The announcement just showed up (in my inbox ironically) that the Mid-Atlantic Builders Exchange, a Harrisburg, Pa.-based trade association providing information to the construction industry, is shutting its doors. They used to print a heavy-duty annual construction buyers guide among other things. The press release cited “rapidly changing economic and market conditions that have continued to diminish the usefulness of MABX’s core project information service.”
Trade magazines are struggling, too. Site Prep stopped publishing last year. Better Roads was merged into Equipment World. Even Total Landscape Care switched to an online format. All were solid publications with high-quality content, so what gives?
Trade Publications are Struggling, Too
Print is struggling to adapt in the Digital Age. Trade publications, directories, and all things print, have had their advertising-driven business model turned on its head. Now they’re trying to figure out how to adapt, and there will continue to be casualties. This is survival of the fittest.
I’ve edited two publications during my career: Constructioneer Magazine and Highway Builder, which is published by the Associated Pennsylvania Constructors (APC). And I still have many friends and colleagues in trade publishing. This trend resonates with me as a result.
Communications are Changing
The most recent AEC Straight Talker Blog featured a post entitled, “Boiling Frogs and the Evolving AEC Market,” which discussed structural changes in the design and construction marketplace. One of the trends I cited was “the changing face of communication in the Digital Age.”
The Internet and the way we consume media has changed. The trade publishing model relied heavily on advertising revenue and many of you have shifted at least a portion of your promotional budget into digital marketing over the past two decades. Some publications seem to be outliers.
The construction industry tends to be a bit more old school than other industries. It’s usually roughly 10 years behind the trend when it comes to technology-based changes such as social media and digital marketing. That’s just the opinion of one guy that’s been serving this industry for nearly 25 years.
AEC Marketing Must Include Digital and Print
So how does this affect you, the readers? Why should you care? It’s one less magazine clogging your P.O. Box or distracting you from work, right? You’ve got roads to build, construction equipment to sell, and buildings to design.
The Internet is changing the way that your story is told, but the need to tell your story will always be timeless. It remains a critical part of your public relations efforts. As the pendulum swings further and further away from the effectiveness of the hard sale, explaining how your firm helps clients is more important than ever.
I tell our clients that, in the AEC sector, you need to have a tent in both camps. In other words, your marketing should focus on both print and digital marketing. Did you just cringe? Allow me to clarify. That doesn’t mean you need to double your spending. It simply means that you need to find the appropriate media mix for your marketing dollars.
Print is not dead, especially in the AEC sector. In fact, I would contend that maintaining a presence in print offers a chance to create differentiation and garner some attention as the rest of the herd flocks to the Internet. There was on old advertising saying that you need to go where the eyeballs are. Guess what, folks? They’re in two places. Adjust your strategy accordingly.
How has the print versus digital situation affected the way you promote your firm? Have you made any intentional changes and why?