Are you looking for some quick tips and inspiration on how to drive demand for architectural finishes? It may be useful to go back to basics and reassess your marketing mix to uncover simple tactics for raising awareness of architectural films within your network.
In the UK the architectural market is in its early growth stages, meaning there’s less competition, but this also means market awareness can be a challenge! But don’t forget limited competition is a great way to stand out from the rest. Focusing on this growing market could be a way of differentiating yourself, just by adding a new product or service to your portfolio. And this is an area where you could gain a competitive advantage by being one of the first early adopters.
Going back to the basics, marketing is about identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer needs. Think about how do architectural finishes meet your customers’ needs?
Every product we buy, every shop we visit, every media message we receive and every choice we make has been influenced by marketing. The marketing process is central to the performance of a business, regardless of its size, because it addresses the competitive marketplace.
The marketing mix is the combination of tactics you can use to market effectively to a target customer group, aka the 4 Ps. You can use marketing to get… the right product, to the right person, at the right price, in the right place and at the right time.
Start by identifying your target customer group – are you working within the hotel sector, or do you have strong retail connections? Do you work with offices, schools, hospitals, local businesses or residential groups? Rather than have a scattergun approach and targeting everyone, successful marketing strives to have a targeted approach. Plan who do you need to speak to within these businesses, who is an influencer in the decision-making process, then apply a simple marketing framework to identify which tactics are most effective for your business.
Think about more than just the actual physical product, but try to understand what does your client really need?
Someone who is planning a commercial fit out project is unlikely to be looking for an architectural film or a wrap, but they would be trying to find a method or a solution to redesign/refurbish an interior space… either covering the walls, floor, ceilings, furniture, glass etc. As this is a relatively new concept, many decision makers are unaware that a self -adhesive film is a solution for interior design projects.
Why would someone choose your product, service over other solutions?
Compared with many surface finishes, architectural films tick all the boxes and present many advantages over other materials. Surfaces like stone, veneer and HPL require specialist equipment for installations and must be applied off site, unlike a film that can be installed in situ without any of the noise or business disruption. Paint can be limited to colour, rather a film than provides realistic textures. Wallpaper coverings are also nowhere near as durable either, whereas a self-adhesive finish is an overall stronger option, in terms of scratch resistance, abrasion resistance and UV protection.
What added value can you offer your customers?
For any commercial building, fire ratings and product performance are also crucial for peace of mind. This is where choosing a leading brand with the right test certifications can add value to help you win a project. Think about what the product can do better than alternative options like paint, wallpaper, veneer. Sustainability is also one of the main added values of using this method to refurbish a space. Recovering existing surfaces within a space can be a great value engineering proposition, meaning your client can save money as well as the environment. 3M DI-NOC for example can also contribute to LEED credits (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design - a worldwide green building certification program, that aims to help building owners and operators be environmentally responsible and use resources efficiently) with the trend for upcycling becoming an increasingly important aspect of any project.
It’s always worth asking ‘expensive compared to what?’
Architectural finishes are a premium solution, but are not necessarily the cheapest option. Working out how to present the benefits of the overall method can help to overcome any negative perceptions. The solution is more than the price. Architectural films offer savings versus buying new fixtures and fittings. Wrapping an existing fire door can be much more cost effective than replacing with a new fire door, not only in terms of the material costs, but also the minimal disruption to the business. Plus it’s a unique product, with a premium finish… think about corners and edges, where you can wrap in one piece and achieve a high end look, without any of the untidy edge seals or banding you would need with a laminate.
What are the cost advantages?
It also has cost advantages over real materials, such as concrete, wood, marble, which may open the door for new refurb projects on a budget. Wrapping low cost substrates can open doors to create bespoke FF&E or case goods.
There are many other times whereby it is more convenient to use film e.g. on intricate areas or bespoke items such as fridge counters, lockers or bars where the cost to replace fully would be a lot higher.
