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This is a random question for your community here, but I just wanted to get some advise from people who are in the business.
My family owns and operates a quartzite stone quarry in Nevada. We are a smaller operation, but have been in business for nearly 20 years now. We do our own marketing in-house. We feel that getting more exposure to architects would be a positive thing for growing our business and customer base. As of right now we are a wholesale operation, selling to stone suppliers primarily in the western states, though we do have a few customers scattered throughout the rest of the country. For anyone interested, our website is:
My question is in trying to market to architects, where do you think the best place to start is? Is there a list of firms somewhere that we could send mailers to? Best magazine or publication?
Also, are there types of architects who would be most likely to use our product? If so, is there a way to sort them out from all the others?
Any advise would be helpful at this point!
Mt. Moriah Stone
OK, well, I'll start, though I haven't spec'd stone in many years and others here will have a more current take on the spec'ing process for large projects in large offices.
When I needed specific products for large projects the most important factors were 1. what does it look like and 2. how does it perform. Your website has a lovely gallery of projects, so good job there. The performance question for me always came to needing help with technical advice and details. Which usually means a point technical person who I can call with questions, who will look over my details and advise, who knows their product inside out and can REALLY give solid information about how it needs to be installed, treated, and maintained.
So, this often means getting face to face contact - going to firms and giving Lunch-n-Learn presentations, for example, so the office knows the product and knows that YOU are a resource for knowledge on how to use the product well.
I don't know how that approach can work for you especially if you're trying to be national, but that's my experience. A knowledgeable product rep who can walk me through the detailing, keep track of delivery, cost, etc. AND knows my name when I call about my project is an enormously attractive reason to use a particular product.
An architect will do anything for a free sammich.
Do you not have a few field reps that go office to office 'updating' designer's sample library? You remember the names of designers and strike up a conversation with them at each visit. "What's in the works?". Next thing you know you just landed your product in their project. Happens all the time. Especially with stone, which is one of the more subjective materials in our palettes.
Also, since you grow only quartz, you need a catchy slogan. "Quartzite, the granite for the other 99% of us!".
Great website btw. Much better than what I usually expect from a stone farmer.
You can find lists of architects by state/city/zip etc on the AIA website.
With your type of product, I don't think there is a specific type of architect or firm that would specify your product. Thus, I might suggest looking into specific areas to market and promote your products. Try browsing local firm websites and determine who is using similar products. Contact them and see if they would like to include your product literature (binder, cd, etc) in their product library. You can always follow up later with a lunch and learn or a meeting with some of the project architects.
I would follow the same path for magazines: browse magazines for similar product ads or that feature projects that utilize similar products etc.
I agree with Donna. Performance, aesthetics and technical insight are some of the first things I will look for when specifying a product. For example, does it have the required slip coefficient, do you carry the color I'm looking for and can someone help me with detailing and performance questions. I've had some very in-depth and lengthy conversations with technicians. It usually involves multiple phone conversations to get all of my questions and concerns answered. By the end, we are often old friends! ;)
Hello, we are a similar company to the one above (stone manufacturer with quarries) and have been involved in projects globally but are new to jumping into the arena of marketing to architects. A couple of questions: 1.) As that is such a competitive arena is there any benefit to targeting the subcontractors, masons and installers, or is that a waste of time as the product is specified long before it gets to them? 2.) Do you have advice as to a website design which is attractive and useful to architects and specifiers. 3.) What materials are most important to provide in the a firms product library about our products? 4.) what questions would you say are key in asking architects to truly understand their needs in your product area? 5.) and finally, what are the biggest mistakes a manufacturer can make when calling on architects and trying to get products specified? Your input and knowledge would be much appreciated.
Think your website is one of the best I’ve seen in the category, just need to figure out how to get architects to look at it. I’d start with 250-500 color postcards and get some AIA Directory’s…a lot of AIA chapters have allied memberships and you would get one if you joined or if you’re friendly with some architects ask to borrow theirs…wouldn’t discriminate based on rank, it’s branding and should be a broadcast mailing with your web address clearly displayed. This is cheap to do, it’s DIY and expandable and easy to measure results with Google Analytics…they’re either looking or not, you need to test that first.
Wouldn’t get wrapped up yet in “reps” and lunches…how long does it take to explain a rock? Plenty of time to expand the program. You’re initially selling an esthetic and that’s done visually…get them looking then they will contact you…you already know what to do when that happens, just be helpful as hell. First comes sales, then comes science.
Finally – Where in the hell is your phone number and email? It shouldn’t be buried in “directions”…don’t make people dig for that…if you’re heading this up yourself put your personal name, your cell & email (one that you can one-click) prominently in each section of your site…first contacts in sales are impulsive, you have to respond….the one thing about architects is that they don’t chase people.