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Marketing to AECs: #Greenbuild17 Lessons Learned

Posted by: Michael McCunney // November 16, 2017

Millions of Marketing dollars poured into the Massachussetts Bay area this past week for Greenbuild 2017 in Boston. Manufacturers present were all charged with the same, singular goal: capture the attention of the AEC Community powering the burgeoning Sustainable Building Product Market.

As a Marketer at SmartBIM I have an interesting challenge to market to and understand the needs of both the Manufacturers of Building Products as well as the AECs (Architects, Engineers, Contractors, Specifiers and Building Owners). Attending Greenbuild was a rare opportunity to gain exposure to both, with a clear sustainability focus. After checking out the best of the best on the floor, listening to speakers from the plenary and interacting with Architects, here are my top three lessons learned that Sustainable Building Product Manufacturers can use to market to the AECs:

1. Pair the Environmental Benefit with the Business Benefit

A gentlmen from SageGlass (sorry, missed his name) did a phenomenal job of illustrating the power of this during his talk prior to Neil deGrass Tyson coming on stage. He spoke about how his product would enable workers to get more natural sunlight, which increases productivity and additionally has been proven to correlate to more sleep and thus, more effecient work. The real take-away here is that pairing the warm fuzzy of doing the right thing for the environment with a business benefit (even if it's a soft one) makes the purchase/spec incredibly defensible.

Doing the smart thing, easy. The right thing? Good...but not as easy. Doing the smart, right thing? Yahtzee!

I recognize not all products have this flexibility, but even if you can stretch to get there this is a huge winner.


2. Communicate the Cumulative Benefits

Some of the best booths we stopped by were able to state what the cumulative benefits would be by using their product over time. What would this mean to save (energy, heat, water, etc.) over five, ten, 15 or 20 years? How much would that be? Those types of big numbers give people reason for pause and assumedly less price elastic thinking after considering the massive long-term benefits. I think this is especially true of Building Owners who are becoming increasingly involved in the design and planning process.

3. Boil it Down, Make it Consumable

I could really see this in some of the better booths and displays and reflected in the Architect conversations I had. Engineers love to spell out the very specific, very meaningful data of what makes the product more sustainable or environmentally friendly. That's great, but boil it down so that John in Accounting or Suzy in Finance know why the product should be considered, selected and defended. The entirety of the buying group may not be as informed as the AEC and needs to be communicated to easily. The punchline needs to be simple and easy to understand.

If you were engaged on social during the event, you probably noticed the USGBC retweeting and liking a couple of our tweets of Manufacturers on the floor (see tweets by ecoScorecard, later RT'd by SmartBIMLibrary). If you're not already following, please do so!

Last, if you're a Manufacturer looking align your BIM Strategy with your 2018 Marketing and Sales goals, we'd love to have a chat and share what we've learned. Schedule a time with us to have a strategic discussion about BIM.

Greenbuild, Marketing to AEC

Author: Michael McCunney

Michael McCunney holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Hartford and a MBA from the Carroll Graduate School of Business at Boston College. Michael lives in East Cobb with his wife Roberta and their two daughters, and enjoys cheering on BC sports teams even though they almost never win.

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