It’s an epic battle between two unstoppable forces. The two protagonists locked in a never-ending struggle to shape the world the way they think is best, and to the benefit of all humankind.
They both have more or less the same end goal in mind, just different ideas of how to accomplish it. Begrudgingly, they are often forced to work together, yet both would be quite happy if the other were to take a back seat and let them lead.
This may sound like last summer’s “Batman vs. Superman” film, but to building product marketers, it’s much more real. And it has much fewer plot gyrations.
The power struggle between architects and contractors is almost as old as construction itself. Today, the balance of power seems to be shifting toward contractors, as building owners and developers increasingly look to them to provide end-to-end services, including some design.
It’s much more complicated than that, and the legal and contractual ramifications of this dynamic are too numerous to count.
But it also presents a dilemma for building products manufacturers: Which audience is a better choice to target?
This, unfortunately, is not an easy question to answer. For many marketers — whose products offer features and advantages that may distinctly appeal to both groups — choosing one may alienate the other. And by the time you develop a strategy and deploy it, the pendulum may have swung the other way, and it’s back to the drawing board.
Whichever audience you target, the important thing is to remember what motivates them.
Target the Architect – Help them elevate and differentiate
Traditionally, modern civilization has revered architects. The great architects are mentioned in the same breaths as the great painters and sculptors… and their contributions to society are well documented.
We don’t want to say they have a big ego, but let’s face it: this influential audience goes to school and hones its craft for a long time. Architects want to be counted among the cultural giants.
That points to the value they offer their customers. They help them make a mark on the world. They make a statement.
How can you, and your products, reflect that mission? How can you help architects demonstrate to owners and developers that the technical expertise and aesthetic artistry needed for projects are mission critical with your brand?
Most importantly, how can you celebrate architects’ achievements (using your products, of course), and ensure that their importance is recognized?
Target the Contractor – Be a resource
Contractors are problems solvers. They are builders. They are charged with getting things done, on time and on budget… all while managing countless details, changes, and personalities (including architects).
Sure, they take pride in the beauty and permanence of the projects they build. But in the final analysis, they are pragmatists. They care about quality and sturdiness, and if it looks great, well that’s nice too.
How can you be a resource to contractors? How can you empower them with the information, tools, and knowledge they need to make themselves more valuable to their clients?
By the way, that could very well include helping them elevate their own architectural and design prowess.
Target both – Be a uniter
The truth of the matter is that both architects and contractors are here to stay. While the influence each may have on product selection may change from year to year — or even project to project — both are vitally important in shaping the environments in which we live, work and play.
Understanding that, the opportunity product marketers have is to be a unifying force, developing brand messages that are relevant to both audiences.
One way to do this would be to flip the script on the messaging noted above. For architects: be a resource to help them incorporate new practical thinking into their designs. For contractors: show them how they can play a role in creating distinctive, inspiring designs.
In both cases, marketers could be positioning their brands based on education and fostering collaboration. Not only is that very powerful, but it also ensures brand relevance.. no matter which side holds the greatest influence.