Tell Me Something I Don’t Know Mr. Marketing Guy

If you ask the average AEC firm partner, they’ll say they know their audience. They’ll also say they know their capabilities, they know the contacts, they know the market, etc. These are very true statements for the most part.

Well, why then, do people hire marketing consultants? After all, aren’t these basically the things that any marketing consultant is going to waltz in and regurgitate after a few meetings?

I hope not.

As a marketing consultant, I cringe when I hear about the perception that marketing and branding professionals just capture what people say in interviews and turn it around in a document. That’s not what we do – at least not most of us. A good strategy is about the details, their analysis and unique recommendations based how those things fit into the big picture.

So, for any interested AEC industry folks, I thought it was worthwhile to cover a few of the basics that go into a REAL strategy document so people can know what to expect.

You may know your website – but do you know which pages are the most popular? If you’re a federal government contractor, do you know whether or not people are hitting your site from a government IP address? Do you know the last time you had a spike in traffic and why?

You may know your competitors – but do you know what content they have on their sites that you don’t? Do you know how closely aligned your brand is with theirs or how easily potential clients get confused between you and them?

You may know your clients – but do you know the right ones? Do you know who really makes buying decisions? Do you know why they called you in the first place? Or why they call you back?

You may know your capabilities – but do you know what your clients are asking for? Do you know how to describe them to an uninformed audience? Do you know what your clients call your services and how that differs from what you call them?

I could go on…but I’ll spare you! The point is, the devil is in the details. Perhaps more importantly, the devil is in ALL of the details. It is easy to find out the answer to any one of these questions, but the point of a strategic consultant is to pull all of these things together and make recommendations based on experience, industry understanding and knowledge on what works best for what audience.

If you’re hiring a worthwhile strategic consultant, they won’t just tell you something you already know – but they should tell you plenty of things you wish you knew sooner.

Three Types of Internal Marketing Your Firm Should Be Doing

There are plenty of articles and webinars on how to make your entire firm into sales people. The thought behind many of these courses is that the more people that are selling on behalf of the firm, or at least reaching out, the more new projects your AEC firm will win.

Well…I won’t say I disagree, but I will say that I don’t like playing the numbers game when it comes to sales. Meaning, my approach is never to go after every job, with the hope that you win one out of ten.

However, I do feel that internal marketing and communications are incredibly important. With that in mind, here are three types of internal marketing that successful firms employ.

1. The marketing department needs to communicate with employees, not just clients
Everyone in the company should know what you’re going after, what your latest big win is, what your exciting new target markets are…maybe even what conference you’re going to next. The reason is, that you never know what connections people may have that they never even thought of as leads…but they actually are. Newsletters are good, but can sometimes be too time consuming and hard to pull together regularly. Find a way to communicate with your team in a timely and realistic manner.

2. Leadership needs to “second” what marketing is doing
Firm management has to be vocal about supporting marketing, and the overhead expenses that come with it. There are times when overhead is questioned in any architecture firm or construction company, but it is leadership’s responsibility to assure everyone that there is a strong sense of purpose and that the expenses yield results in the long term. A well-crafted marketing plan is always a good thing for leadership to point back to.

3. Sit in on project meetings when possible
It may not seem like marketing necessarily, but it is important. Sitting in on a few project meetings has several benefits. First, it builds trust amongst the team. Doing it once won’t work, but if it becomes a regular thing it will improve communications. Second, you learn more about what the firm really does. Even for more senior marketers that may understand the industry very well, there is much to be said for learning a little bit about the specific projects and headaches that your coworkers face. Finally, you may get some ideas about new ways to market the firm. You never know what problems may pop up during a conversation that you can help solve through a new communications piece, additional market research or even a blog post.

Marketing internally can be as beneficial as marketing externally. Break down those cubicle walls and begin a better dialog with your coworkers to help you understand more about your clients!