Marketing and communicating to all decision makers and influencers within the specification process is critical for getting your product or service specified.
Each profession that has an influence on a building specification have their own buying journeys and individual requirements for project success.
And trying to communicate to all roles and responsibilities with the same message and same strategy will result in failure.
The ever-changing role as a specifier
Specifiers can cover a wide range of disciplines. Usually, it can be consolidated to architects, main contractors, and sub-contractors.
The specification dynamic is ever changing, in years gone by architects specified the lion’s share of products via the traditional build process. Whilst today the process is multi-faceted, incorporating several professions and processes to create a building specification.
The architect develops the buildings’ design, taking the client’s brief and combining it with the advice of the specialist consultants. This is then developed to meet the requirements of relevant Building Regulations and sustainability criteria.
Architects have significant involvement in product selection. According to NBS’ What Specifiers Want Report (2023):
- 35% of architectural specifiers write a descriptive specification and leave the choice of manufacturer to the specialist sub-contractor.
- 35% work collaboratively with the building product manufacturer’s technical team.
- 24% create the specification based on the information from the building product manufacturer.
- 6% have other processes of specification.
The architect has the potential to act as the node between the client, main contractor, specialist contractor, and many others to ensure the right products are selected and installed correctly.
Generally, architects are influencers but don’t make the final decision with regards to product selection.
The Contractor oversees and manages the construction of the building for the Client, following the Architect and Engineers’ designs.
The work is delivered under a contractual agreement. The Main Contractor will select Sub-contractors based on their capability, availability, and price.
If a project is Design & Build or PF2, the Contractor will be directing the engineer and architect’s product selection. They will have inhouse decision makers interpreting the client’s needs and briefing the specifiers.
The main contractor often acts as a decision maker regarding product selection, whether they are a supply chain manager or a site manager
Sub-Contractors can be anything from an individual self-employed person e.g. a brick worker carrying out work for a building contractor – to a large national organisation.
There are three main types of Sub-Contractor:
- Domestic Sub-Contractor: A Sub-Contractor selected and appointed by the Main Contractor.
- Nominated Sub-Contractor: A Sub-Contractor selected by the Client to carry out an element of the works.
- Named Sub-Contractor: A Sub-Contractor for a particular package selected from a list of acceptable Sub-Contractors provided by the Client.
The majority of specialist sub-contractors now post better margins than main contractors, underlining how much strength specialist sub-contractor businesses have today. One potential game-changer is the fact that clients are increasingly engaging directly with tier two suppliers, bypassing tier one contractors altogether.
Sub-contractors can be a decision maker in the product specification process.
Why should you communicate with all decision makers in the specification process
As we have identified, design and construction professionals have different responsibilities and ambitions within a build project.
As a result they will have different pain points and different takes on what they are looking for from a product manufacturer.
In the early days in specification of researching options and specifying detailed design, architects and developers work with the main contractor (and potentially other consultants) to find solutions that work to build the development that investors have bought into and that planners have approved.
Many architects will specify a particular brand’s solutions that they are familiar with. If they are not familiar with a product, this is where it is your chance to influence their specification (more on this in the next section).
At the tendering stage, this can be where main contractors engage with product manufacturers for support, helping pre-empt issues and providing guidance. If their needs are not met by a certain manufacturer, they will carry out their own research, which again is your opportunity to communicate to and start to engage meaningful conversations.
The next stage of ordering is where sub-contractors get involved, and again if they are let down by a manufacturer or if they have been tasked by the architect or main contractor to source their own products, here is your chance to communicate with a decision maker.
How do you communicate with influencers and decision makers within the specification process?
It is important at this stage to realise that even though targeting each role at different stages of specification may require a range of different marketing tactics, the ultimate goal is to build trust and authority with your marketing.
Trust and authority are key elements that can make or break your chances of being specified. Like any industry, trust is a major barrier to a sale. And is the difference between a successful specification or not.
By building trust and authority, you not only increase the likelihood of being specified in projects but also create long-term relationships with clients, specifiers, and other industry professionals.
A strong reputation for trust and authority can differentiate your business from competitors and increase your chances of being specified in future projects.
Two factors in your marketing armoury will determine if specifiers trust your brand. They are quality and consistency.
Firstly, the message you communicate to architects, main contractors or sub-contractors has to be relevant.
Think about your audience’s pain points. So what problems do architects face during product specification? This is generally around technical information and regulatory reassurance from manufacturers.
If you can solve these problems for architects, you position your brand over your competitors.
Also, it is worth mentioning here that many product manufacturers promote their products with inward communications, “Here’s our latest product” or “Our product has X, Y, and Z features.”
Instead, focus on the needs of the specifier “How can we help you achieve the required aesthetic and functional performance for your project?”
Consistently working towards your marketing goals and consistently spreading your message in the marketplace, builds trust in your audience.
You are telling your audience and prospective clients that you are reliable, and not only that but you are being crystal clear in how you can benefit your audience.
Some of the most successful businesses within construction or interiors, in getting their products or services specified, are relentlessly consistent.
So consistency is crucial if your audience is going to notice you, like you, and trust you enough to buy from you.
Most of your audience isn’t ready to buy.
The goal of marketing and a strong online presence is that when they are ready to buy, your brand is top of their mind.
Time54 can help your business communicate with all decision makers within the specification process
Time54 works with and has helped many product manufacturers and service providers communicate with all decision makers and influencers within the specification process.
We are marketing specialists within the built environment and we know how specifiers work, what influences their choices, and what product failure can mean for their project success.
We understand the specification process in the built environment and the key drivers involved in the decision making process. With this expertise, we are perfectly positioned to help your business grow.
If you are interested in how we can help you increase product specification, get in touch to organise a 30 minute discovery call.