It is always good to ask customers for feedback. I asked Ed Davis, President of Ceilume, and here is what he posted on my LinkedIn page.
"Working with Michael Chusid as an architectural product marketing consultant has been a revelation for our company, and will certainly be the same for yours if you choose to engage his services.

His depth of knowledge and innate inquisitiveness will, in short order, have him telling you things about your product that you probably haven’t thought of, and finding potential marketing strategies and market niches that you have not considered. You hire a consultant to tell you things you don’t know, to augment your strengths, and to expand your thinking. Mr. Chusid will do all that and more.

Expect some assumptions you hold dear to be challenged. Expect established patterns of thought and procedure to be disrupted, in a good way. Expect Michael to function as a dedicated member of your staff, not as an outsider. Never one to shoot from the hip, his advice, when given, will always be thoughtful and insightful. Whether or not you choose to follow it, understand that it is carefully considered, and worth your careful consideration.

If you are looking for a “yes person” to confirm what you are already doing, Michael is most likely not your man. If you are looking for someone to help take your product or your business to the next level, Michael is the guy to get you there."

Write about what you know.

Many individuals in building product sales develop significant expertise in their product category. If you have expertise, why not write something and get it published. Becoming a published author can do wonders for your reputation and open the door to new business, job offers, and consulting opportunities.

An example of someone doing this is Scott Tobias, a colleague whom I know through CSI. He is the author of the recently published tome, Illustrated Guide to Door Hardware: Design, Specification, Selection.
Scott was with a major architectural hardware company for over a decade and had risen to the office of Vice President of Architectural Development. He recently joined an independent consulting practice, however. While he will do well on the basis of existing relationships he has within the industry, increased recognition as, literally, the person that wrote the book gives him enhanced visibility, authority, and prestige among an expanded number of prospects.

Here is the publisher's statement about the book:
Illustrated Guide to Door Hardware: Design, Specification, Selection is the only book of its kind to compile all the relevant information regarding design, specifications, crafting, and reviewing shop drawings for door openings in one easy-to-access place. Content is presented consistently across chapters so professionals can find what they need quickly and reliably, and the book is illustrated with charts, photographs, and architectural details to more easily and meaningfully convey key information. Organized according to industry standards, each chapter focuses on a component of the door opening or door hardware and provides all options available, complete with everything professionals need to know about that component.

When designing, specifying, creating, and reviewing shop drawings for door openings, there are many elements to consider: physical items, such as the door, frame, and hanging devices; the opening's function; local codes and standards related to fire, life safety, and accessibility; aesthetics; quality and longevity versus cost; hardware cycle tests; security considerations; and electrified hardware requirements, to name a few. Until now, there hasn't been a single resource for this information.
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., April 2015, 464 page, ISBN: 978-1-118-11261-8

Cultivating Experts

According to a recent editorial by David Barista, editorial director of Building Design + Construction,
The explosion of social media and the “publish everything” culture has turned everyone into brand-builders. In the AEC market, it’s hard to find a firm that isn’t taking steps to promote their knowledge leaders, whether through authoring blogs and books, speaking engagements, webinars, social media, or video.
They’re all chasing the Holy Grail of professional services: to become known as the expert and go-to resource for clients and prospects in a given market or niche. The prize, of course, is more work and a chance at higher profit margins, as market leaders are more likely to command higher fees.
While David is discussing professional services, the principle extends to building product manufacturers. Building product companies that are perceived to have expertise are perceived as having better quality products. The expertise can rest in the company as a whole, but that is often generated by the perceived expertise of a key staff member.
One of the services I provide my clients is to make them look like experts.

Most of my clients are already experts in their field. But without being visible to potential buyers, architects, and purchasing influencers, few would notice.

I turn the spotlight on clients by using the tools of marketing communication and promotion. This includes writing articles with their byline, getting them invited to speak at industry conferences and helping them shape their presentation, and generating content for their online presence. Using my own expertise in building materials, I know how to craft stories that let my clients' expertise shine on the leading edge of design and construction.

A case in point was my work promoting Engelhard's Metamax brand of High Reactivity Metakaolin. The Fortune 500 company, now part of BASF, was, without a doubt, the expert on the performance of the concrete additive. They did not, however, look like the expert in solving concrete construction problems. I significantly raised their visibility among architects, engineers and contractors through strategically placed articles, involvement with industry technical committees, building an online presence, and getting them quoted as an expert and invited to speak at industry conferences.

