How to Get Specified by Architects-Part 2

Posted On: 
Mar 8, 2017
How to Get Specified by Architects-Part 2

Building products that successfully create habits and alleviate a user’s pain lay claim to a particular feeling. In his national bestseller How To Build Habit-Forming Products, researcher Nir Eyal discusses how a successful product utilizes internal triggers to solve a user’s problem. According to Eyal, “the ultimate goal of a habit-forming product is to solve the user’s pain by creating an association so that the user identifies the company’s product or service as the source of relief.” What is the particular frustration or pain point that the building product manufacturer seeks to solve? Let's review a few factors…

Building Product Specification Triggers

In a previous blog , we stated that getting your products specified by architects isn’t rocket science but it takes persistence and patience. What do architects want to achieve by specifying a building product? What emotions influence the architect’s specification choice and trigger them to take action? Eyal points out that “fear is a powerful trigger and we can design our solution to help calm user’s fears.” If building product manufacturers can figure out why an architect might be reluctant to specify a certain product, the next step would be revising and testing the product to see if it solves the designer’s problems.

Action Versus Inaction

How can a building product manufacturer influence an architect to specify their product? Besides buying them tickets to the Super Bowl or an all-expense paid trip to Tahiti, is there a formula to achieve success? Dr. Fogg from the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford University has developed a model to understand what drives a user’s actions. Fogg identified three factors required to initiate all behaviors: motivation, ability, and a trigger.

What Is The Architect’s Motivation?

The architect must have sufficient motivation to specify a building product. According to Dr. Fogg, a trigger cues action, and the motivation defines the level of desire to take action. Architects are motivated to seek the best product for a project. Of course, building product specification is determined by many factors including performance, cost, owner’s preferences, LEED v4 requirements, and many other aspects. The design phase is crucial in influencing the outcome of product selection. Studies show that in most cases, products selected during the design phase and included in the bidding documents are the ones that become installed.

Budget requirements directly influence decisions by setting price parameters for products. The bottom line factor usually effects product selection. A cost consultant or owner might ask “How do products compare in price if everything else appears similar?” Or they might ask “What value does the owner receive from an expensive product compared to a less expensive product?” Dr. Fogg’s studies indicate that humans are motivated to seek pleasure, avoid fear, avoid rejection, and seek social acceptance. In a previous blog, we discussed that it is important to understand the specification process to not lose out on jobs. Ultimately, building product manufacturers must take into consideration many factors to understand the architect’s motivation.

The Architect’s Ability

The architect must have the ability to complete the desired action, in this case selecting a building product. A building product that significantly reduces obstacles to complete a task will be adopted by the masses. Building products are selected based upon the owner’s requirements and project requirements. Building product reps need to consider how conditions and project requirements govern the selection of products. For example, there are many products suitable for roofing systems, such as plastic coatings, metal, tile, shingles, pavers, etc. If the architect wants a flat roof, then several of those products are automatically eliminated. A product must be suitable for its intended use. The architect may be concerned with the appearance of the roof and desire a special color or pattern. So, aesthetic considerations are a factor. Insulation, drainage, and alternative energy might be major considerations which relate to the function and performance of the roof. Once a building product manufacturer discovers a trigger, then they can increase motivation and ability. Making the ability to specify a product easier should be a priority. Ability is influenced by time, cost, social acceptance, industry acceptance, and other factors.

How To Influence Building Product Specification

A trigger must be present to activate behavior. Behavior is driven by the factors we have discussed such as seeking acceptance (AIA design award), avoiding fear (a messy lawsuit), and seeking pleasure (a pay raise!). External triggers can be embedded with information which tells users what to do next. External triggers for product specification could be advertising, public relations, trade shows, viral videos, word of mouth, product referrals, and AIA Continuing Education.

Internal triggers manifest automatically in the mind. Positive emotions can serve as internal triggers as well as negative ones. An architect that has specified the same concrete masonry block from the same building product manufacturer for twenty years obviously is satisfied by this product. Through repeated specification choices the architect has been conditioned to equate satisfaction with this building product. The flip-side is also true when designers specify a product that fails miserably and the designer vows never to use the piece of crap again!

Manufacturers that create products that eliminate problems for architects will form strong, positive associations with designers over time. It can take months or even years for architects to embrace a product. Most architects are not willing to be a guinea pig for a new product. Typically, architects like a time proven product from a reputable manufacturer. Products need to deliver on their promises. Taking into consideration an architect’s motivation, ability, and a trigger can help building product manufacturers increase product specifications. How does your company motivate architects to specify your products? What triggers do you use to motivate designers?

For more information or to discuss the topic of this blog, please contact Brad Blank