Creating Positive Touchpoints in Building Products Marketing
A touchpoint is defined as any interaction (no matter how trivial) a current or potential customer has with a product or brand.
Traditionally it takes at least 6-8 sales touchpoints just to generate an initial meeting with a prospect. However, selling to architects is not traditional by any definition, because architects don’t buy, rather they serve as the gatekeepers, the influencers who determine whether your product will be bought.
Touchpoints can be either positive or negative. For example, if an Architect learns about your product at a local AIA mixer from a colleague who had a bad experience on a project, that would be considered a negative touchpoint. However, if that same Architect notices a project that they really liked using your product, that would be an example of creating a positive touchpoint. Positive and negative touchpoints don’t automatically cancel out each other, but rather form a complete picture of brand identity in the mind of an architect. It’s important for companies to control touchpoints to the best of their abilities in order to generate as many positive touchpoints as possible.
For a variety of factors, it’s difficult to pinpoint the number of touchpoints that are necessary to gain architect acceptance and specification, given the rather circuitous communications process throughout initial product concept or introduction and ultimately arriving at specification. As a result, companies have taken a reactive marketing/sales approach. Some companies feel their product has enjoyed enough market penetration and are confident that architects will continue to specify. Others believe architects will actively search for a new product so they concentrate on creating adwords campaigns and SEO tactics. While some hope that the “Lunch and Learn” event from nine months ago had enough of an impact that the architects who were present have been actively searching for a project to specify your product. None of the aforementioned strategies are entirely wrong, but they are very incomplete. Each one has a grain of truth, but does not take enough of an active role in creating touchpoints. The goal for any Sales/Marketing department should be to achieve a minimum of 24 created, controlled, and positive touchpoints throughout a one-year cycle. Add direct sales activity like lunch and learns, tradeshows, helping specifiers with specific projects, or any other initiated contact, the possible touchpoints may well exceed 24.
On the surface, 24 touchpoints seems like a daunting figure, but in reality it forces companies to create programs with multiple layers of communication, and by acknowledging, calculating, and planning touchpoints within marketing programs, it forces both discipline and a baseline goal for success. One simple example of creating a program with multiple touchpoints and a measurable goal is a sample kit campaign. As a BPM, your first priority should be getting samples of your product into the hands of architects.
SAMPLE KIT PROGRAM
Touchpoint One: Direct Email Blast to Architects in your lead database offering sample kits
Touchpoint Two: Direct Mailer to Architects in your lead database offering sample kits
Touchpoint Three: Sending and receiving the requested sample kits
Touchpoint Four: Follow-up communication via email, direct mail, and/or phone call
IN THE ABOVE EXAMPLE COMPANIES HAVE TWO TOUCHPOINT GUARANTEES WITH HOPES OF ACHIEVING FOUR TOUCHPOINTS.
In architectural marketing, creating consistently timed touchpoints that add value, inspiration, and professional resources is of the utmost importance for two important factors:
The first is timing. Architects have a variety of projects that come through their office within a twelve-month business cycle. It might be six months before a project is awarded to an architect for which your product is even applicable. Depending upon the size and scope of the project it may be another sixteen months until your product is even purchased. Marketing to architects very rarely has a short-term payoff, but patience and consistency has dramatic effects into and throughout the long-term.
The second is to battle against being written in a specification with an “or equal” association. Consistent messaging coupled with unique project case studies, engineered solutions, or just the ability to build trust in your brand messaging can help to combat the “commondy effect.” Every massage should reinforce you product’s uniqueness. Focus on the unique or key selling points of your product and company and your efforts will go a long way in cementing the idea that “or equal” simply doesn’t apply.
Take a look at your next twelve month marketing plan. Ask yourself if you're being consistent in your architect marketing both from a brand messaging and frequency standpoint? Seek to determine the number of touchpoints you are creating for a single architect on a lead list. If that number is less than 12, evaluate what you can you do to increase the touchpoints to 12, or better yet 24. By simply considering your brand message and frequency, and assessing the number of touchpoints you currently generate against an achievable goal you will unintentionally be creating an executable touchpoint plan.