Posted on November 14th, 2019 by David Yovich
Recently, Cre8tive Logic conducted a comprehensive study, Uncovering the Secrets to Architect Specification, in order to better understand what motivates and influences architects to specify specific products or brands. What we found was at first surprising, but reinforces that old adage, “the more things change the more they stay the same.”
In general, trade magazines have remained relevant even though marketers have decreased or eliminated their placement buys within them. We know that trade journals remain highly relevant because they are seen as a valuable resource in the minds of the architects Cre8tive Logic polled. In fact, over 60% responded that they read trade magazines on a frequent basis. Additionally, 29% of the respondents answered that physical trade advertising was the most influential tool to raise awareness and interest in a product that they are unfamiliar with. This is in comparison to the survey’s findings that Online Advertising (including from trade publications), Social Media, and Sweets / ARCAT was seen as influential by only 4% of the respondents. Here, the power of trade magazine print advertising is undeniable. How much money do marketers spend on the above three channels while completely ignoring the importance and power of print advertising?
In today’s atmosphere of information overload, the number one argument against print advertising is the percived inability to track ROI, response rates, and receive near immediate feedback. Years ago publications had a small response card people could fill out and send back for more information on a specific advertiser. This practice is out-of-date and tends to produce irrelevant results. I am not advocating that marketers should build an entire marketing campaign around print advertising, but rather they should use it as a vehicle in an overall campaign message that employs several channels to communicate. For example, develop a landing page on the website promoting a specific concept or product and drive your target market to the landing page using a healthy mix of both digital and non-digital vehicles. By employing this simple tactic marketers can track website visitors and correlate the numbers to the specific mix of advertising vehicles that are being implemented within a given timeframe.
Direct mailers have been viewed as a marketing faux pas for the last 20 years. Since the dawn of direct email campaigns and their relative ultra low-cost of implementation, the mindset of spending the extra money to actually print, then physically mail a marketing piece only to have it end up unopened in a garbage can is absurd. But this is an argument rooted in outdated data and marketing bias. In 2006, email campaigns produced an average click-through rate of 7.3%, while direct mailers averaged a miniscule 1.7% response rate (Source: Direct Marketing Association) . Data proved that any company continuing to rely on direct mail and not embracing email campaigns was being foolish. Fast forward to 2019; email campaigns to prospect lists (not house lists) produce an average of 1% click-through (Source: Direct Marketing Association). This is a drastic decline since 2006, but it makes sense. Close to 270 billion emails are sent each day (Source: Statista). With a population of 7.5 billion people that equates to each person in the world receiving 36 emails per day. Realistically, when you subtract babies, elderly, and areas of the third world lacking communications infastructure, each of us receives 107 emails a day.
That’s a lot of noise to compete with. On the other hand, the average person receives only two pieces of mail per day. Adding to that point, the volume of actual mail being sent has declined roughly 30% since 2006. That’s a whole lot less noise and trending downward. It’s easy to see that in 2018 direct mailing campaigns produced an average 5% response rate to prospect lists.
It’s truly time for marketers to set aside their biases and embrace direct mailing campaigns. Because of the added expense, execute direct mail intelligently. Develop a media schedule that has elements of both email and direct mail. Plan out a monthly “Project Profile” dedicated to focusing on one project to educate architects on how your product is employed in the market, then each quarter take the projects that you referenced in the emails and send out a direct mailer that showcases each of the three projects again. This tactic reintroduces and reinforces your messaging, making sure your product remains top-of-mind.
Another smart implementation for direct mail campaigns is to work with the sales force to implement a system where once initial contact with an architect occurs it will automatically trigger sending a package of company information, including a letter of introduction, business card, and product literature. It is important that the salespeople not be bogged down with the responsibility to send this information, but rather the marketing department should implement a protocol and in-turn require that the salesforce adheres to it. This allows marketing to capture valuable information, such as email and street addresses for use in future campaigns.
Brochures, sell sheets, catalogs have a purpose, but need to be redefined within the marketing mix. It’s no longer necessary for companies to spend a small fortune on developing a comprehensive product catalog containing each product, technical data, and specifications. Such an effort is simply wasted time, money, and resources, especially when technical data, product offerings, and specifications change every few years (and perhaps months in some industries) ultimately rendering the printed catalog obsolete. Instead of worrying about fitting everything into a comprehensive literature piece, try to work in concert with how architects will consume your information and how you can take advantage of the nimbleness websites yield.
Architects will consume your literature for two distinct and specific reasons: To learn more about your company and overall product mix, or to learn more about a specific product in order to determine if it fits a particular application. Design and implement your literature to conform to their purpose and develop two distinct literature strategies. Instead of a product catalog, think of designing a product showcase. Architects are constantly looking for inspiration, help inspire them through your product installations. Develop an Idea Book that showcases your different products in use, and be sure to work in or highlight specific products used throughout the installation, but avoid wasting space with technical details and specifications. Also, be obsessive about focusing on imagery. Cre8tive Logic found that 35% of the architects polled said that photographs of the product in use was a top key influencer when they were researching products to use on a given project. Try to limit the page count, focus on product families as opposed to individual products. Embrace unique printing techniques, whether it’s metallic foil inlay, matte paper with a gloss-clear varnish that provides contrast, or even just a unique size. Embrace something that will allow you to stand out and add a dimension of design. This piece of literature represents the quality of your product and could lead the architect down the road to specification.
Depending upon your portfolio of products, develop individual or product family sell sheets. They can and should be the vehicle to reference and communicate technical specifications. An astonishing 45% of architects responded to technical data as one of the most influential pieces of information when deciding to specify a product. Sell sheets are a great asset because they can be available as a printable PDF, costs to print are typically relatively low, and if a technical change occurs sell sheets are less expensive and easier to update. Sell sheets are also a great resource for your sales force to reference when conducting lunch and learns, product sample drop offs, and trade shows.
When marketing historians look back at this time period it will look alot like when radio advertising disrupted newspapers, and how television redefined all three genres of advertising. As marketers we have a tendency to jump at the next shining object and if it has some semblance of success we go all in, especially if we gather data that supports ROI. Many times that ROI is measured in clicks and not cash. Moving forward it’s important to understand that generating revenue is the only ROI that matters and to achieve that, marketers need to compliment the sales force with tools that provide sales ready leads or meathods that help faciliate the sales process. If we as marketers do our jobs correctly, we develop an all-encompassing marketing mix that utilizes various communication vehicles to introduce, reintroduce, and reinforce our brand, specific products, and messaging across multiple platforms. In the next 10 years, successful marketers will learn how to balance each vehicle, just like the marketers in the 1950’s learned how to find balance between newspaper, radio, and television advertising.