Building value

Jul 07, 2024


Shift your perspective to view your marketing team as a strategic asset that constructs the very pathways through which your business grows.

With more than 30 years in the trenches of AEC industry marketing, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of strategic marketing. From behind-the-scenes crafting of winning proposals to the front lines of brand management, the contributions of marketing professionals are not just essential – they’re an investment in our firm’s future.

At its core, marketing in AEC firms is about building relationships and reputations as much as constructing buildings and infrastructure. Even as modern and sophisticated as we have become in business, skeptics still view marketing professionals as just overhead expenses. It’s time to view our marketing team not as a line item cost but as a pivotal resource driving substantial ROI. Here are just a few of the ways marketers are building value in your firm:

  • Proposals that win business. Every proposal is a strategic endeavor, blending market insights with compelling narratives that showcase our unique capabilities. The ROI here is clear: a well-executed proposal secures contracts, drives revenue, and expands our business reach. Think of each successful proposal as a direct contribution to our bottom line – this is marketing that doesn’t just pay for itself; it pays dividends.
  • Branding that builds business. Consistent and strategic branding extends beyond logo placement and conference sponsorships. It’s about carving a niche in a competitive market and positioning your firm as the go-to expert in your field. For instance, when my firm’s name is associated with resilient engineering solutions, it attracts and retains more clients and reduces the cost and effort required to win new contracts. Here, marketing ROI is measured by increased market share and a stronger, more recognizable brand.
  • Networking and event coordination. When we host or participate in industry events, each handshake and exchange opens doors to new partnerships and opportunities. Facilitated by your marketing team, these interactions are critical for business development. A well-executed client dinner can be the difference between reselection and rejection during the next GEC renewal period. Investing in well-organized events means investing in the growth of your professional network, directly correlating to new business leads and enhanced industry positioning.
  • Recruitment and retention through marketing. Our marketing efforts also play a crucial role in attracting and retaining top talent. A robust onboarding experience and strong internal brand draws the best in the field. They inspire loyalty, reduce turnover, and foster a healthy culture. The ROI is twofold: reduced recruitment costs and enhanced productivity through a motivated, engaged workforce. Marketing personnel can play a big role here.
  • Enhancing client engagement and satisfaction. Marketing extends into client engagement and satisfaction, ensuring your firm wins projects and builds lasting relationships that lead to repeat business and referrals. By understanding client needs and consistently delivering value, your marketing team enhances client loyalty and satisfaction, critical for long-term success in our industry. This aspect of marketing contributes to a sustainable business model where client retention rates are as important as new acquisitions.

Marketing teams in the AEC industry should be seen as a collaborative partner in achieving strategic objectives. It’s not just about keeping the firm in the public eye but strategically positioning us to seize opportunities and mitigate challenges. Your marketing initiatives should be designed to align closely with business development goals, ensuring that every dollar spent is an investment in your firm’s future.

To my fellow executives and project leaders, I encourage a shift in perspective. See your marketing team as architects of opportunity – a strategic asset that constructs the very pathways through which our business grows. Together, let’s build on this foundation to elevate our firm’s position in the industry and achieve new heights of success. 

Kraig Kern, CPSM is vice president and director of marketing at WK Dickson. Contact him at

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.