More goes into selling wood doors than just high-quality products. That’s the takeaway gleaned from a study conducted by Accountability Information Management Inc. (AIM). The Palatine, Ill.-based business-to-business research company recently published a report about specific trends in the wood-door market that lead to specification of products by designers and architects, along with why this is an important factor for building brand presence.

AIM’s report highlights how building brand awareness is essential to making sales. As it turns out, the relationship is straightforward: Products and brands that see fewer specifications by architects also find fewer sales. The study analyzed the competitive nature of the market and importance of getting on designers’ “preferred lists,” asking architects to provide their three most preferred wood door brands based on memory.

Among the 89% of designers who identified as being involved in specification processes, about 51 brands or companies total were listed as their top choices. With over one third of designers (39%) claiming they have no brand preferences, the observation was made that there is a margin of opportunity for manufacturers. Regarding factors that help manufacturers to gain the attention of specifiers, there are several keys, says John Crosby, managing director of corporate partnership for American Institute of Architects (AIA). Through a project titled “The Architects Journey to Specification 2016,” AIA researchers discovered that the bare minimum any brand should do includes providing responsiveness, with wide category- and product-based knowledge. But more importantly, he says, comes relationships—primarily those pertaining to trust between manufacturer representatives and architects.

Regarding how manufacturers should go about building connections, it’s about “being more proactive in reaching out about what the firm is doing and what challenges they’re running into,” Crosby advises. “Because normally proactive outreach tends to be more about asking architects if they have any business for them, and that leads to a degradation of trust.”

Dawn Zuber, former chairperson for AIA’s Custom Residential Architects Network (CRAN) and owner of Studio Z Architecture, admits that she has go-to brands, but shared what attributes among manufacturers would make her consider looking outside of her comfort zone.

“Just come in and meet us. Show us your product and take the time to answer questions, and build that relationship,” Zuber says. “Honestly, just being able to put a face to the company makes all the difference for me.”

Another important factor—especially for this day and age, Crosby says—includes maintaining a strong, informative digital presence.

“If you don’t think you are in the digital content business, you are already behind,” he says. “There is an abundance of information that should be provided online and the spec is just the first thing to think about.”

Crosby also emphasizes the importance for making information easy to access, user-friendly and updated on company websites. When it comes to designers looking for product information, he says if they can’t find it within a couple of minutes, it’s more likely that they’ll move on to a competitor’s site.

The takeaway for wood door and other building product manufacturers includes the importance for increasing market potential through brand awareness. That’s what it takes, experts say, to get onto architect’s go-to lists.

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