Bringing Value to How the Industry Operates Now, Not in the Past
It’s important for me to begin by saying how much I love my position at The Blue Book Network. It allows me to leverage over 30 years of one focus: helping building product manufacturers, “BPMs” create winning, data driven, customer focused business strategies. Having worked as a consultant to manufacturers and as a marketing and chief executive for two BPMs before joining The Blue Book Network, I have seen significant changes in our industry that should bring pause and deep reflection to how we approach the market today. It’s important that we bring value to how the industry functions now, not 20 years ago, as many BPMs still do. Lunch and learns, projects leads from the usual suspects, etc. are virtually futile efforts to influence product specifications on individual projects. If your brand is not already known to the specifier, they are not going to change the brands they use. It’s time to morph your strategy!
Here are two areas that have changed:
If your company is not already in an architect’s and/or engineer’s specifications, it is very hard, and in many cases impossible, to get specified. Chasing project leads in the planning stages provided by the various data vendors is a futile approach. A specifier is not going to change their specifications on a project-by-project basis. Architects and engineers are understaffed and the rates that they can charge have eroded, so cutting and pasting specifications from one project to the next is now the norm rather than the exception.
Ways to Grow and Maintain Spec in Today’s Market
Specification writers want your product content, “when they want it.”
- Make sure that your local representative is known by the specification writers in their market. They may not want meet on your terms, but when they need help, they need to know who your rep is and how to reach them.
- Specification writers prefer to access product information from your company website, not Sweets or Arcat. So make sure that your products and spec media are easily accessible, including online continuing education.
- Make sure you’re using a consistent and focused media strategy. A combination of print and online resources is becoming more effective because it’s designed to drive the specifier to the product pages on your website, where they can opt-in to receive more information about your company’s products and services
Specification efforts are time consuming and expensive, yield questionable results, and require infinite dedication. Architects do not get involved in product decisions like they did 30 years ago. The contractor has assumed that role.
2. The more intrusive role of the General Contractors, Subcontractors, and Suppliers in “Final” Product Selection
In today’s marketplace the general contractors, subcontractors, and suppliers are making the final product decisions. The most successful manufacturers that I currently work with have strong “Bid Forward” marketing and sales strategies. The traditional “Design – Bid – Build” process has given way to Integrated Project Delivery and Design Build, placing the contractor in control of lowering costs. Let’s face it, with the increased product testing and certifications required before marketing a building product these days, what really makes one building product that much better than another? Case in point, being a tier one brand specified on a private project is akin to having a virtual target on your back, especially if the last words in the spec are “OR EQUAL.”
Ways to Win in the New Construction Market Landscape
A smart and clear focus on building relationships is crucial within the “Bid Forward” space of the construction process, namely general contractors, subs, and suppliers. In the end, these have always been the folks who send you checks anyway. Architects, engineers and specifiers have never bought a building product. Especially if your product is specified, communications with the bid-forward players is critical to holding spec, because the contractors are looking for ways to cut costs and increase profits, and they are soliciting value-engineered bids from your customers. And if your product is not specified on the project, contractors have more leeway in granting substitutions and alternative bids than ever before. The upside is successful product substitutions often get the attention of the specification writer on future jobs. There are more ways to make money in this business than ever before.
Specification strategies are still important to creating and maintaining a product brand. However, the product specifications are more of a guideline than the product bible was in the ‘good old days.’
The Blue Book Network is more dedicated than ever before to helping manufacturers drive specifiers and buyers to your website through the BPM Select, and our database of bid-forward players is unmatched.
Please feel free to send me your questions and comments.
As Director of Enterprise Marketing Solutions for The Blue Book Network, Doug Bevill specializes in consulting with manufacturers of building products on creating effective, actionable, and quantifiable custom marketing solutions by leveraging the power of The Blue Book Network. With over 100 years as an industry leader connecting people, products, projects and related services, The Blue Book’s extensive network of dealers, distributors, subcontractors, architects, engineers and facilities professionals is the most extensive in the industry.