If you depend on architects to specify your products, this is an important post for you. I pride myself on knowing the changes that are happening in the building materials industry. I have to confess that this change caught me by surprise.
There is a labor shortage in construction. We usually equate this shortage with contractors and installers. While these people are very important, they are at the end of the building process. I never thought about a shortage at the front end with architects. I ask myself, what does that mean to building materials manufacturers and what they should they do about it.
There is a Growing Shortage of Architects
Frank J. Mruk III is an associate dean at the New York Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Design. He recently published an informative piece in the Wall Street Journal. According to Mruk, “even as demand for new buildings surges, fewer students are enrolling in architecture programs. Enrollment for first-year architecture students has declined by nearly 20% over the past five years, according to the National Architectural Accrediting Board.”
The problem is broader than just student enrollment—it extends to the professional system once students graduate. According to Mruk, “The qualification regime is driving away top talent. Only about six in 10 students who graduate from schools accredited by the National Architectural Accrediting Board eventually get their license. The rest work in the background or find jobs elsewhere.”
The shrinking supply of architects is on your horizon. If architects have been a key focus of your marketing. the time is now to adjust your sales and marketing plans.
How to Deal With a Shortage of Architects
The good news? Several solutions can help you deal with the problem of the architect shortage. Here are a few.
Focus Your Sales Efforts
Dean Mruk points to one solution: “today’s building industry increasingly rewards specialization and collaboration,” he says, highlighting the fact that targeting architectural specialists with your marketing and becoming one of their partners will go a long way toward making up for the shrinking number of architects.
The best way to grab the attention of specialists and to partner with them is to market your products as a specialist yourself. After all, you are a specialist in the arena of your type of building manufacturing.
Market your products deliberately in ways that specialists are sure to notice. Tailor a plan to market the green aspects of your product to specialists in that arena. Create other marketing plans tailored to other builder specialties: urban high-rises, hotels, hospitals, warehouses—you get the picture.
Online Product Access and Accuracy of Information
Probably the key solution with the biggest impact will be to ensure that your website has all the product information that an architect needs to include your product in a job. A complaint I frequently hear about manufacturer websites is that they are not up to date. They show products that have been discontinued and other errors. This is very frustrating to the architect. It’s worth the time and resources to maintain up-to-date information online.
In my recent blog, “Building Materials Pros Now Want to Shop in Their Underwear,” I wrote, “The ability to get accurate information online, without human interaction is becoming more important every day. This ease of interaction is more important than a lower price or even a better product.”
Contact me to learn how you can grow the sales of your building materials faster.