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Effective content marketing to architects and specifiers

September 25, 2019
Content Marketing

Effective content marketing to architects and specifiers – indeed anyone associated with the construction process – is about recognising who needs what information, and when. If you’re a construction industry product manufacturer then here are some tips on getting it right.

Make it interesting (read: relevant)

‘Interesting’ is itself an ambigious concept. A specifier researching exterior wall insulation will find U-values interesting. Maybe not as holiday reading, but… The architect designing an extension may focus on the aesthetic implications of EWI. The person contracted to fit the panels will want to know about packaging and special fixings. Interesting copy is therefore simply relevant copy. And relevant will differ from one person or discipline to the next.

While it’s a simple enough concept, that isn’t always what happens in practice. In a busy marketing department it’s all too easy for information to be rehashed. Brochure copy gets cut and pasted into the company website. Website copy is re-worked as a press release. And the press release is then handed to the sales team, who use it in emails. As editor of the RIBA CPD Showcase I see it all the time. Because let’s face it, writing fresh copy is time-consuming.

Good content is always clear. It invariably uses shorts words and sentences (not because the reader is stupid, but because they’re busy), and it’s always relevant. Together, that equates to interesting.

So my second piece of advice is:

Write with a specific audience in mind

Construction industry projects, in particular, tend to involve several individuals or groups in the decision-making process. Depending on the size of the project the lead architect may rely on junior colleagues to conduct initial product research. Clients and engineers may be invited to have their say. Contractors will influence product choice where performance specifications are involved. Your content marketing strategy must engage with them all – individually.

Think of it in terms of lots of different people embarking on lots of different journeys, but all converging on one point. In every case it starts with you supplying each one with the right information, gaining credibility and building trust, before finally converting them into a sale. What we mean by the ‘right information’ and ‘sale’ may differ according to the role of the group or individual, but the process remains the same.

Have a plan

A content plan should include a list of all your on- and offline content assets matched against a list of those likely to make use of them, and the various stages in the decision-making (buying) process. Inevitably, there will be some cross-over: CAD documents and BIM objects, for example, could be of potential interest to both architect and contractor – but at the design stage for the former and on-site for the latter. A content plan such as the simplified one below, will quickly help show up the gaps in your content. Your content plan will include far more groups than this.

 

Architect Quantity surveyor Contractor /
Site manager
Shortlist Specify Research Specify Buy Use
Product brochure
Data sheets
CAD documents
BIM objects
Specification text
Delivery / packaging details
CPD seminars
Case studies
Price lists

Table 1: Content marketing to architects and specifiers: a content plan will reveal the gaps in your content asset inventory.

The plan will also help you to keep information fresh. Prospects and customers will reward your leadership in keeping up to date with the latest developments by returning to your websites and your material again and again, and by recommending it to others.

Don’t get waylaid by page rank

Let’s imagine two websites. Site A is ranked #1 for a specialist roofing material and attracts 1,000 visitors a week. Website B is ranked #10 and attracts only 500 visitors a week. If site A converts one in four visitors into orders that equates to 250 sales. But if B converts two out of three visitors that’s 333 orders – a third more again. In that scenario is page rank more important, or rate of conversion?

Good content answers questions, is specific, and addresses the reader based on where they are in the specification process. It also uses language appropriate to the task in hand. Effective content marketing to architects and specifiers is about managing all of those conversations with a view to improving their overall rate of conversion. So getting found easily (i.e. being ranked highly) is undeniably still a major consideration when creating content. It just isn’t the be-all and end-all.

From roar to well done

Sometimes the traditional sales pitch is the most appropriate information you can serve visitors. Often however, the role of content should be to make it easy for them to gather the data they need. That way, they can feel they’re making their own decisions. This is where content writers must work hand in glove with web developers and marketing strategists. Writers must produce relevant and engaging content, which the online team must ensure can be easily found. But because it’s sometimes just too impractical, cumbersome or plain difficult to deliver different types of information to a diverse audience using a single platform, it falls to the marketing strategists to take the overview. They must ensure that the right message is delivered to the correct audience using the most appropriate marketing channel.

Effective content doesn’t have to be online content

Content can be delivered in many ways. Understanding how and where buyers and influencers are likely to react positively to your information is key to maximising its impact. Only you can determine this.  Common sense is the best starting point, but testing is the most practical route long term. Remember ‘the journey’.

Theory put into practice

As we’ve discovered, effective content marketing to architects and specifiers is about being relevant. Relevant to the task in hand, to its timing, and to the individual. Construction industry websites such as ribaproductselector.com not only embrace the notion of different professionals needing different information at different times but extend it logically to provide benefit to both end-users and advertisers. Technical pages include specification text, RIBA-assessed CPD materials, data sheets, downloadable brochures and CAD documents. All information is categorised (using CISfB classifications) and cross-referenced. This ensures that it can easily be found by users and search engines alike. As a consequence, ribaproductselector.com attracts over 220,000 unique visitors each month.

 

Author Andy Sivell is the editor of the RIBA CPD Showcase

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