I’ve had a number of conversations recently about experience – project portfolios, resumes, etc. On the flip side, I’ve been challenging clients and connections to focus on expertise.

What’s the difference?

Experience fills a resume; expertise builds a brand.

Proposals represent one of the very last chances that your firm has to share information with a client before a project award, and by their definition they have to show experience. Meeting minimum requirements for qualification means providing experience.

Expertise is what your marketing should focus on at every opportunity though, including before, during and after the proposal. The idea of focusing your marketing efforts on expertise means telling clients and potential clients what your firm is best at, not what you’re good at.

What you are best at builds your brand, your reputation, your revenue and your profit. Everything else, the projects that you just can do, will always have a varying success rate.

The tough part – sharing your expertise, but not your experience means leaving stuff out. It means trimming your website, shaving your portfolio and rewriting your boilerplate without the laundry list of industries, project types and disciplines. It’s a tall task, but a necessary one for an AEC firm to fully take control of its marketing.