Going all-in with the design/build community means making them feel welcome with your words, website, and work.
More than paying lip service to architects, designers, builders, and specifiers by, say, throwing a cursory landing page up on your site or doing the occasional social media post, you have to inspire them often and make them feel genuinely welcomed on an ongoing basis. That means you need to build this audience into your marketing efforts from the ground up, not as an afterthought.
Here are three ways integrators can accomplish this. Manufacturers, too, can benefit by taking similar tactics and applying them to their own business models, where appropriate.
1. Do It With Your Words
At KMB, we help clients with messaging for any and all of their various audiences. What is the message you want to convey to the design/build community? Are you speaking their language? Think about their needs and keep it simple: You need to express very clearly how you work well with this community alongside their efforts without overstepping. Reassure them that you are part of the team, understanding and respecting their needs. Reinforce how successful projects in which technology plays a role require working together with trades early on and often throughout the process. It’s also a good idea to discuss how you approach pricing when working with trades. As you become more familiar with this community, you will begin to learn their language and become more familiar with their nomenclature. There can be a big difference in the meaning of words between the integration and design trades. (See “You Say Pot-ay-to, I Say Pot-ah-to” in the August 2021 issue.)
Once you’ve nailed your messaging down, it’s time to broadcast it. That means consistently saying it and saying it loud throughout the course of your existence as a brand. Social media, PR, marketing collateral such as one-sheeters that you can post on your website or email to prospects, presentations you can share, and, of course, your website…
2. Do It With Your Website
Many integrators want to attract the design/build community, yet most don’t even have a place specifically for designers on their websites. Or if they do, they are doing the bare minimum with maybe one page that speaks to this audience across the entire site. Hear me loud and clear: This is not enough. Designers, builders, and architects are a sophisticated group of people, and they know the difference between an integrator who has tacked them on as an afterthought and one who means it! You need to serve up content to consistently feed this audience if you want to attract and retain them. More than a landing page, consider a microsite that would have a URL that looks something like design.yourbrandhere.com. Throw some web-dev dollars at it so you can create a sticky experience that will have them spending more time on your site, getting to know you while doing great things for your SEO. Attract them with image galleries and photos that meet their high standards, blogs that speak to their pain points directly, and examples of your work (i.e., case studies), as described below.
3. Do It With Your Work
Showing work that features your trade partners is essential. Take a cue from folks like SAV Digital Environments, who list and tag trade partners in nearly every social media post they write. This is not just about giving credit where credit is due, it’s about seeking out design/build partners to collaborate with.
Carefully choose images and videos for marketing assets that illustrate the scale and quality of the work you do as an integrator, or the product lines you carry. If you want to attract luxury designers, your images and videos need to show that you consistently do that kind of work or provide those types of products. You can’t fake this. Manufacturers often provide these assets, but use them with caution, as your competitors might be using them too!
How do you get these projects and partners to showcase? See items #1 and #2. It’s a machine that will fuel itself, you just need to stoke the engines.
Not sure where to start? Drop me a line, we will help you get on the road to attracting, delighting, and retaining the design/build trade to help you create better opportunities.
Katye McGregor Bennett is chief strategist and CEO of KMB Communications and an avid podcaster. Podcasts include Connecting Tech + Design and AV Trade Talk.