We recently published an article on “The Architect Persona”, outlining a number of typical characteristics for manufacturers to bear in mind as they get to know their target market. Putting yourselves in the shoes of your clients remains a valuable undertaking in 2018, but have you ever considered the truths that architects don’t share with you?
Here are a few secrets that architects might not always admit to. Learn these traits to better understand your target audience, and adapt your marketing and sales strategies accordingly.
1. Architects attend lunch-and-learns for the lunch, not the learning
The truth is that many architecture firms accept lunch-and-learns as part of a required CPD (continuing professional development) program, and the architects sitting around the table are not primed to be sold to. You might put on a mean spread, but don’t be fooled into thinking this will automatically result in leads!
The problem lies in the specificity of building-products and their use for architects. Learning about an individual manufacturers’ building-product and its applications will only be relevant to a small fraction of architects that are currently working on a project where that product might be a good fit. For the rest, the materials will go into their firm’s reference library, the notes will go into a file, and the insightful presentation you gave will be forgotten by many.
This means that the ROI for lunch-and-learns — all of which involve costs for travel, material samples, printed product literature, not to mention the lunch itself — is questionable. Instead, reallocate resources to position your brand online, and be there when architects need you most — at the exact moment they are compiling specifications for a project.
2. Architects never leave enough time for specification
Time. As anyone in the construction industry knows, it’s the one thing none of us have enough of, and this couldn’t be more true for architects. While we like to think of ourselves as a thoroughly organized, professional bunch, leaving certain tasks — include specification — to the last minute is always a risk. I personally contributed on a project that involved staying in the office until midnight on consecutive nights collating specification documents before a client deadline.
Bearing this in mind, manufacturers that react swiftly to architects’ queries on the Architizer platform are typically rewarded with a much better response rate, capturing lucrative leads before their competitors.
3. Architects are scared of the unknown
Ok, not all architects — but research has shown that at least 41% of design professionals are categorized as “conservative” when it comes to specifying building-products. This refers to a group of architects who are typically older (over 55) and tend to stick with the same products and brands that they know.
What does this mean for building-product manufacturers? It means that, for brands that secure a first commission and leave architects happy, there are great opportunities for repeat business. Prove yourself reliable and communicative, and you should have architects returning to select your product again for future projects.
4. Architects value convenience as much as innovation
Following on from the above point, it’s not just peace-of-mind that architects gain from selecting similar products from tried and trusted brands — it’s also convenience. If architects have prior knowledge of your building-products from a previous commission, they are more likely to gravitate towards yours again when the right opportunity presents itself.
The convenience factor goes beyond aesthetics to practical considerations. Is your product known to be easy for contractors to install? Do you have a regular supply of materials and short lead times? All these points could play to your advantage as an architect makes their decision. If you can offer them all the information they need to make a specifying decision, they are more likely to “bookmark” you on Architizer and reach out to you time and again.
5. Architects hate trade shows
Ok, “hate” may be a strong word — but trade shows are far from the most exhilarating experience for many professionals, who often attend for CEU credits rather than building-product research. As Julia Ingalls pointed out on Archinect, “Many architects knock out all of their requirements at once by attending lectures at the annual AIA national convention.” The trouble is, when that is the primary reason that architects attend a trade show, they end up spending the majority of their time in seminars and then drinking at the bar afterward.
So, what’s the alternative? Joe Sullivan, founder of industrial marketing agency Gorilla 76, asserts that websites compare favorably to trade shows for generating sales opportunities. By his estimates, companies can save approximately 60 percent on cost-per-lead by prioritizing an online strategy over trade shows. Ultimately, success comes when you go where the customers are — in this case, that’s the web.
Architects are discerning professionals, and each has her or his own way of approaching the challenge of material selection. However, the above secrets point to some characteristics that are more commonly found among architects than you might think. They might not admit to the truth about lunch-and-learns, but let’s just put it this way … your lunches are delicious.
Keep asking your clients questions, listen to their gripes and put yourself in their shoes — over time, you will learn exactly what makes architects tick. Then, your brand can provide them with what they need, and become an indispensable resource for them.