By: Doug Bevill on January 20th, 2021
BPM Tips: Improve Specification Position on the Web & 3rd Party Sites
To building product manufacturers, I cannot stress enough the importance of specification. During the coronavirus pandemic, which is currently keeping us from face-to-face meetings, web-based availability of a BPM’s content to specifiers has never been more of a necessity. Architects, engineers, and specification writers want the latest, most accurate version of the specification and other content and they assume that this up-to-date information is available on the BPM’s website.
For a few years, I had heard from the specification community that manufacturer’s websites did not work well for them and now in my position with MasterSpec I fully understand what they were, and still are, talking about.
I have been given a front row seat and am now able to observe the thousands of BPMs’ approaches and to discern which approach works best. To optimize the visualization and utilization of your products I offer two suggestions: website improvements and the efficient use of third-party platforms.
Over the past 10 years, I have participated in several voice of the customer focus groups and surveys, and the one constant that I have heard from participants is the growing importance of the manufacturer’s website.
Differing from my experience in the European construction industry, here in the US there is considerably more perceived risk of litigation to the building team, namely on those making product specification and purchasing decisions, and especially for architects. For this reason, architects, engineers, and specification writers find it crucial to have the latest, most accurate version of the specification and other content. Rightfully, they assume this information will be found on the manufacturer’s website.
Since joining MasterSpec, I have been part of the team responsible for the review and acceptance of products to be included in the MasterSpec library. When we review products for inclusion in the MasterSpec library, we are performing roughly the same task as an architect, engineer, or professional specification writer.
We find ourselves hopping from place to place, screen to screen to find specifications, test certifications, catalog cut sheets, etc. We are much more patient than product decision makers, we look until we find it, or must request it. Many decision makers, in frustration and with time constraints, merely leave the BPM’s website in search of more easily accessible product content from another BPM.
Optimize Your Website
Each of your products should have their own page on your website and, at a minimum, include these five critical must-have items:
- 3-part product specifications
- Catalog cut sheets
- Product testing certifications
- Technical assistance, a live contact person who is either internal or a qualified representative
- CAD, Revit, ArchiCad or other similar files, if applicable
Do not gate this content by asking visitors to provide contact information or fill out a form to obtain this information. They are likely conducting research on your products and need this information to inform their decision to either specify or buy your products.
Many of you have expended considerable resources to build your current websites, we can tell by how they look and their functionality. But they are still difficult to navigate for product decision makers and it would be too difficult to change the site at this point. If this is the case, there are other third-party platforms that are heavily used by the specification community that can pull the five critical must-haves together for you in one place where they will be seen by the product decision makers. I recommend contacting them to streamline these five items into one landing page.
MasterSpec platform is a product of the American Institute of Architects and is the most used of any third-party product distribution platform in the US by architects and engineers. MasterSpec is not a specification writing service, but an exposure platform where architects and engineers research manufacturers’ products to include in their projects and ideally in their office master for all upcoming projects. In MasterSpec, the BPM pays for exposure in the appropriate section of the MasterSpec library and the specifications are written as part of this service. Also, as part of this, MasterSpec includes with your published 3-part specification the additional critical must-have items mentioned above.
4specs is a building product web aggregation site mainly used by members of the Construction Specifications Institute. What Google is as a search engine for universal web content, 4specs is for building product manufacturers websites. 4specs has a landing page offering where they can link those critical items into one landing page for your products directly from your website.
I have sat in the chair of a BPM marketer and empathize with the significant corporate responsibility BPM marketers carry. Your tasks are immense, and I realize you do not have time to obsess solely about your specification strategy. Therefore, I share my accumulated industry insights and best practices with you. Hopefully, this info will allow the busy BPM marketer to use MasterSpec and 4specs’ services and remove this item from a long to-do list of responsibilities.
Thank you for your interest in reading my article. If you have any questions or if I can be of assistance to you and your company, please feel free to contact me.
With over 30 years of industry experience, Doug Bevill - Vice President at ConstructConnect, specializes in consulting with building product manufacturers on general strategy and optimal ways to leverage ConstructConnect’s best-in-class construction information and other marketing solutions to run their businesses.
Prior to joining ConstructConnect, Doug held executive positions with FläktGroup SEMCO, a leading manufacturer on energy recovery technology; The Hager Companies, a global door hardware manufacturer; and is the past president of BIMobject Inc., a global construction technology company.