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How to Get Specified by Architects

Learn how to get specified by architects, without getting value engineered out before the job is complete.

June 18th, 2019



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Aaron Pine joins the show to discuss how building material manufacturers can market to architects to get specified while strengthening existing relationships.

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The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insight on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

In this episode, Zach and Beth talk to Aaron Pine, Principal at Construction Specifications, Inc., about not only how to get into architects’ specifications but to stay in them as well.


Aaron Pine and Construction Specifications, Inc.

Construction Specifications, Inc. is a technology company that assists architects in developing their specifications. Aaron and his team document what architects will provide to contractors to install in buildings, including both interiors and exteriors. This information helps contractors bid the project out to subcontractors, making Aaron an expert when it comes to handling all the various players in the industry.

Having written specification for more than $10 billion of public and private construction projects across the globe, Construction Specifications has contributed to high-profile projects such as the

World Trade Center Memorial, the New York Times Tower, the Radio City Music Hall renovation and 80% of the theater renovations on 42nd Street. Aaron and his team also work on residential projects like high-end homes and multifamily projects across the U.S. and abroad.

While most countries use the same three-part CSI format as we do in the U.S., some European countries use different standards. Regardless of location, 95% of Aaron’s clients are architects, with a small percentage devoted to helping developers establish guidelines or manufacturers prepare guide specifications.

What You Should be Doing to Get Specified by More Architects

According to Aaron, one of the biggest mistakes made by manufacturers today is not having enough people on the ground. While more and more manufacturers are pulling sales staff back, it can be damaging to your name recognition in the industry.

Discover more about Architects: Download the Architect Marketing & Research Report to get deeper insights into who they are and what they want from building materials companies.

Even with a strong website and an accessible customer service phone number, these resources don’t account for the local aspects of construction that are forever changing. No two job sites are alike, so it’s important to have a technical rep come to the site or office to give a recommendation based on the specific details of the job.

043 Architect Specifying

While it is difficult for a rep to get into a busy architectural firm, Aaron says you’re doing your company a disservice if you don’t work consistently to keep your product in front. Not only does this allow for continuity in managing the relationship, but it also helps to mitigate the risk of losing to a competitor who has a better support system in place.

Manufacturer reps are important to the industry because they provide a way to get information quickly and effectively to architects and contractors. You can’t get job-specific information simply by calling an 800-number.

If you meet a specifications writer, Aaron recommends asking which of their clients would be beneficial to see. Not only is that a warmer lead of architects who are in need of a product like yours, using that writer’s name also gives you a personal recommendation.

It may be difficult to get meetings with architects, but it’s important that you continue to try instead of relying solely on your website. Your site is trying to be a resource for everybody; it doesn’t provide the intricacies that are important for a single architect’s project.

Documenting Required Information for Specifications

Manufacturers need to document and provide information for required standards within a specification. If you don’t, you’re at risk of being removed from the spec completely. This could be anything from demonstrating compliance on green standards, manufacturing location criteria or even a certain number of years of experience. All of these things need to be substantiated in order to be specified.

Another tip is to be transparent with architects on cost and availability. If you give a quote that is hugely different from your competitors, your potential customer is going to be suspicious. Be upfront about how much the product material itself will cost, since labor varies drastically based on the building location. Material costs, on the other hand, should be relatively similar, with the possible exception of shipping.

Staying in Front of Architects

043 Architect Specification Drawing

Even if you manufacture a product that doesn’t sound exciting to architects, it’s still important to try and get your differentiators in front of them. Drywall, for example, may not seem like an innovative product category, but there has been plenty of interesting progress with features like using recycled products or offering mold resistant components.

How do you get this information out to busy architects? First, you need to keep your name in front of people. Having a website presence is important, but it isn’t enough by itself. Even if you can’t get in the door with an architect, you can call or email them to familiarize them with your brand.

In fact, email is great because there’s a record so they can go back and look up your information when they need a product that you sell.

Enhancing Your Published Specs

Most manufacturers’ guide specs are in PDF form, which makes it difficult for specs writers to easily excerpt them in each project’s specific format.

Another helpful feature would be nomenclature within the guide specs with information on how to make necessary decisions between two of your products, such as advantages or disadvantages of selecting certain features. Making these decisions is also when the spec writer will most likely reach out to the sales rep who can explain when to use which product. After all, architects and spec writers still view the manufacturer as the expert.

Spec writers also appreciate websites that directly offer the name and phone number of the job site’s local rep, whether by entering a location or viewing a map with the appropriate contact information. This is hugely important in removing barriers to more information for potential clients.

Finally, it’s important to have representation at multiple levels. You need to have reps in touch with the contractor, in addition to the architect, because, ultimately, the contractor is the one buying out the job. They need to know the advantages and disadvantages of your product so you need to stay one step ahead and talk directly to the contractor. This helps to circumvent any conversations of why they shouldn't include your product in the project.

Want to continue the conversation with Aaron? You can reach him at 732-970-0700 ext. 701 or by email at [email protected].

Have questions or want to talk about how best to market to architects? Check out our free report on Marketing to Architects. Or send us an email with your questions at [email protected].

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