Place refers to getting the product to the customer. For manufactured products, this is where customers can buy it e.g. online, in a store, through distribution etc. But for architectural films, wrapping is a skilled service, it’s not designed to be a D.I.Y product. As part of our drive on awareness, we’d always recommend installers that have gone through the necessary training in order to ensure applications will be done to a high standard.
Typically specifiers or designers will not be the ones buying the product, so we work with several stakeholders throughout the duration of a project. Driving demand also requires managing customer expectations for things like lead times and install expectations. In stock patterns will be available faster than finishes within the extended range, so its worth bearing this in mind when selecting finishes for a design scheme.
Promotion is the obvious and most visible part of the marketing mix. Communication is key to driving demand, making sure anyone looking at refurbishment or interior design is aware of architectural film as a solution for them. But also that they hear about it at the time when they are considering options, in order to influence their decision making.
Promotion aims to raise awareness and create demand via channels such as websites, videos, email, social media, case studies, direct mail, adverts, brochures, PR, events and more.
The 4Ps remain “hugely relevant” even in the digital age, because they show the extent to which marketing impacts on a business’s performance. Customers now interact and engage with products and services through multichannel, multi-platform searches and ‘real’ influencers. Digital marketing channels are also more accountable, but also offer instant feedback and open dialogue with customers.
By using a mix of online and offline channels marketing can influence prospective customers at the right time. We find exhibitions and events are great for raising brand awareness, which in turn drives people to the website to learn more about the concept, which then drives leads for potential projects when an opportunity comes up.
Remember interior design and fashion design are intrinsically linked, therefore it is important to be aware of what’s going on. Look for inspiration in hotels, restaurants or shops and identify the some of the new trends in the design world.
As the product and concept of wrapping is very visual, having touchy feely things, and applied sample pieces is useful so people can see and believe what is possible. Essentially the 4Ps are about understanding the wants and needs of customers, and how to extract value from that.
In summary here are our top tips for anyone entering the architectural market, and which key areas we have found work in terms of marketing focus…
Images are key
Anything visual helps to showcase the product – you are not selling a film, but what it can do. Use before and after photos, time lapse videos, or any images to help to showcase the wrapping process. Share finished results on social media channels such as Facebook, Linked In, Pinterest, You Tube, Twitter. Case studies are another great tool to use to show what can be done.
What is wrapping?
Another top tip is to liken the process to vehicle wrapping as people widely understand this already. We’ve found exhibitions and events where we can demo the film being applied invaluable, as the process is easy to understand once you see it being heated and stretched around corners etc. There are thousands of events, both national and regional where you can win business and drive demand.
Create awareness within your own contacts through networking events, to promote what you can do. Social media platforms, such as LinkedIn can be a brilliant tool to widen your network of contacts.
Use applied samples or trial installations. The best way to get across what the product looks like as a finished result is to show it applied to various substrates. Tools such as wrapped chipboard, MDF, architrave pieces can all be done using offcuts from previous jobs or sample pieces, and really help to present the finished concept to your clients.
The modern world and new technology platforms have made information more readily available than ever. Google is everyone’s first port of call nowadays when looking for information, therefore having a strong website is key. Showcase all your previous work, and use key words relevant to the sector. Use all your social media content to drive traffic to your site, using photos and videos. You can also use online PR to reach a wider audience. Traditional print magazines are slowly being replaced by online publications and ebulletins, but can all help to drive demand and sales leads.
Email is still the one of the best platforms to raise awareness with your existing connections, and widely used now over direct mail. Be aware we are constantly bombarded with email newsletters, so it can be difficult to stand out from the rest. The important thing to remember is to include a strong call to action to track leads – things like free sample, trial install, brochure download work well.
Search Engine Optimisation is also important to ensure your website is working well in the background to drive leads, so things like keywords, content, metatags, backlinks and images are all things to consider.
For design inspiration, check out Pinterest for application ideas. If you would like any help or support for your next architectural film project, we have a wide range of brochures, images and collateral available, contact us to discuss your requirements.