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Acoustical Wall Panel Systems

William L. Shannon, Editor

William L. Shannon, Editor of CISCA

Effective Marketing Tools Make a Difference!

for the May / June 2005 Issue, CISCA's Interior Construction Magazine

Over the past ten years there has been a significant change in how commercial construction product companies bring their product to market. For the purpose of this article, we will assume that the manufacturer has developed a timely, worthwhile, appropriate product and / or system. That being accomplished, the product or system must be brought to market and effectively sold to be successful. Great products with poor marketing programs rarely result in success.

The backbone of any successful marketing program is a properly trained Inside and Outside Sales Force, complemented with an Exceptional Customer Service Department. Without these two key ingredients, the marketing tools alone will not result in a successful sales campaign. Assuming that these two critical components are in place, the following key marketing tools will assure a powerful presentation of your products or systems;

  • Literature; carefully designed product brochures are very important for all aspects of product presentation. Brochures should immediately portray the product or system presented in the piece. High quality photographs of the product should always appear on the cover, and on every page of the piece. Keep in mind, if a potential client is not immediately drawn to the literature piece, they may never open it. Photographs sell, technical data is important, but, after the products are selected.
  • Presentation Folder; Sometimes referred to as a "luncheon folder", a colorful presentation folder is an excellent tool for initial presentation to potential clients. It is far less costly than a technical binder, less cumbersome, easier for a client's quick review, and offers an excellent format for the outstanding literature pertaining to your product or system. The presentation folder should be of very high quality, colorful, heavy gloss paper, with two pockets, and adhesively applied business card labels. Business card labels reduce the potential for lost or replaced business cards.

  • Technical Binder; A properly constructed technical binder is very important in the presentation of your product. A binder is not necessary for every sales call, and, in fact, can be confusing and complicated to a client in the early stage of design or product decision making. Technical binders can often be found in a firm's library, but beware; there are several severe shortcomings of binders;

    1. They are removed from the library and not returned.
    2. They are used on a project, material removed, not replaced, and returned to the library missing many key components.
    3. They become outdated. If you analyze the number of binders placed in the market, and think they are being updated, you may be very surprised. Mailing updates to clients is usually a complete waste of time. Expecting your sales force to continuously update your binders may have a negative impact upon new sales.
    4. If you product is popular, many binders are removed from the office and used for an individual's private practice elsewhere.

  • Samples; Excellent samples are always important. Interestingly, some companies view samples as a necessary evil and actually send "seconds" to their sales staff and customers. A sample can be the difference between selection and rejection of your material on a project. The sample department should be an important part of the manufacturing process. Sample production, packaging and delivery should be considered important in your overall marketing program. Management must make samples a priority.

  • Web Site; Web sites have become an increasingly important tool to companies of all types. They are important, but will never replace the other tools. To be effective your website should be;

    1. Easy to find.
    2. Colorful, attractive, and easy to understand.
    3. Full of up to date information. Potential customers visit your website for information. Think of your website as an electronic technical binder. The powerful difference between your website and binder, is that your website can be updated frequently, at minimal cost. A properly designed website is always "fresh". Visitors to your website should feel confident that they will be able to access your most current information. They should be able to easily download, specifications, details and photographs.
    4. Make it easy to use! Eliminate time consuming and annoying registration protocol. If you think that forced registration is protecting your information, you are kidding yourself. Any public information is available to anybody.

These are a few of the most important aspects of an effective marketing campaign. So many firms rely on one or two tools, overlooking the power of a complete marketing campaign kit.

All of these tools have strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that we work in a collaborative industry. Rarely are all of the decision makers in any given meeting. Projects are designed by teams, teams need literature and samples to pass around, touch and feel. Provide your team with the complete package; you will be pleasantly surprised with the results!

William L. Shannon CSI, CISCA
President of Shannon Corporation
Recipient of the 2004 De Gelleke Award

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