Your Other Audience – Selling To Architects and Designers By Targeting Your Reps

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Most companies focus their marketing efforts on getting architects and designers to specify their products. If your brand uses multiline reps, you face an additional challenge—how do you get those reps to pull your product or material out of their bags more often?

To answer that, let’s consider the main question on a rep’s mind when they walk into a firm:

Which product(s) am I going to present today?

A variety of factors influence this decision. First, reps don’t want to overwhelm specifiers with too many products or too much information—so they know they need to make their selections carefully. Second, reps consider the kind of projects a particular firm concentrates on, then curate products and materials that match those needs. Third, reps consider which products and materials they showed last time they were in. If they have something new, it will make it out of the bag first. Fourth, reps will promote materials and products that have great sales support—from custom Pinterest boards to an easy and timely sampling program. Reps gravitate to companies who make it easy for them to sell.

Finally, reps consider their income. At the beginning of each year, reps look at their total income and then apportion it by product line. If your product or material makes up a large portion of their income, you can bet it’ll be shown early and often.

How can companies which make up 10 or 20% of a rep’s income increase their odds of being promoted?

The answer is to develop two marketing campaigns: one aimed at architects and designers and one aimed at reps. These two audiences think about and approach products and materials a little differently.

Like a good marriage, the relationship between companies and reps requires work and romance to keep things fresh and exciting. Reps respond to three-dimensional objects that they can impress designers and architects with. If you consistently send them fresh takes on your existing products, they will become more engaged with your line.

The goal of a campaign directed toward reps is to produce something so cool that reps can’t wait to share it and architects and designers vie to keep it. This is your chance to build brand awareness and desire not only among reps but also among the architects and designers whose business you hope to win.

Think retail: The coolest retail brands promote themselves by consistently refreshing existing products and presenting them in new ways. Start by taking a good look at your line and ask yourself, what can we do to create desire around our existing products? Sometimes the answer is simple. We once created a limited edition signed poster for a client that was so popular that they could not keep it in stock. The poster featured a beautiful cross section of a nautilus shell, the perfect architectural form. To make it feel special, the poster was printed on a thick, creamy stock and hand-numbered and signed like a fine art print. We included a single line of copy that read “Inspired by nature’s perfection” and the company name. The reps received one copy and most requested more to hand out; firms loved it enough to request duplicate copies for their architects. The poster created increased desire and excitement for the reps and the specifiers.

Creating a poster is a relatively simple solution. However, sometimes the answer is more complex. Is it time to rebrand your product or material or retool the line altogether? Is it possible to create demand around a limited edition product line or a unique partnership? Take a good look at your favorite retail brands and see if you can emulate some of the strategies they employ.

In short: don’t take your reps for granted. Think of them as consumers and use a targeted marketing strategy to cultivate a preference for your product line.