Understanding your customers is essential to good business. In this blog we explore how to position your company, and your team as the Trusted Advisor to the construction specifier. We also take a look at what sales and marketing tools to use, when supporting the construction decision maker with their specification.
A Trusted Advisor: Someone the construction specifier trusts to provide sound and reliable advice.
You need to seek to understand how your customers select their products, what they have used before and how they source product information. This level of knowledge will allow you to position yourselves as the Trusted Advisor. There are a number of ways to gain this insight, customer research being the most obvious. This direct approach allows you to tailor the information you gather to directly inform your strategy. As a side line it can also raise brand profile, demonstrating the importance you place on customer opinion.
There are other ways to gain customer insight, although less direct. You can gather and analyse information gained by your technical support team and/or frontline sales staff. Desk research can also provide input, from standard reports such as the Construction Media Index or Offsite Manufacturers Report. Social media for example, not only allows you to communicate, it also allows you to listen, learning of the design challenges specifiers face. Forums, LinkedIn discussions and even live events all provide an opportunity to gather a broad picture of the challenges faced by your customer base. These methods though provide more circumstantial evidence rather than the first-hand detail direct research delivers.
Also important is to know what type of projects your key contacts tend to work on. As this will provide guidance as to the structure of the supply chain, and the level of influence each specifier has at each stage of the project. Understanding the legislation that can be influence by your products is also important. This level of industry knowledge allows you to understand further the challenges faced by those that make up the construction project team.
Gathering this level of information about the market place and the decision makers involved can truly inform your strategy. Allowing you to position your company as a design partner who understands their issues, a team that helps solve design challenges and assists specifiers in creating quality buildings. This level of knowledge can be applied to how you market your products, demonstrating that your product can help the specifier in what they are trying to achieve.
When developing strategy perhaps consider creating a marketing persona for each key decision maker in your customer base. This allows you to fully explore the challenges faced by them and tailor your sales and marketing accordingly. Competitive Advantage have a number of construction persona templates to help with this.
This level of knowledge can then help to inform the detail behind a number of marketing tools. For example: the topics of your CPD seminars. CPD seminars are a proactive way to introduce your company and demonstrate technical competence. CPD can help form greater brand trust and can put you in front of the specifier when they most need product advice. Remember a CPD seminar requires more than good design. It needs well thought out substance.
Case studies are also a great way of demonstrating the value of your product and the design solutions they can help achieve. The case study can be presented as part of a CPD, but also be used in further marketing channels, on your website, social media and via PR.
Technical advice is the key reason why a specifier will pursue a relationship with a construction product manufacturer. An in-house technical advice service is a great way to encourage enquiries and build the manufacturer’s reputation. Options to achieve this are via technical advisor appointments, a technical telephone support line or online chat support, dependent on your resource. But ensure your technical team understand they are part of the sales function and the price of technical advice is to provide you with details of their project.
Enquiries can be supported with the provision of product samples. Supporting specifiers with samples is an opportunity to build the relationship as well as following up a potential sale. A request for a sample is an indication that the product is being considered for a project. A second request may mean that it is being put forward for approval.
Importantly providing standard specification clauses provide a means of saving the specifier time and ensuring that your product is correctly described. This service smooths the process of specification, supporting the specifier in their choice. With thought these can also be written to minimise the opportunity for specifications to be switched.
These marketing tools put your team in a good position to provide valuable, useful advice, at the right time. Being approachable and placing your team as Trusted Advisors is another a key element of developing an effective specification strategy. With any strong relationship it is important to be there, to continue to listen and understand. Remember to keep pace with market change, to have processes in place to gather market intelligence on a regular basis. To then feed this back into your sales and marketing strategy, so that you can maintain competitive advantage.