Insulation Specifications: The Struggle is Real
I’ve come to find out that not all of my industry friends really knew that when I made the leap to begin building Insulpedia, I stopped working with my father’s companies (Jeff-Co and Buckaroos) entirely. It’s true. Since February of this year, I have been working on Insulpedia and more recently InsulNet without any other source of income.
Every month, I pay top dollar for premium hosting on one of Siteground’s dedicated servers to prepare for the growing traffic on Insulpedia. I’ve also invested in a number of premium WordPress® plugins that helped me make the site as user friendly and functional as possible.
I’m fortunate to have a wife that believes in me and my mission. She also has a full time job which requires significant travel. Without her, I wouldn’t be able to continue holding out for the insulation industry to begin taking advantage of Insulpedia. We have three amazing children that keep us both pushing hard. Their daycare fees keep us pushing even harder.
Why am I sharing all of this?
I want express how much I believe in Insulpedia’s mission. To maximize the value of mechanical insulation system design by eliminating the disconnect between innovation and specification. As this article’s title reads, I know first hand that “The Struggle Is Real” for getting products into specifications.
The Core Struggle
We are an industry that runs extremely thin. Unlike the pipe/valve/fitting (PVF) industry whose manufacturer salespeople sometimes have one city to cover and see all of their top engineering firms at least once a month, insulation industry salespeople are covering multiple states or whole regions. Even the biggest manufacturers.
Manufacturers salespeople of insulation related products simply don’t have the time to visit as many engineers as often. For this reason, insulation becomes an afterthought and doesn’t truly get the specifier’s attention it deserves.
Spec Team Approach
The implementation of specification sales teams has been a cyclical solution for this problem. Companies build spec teams with the idea in mind that salespeople who are dedicated only to spec-selling will be an effective solution. However, they are still covering multiple states, it’s hard to quantify their success, the cradle-to-grave selling process is much longer and it can lead to burnout quicker than the salesperson who can realize the satisfaction of a big sale in a shorter window of time.
The biggest downfall of the spec team approach comes back to quantifying the value a team adds to the big picture. Aside from the issue of determining the appropriate compensation package to offer, there isn’t any good way to quantify the return on a spec team investment. All of this results in a cyclical pattern for some companies of having or not having a spec team.
Limited Advertising and Marketing Options
There are some great avenues for print advertising in our industry. NIA‘s Insulation Outlook Magazine is always offering new and creative methods of advertising. There’s TIAC with the TIAC Times, and all of the regional contractor associations have a newsletter in print and/or digital form.
These periodicals are truly effective to reach a wide audience. Contractors, distributors, fabricators and all others closely tied to mechanical insulation know that keeping up with the magazines and periodicals is the key to staying on top of latest trends in insulation. Manufacturers also know that if you don’t advertise with the contractor associations’ print options in some form, you are truly missing out.
So, how are they limited? Calling on specifying engineers has been part of my responsibilities in some form for the last 15 years. I also spent a couple years exclusively calling on engineers for JM’s Industrial Specification Team.
In that time, I have yet to see a copy of Insulation Outlook sitting on the table in the front lobby of an engineering firm with the other trade journals and magazines. I realize there are thousands of engineer’s lobbies I haven’t seen, and I believe that Outlook magazine has thousands of engineer subscribers. However, I’m not convinced that advertising in their magazine or on their website is triggering the changes manufacturers want to see in specifications.
How Insulpedia Can Fill The Gap
The way that we access information and educate ourselves has drastically changed —over the last decade especially. Newspapers are no longer piling up at the end of driveways. The magazine aisle has become the magazine rack.
The top U.S. magazines by circulation start off with 1. AARP Magazine 2. AARP Bulletin and 3. Better Homes and Gardens. The following didn’t even make the top ten. Sports Illustrated, Vogue, Mens Health, Cosmopolitan, and GQ.
The once prominent print advertising industry has plummeted.
Web Search trend for “magazine advertising” since 2004
Where is the first place you go to research something? The internet. The same is for specifying engineers. Even the most savvy with Google search have trouble finding products and technical data related to insulation. Largely speaking, our industry lacks the know-how, and human or financial resources to optimize our websites for search engines.
This is where Insulpedia can make a difference. As participation increases in the free options for manufacturers, fabricators, distributors, contractors etc. to add content, more engineers will start looking to Insulpedia before Google. They’ll find your most important content.
In your content submissions, you will have included links that drive engineers right to where you want them on your website. Even better news is that when visitors click a link on Insulpedia that takes them to your site, it creates a backlink, which improves your Pagerank in Google.
One day, I’ll begin promoting advertising options on Insulpedia. Today isn’t that day. Today, as you sign your advertising agreements for 2020 print advertising, I’m asking you to make a plan to contribute to Insulpedia. Try something different to reach engineers. Did I mention it’s FREE?
I’m proud to say that my efforts along with the help of a few initial contributors has earned Insulpedia a higher traffic rank than some of the leading manufacturers in our industry. Thank you to:
- Thermal Pipe Shields for placing the first ever ad and posting a video.
- Ideal Products for submitting the first project profile and first image gallery.
- Buckaroos, Inc. for posting a video.
- Integrity Products for adding a video and an article.
Thank you also to the many people that have shown interest. I know we are all busy, and I’m here to help expedite if anyone wants to add some content.
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