There are a number of tools at the disposal of the construction marketer, with some marketing tools relatively unique to construction. In this article we explore how the construction marketer can develop their strategy, using a range of tools, to influence building product selection. In other words, develop an effective specification strategy.

Gaining construction market insight

A great way of informing your specification strategy is through market research. Research is the key for benchmarking and measuring your efforts, keeping your strategy on track for delivering success.

In the first instance it is important to gain insight into the marketplace, not just via industry forecasts but by understanding the influences on the construction market and through feedback from your customers and potential customers.

This fact gathering enables you to base your strategy on reality, solving client problems.

It allows you to truly know the drivers behind building product selection and understand the influences on the purchasing decision process within construction markets.

Research also provides a benchmark for your efforts. It is important to conduct this before and after a major campaign, for example, so you can gauge results.

We recently conducted a series of research, to inform a campaign delivered by Prysmian Group. There efforts were rewarded with a win at the 2018 Construction Marketing Awards.

Read the case study: A strategic campaign, informed by our research, scoops top award

Developing a communications strategy for construction markets

As a construction product manufacturer it is often hard to know where to start when trying to market your product, or offers such as CPD technical seminars, to specifiers.

The delivery of a construction project involves many different decision makers. Often this group of people are brought together for one project and then disbanded when the project is complete. Developing construction personas is one technique to get further insight into your target market.

Understanding each stage of the construction supply chain and the role of marketing in influencing specification is also key. This is where knowledge of the market sector and contract types can be useful. As the nature of the relationship between the members of the project team will depend on the type of contract used (Traditional, Design & Build or Management Contracting). Also important is to know what type of projects your key contacts tend to work on.

Once you truly understand the construction product specifier you can start to build a communications plan that meets their requirements, providing solutions to their challenges.

The internet is the starting point for most specifiers looking for product information; search engines, publications, social media, product directories and manufacturer websites all provide input. Despite an increased choice of online information sources, our very own Construction Media Index research shows that construction manufacturers’ websites are still the principal gateway for engagement. Construction decision makers also value direct contact at the right time, with the option to email, call and talk with manufacturers.

Read the case study: Using research to understand how best to communicate with specifiers

Facilitating the specification process

This is where we cover the sales and marketing tools that are relatively unique to construction. Specification Documents, technical literature and CPD are all valuable when it comes to influencing specification.

Well written specification documents are a very important tool in the sales and marketing of construction products. Developing standard specification clauses provides a means of saving the specifier time, enabling easy inclusion and ensuring that a construction product is correctly described to the architect or engineer’s original intention.

With thought, these can also be written to minimise the opportunity for specifications to be switched by including the product features which deliver the benefits you are promoting.

Find out more about writing specification documents for your construction product

An effective means of engagement, which allows you to explain the features and benefits of your products, is Continuing Professional Development or CPD. It provides an opportunity for the manufacturer to engage directly with specifiers, although an overt sales pitch is a definite no.

CPD is certainly a great way to present the expertise of your staff and position them as Trusted Advisors.

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.

Read the case study: Enhancing CPD presentation material to optimise leads

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. Enquiries can be supported with the provision of technical literature and product samples.

Technical literature provides fact-based information about your construction product; It allows the specifier and those is the construction team to understand your product and how it will work for their design.

All these sales and marketing tools are there to make it easier for the architect or engineer to specify. Utilising these sales and marketing tools means the specifier can easily source all of the information they need to select and specify your products.

Read the case study: Developing a specification sales approach

Conclusion:

Here at Competitive Advantage we can help you with many aspects, when developing specification strategy. In fact, we specialise in helping building product manufacturers to be more effective at getting their products specified.

Offering more than construction market research, we can work with you to inform and develop your strategy, with a range of sales and marketing tools all designed to help you effectively influence specification.

Further guidance:

A How To Guide for Market Research in the Construction Industry
Review of your construction CPD material

Writing specification documents for your construction product

Further reading:

Our popular toolkit series consist of a number of short datasheets. These datasheets act as handy reference guides for the construction marketer, covering the marketing tools best suited for construction markets.

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