Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cure for the Common Product Data Sheet

In the construction industry, buyers need product information that meets the needs of a particular project before deciding that the product is right for the job. But once a purchasing manager has found a number of products that fit the description, what makes them choose one product over the other?

Here is where marketing to your target audience comes in. There are many ways to successfully market to your particular segment. I will not go into these points, but merely address one specific, if rather peculiar, way to connect with your buyer. How do you make your construction product data sheet stand out from the pile? Even more, how do you create memorable product data sheets a busy contractor will remember?

National Gypsum has found a hilarious and witty way of grabbing their audience’s (and my) attention with their Spanish product data sheets. National Gypsum chose a well-known icon of Hispanic children’s literature and television called El Chapulin Colorado to decorate their product data sheets. For those of you who do not know El Chapulin Colorado, his character was known for showing up on the scene and for solving problems with his ingenuity.
  • Quien nos salvara ahora? (Who will save us now?)
  • El Chapulin Colorado! (The Red Cricket!)
  • No contaban con mi astucia! (You didn’t expect my wit!)

Why is this a smart move by National Gypsum?

According to the 2008 U.S. Census, 44% of the 1.6 million employed construction laborers and 9% of the 1.2 million construction managers in the United States are Hispanic. What symbols of Hispanic pop-culture would they recognize, identify with, and remember? The answer for National Gypsum was El Chapulin Colorado. The icon itself has become so powerful that it is now used by Hispanic immigrants in the United States to denote pride in their culture, and in the power of their wit to solve whatever trials they might face.

Well done National Gypsum! I certainly did not expect the bright yellow heart with the “CH” to appear in the middle of a product data sheet for drywall, but I recognized it, and after eight hours of looking at similar documents I still remember it.

Photo Credit: National Gypsum's Guía de Construcción con Productos para Acabados en Muros de Pánel de Yeso MARCA ProForm®.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Finding ASTM Standards for Construction Products

Finding construction products that meet ASTM Standards is extremely valuable to contractors aiming to meet a spec. Because you can search the BuildSite database for products that match a specific ASTM standard, we field a lot of questions about ASTM search. There are a couple things you should consider before you begin an ASTM search. It might save you some confusion if you have trouble finding an ASTM:
  1. In total, there are over 12,000 ASTM standards available. Over 1,300 of those are specific to construction. ASTM International publishes the construction standards in its ASTM Standards in BUILDING CODES, 46TH Edition, available through their bookstore. These standards are the ones referenced by the International Codes published by ICC©, as well as MASTERSPEC©, BSD SpecLink©, and other sources for codes and specs. We use these construction standards as a guide to determine which ASTM standards are most likely to be covered in a specification and subsequently searched for on BuildSite.
  2. Not all construction products have ASTM standards provided. If you find that a number of products from a certain manufacturer are not coming up in your search, it is likely that the manufacturer does not provide ASTM information on their data sheets. This does not necessarily mean the standards do not apply, but you might have to contact the manufacturer directly to find out.
  3. If you are having trouble finding an ASTM standard, we provide a complete list of BuildSite’s ASTM standards. From this list you can find links to an abstract and a list of products for each ASTM standard. Soon we will be providing another easy access link to this information directly from BuildSite Submittals.
Good luck in your ASTM search!