The result was not only good for the company, it enhanced the reputation and perceived expertise of the individual managing the business unit, as these press clippings suggest.

One of my current clients put it this way, "Michael, you are an expert at creating expertise."

The explosion of social media and the “publish everything” culture has turned everyone into brand-builders. In the AEC market, it’s hard to find a firm that isn’t taking steps to promote their knowledge leaders, whether through authoring blogs and books, speaking engagements, webinars, social media, or video.
They’re all chasing the Holy Grail of professional services: to become known as the expert and go-to resource for clients and prospects in a given market or niche. The prize, of course, is more work and a chance at higher profit margins, as market leaders are more likely to command higher fees.
- See more at:
The explosion of social media and the “publish everything” culture has turned everyone into brand-builders. In the AEC market, it’s hard to find a firm that isn’t taking steps to promote their knowledge leaders, whether through authoring blogs and books, speaking engagements, webinars, social media, or video.
They’re all chasing the Holy Grail of professional services: to become known as the expert and go-to resource for clients and prospects in a given market or niche. The prize, of course, is more work and a chance at higher profit margins, as market leaders are more likely to command higher fees.
- See more at:
The explosion of social media and the “publish everything” culture has turned everyone into brand-builders. In the AEC market, it’s hard to find a firm that isn’t taking steps to promote their knowledge leaders, whether through authoring blogs and books, speaking engagements, webinars, social media, or video.
They’re all chasing the Holy Grail of professional services: to become known as the expert and go-to resource for clients and prospects in a given market or niche. The prize, of course, is more work and a chance at higher profit margins, as market leaders are more likely to command higher fees.
- See more at:

Article of the Year Award goes to Chusid

An article co-authored by Michael Chusid, RA FCSI CCS has been selected to receive The Construction Specifier Magazine's Article of the Year Award for “Cold-formed Steel Framing Gets Complicated,” the cover story of the magazine's February 2015 issue.

The award is judged on its relevance to the construction industry as a whole, readability, impact, and alignment with the Construction Specifications Institute's (CSI) mission and technical standards and formats. The judges are members of The Construction Specifier Editorial Advisory Board. The articles for consideration are selected from more than a hundred published from July 2014 through June 2015.

Also receiving the award are co-authors Chuck Mears, Ryan Rademacher, and Sheri Carter; they work at Radius Track and Chusid is a consultant to the firm. Radius Track is the leading designer and fabricated of curved and complex cold-formed steel framing and the article is based, in large part, on recent projects by the company.

The award was presented on Friday, October 2 during CONSTRUCT 2015 and the CSI Annual Convention in St. Louis, MO. The following day, Chusid and several co-authors discussed one the projects showcased in the article at a panel discussion titled, "Coordination, Collaboration, and Complexity: Cladding the Port Canaveral Exploration Tower."

Chusid is an innovation and marketing consultant to building product manufacturers and the author of numerous articles on architecture, building products, and construction science. Information on his services is available at,, and LinkedIn.
L to R, Erik Missio - editor of Construction Specifier, Chuck Mears, Michael Chusid, Ryan Rademacher, Eric Tolles - sales director of Construction Specifier.

You could be a speaker
Have something to say?  Tell it to TED. has become one of the most influential channels for effecting change. Most building product manufacturers are so focused on talking to members of the construction industry, that we may not realize the general public may also be interested in our ideas and how our work can inspire others.

The nomination form is at:

Call me if you want help preparing your nomination.

Pictures First

Most of my clients do not realize how important it is to have good photos of their products.  They should take note of a recent blog post by Nadav Malin president of, describes how the editorial process at architectural magazines is often driven by images. He writes:
This visually interesting project went on the magazine cover (over Malin's objection) even though it has questionable sustainability.
For me, the creative tension between beauty and green performance came to a head in 2006, when I began working with the staff of Architectural Record on their new magazine: GreenSource...

As GreenSource’s executive editor, I was the “technical guy” who could help make sure that we’re talking about sustainability topics in a meaningful and defensible way. I learned a tremendous amount from that team, beginning with the power of using images to tell a story. I had always been a words-and-data kind of guy, so when I saw how they developed a story by leading with the visuals, it really blew my mind. That was quite a shift from the early years of Environmental Building News, when we tended to write an article first, and illustrating it was sometimes just an afterthought.

At GreenSource it went more like this: Here’s the topic, here are the images, here’s how they’ll flow, and, oh, ok, looks like we can fit in about 800 words of copy, so that’s what you get to write.
This thermographic picture of the same project shows how the fins on the building act as radiators to leak energy to exterior. (Image:
Bottom line: get good photos, organize them so they are retrievable, and use them in your marketing.

