a+d trend watch: a conversation with susie spivey-tilson of tvs design

The other day I had the chance to visit with TVS Design's Sustainable Studio Director, Susie Spivey-Tilson. As one of the members of USGBC Georgia Chapter's Board of Directors and Function:'s 2010 Architectural Advisory Board, Susie is a veritable goldmine of insights, especially when it comes to developing trends in the building and construction industry. Here are a few select snippets from our conversation:

The A+D Community is focusing on building performance, especially measuring actual efficiency and tracking progress toward the Architecture 2030 Challenge.

One of the biggest struggles architects and designers have with manufacturers is the disconnect between BPMs staff who are knowledgeable about LEED – and the BPMs field staff/sales reps who she is in touch with directly who struggle to answer questions about LEED credits and how their company's products contribute to credits in the various LEED categories. Not surprisingly, she said she loses faith in a BPM if she has to make 5 calls to get an answer about a LEED question she may have.
 As short staffed as many of us are in this industry, nobody has time to chase down an answer that may be easier to get from a competitor, so it's critical that reps are able to speak intelligently on LEED.

The prevalence of architecture firms using modeling software is increasing dramatically. Not just BIM but energy modeling as well is becoming the norm. There is also a movement toward "getting back to the basics" – fundamental design aspects such as building orientation.

WATERGY: Susie said “Green is the new black and water is the next energy”. Design teams are paying more attention to the energy consumption associated with transferring water from the source into the building to the end user. The term Watergy™ was coined by the Alliance to Save Energy to describe the strong link between water and energy in municipal water systems.

ted hettick
director of client development
business analyst

FUNCTION: we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations


What inspires you? Personally and professionally.

Think about it.

I find inspiration in many places; in every move my son makes as he takes on new challenges and (literally) dives headfirst into learning new things. I find inspiration in my family for the lives that they have chosen to lead and their many accomplishments. I find inspiration in art, music, literature, movies and architecture.

I try and look at things with open, accepting eyes so that I can be inspired by everything I see. Sometimes that's hard. There are days where we all feel a little less than inspired or enthusiastic. There are days where you look at your work and think, "how can I make this different? Or better?"

I have these days. You know you have had them too...

But that's one thing that I love about Function:. Inspiration is everywhere. Each person at Function: is an individual. They each have their own knowledge and expertise. Every person here is unique and creative and watching them as they develop an ad for a client, identify unique, new business opportunities, create a blog about their upcoming wedding or design their child's birthday invitations, inspires me to look at what I do (personally and professionally) and ask myself if there is a new way I can do something - a different direction I can take or something that will make what I am working on different and better.

As marketers our job is to motivate audiences and instigate new ways of thinking. The manufacturers we work with work to encourage new design through their products. The architects they target work to stir emotion and arouse interest through the buildings they create.

We all want to inspire and we all need to be inspired. So, I ask again, what is it that inspires you?

Launching a Product in the Building and Construction Industry

It’s important to tailor any marketing approach to the specific product and company, but with over twelve years of experience in this market, we at Function: have found that there are certain things to consider when launching a product in the building and construction industry that apply to any concept.

1. Look at all your audiences. Each one (including media) requires a different and relevant message. An architect’s thought process is different from a contractor’s, which is different from a trade publication editor, etc.

2. Rank your target audiences. Categories will depend on your need, whether you rank them by power to specify or influence or size. If you have a limited budget, for instance, and your product category lends itself to being specified- the message should be focused on the specifier or architect.

3. Chart out your message channels. From PR to advertising to social media, keep messages consistent in all channels—say it once, say it twice, say it again!

4. Create conversations around your new product. Go to your sales channel, go to your specifiers and your installers and collect relevant information about product usage. Then you can encourage viral conversations about it. Remember that conversations are always two-way—create the community and contribute effectively.

5. Know how your product is positioned in the market place. When you are familiar with your product’s place and reputation you can find the opportunities to create buzz where you can build awareness the quickest. Meet the market at the need.

dana castle
principal + director of strategy
FUNCTION:we’re into building things through marketing, design and public relations