Building product manufacturers aim to have products included in new and renovation construction projects. There are multiple paths to being specified, with various professionals involved. During the design phase of a project, products may be selected by an architect, engineer, design team, or specifier. Once a project goes out to bid, contractors may seek product substitutions. Building owners may also have product preferences. The digital landscape we now operate in has changed how products are specified, and how to get your product information in front of the right people. This article will discuss some of the shortcomings of traditional marketing as compared to digital marketing, how to reach the right audience with the appropriate design information, and how this impacts how products are selected and specified.

Weaknesses of a Traditional Path for Reaching AEC Professionals

Building product manufacturers may opt for a traditional marketing path for reaching professionals in hopes of getting products specified, but there are limits to the ability to efficiently communicate product information to the deciding parties. For example, you may be able to reach tens of thousands of subscribers of a niche trade magazine with a full-page advertisement. However, a single full-page ad costs thousands of dollars, and of the tens of thousands of subscribers of a niche trade publication, how many subscribers are actual readers of the magazine? In most cases, trade publications are free to professionals in an industry, and these subscribers may have been subscribed through association memberships rather than actual interest in reading the magazine. How many of those readers saw your ad? How many of those that saw your ad are specifiers or make product decisions? And of those people, how many of them are actively working on a project for which your product may be considered? Once your ad is placed, the means for understanding the reach of your ad is very limited, and repeat advertising in these publications is needed to make any sort of impression.

Trade shows are a traditional marketing avenue building product manufacturers often explore for reaching the architectural community. While trade shows have some of the pitfalls of traditional marketing approaches for being specified, there are modernized elements of shows that can help get your products specified. For example, leads can be tracked using scanning devices available at trade shows. At a trade show, direct face-to-face interactions do not leave manufacturers wondering if their message has reached the right audience. However, many of the professionals at trade shows are not there to make product purchase decisions. Rather their objective may be to attend continuing education courses to keep their architectural licenses up to date.

Modern Digital Approaches for Reaching AEC Professionals

The modern digital landscape provides avenues for building product manufacturers to get the right product information to the right audience at the right time. If your aim is to get your products specified into projects, the right product information is key. Different participants on a project will have different priorities about what information is needed. The essential design information for all projects includes 3-Part Specifications and CAD drawings. Many firms and projects now also require BIM. Design professionals may seek the benefits offered by SketchUp models. Making these files easily accessible to the AEC community and ensuring they are usable and of high quality is key to being specified.

High-quality design files that are optimized for architects give manufacturers a means to communicate with architects, engineers, and designers about their products in a way that is valuable to a design team during the design process. Making these files available online and trackable through a platform such as a Microsite gives manufacturers an advantage over their competitors when it comes to being specified. Design files not only communicate information about products, but they can also serve to save time during the design phase of a project. Design teams can face tight deadlines, and the time and effort spent creating design documents can be onerous. This creates an opportunity for building manufacturers. For example, 3-Part Specifications are required for construction projects, however, writing specifications requires an enormous amount of time. Having these documents easily available for download for a manufacturer’s products can make a difference for the specifier selecting products. Likewise, more and more projects require BIM and this requirement is only going to become more prevalent over time. Manufacturers with quality BIM models for their products provide designers with not only a time savings by having that model available for download, but also enhance the transfer of product knowledge to the designer due to the data in that BIM model.

Actively specifying design professionals look for product information in various places online such as on the website. CADdetails captures the attention of design professionals when they are seeking products to include in their projects. They are not casually browsing a magazine or attending a show or conference rife with distractions, but rather designers visit with a specific design purpose in mind and are able to access design files for a large range of products. The time savings for a designer using a central location for accessing files can be significant, and participating manufacturers reap the benefits by being able to be specified, and by having access to analytics that contain valuable information about the interactions designers have with their products. The transparency of this activity creates a chasm between traditional marketing, and the targeted approaches now available to manufacturers.

If you are a building or landscape product manufacturer that wants to have your products specified by design professionals, reach out to us at CADdetails to learn more about what we can do to develop and promote your design files, while providing you with detailed tracking as we connect actively specifying designers with your products.

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