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Multichannel Marketing to Influence Specification

By Pete Wiezalis

Even in good times, building product manufacturers face a myriad of challenges throughout the specification process. Naturally, during tight economic periods, those driving the sales and marketing efforts for this arm of the industry face an even steeper uphill battle.

Large scale construction projects face numerous obstacles and roadblocks to the sales representatives tasked with gaining product specification. Consider first that projects of all scales are happening simultaneously across the country, making finding the right projects for the product very difficult. Generally, these project timelines span one to two years or longer, making tracking projects very difficult even once they are identified. Lastly, from owners to engineers, architects, and contractors, a host of decision makers are involved in these projects. This makes it difficult to manage the correct messaging, method of communication and timing for each key player.

Many manufacturers subscribe to third-party project news data feeds to partially combat these obstacles. These provide important information on project type, project phases, timelines, involved firms and more. However, more often than not, most manufacturer sales forces underutilize this data, because they are not equipped with the analytics or marketing tools to transform this into actionable information.

Simply put, it takes more than a field sales force to understand and utilize all of this data and successfully market specifiable products. A multichannel marketing process must be implemented to leverage this data to reach the right targets at the right times with the right messages. The first step in this process is to analyze the data in the project news feeds to specifically identify the projects applicable to the manufacturer. Once identified and the associated key players are tracked, a multichannel communication strategy should be executed.

When beginning a multichannel multi-touch campaign, separate messaging should be created for each decision maker in the sales chain. For instance, architects and engineers may need more specific, function-driven content, whereas owners may be motivated by higher level benefit-driven information. This increases relevance, and provides the opportunity for each player to see the information that makes them most likely to choose the manufacturer for that specific product. Likewise, correctly timing these messages to arrive at the time in the cycle when the decision maker has the most influence is important to generating a positive outcome.Further, these efforts shouldn't end once a product has been specified; it is critical to extend the marketing effort to ensure that the spec is held throughout the long project duration. This is especially relevant in the later stages of the project when contractors may make substitutions based on cost or availability. Continued marketing of the product to these constituents can help to ensure that it is ultimately purchased and installed.

When done in a coordinated fashion, data driven multichannel marketing can help a manufacturer gain specification on a given project and hold that spec throughout the entire life cycle. Additionally, a targeted approach to only the right people with the right messages can dramatically lower the overall cost of making the sale, compared to traditional field sales techniques alone. Long term, using multichannel marketing with quality analytics can help to understand how each constituents prefers to learn about products, increasing the likelihood of specification and purchase on future projects - and ultimately providing higher return on marketing investment.

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