A post written by architect and friend of Insynth, Paul Iddon ARB RIBA.

Picture this. You attend your first exhibition event after almost two years of fearful avoidance of mass gatherings, and it’s all a bit of a blur. At first, there’s the entirely new and jarring experience of being asked to prove your vaccination record or negative test.

There’s the anxiety-inducing bag check under the watchful eye of the security guard. Then the question of whether to mask or not. It’s confusing and disconcerting navigating these understandable safeguards whilst trying not to feel like Tom Hanks or Michael Caine passing through Checkpoint Charlie in a Cold War Berlin. Nevertheless, the world has changed, and at some level, we all know it will never entirely be the same again.construction marketing agency inbound marketing picture of a crowd

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Climate Change in Architecture and Construction 

The dominant theme of the event is how we can meaningfully respond to climate change in architecture and construction. However, this has shifted recently, as the RIBA now talks about The Climate Emergency in its communications. Hence, the shift in language and tonality emphasises the seriousness of the latest global research and the pressure on architects to redefine themselves in response to this existential threat. The world has changed, and we all know it will never quite be the same again at some level.

And then it gets weird. Everyone you meet is unfailingly cheerful and glad to see you. The mood is one of elation and relief at being together in the world again. There is banter and jokes, offers of coffee are accepted with enthusiasm seldom seen before 2020. It is bright and exciting, even though in industry terms it is a tiddler of an exhibition. The world may have changed, but people are still pretty much the same. We are an incredibly adaptable and resilient species.

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Fear of Change in construction

Fearful changes in the world that have been a human constant over countless millennia are often accompanied by a paradoxical increase in politeness and humour when face to face. The clever French, of course, have a neat expression for this phenomenon: ‘plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose’ – the more things change, the more they stay the same.

Jane Austen understood this all too well. She was an excellent observer of the human condition under stress and change. Her phenomenal novels are constantly being retold in movies and TV because they still resonate today, her characters showing resilience, fortitude and dignity in the face of changes in fortune. The context appears decidedly upper-middle class, but the hard reality for many characters was a lack of control and survival. Her female protagonists are intelligent, insightful and resourceful in navigating a rarefied and bizarre set of societal rules (Nowadays, of course, Elinor Dashwood would be entirely self-sufficient as a GP and Elizabeth Bennet, an architect). But the subtleties of Austen’s stories were driven by more urgent, often suppressed emotions.

Sense and Sensibility were about the contrasting characters of two of the Dashwood sisters. Elinor is sensible, realistic and reserved in the ‘sense’ of the title, whilst Marianne is sensitive, passionate and romantic, representing ‘sensibility’.

picture of Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood How Building Product Brands Can Use Content To Convert SpecifiersSense and Sensibility Columbia Pictures 1995 ©Vox 2021 Emma Thompson as Elinor Dashwood and Kate Winslet as Marianne Dashwood


In a previous blog, I discussed understanding the psychology of the architect and the balance that needs to be struck between rational and emotional messaging. It would be worth reading this in conjunction with this post. I’ve said it many times; architects are NOT like other professionals in the value chain. They are unusual in personality profile and require careful consideration, especially in rapidly changing demographics.

 

Where do architects fit in?

When you are marketing or selling to architects, an excellent way to think about their character is a combination of the Bennet or Dashwood sisters. Many live modest lives compared with other more lucrative professions but exhibit relative privilege.

They have to be practical like Elizabeth Bennet, whilst being driven by passion or more romantic instincts like Marianne Dashwood to create something special, meaningful and hopefully, beautiful. I discussed the basis of this thinking in another blog about the Vitruvian Triad as the motivational drivers of the architect.

The RIBA sees a uniquely positive role for the architect in responding to climate emergencies. A practical yet creative role in meeting the challenges of a sustainable future without compromising the ideals of art spanning millennia. As is often said, in every crisis, there’s an opportunity. This could be the remaking of the architect’s role in imagining and innovating a better environment for our children and grandchildren. This is fruitful territory for the insightful marketer or shrewd specification salesperson.

I know what you’re thinking. What about the socks in the title of this piece?

Wandering around the exhibition, I saw many giveaways for the visitor. Designed to provide a gift – or a personal exchange (another blog about this in the pipeline) whilst being a brand awareness driver. For example, water bottles have overtaken mugs and mouse mats in recent years and are very practical as well-being is closely connected with hydration. If we are under-hydrated, we experience unpleasant yet subtle effects that impact our mood, similar to being ‘hangry’

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Having ‘cold feet’, the change of heart in a critical life decision, is something we have all experienced (no, not the TV series) and is related to the body’s ‘flight, flight or freeze’ autonomic response to danger. Blood flow increases to core muscles at the expense of our hands and feet when we feel anxiety or fear, and adrenalin and cortisol are released, stimulating our Autonomic Nervous System and rapid, uncontrollable changes in our body.

Similarly, our body’s ability to maintain a homeostatic balance in temperature is truly miraculous, but swings in temperature are very hard to ignore unless you have the training of a Shaolin Monk. It is a complex and crucial survival system that can seriously affect our emotional state’s ability to function with a change in only 10C either way.

Yet, these millions of year-old mechanisms can be ‘hacked’ by the simple strategy of using socks (and/or gloves). Keeping our feet warm can have a surprising effect on your body’s perception of cold. We can literally reset our room and body thermostats a few degrees by wearing socks. Try it. Also, if you feel stress and anxiety, keeping your feet warm can help.

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We are all feeling anxious about the world right now. Keeping our feet warm can make us feel warmer and, therefore, a bit better and allows us to reduce our boiler thermostats a couple of degrees. A small change can make a big difference.

So, start giving socks to architects (and everyone else).
I would have been amazed and delighted if there was such a gift at the exhibition. Carefully presented with a short narrative, it would have a huge impact. I realise the challenges with embroidery costs and size, but the effort would be worth it. The insight would not be lost on architects and would be gratefully received, logo or no logo.

It demonstrates the meaning of the words in the title of Jane Austen’s eponymous novel.

Practicality and sensitivity; Sense and Sensibility.

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About Insynth

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We use the latest marketing techniques such as construction inbound marketing, to equip building product companies to grow sustainability in this era of digital transformation.

As the only HubSpot certified agency to major in construction marketing. We have a proven formula of bringing a variety of functionalities together including CRM ImplementationWeb DesignSales AutomationSEO, and Email Marketing to achieve your ultimate aim: Growing your business and gaining new specifiers and customers.

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Paul Iddon

Written by Paul Iddon

Paul is an experienced Architect, specifier and Vice President of the Manchester Society of Architects, which is the largest Architectural group outside of London.