Blind spots, if left unchecked, can have deadly consequences on the projects you design and build. Back-up alarms and safety procedures help operators to deal with blind spots when reversing heavy equipment. Civil engineers calculate site distance to eliminate blind spots for motorists to safely access and egress a certain parcel. Great caution and diligence must be exercised to remove blind spots from your AEC marketing.
Ironically, your in-house marketing staff may have blind spots that are less obvious. Obviously, the consequences are not as dire as those you face in the field, but they present problems nonetheless.
Start with the following questions to determine whether your marketing staff has any blind spots:
- Do they have a background in the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) field?
- Are they active with only marketing-related professional societies?
- Do they spend most of their time in your office?
- How much exposure do they have to your operations staff?
- Do they attend trade association events that bring ALL members of your industry together?
So why is this problem worthy of your attention? You hire these folks to crank out proposals and marketing collateral; maintain the website; execute e-mail marketing campaigns; track analytics, etc. All are primarily office-based duties. You rely on your business development staff and your business-savvy project managers to network, right? Wrong!
Effective AEC marketing requires understanding the target audience and the big picture. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing Marketing as creating some flowery language for a brochure or designing a nice newsletter. Every piece of content created should be rooted in understanding in order to achieve the maximum result.
If your marketing staff works within a cocoon, they lack a 360-degree perspective of your industry. What if you’re marketing isn’t 100 percent effective? It trickles down to your bottom line, right?
Consider the following cost-effective, easy-to-implement ways to eliminate these blind spots…
1. Network with Industry Veterans
I’ve spent a great deal of my career working in a marketing capacity with executives of construction and design firms, many of whom have more than 40 years of industry experience. Like a sponge, I absorbed every ounce of knowledge possible.
The veterans of the design and construction industry have a wealth of knowledge for those willing to listen. Your marketing staff should be all ears. These folks can also provide historical perspective, which is critical to understanding this marketplace and creating marketing strategies and tactics to effectively penetrate a changing marketplace. Encourage your marketing staff to connect with these veterans or facilitate a meeting yourself. If you’re lucky enough to know a “teacher,” a single meeting will be packed with valuable insight.
2. Direct Connections with Your Executives
This sounds obvious, but it’s shocking how many marketing folks have no direct interaction with their firm’s executive. If you’re lucky enough to have the founder on the premises, connect him or her with your marketing staff. Marketers are more effective when they have a direct conduit to the founder because the history of the firm is pivotal to enforcing your firm’s brand.
Facilitate an occasional one-on-one or a lunch. Most of the founders I know love to share their knowledge and tell stories. Many of these folks are over 80 now, but you will find some incredible characters. Their stories are often the stuff of legends. Make sure that knowledge trickles down through the rest of your firm in flavors your marketing efforts.
3. Mix AEC Marketing and Operations
Your marketing staff needs to mix with your operations team. The more marketers know about the nuts and bolts of your operation, the better the results. This is especially important if your marketing folks are recent college graduates or have no AEC experience. This concept is especially important for firms with complex services or product lines.
Most marketing folks collaborate with operations staff on proposals, but the interaction should go beyond that. Find ways to insert them into operations meetings on occasion. Allow them to collaborate on projects or joint business development pursuits. They should also comingle among your operations staff. The more natural interaction, the better.
4. Network Outside of the Peer Group
Professional societies are beneficial in many ways. They provide an outlet for like-minded folks with similar problems to trade ideas, learn best practices, and find empathy for shared burdens. These are all things that help them deliver value to your firm. If they have a blind spot, however, you’re missing a critical component.
They need exposure to various folks within your industry. The greatest exposure marketing folks get to general industry events is often the trade show. These shows are highly beneficial to marketers that ask questions and listen. Take it to the next level. Bring your marketing director to a networking event or a presentation from time to time where they can network in a more relaxed and less sales-driven environment. Introduce them to some key people and facilitate a connection.
Most AEC marketing folks will welcome the opportunities listed above. If they don’t, your problems go beyond the scope of this article. These are cost-effective ways to get more out of your marketing staff. Implement those that make sense for your situation and expect improved results from your marketing staff.
In what other ways does your firm ensure that the marketing staff understands your industry? Have these efforts produced results?