI) community that holds its annual meeting at CONSTRUCT. If CSI relocated its annual meeting to another event, I would follow my tribe.*

HW's architectural show will now have to compete against its other events for architects -- CONSTRUCT and their new virtual trade show, And will architects still traipse half-way across the continent if they can get all their continuing education credits from Hanley Wood University?

Booth prices begin at $4200 for a 10 x 10 ft booth. (Of course, renting space is less than half the cost of exhibiting.) It is unlikely HW will discount prices. Perhaps you will be able to negotiate a frequency discount if you exhibit and advertise in their magazines?

Should you exhibit at AIA or any tradeshow this year? 
The answer is no longer an automatic "yes". You have to look closely at the fundamentals: What do you want to accomplish? Does the show provide the right audience? How can the show leverage the rest of your marketing budget?

Many of my clients have done the math and have budgetted for trade shows in the coming year. For some, it may mean a smaller booth. One the other hand, one of my my clients has a new product launch that will benefit from a live demonstration. They are increasing their trade show participation because it is more economical than sending crews across the country for demos.

Reduced attendance at a show does necessarily mean reduce effectiveness. The World of Concrete (also a HW event) had significantly lower attendance in 2010; but those who came were there to buy and not just for a junket in Vegas.

I still believe trade shows have an important function, even in the digital age. It will be interesting to see what the next few years bring. 

* Prediction: HW will merge the AIA and CONSTRUCT shows into one super-sized event. Let's hope so, it would make for a more rational industry.

New way to reach prospects.

Concept: Pay your prospects to read your email.

Description: Conventional methods of advertising may have a low response rate and go to many unqualified individuals, Instead, you can identify the prospects that interest you the most, and pay them to read your ad.

Background: A new website,, conducts what they call an "Attention Auction." Their site explains:
If you are a busy person? Receive too many messages? Forced to spend a lot of time reading crap but still lose useful information? Sell your attention at auction.

If you want to contact an important or busy person but never had chances to deserve his or her attention. Buy attention at auction. purports to provide a way to contact celebrities. For example, movie star Jim Carrey will read an email from a fan for $2.50. But for just $1.99, you can also bid to buy the attention of Jim Bonenfant whose profile says, "Designer/Architecture residential design/modern commercial design/Gourmet Kitchens and Baths/Real Estate investment." A manufacturer of gourmet kitchen appliances might find this a cost effective way to communicate with Jim, since the charge only occurs if Jim actually reads the email. is in a beta release and is very crude. For example, there is no way to search for an individual by trade or location. But I can imagine an the concept being developed further to provide deep coverage of the A/E/C field.
  • As the database of participants is enriched to indicate the types of projects and level of professional responsibility, the system could become being very targetable. 
  • By including various response options in the email, such as clicking through to your website, you could measure the effectiveness of various copy.
  • Advertisers could develop algorithms to determine which prospects to contact. If you need to reach a star architect, perhaps you would be willing to pay $50 to assure that Zaha Hadid reads your email. But if goal is to support a new sales rep in Peoria, Il, you could bid for professional specifiers in town for $1.50 each.
With current economic conditions, I suspect many designers and builders would be delighted to supplement their incomes by being paid to read your advertising. If the idea catches on, it would lead to the end of spam email blasts; prospects will start ignoring the junk mail once they realize their time is worth something to other advertisers.

Instead of waiting for to attact a critical mass of construction industry people, some smart publisher will figure out how to do this. (If you are inspired, please contact Chusid Associates to help you roll out this new service.)

Watch for further developments.

A Green Virtual Trade Show

A trade show without travel does sound like an environmentally sound idea. Yet can a digital forum, a "virtual trade show," really provide the type of hands-on experience that a trade show provides?

Hanley Wood (HW) proposes to find out. They have partnered with a digital technology group to promote, an "online community and virtual trade show."

The website is clearly advertising driven. That in itself is not a bad thing as most trade shows try to part manufacturers from their money. But can such an online forum really form a "community" of users? USGBC, CSI, AIA, and other organizations already offer real communities. Their online components are adjuncts to committees, chapter meetings, and real trade shows.

Here is an excerpt from an HW press release:

Starting in 2011, the publisher... will provide users with increased access to green building and design resources and top-tier design and building industry experts. “’s on-demand, community-focused platform is a natural extension of our green building information strategy,” adds Peter Goldstone, President of Hanley Wood. “Through this interactive site, we’ll be able to better help others increase their knowledge of environmentally responsible building practices and make well-educated decisions in the marketplace.”

The award-winning site is a resource for architects, builders, remodelers, dealers, code officials, manufacturers and others interested in green building design and construction. It offers quarterly “live” events in an online trade show format that includes expert presenters and exhibitors, bi-weekly webinars on a host of green building topics, on-demand continuing education courses registered with the American Institute of Architects (AIA), and 24/7 interaction on blogs and forums. 
The recession has reduced attendance at real trade shows, and some people wonder whether the large event format can survive. So I can't disparage HW, a large producer of trade shows, from hedging their bets.

Still, I think they would be better off exploring ways to build real online communities, forums that take advantage of the power of the web, rather than creating ersatz versions of trade shows.

