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Marketing to specifiers

Wayne McMaster

4 September 2015

Marketing. It can be a tricky word. But we all have to do it. Suppliers do it to high-end interior product makers, high-end makers do it to the specifiers—interior designers and architects, they do it to developers and developers do it to the end users. It never ends – ultimately we all have something to sell and therefore we have to tell people about it.

Without exaggeration, most specifiers probably receive about 20 pieces of marketing through the post every week. 90% of this goes straight into recycling, not even read… so how can we avoid that?

Let’s start with the DON’Ts

The first no-no is trying to sell to specifiers all your stock in one go. Desigers and architects never think to themselves when specifying: “I need a new door handle, I’ll go to my library of 3000 product catalogues and look for one.” If you send them a large glossy magazine with different style taps — chances are it’s going into recycling. It is not feasible for them to keep everything and if it’s big and bulky, they probably won’t.

Don’t start your covering letters with “To whom it may concern” or “Dear Sirs”. If you haven’t gone to the effort to target them personally, why would they bother to read your letter?

If I doesn’t see “Dear Wayne” I know immediately it’s a blanket ‘catch all’ circular and probably of little use, so you can guess where it goes straight into.

Now you may be thinking “I don’t have time to work out the name of every director, designer and architect in every company” and I understand that, because we often think the same. However someone once explained this to me with a simple question. Would you rather have 50% of 100 people read your marketing material or 5% of 1000?

And now the DOs

First one, and it’s probably the single most important, simplest and cheapest. Include your business card. Many would argue that changes in technology mean business cards are declining. However, many of your prospects are of an age that still have card holders packed full of suppliers that they still revert to when we need something.

There is something to be said about the tactile experience of a beautifully considered, printed business card. After all the value of materials used in many interiors projects and the overall fees involved with high-end specified projects mean that every touch-point is a valued experience; each touch-point an opportunity to instill your values in the mind of the prospect.

Secondly, if you are going to send something, make it easy and worthwhile keeping. Many design professionals and specifiers have A4 lever arch files where they keep 'stuff' that has piqued their interest. It’s likely to be their scrap book of 'stuff' that might come in handy, so take advantage of this knowledge. Include swatches, maybe small samples, good details, perhaps specification details – information that they'll need — not large photos of existing projects — they be able to get a fuller picture of case studies via your website.

Thirdly, beyond product litertaure, consider the aspirations and postion of your prospect, if a gift or other leave-behind is going to stand the test of time, and be favoured, or better still given pride of place on their desk: be brave and considered in the both the quality of the keep-sake, its idea and its execution.

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