All Over the Internet

One of my clients depends on online sales -- they have no external sales force and do almost no print advertising. In addition to google ad words and a little bit of online banner advertising, they actively maintain a presence, as individuals and as a company, on:

Google Profile

And these are just the sites I know about.  They also have multiple websites, with urls and landing pages that are distinct for each of their major markets. Keeping their content fresh on all these channels is a full time job for their marketing department.

Apparently it is worth it the effort as their business keeps growing.  How about yours?

Green Apple Day of Service is a Chance to Do Well By Doing Good

The Green Apple Day of Service is an event coming this fall, organized by USGBC, the folks who bring you LEED.  The idea – and it’s a really strong one – is to generate a myriad of volunteer events across the country on that day that will improve the sustainability of schools.  There are many types of events, but most of them are the hands-on, get something done type.

The official website, describes it thus:

“On Sept. 29, 2012, the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council will host the first annual Green Apple Day of Service. For one day, advocates from around the world, including students, teachers,  parents and elected officials, as well as international green building councils, USGBC staff, chapters, member companies and more, will come together in support of healthy, sustainable schools by taking action in their communities. Our vast network of champions will demonstrate the strength and breadth of our movement, leaving a meaningful and lasting local impact.”

This is a great opportunity to make a contribution to the environment and to your community, to contribute and show off your products and let people see how they are used, and to raise awareness of your company’s commitment to the environment.  It will make needed improvement to our schools.  It will help raise our kids' awareness of sustainability issues.  And a lot of people will know about it, including people you want to market to: owners, architects, engineers, and contractors very frequently have kids.   In other words, it's a classic opportunity to do well by doing good.

The Greenapple Day of Service will provide sustainable upgrades to schools
across the US.  Events are already being scheduled.  

Go to the website and get involved.  Now!  Sept. 29 is coming sooner than you think.

There's a webcast about how you can get involved tomorrow, June 14, at 2 PM ET.  You can sign up for it here.

Anecdotal Evidence: Publicity Works

Publicity is a hard thing to track, as we have often noted here, so we like to report the anecdotal evidence that we find.

Recently, we published a 4-part blog post about ten innovative trends in building materials and construction that we think are worth watching.  We also sent out a special edition of our e-newsletter, reporting the 10 trends and linking to the blog.

This is, however, the first edition of our e-newsletter where we have included our editorial contacts on the mailing list.

Why didn't we think of that earlier?  The same morning that the e-newsletter went out, it was picked up and reprinted by Environmental Design and Construction, a major print and digital magazine.

Magazines, both digital and traditional, are hungry for content.  A press release or a contributed article is a great, cost-effective way to tell your story, in depth, to thousands of people who want to read it.

PR opportunity for new products or research

Q. What's better than getting publicity in an architecture magazine?

A. Getting publicity and being identified as an award winner!

You have until April 25 to enter the Architect Magazine's Annual R+D Awards. I especially like this awards program as a place to tease the market with products that are still in the "pre-launch" stage. This gives you valuable exposure early in the product's life, and enables you to include the award in your sales materials for extra credibility.
New technologies are revolutionizing the process and product of architecture. To celebrate advances in building technology, Architect announces the sixth annual R+D Awards. The awards honor innovative materials and systems at every scale—from entire buildings and complexes to HVAC and structural systems to curtainwall and ceiling-panel assemblies to discrete building materials such as wood composites and textiles. The R+D Awards are purposefully open to building technologies of all types, in order to encourage the broadest possible dialogue among architects, engineers, manufacturers, researchers, students, and designers of all disciplines.
Categories include:
→ Prototype Products, materials, and systems that are in the prototyping and testing phase
→ Production Products, materials, and systems that are available for use
→ Application Products, materials, and systems as used in a single architectural project or group of related architectural projects  
The jury will consider new materials, products, and systems as well as unconventional uses of existing materials, products, and systems that have been created since 2009. Entries will be judged for their potential or documented innovation in fabrication, assembly, installation, and performance. All entries will be judged according to their potential to advance the aesthetic, environmental, social, and technological value of architecture.
Even if you don't win the award, nominated products frequently show up later in the year as product news.

Contact Chusid Associates for assistance in putting together a winning entry.

Photos - Unsullied by Humans?

