Throughout my career, I have interviewed hundreds of designers across the United States. And every time I am reminded how little space there is for our clients in their already design-packed minds. Think about it, designers are preoccupied with millions of variations of colors. Patterns. Textures. Then there are hundreds of manufacturers, i.g. Floor coverings, wallpaper, furniture, on and on.
How many times has a sales rep asked you where an image is when you know you have given them instructions for the image library more than a few times. Sales reps are very similar, they have hundreds (hopefully thousands) of clients to serve. And, every one of those clients has a particular way of doing business, and the rep needs to know all of them. So the basic philosophy applies to the rep as well.
When we launch a product to the contract market, we know we will have to fight hard to become relevant to the designer and architect. We aim to carve away at information that does not help to keep the viewer educated, entertained, and on point about the benefit of the product. We have a few more rules we always follow for all the communications we create.
Make it easy to follow.
Many times in the contract market products have multiple options. It is critical someone can understand the benefits at 9:00 at night when they are trying to hit a deadline.
Keep the copy to a minimum.
This is true for most communications, but it’s especially true for a visually inclined audience. Long copy communications work for my friends that are lawyers and engineers that buy ten thousand dollar bikes and want to read page after page of details about the materials and the design.
Make sure the design inspiration is relevant, inspirational and believable.
Designers have a very sensitive bullshit meter. We make sure to second guess our collection concepts, ensuring that the collection and pattern names are descriptive enough to help make the designer’s job to spec the product as easy as it can be.
Use visual to both inspire and sell the products.
We all want to see the products in an environment that closely matches the application we are working on. Recently, I was shopping for a Jeep when I discovered you can build one online and then see what it looks like in your driveway using your iPhone’s camera. I was inspired.
Second guess yourself, all the time.
With our clients, we employ a team of designers and reps that review our materials before we go to launch for feedback. It may be our most valuable tool.
Of course, we are blessed the contract market looks forward to our client’s product launches but having an attitude that you have to work hard to fit in certainly helps. Let me know what else works with your contract launches.
Photo Credit: ©2018 Crobar | Creative Leverage • Location: Neocon, Merchandise Mart, Chicago • Purpose: Editorial photography for a contract flooring manufacturer