AIA Arkansas Blog
Basic Marketing for Busy AEC Professionals By Joan McQuaid, HP Engineering
Did you know that putting a little time and energy toward some basic marketing communication efforts could shine a professional spotlight on you? Expand the awareness of your organization to a wider audience? Further your career? Ideally, bring dollars to your business?
The good news is that anyone – architects, engineers, contractors, manufacturer’s reps – can create some fundamental marketing communication pieces and garner positive results. Whether a seasoned professional or new to the AEC industry, you can write, give a presentation, or post on social media with topics that are informative for your clients to spur connections that could ultimately benefit your bottom line.
If you’re new to marketing, choose an approach that is manageable for you, and at least somewhat close to your comfort zone – so you can begin marketing without becoming overwhelmed while doing it.
Focus – It’s All About THEM
An easy, but often overlooked place to begin, is to put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Take the time to consider the things that your clients think about. Where is their focus? What keeps them awake at night? What trends are happening in your clients’ worlds that could impact how they do their work?
If you’re new to the AEC industry or aren’t familiar enough the topics that interest your clients, how could you find out what those topics are? It’s not hard. Place yourself in your clients’ universe. Read the publications and view the websites that they read. Have conversations with them and ask about their concerns. For more in-depth understanding, go to the local events where they gather. Attend a conference that your clients attend. You could even volunteer for a cause where your clients are also volunteering. Get to know them; simultaneously you’ll learn what matters to them.
Once you’ve narrowed to some relevant topics, then prepare to communicate information that is in line with your clients’ focus. By doing this you’ll not only capture clients’ attention with the pertinent information you provide, but also position yourself as a credible resource for them. And who doesn’t want to be helpful to a client?
There are several options for getting your words in front of your audience. Start simply with a small goal, like one written piece.
Write a brief 3-5 paragraph blog post for your company’s website. If your organization has an e-newsletter or e-magazine for clients, write an article for an upcoming issue. If these channels are not available to you, submit a more substantial article to the editors of client industry publications and/or online resources for the editors’ consideration to publish.
Regardless of the channel, be sure the piece you’re writing will be a valuable read for your clients. Offer content that is timely, educational, or newsworthy. For example, focus on real-world scenarios, give solutions to their problems, expand on ways to avoid pitfalls, or write about upcoming changes that could impact your clients’ work. When composing your piece, avoid using AEC industry jargon. Instead, use your clients’ vocabulary.
If you prefer being live and in-person before your client audience, then make an informative presentation to your clients. Better still, invite a client or colleague to co-present with you. Two presenters can split the work of creating and giving the presentation. Having a client presenter alongside you adds to your credibility as an expert. It also provides great exposure for both presenters.
Just as with a written piece, presentations should offer useful, timely, and helpful information.
If you have the resources, consider going a couple of steps further — offer your presentation as an online webinar and/or invite local clients to your office for your live presentation.
Social media posts are quick and easy ways to communicate with your client audience. Select the social media channel(s) that are most used by your clients. If possible, have several short posts ready so that you can post on a regular basis. Repetition and a consistent presence on social media help increase awareness of you and the communications you’re posting Whenever possible, post work you’ve written. Additionally, offer links to any other of your online article(s). Share announcements about upcoming events — especially if you’ll be a participant in those events.
Bonus: most social media channels have analytics available that track traffic and responses to your posts. Seeing a swirl of activity and positive comments on your posts are good motivation to do more of whatever you find is resonating well with your clients.
Once you’ve created a piece, look for ways to expand its reach. Condense full-length articles for a blog post. Your article can be inserted in a newsletter, submitted for publication in traditional print or e-magazines, turned into a presentation, used as the basis for a webinar, and placed across social media.
A small investment of your time, energy, and creativity can yield a larger return. Start gently. Build your confidence. Ask for assistance if you need it. Persist in your efforts and then try to expand coverage of every piece you create. Your clients will notice and appreciate what you’re providing to them. Ideally, they’ll reward you by doing more business with you.
Joan McQuaid is the Chief Marketing Officer at HP Engineering, Inc. in Rogers, Arkansas. She has over 20 years of strategic marketing communications and planning experience in the AEC industry. She can be reached at email@example.com.