As a general rule (and with notable exceptions), people have not been shown in architectural photos. It now appears we may be on the cusp of a new paradigm where it is becoming fashionable to include humans.
The editor-in-chief of Architectural Record, Cathleen McGuigan, seems to be calling for this in her "Editor's Letter" in the January 2012 issue. Referring to the "giants of post-World War II architectural photography," she says,
"The drama in their photos came from the brilliant use of light and shadow in images of sweeping grandeur or of minute details.... Their photos glorified majestic exteriors and serene interiors, unsullied by human use.

"Yet in keeping with a shift in 21st-century architectural values, where buildings are seen not so much as idealized sculptural objects* but as part of the fabric of places, photography, too, is changing. Documenting architecture is often less pristine these days... photos are alive with the pulse of real places." 
Indeed, the cover photo of the issue, of a school, not only shows students in front of the building, it also shows them reflected in the facade of the building -- becoming part of the architecture. (See photo above.)

While the issue's five articles about museums show few people and then only for visual scale, its several articles about schools are full of students actively using their facilities.

More, some advertisers seem to feel that populating photos in their ads can increase viewer empathy or interest. 

If you are purchasing photographs or photographic services, hedge your bets by getting images with and without people whenever appropriate.

* Who is she fooling about architecture not being about "idealized sculptural objects"? Her magazine is full of architectural sculpture and frequently champions the latest style without regard for practicality or function. But this is not a blog of architectural criticism, so I refrain from further comment.

First, Get Noticed

"Made You Look" isn't just a schoolyard game anymore, it's become a business survival tactic.  The above image, for example, has nothing to do with building products, but a great deal to do with the concept of getting someone's attention.

Publicity is the business of getting attention via existing channels of "news" communication.

Each year as World of Concrete approaches, editors get deluged with emails from exhibitors who are holding press conferences.  The goal of these press conferences is to get editorial coverage (magazine, web, Better Homes & Gardens network, etc.) of your product, so you can get some public or trade attention to it.  But first, you have to get the editor's attention, and get him or her to the press conference.

We have a client holding a press conference at WOC, and wanted to invite editors.  The question was, how to make it stand out from all the other emails inviting editors to press conferences.

We decided a) to be different.  All the others seemed emphasize the company's name and reputation, but give very little info, in fairly small type, about what would be discussed at the press conference.  By contrast, we decided to talk to editors about what they care about: the story.  To an editor, the gift they seek is not the Company, it's the news.  Our invitation screamed that there was news, from the subject line on downwards.  It didn't tell all the news, but it told enough that an editor could be sure there was a solid story to come and collect.  It also mentioned the company bringing this news, the giver of the gift.

We decided b) to be colorful.  In most of the other emails, the only color was the company's logo.  That may be a big ego boost for the company, but it left the rest of the email, including the "news," looking kind of drab.  We stuck in honkin' bright pictures of products and results, not a lot of them, but a selection that was standing-up-and-cheering with color.  Colorful pictures get anyone's attention, but especially an editor who needs colorful pictures to put in the magazine.

Two hours and four minutes after the email went out, we received a response, apologizing for having to miss the press conference, but asking to set up an interview instead.  Ahhhhhhhh!

Today's communication environment is extraordinarily competitive.  It's an invitation to be creative.  Of course, you shouldn't do irrelevant stuff - such as the above image - when you could just as well offer up your real story in a creative way that gets attention, and proves that your story is attention-worthy.  And it's fun to play Made You Look.

Run Over by a Cement Truck
I had a personal demonstration of the value of safety training in the construction materials industry.

I was standing at the curb of an intersection, preparing to cross. While there were no signs or stop light at the intersection, State law requires drivers to yield to pedestrians. Yet a dozen vehicles careened past me, oblivious to my safety.

It was the driver of a ready-mix concrete* truck that stopped. I heard squeals as the heavily loaded truck's brakes were applied.  I waved to the driver, and crossed.

Safety training had paid off. Again.

The driver's industry association stresses the importance of safety, and I am certain his/her employer does as well. The driver was undoubtably under pressure to deliver the load on time, but know that "one traffic fatality can ruin an otherwise good day."

Construction is one of the most dangerous industries. As part of the public relations services Chusid Associates provides clients, we create contingency plans for dealing with the aftermath of tragedies. The process encourages our clients to review operations -- in their plants, on the road, and on the jobsite -- to identify potential exposures and take preventative actions, including ongoing training programs.

It is the responsibility of all of us to be vigilant for safety.

* Despite the vernacular expression, the trucks with the rotating drums haul "concrete," not "cement."

