There is nothing more critical to marketing your Architecture, Engineering, or Construction (AEC) firm than the projects you design and build. Your project profiles allow you to go beyond claims and demonstrate actual results. The work you perform is the only thing that illustrates how the key elements of your firm: team, services, history, brand, etc. work together.
It’s time to optimize. The following tips will help to fine-tune your project profiles to get maximum results.
Stay Consistent with Your Brand
While your project profiles are meant to showcase your work, they also offer an opportunity to reinforce your branding efforts. Your client should look at the document an instantly associate it with your firm. All of your project profiles must be consistent with your branding, including your logo, fonts, colors, design elements, and brand voice.
Keep Your Word Count Low
Your client doesn’t read all of your project descriptions word for word. That’s a painful reality, but it’s true. Focus on quality over quantity. Keep your word count should below 400. It’s seems challenging to describe a multi-phase design or construction project in so few words, but like good writing, the goal is to say more with less.
Write for Your Entire Audience
Who is your audience? Are they technical or general? There is danger in allowing your technical staff to write the final draft because it may be too technical for the reader. If you go too deep into the nuts and bolts, you run the risk of losing generalists such as the graphic designer on the selection committee. In a perfect world, your technical and marketing team are collaborating throughout the process.
Add Diversity to Your Design
Stacking your profiles with long blocks of text is a surefire way to scare off readers. Use a mixture of photos, graphics, text, subheads, and bullets to avoid a sea of text. This is especially true in the visually-driven construction and design industry. Avoid getting too complicated or you will end up with a hodgepodge of text and graphics. Like advertising, your goal is to design your project profiles to allow the reader to take away a key point or two. Design your profiles around the client that has no intentions of reading the entire document.
Write in the Active Voice
Which of these sentences is more effective?
“A bioretention basin was designed to comply with the township’s E & S requirements.”
“We designed a bioretention basin to comply with the township’s E & S requirements.”
The second sentence, written in the active voice, is obviously better because it’s clear that you did the work. Good writing, generally speaking, uses the active voice far more than the passive voice. And yet, writing in the passive voice is prevalent, especially among design firms. You don’t need to be Ernest Hemingway when writing your project descriptions, but you do need to be clear.
Keep Your Design Consistent
What if you sent out qualifications on several different templates? What would that say to your client? Might he or she make assumptions about your attention to detail and the quality of your work? I’ve seen project descriptions laid out on Frankenstein-like templates with text and graphic blocks scattered everywhere. They’re hard to to read and hard to edit. Keep it simple. Stick to a single template with a specific word count range and no more than three design templates.
Make Your Design Simple, but Attractive
Don’t feel the need to include multiple shots from the same project. Usually a single project shot, and possibly a rendering, will suffice. Another technique that works well is a call out box with key project details, i.e. cost, client, project type, key quantities, etc. Perhaps the greatest opportunity, which I rarely see, is the addition of a project-specific testimonial. You can even draw attention and add design appeal by setting it in a box with large quotation marks, formally known as a pull quote.
Capitalize on Inbound Marketing
Are your project descriptions digitally optimized? Gone are the days when you strictly mail or deliver a static print document. Your descriptions need to be digital-friendly for posting on your website, social media, or e-mailing to prospective clients. Project profiles offer an incredible inbound marketing opportunity. Make sure to add website hyperlinks where appropriate to drive inbound traffic to your website and social media pages. You also want to make sure you have hyperlinked e-mails for your contact, as well. And don’t forget to drop in icons with links to any social media pages your firm actively uses.
Design for Print & Computer
Will your project descriptions be displayed on a computer screen? If so, make sure they display well from a big screen computer monitor down to a hand-held mobile device. This is not as complicated as responsive website design, which essentially changes the dimensions of your design, but it does require attention. Simply make sure your text and graphics are large enough to be read and contain adequate white space.
The projects you design and build are the livelihood of your firm and the keystone of your credibility as a firm. Your clients want to see the results of what you do on the types of projects they procure. Follow these guidelines to make sure all of your project profiles portray your firm in the most positive light.
Do you have any tips on optimizing project profiles? Please share your ideas.