June 2016 Newsletter

**** The 4specs Perspective

Why Specifiers?

While working with a new marketing person at an existing advertiser, I started to write an introductory email to explain the specification process and decided to develop the thoughts into this newsletter.

"Specified Product Marketing" is a complex process extending over multiple years. It starts with the architect and specifier and ends with a sub-contractor buying and installing the products, perhaps 3 years and 4 states away. Few other commercial sales cover this amount of time and distance.

I see three types of products used in commercial / institutional construction:

  1. ASTM specified products such as structural steel (per ASTM A-36)
  2. Products specified per consensus or organization standards such as woodworking standards, probably without a specific manufacturer named and fabricated by a local or regional fabricator and installer
  3. Products specified by manufacturer and brand name with equals specified and generally including expected performance standards - carpeting, fireproofing and roofing are examples

The problems of marketing and selling each type of product are very different. Some types of products are marketed to the contractor and distributor and some types require extensive working with architects and specifiers to be included in the specs or accepted as a substitution. The focus on 4specs is on products specified by manufacturer and brand name.

Liz O'Sullivan has great blog article:
"The person who writes the specifications for a project is often not the project architect. Why is this important to keep in mind? A story from real life..."

So who writes the specifications? And just how many architectural specifiers are there?

  1. Project architects - typically use MasterSpec, BSD Speclink or an old office master. I estimate there are 10,000 project architects writing 2-3 specs a year - perhaps 25,000 project specs a year in total.
  2. Full-time architectural specifiers - typically have multiple masters for each section depending on the project type and the client. This included both independent (what I call a 1099-contract specifier) and employee (W-2 tax form) specifiers. I estimate about 800 full-time specifiers in total writing 20-40 specs a year, say 25,000 project specs a year in total.

These numbers can be projected using the data in the newsletters 4specs did last year in "Our Selling to Architects Series"

One of the best 4specs newsletters about understanding specifiers was about Liz O'Sullivan. Our exerpts from her blog and the video she did for CSI are worth reading and listening to.

More to come next month in Part 2.

Feedback, comments and suggestions always appreciated.



Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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