Another Score for Publicity

As we’ve noted before, the real impact of publicity is notoriously hard to track and quantify.  With more and more publicity exposure taking place via the web – exposure that often remains available and searchable for far longer than most print media ever did – it’s harder than ever to know who’s reading what, and what percentage of them act on what they read.

Anecdotal evidence continues to come in, though, saying, “Publicity works.”  The latest installment:

Michael Chusid recently wrote an article in a major architectural magazine about an advanced materials conference he attended.  In it, he mentioned a company that made a presentation, a company that specializes in digital fabrication and has done a lot of work with resin composites.  They weren’t the focus of the article, just one of many things described.

A few weeks after the article appeared – I was going to say “in print,” but with simultaneous web distribution of most magazines, print has become merely the tip of the iceberg ­– the president of the company received a call from one of the largest and most prestigious architectural firms in the world.  They requested him to come and do a presentation to them.   That kind of request was the bullseye on his marketing strategy target. 

Of course, this was only shortly after publication.  Who knows how many more such inquiries he may get from that one mention, over the next few years? The shelf life of articles on the web has become pretty much Forever, and unlike the advertising, they show up in search engines.  We have had numerous inquiries recently, responding to articles we authored for clients two or three years ago.

TOUT, new video Social Media channel, perfect for building products manufacturers

Tout is  new Twitter-like communications channel for VIDEO.  15 second messages.  Today, I saw about a dozen short clips, apparently from an architect showing the contractor (or owner?) things that needed to be fixed on the project.

This could be a great way for a building products manufacturer to offer brief tips and ticks, and more important, to handle tech support inquiries.  Open a channel.  Print your TOUT tag on all your product packaging, so your customers will know how to reach you.   Use you existing outreach channels - including your packaging - to encourage customers to put their issues on short videos and send them, so you can monitor the channel and provide answers.  A quick visual demo may be enough to resolve the issue.  Or else, you can answer by telling the person to call you directly for a detailed discussion.  It puts correct information out into the Toutosphere (which is small now, but could easily go big) and shows that you're there for your customers all the time.

Naturally,  this means you have to have someone monitoring Tout for you - either someone in house, or your outside PR agency perhaps.  Social Media is about being engaged, after all.

World of Concrete Press Conferences

Press Conference reservations at World of Concrete have been opened up.  (  If you'll be at World of Concrete with a new product, or you have product news, a press conference is a great way to get a little publicity.  In past years, we have helped clients set up press conferences, prepare powerpoints, and alert magazine editors about the conference, and usually seen 2-5 stories get into print as a direct result.  A press conference can be one of the great publicity bargains.

Carbon Neutral Shipping

Did you know that UPS can calculate the carbon footprint of of your shipment, so you can buy carbon offsets to neutralize the environmental impact of your shipping?

TRI-KES, recently implemented a program to do just that with 31,000 sample shipments.  (see their website)  They are a distributor of interior finishes, so samples are a big deal.  They claim to be the first company in the architecture and interior design industry to do this.

We hope there will be more.

Fearless Publicity

They say that even bad publicity is good publicity.  Nonetheless, few companies paying for PR want to go telling uncomplimentary stories about themselves.

On the other hand, the story of a problem, and how to fix it, can make compelling reading. It takes a little courage to admit that there could ever, possibly be a problem in any way connected with your peerless product. But everyone knows problems happen, and the details of how they can be overcome are valuable information. That's 'news you can use.'

We recently wrote up a case study about a concrete coloring project where the color – made with our client's product – came out wrong. A skillful contractor fixed it - again using our client's product. The product does not seem to have been at fault - some damaging agent apparently leaked onto the slab - but it was still a gutsy move to tell the story. And the president of the company is quoted extensively, so it's obvious when reading the article that the manufacturer is 'on board' with telling this tale.

Many business people would have turned off the whole notion of telling about it, without considering the value. It's a reaction to negativity that's like an allergy. They think, what possible good can I do my product by associating it with failure?

So what is the positive value?

- Contractors learn how they can address problems
- Architects and specifiers learn that the product is versatile and problems can be resolved
- The manufacturer displays honesty
- The manufacturer's involvement and support of applicators is demonstrated
- The manufacturer shows that he's not afraid of the truth, because the product is good and worthy of his faith

What's more, readers in this industry will understand and appreciate the fearlessness of it.  The story is more compelling, more memorable, because it's obviously not the usual marketing sunshine.

When seeking publicity, consider sharing your troubles (and solutions) with the world. It might come out better than you think.