Embrace the New Paradigm
Everything has changed in the past two months. COVID 19 has brought the economy to a halting stop, but what’s more it has ushered in the beginnings of a new paradigm shift. For at least the next twelve months, in-person appointments will not be as numerous, trade shows will be next to non-existent, and sales presentations have moved to a virtual setting. As a BPM you have two choices: wait until things get back to normal or take advantage of the new temporary normal.
Now is the time to plan and take control of the confusion in the marketplace. Many of your competitors will be deciding to take a wait and see approach. This strategy will give you an opportunity to rapidly gain mindshare among the architectural community - a position from which you will be poised to take market share. Projects are getting back online and many more will be in the works. What’s happening in the economy is very short term. Money is cheap right now, the government is negotiating an infrastructure spending bill, and residential inventory is scarce. All of which is a pretty good signal that people, government, and companies will be building and architects will be specifying. This presents a spectacular opportunity for proactive BPM companies who have taken the current business adversities and turned them into opportunities.
The sales environment is different, so think differently. For example, the 2020 AIA Conference was canceled and will not be rescheduled. For many companies this tradeshow accounts for the majority of their architect marketing plan and budget. Companies can’t wait until 2021 and hope attendance will be normal, nor can they just assume that the playing field among competitors will be level. If this scenario applies to you, be different. Think about the specific architects (the individuals themselves, not the firms) that attend the shows. Are they the professionals that are actually even writing specs to begin with? Probably not. Dig in, smile, dial, and build the one-to-one relationships between the specifiers and your products. Pick a geographic area you want to concentrate on and call the architect firms in that region. Data mine their information, and use this collected information as a catalyst to not only send your information directly to them, but remain in frequent contact.
Don’t want to make the calls, or don’t have the bandwidth? Hire someone or a company to make the calls for you. Creating a one-to-one portal between the architects and your product/brand is essential for future growth, and in today's market, stagnation simply isn’t an option.
Be even more clever. Webinar “lunch and learn” participation has never been greater. But that doesn’t mean it’s without cons. Although much more cost effective, virtual presentations just aren’t as effective as in-person lunch and learns at producing project opportunities; it’s nearly impossible to read the room, keeping participants' attention away from texts, emails, and other distractions is impractical. As BPM companies jump to provide accredited webinars and architects take advantage of easy credits, be clever. Embrace the webinar format while understanding it’s pitfalls. Offer a $5-$10 gift card to Starbucks, for example, for participation in lieu of not being able to actually provide lunch. In addition to email, make sure you get the participants’ mailing addresses so that you can follow-up with a handwritten thank you letter, complete with your business card. Wait approximately two weeks and mail or email them product information. In essence, use the webinar lunch and learn format as a starting point and a basis from which to follow-up with more than just a canned email response.
Whether your traditional marketing strategy includes trade shows, lunch and learns, or another form of sales/marketing that has been dramatically impacted, don't lose hope. Simply reflect upon what has worked for your company in the past and tweak it for the current situation. But think in terms of the abstract. Why has something worked for you in the past and how can you replicate a process that produces similar results? As horrible as COVID19 has been to our population’s health and the economy, it gives us a chance to re-evaluate the what, why, and how of our marketing/sales strategies.