PR & Social Media Success Story

Here is a great example of how publicity and social media combine to create market awareness and produce leads.

I monitor the online discussion group on behalf of several clients that are suppliers to this field. The group links artists and artisans from around the world that work at the leading edge of decorative concrete. While the collective buying power for this group is not huge, the members of the group are often at the cutting edge of innovations in concrete.

On July 18, Deborah asked for help:
I know there are issues combining concrete and glass...  I want to set old bottles into bases of concrete. Will I get degradation of the concrete segment that holds the bottle? Is there a additive I can use to eliminate the problem? I do use metakaolin in my mix; will this reduce or cure the issue?
Two days later, Andrew responded:

I found this great article that speaks to the problem and solves it
with metakaolin: They replace up to 20% of their cement with metakaolin when using all kinds and colours of recycled glass in their concrete.
I wrote the article over six years ago -- a reminder of the enduring value of getting published. At the time, I was a consultant to BASF, producers of MetaMax brand High Reactivity Metakaolin (HRM). The article includes a great case study and explains how HRM makes it practical to use glass in concrete mixtures. The article cites my client's brand names and includes a link to their then current website.*

I have now jumped into the conversation. Even though I explained why Deborah would not need metakaolin for her project**, the online discussion was a chance to reiterate the key benefits of metakaolin and point readers towards my client's product.

My contribution will have high credibility among this online community as one of their own has cited my article as a great resource. This word-of-mouth, peer-to-peer communication is an invaluable addition to a building product marketing communication program.

* The link is no longer valid.  Companies should periodically search the internet for obsolete links to their website. I suspect that Precast Solution would revise the link on its website if BASF requested it.

** The short technical explanation is that concrete reacts in a self-destructive manner when exposed to crushed glass. The bottles Deborah wants to do not have enough surface area to create the reaction.

Reed Construction Revived

I welcome the revival of the construction publications of Reed Construction. Having more media channels keeps advertising pricing competitive, allows messages to be targeted more effectively, and creates additional outlets for publicity.

Here's the press release:

Scranton Gillette Communications Partners With MB Media
Construction Titles to Re-launch in September 2010

Scranton Gillette Communications (SGC) has partnered with MB Media to form a limited liability corporation (LLC). This new equity partnership will oversee the construction group brands that MB Media acquired from Reed Business Information (RBI) in May 2010.

The new partnership includes the following print and online properties: Building Design+Construction, Custom Builder, Construction Equipment, Housing Giants, Professional Builder, Professional Remodeler, Construction Bulletin, SpecCheck,,,, and

These properties represent more than 325,000 construction professionals, including contractors, engineers, architects, remodelers, single-family home builders, and equipment managers and owners/developers working in residential, commercial, industrial, institutional, single-family, and multifamily markets.

The construction group properties will continue to be led by MB Media CEO Tony Mancini and MB Media President Rick Blesi. Many key team members also will continue to support these titles following their re-launch in September.

The move also increases the construction portfolio of Scranton Gillette. Its brands include: Water & Wastes Digest, Water Quality Products, Storm Water Solutions, Infrastructure Solutions, Roads & Bridges, Transportation Management + Engineering, Residential Lighting, Hospitality Lighting, and Home Fashion Forecast.

Enhanced Online Magazine Edition

I have yet to see an online edition of a print magazine that is easy to read. Sure, digital editions are useful for retrieving specific articles, but my notebook computer's small screen does not duplicate the experience of being able to see an overall layout of a story and focus in on the text or individual elements.

Still, digital editions continue to increase in circulation, and publishers are finding ways to add features to enhance the experience. For example, Interiors & Sources magazines has announced that:
Beginning in April every print issue will also be accompanied by an enhanced digital edition. Ours is not like other digital editions you might be familiar with. We're pushing the envelope. It will include everything from the print issue, with oodles of additional project photos, product information, and other content to give our readers and your customers the sort of design inspiration they desire. Editorial and advertising can be enhanced with video and rich media content. The reader experience will be enhanced and readers will consume the content in the format of their choosing.
Advertisers and publicists need to take note, and be prepared to offer this additional content when submitting an ad or story.

Continuing Education in Architectural Record

One of my clients recently participated in an Architectural Record multi-sponsor continuing education article. For the same price as a full page ad, my client got the ad, plus a product spotlight, plus 25 percent of the coverage in a themed continuing education article, plus other marketing exposures. The continuing education article remains online for a year, generating prospects. My client has gotten a good response from the program -- over 260 people took the course in the first week alone! Not only a nice number, but a number that represents highly motivated prospects that spent up to an hour of their own time studying your product category. This is in addition to readers that viewed the pages in the magazine and online without registering for credit.

The magazine has several multi-sponsor continuing education courses scheduled in the coming year. I can't guarantee that the deal is still in effect; the magazine was very motivated because they had three buyers already and needed one more. But it is worth asking about.

One final caveat: Architectural Record uses freelance writers to compile the articles. Although the authors do a fine job, they can not be expected to invest the time and energy necessary to fully understand your product and how best to tell your story. Make sure you have your own PR consultant involved in the process to help shape the message.