Imagine you are a designer, an architect or a facility manager – it really doesn’t matter which you are or whether you’re designing a residence, hotel, spa or commercial office. The challenges are the same.
You walk in and sit down at your desk.
You turn on your computer to begin your day.
3,205 products are yet to be specified.
From the floor underlayment to the furnishings right on up to the architectural ceiling lights and above, nothing can be left out. Nothing unplanned or overlooked.
The approved budget is specific and in this economic climate, it is expected to be adhered to.
You take your specification list, your floorplan, the budget and the approved mood boards. There were 7 items on the mood boards that were approved immediately.
The rest have to be specified. And don’t forget that each and every product needs to meet 5 distinct parameters:
- Design style
- Quality and/or project use application
- Lead time
Yes, each and every product and service must meet these five parameters.
While you just completed a gorgeous West Indies style project, this project is Mid-Century Modern. Hmmm… you have about 20 brands/providers you can use. The rest you have to start researching from scratch. And you have limited time to do it.
Do you think you have hours to wade through thousands of search results (most from consumer & retail websites) for all of these products and services necessary to complete your project?
Try it yourself – go to your favorite search engine and search for your products (not just by the keyword you bought, but other descriptive words that designers might enter looking for your product).
If you want to get specified by design professionals, you’ve first got to help them find your products.
And don’t think brands with tons of brand equity don’t have this problem – it is even more important for them – they forget that there is no way their clients can memorize their entire catalog so they miss out on all of the other product specification.
So how do you do it? How do you get your products in front of professional buyers?
Online: Get your brand, products & services everywhere your market is. If you are targeting design & architectural professionals, get on TODL and then get on every online design directory that is appropriate to your company (if you don’t know what directories are out there, ask TODL for a list).
Traditional Marketing: Take your products to trade shows whenever you can and have professional ads placed in trade magazines. If your budget is too tight, combine resources with a complimentary brand and share expenses. And if you do go this route, for goodness’ sakes, hire a professional to assist in creation of the ad or booth. There is nothing worse than an ad with blurry product images or a booth with skirted tables at a high-end design trade show.
Representatives: If you have reps, ensure they actually go out and visit with design professionals in their territory regularly (not just wait for orders to magically arrive). Survey a few designers that are in proximity to your reps or showrooms and ask them how they are being taken care of. While there are so many amazing reps in our industry, I never cease to be amazed at how so many showrooms’ and reps’ snobby attitudes ruin sales for amazing companies.
Print: Send promotional pieces regularly. If you can’t afford a catalog (or don’t want to waste resources printing them), then send brochures or postcards. Just send something (beautiful) in the mail. There is something to the ability to hold and look at a marketing piece. Yes, technology is making everything instant, but technology is not who you are marketing to – you are marketing to a live person. Again (and I hate to belabor the point, but you’d be amazed at what I see in the industry), hire a professional. Color copying an image of the most beautiful hand-carved, exotic wood table in the world will land nowhere but in the trash. Likewise, a skimpy brochure with bad registration lines loses its life before it ever has the chance to begin.
Networking: Connect up with the Association that best serves your market and get involved. And check out marketing costs with your association – local association newsletters sometimes run ads that cost only a few hundred dollars and market locally!
The bottom line is that you need to get your product and services in front of decision makers regularly (both existing customers as well as potential).
Get everywhere you can. Don’t limit yourself on being seen. Don’t listen to snooty people who tell you where you should and shouldn’t market. I’ve watched several companies with the most beautiful, high-end, gorgeous products go out of business because they wouldn’t market their product. They stuck to previous ‘tried and true’ thought processes that no longer work in today’s world.
It’s like automotive advertisements. I was amazed at how many automotive ads were running on TV and the radio when I was actually looking for a car. But when I wasn’t looking, I didn’t really notice their regularity or message.
It’s the same with your product. You might have the most gorgeous French Country Settee I’ve ever seen. It has no matter for me today if I’m working on a Minimalist design project.
But give me 6 months and a new client and I’ll be frantically searching for your product to no avail. So make sure I and other design professionals can find you. Not just once or twice, but all the time.