Cutting through

Aug 19, 2019

You must constantly rethink your marketing strategy, using traditional and trending methods, if you want to be effective.

Stop me if you’ve heard this recently: “Marketing for AEC firms is changing.” Of course it is. Much like anything in our industry, innovation and technology are forcing our methods of marketing and business development to constantly evolve.

I’m fortunate enough to be in a leadership marketing role at an AEC firm that is forward-thinking and innovative. At Pennoni, we do what we say we’re going to do. We invest in new technology and trends, we’re committed to growth, and the efforts of my team are aligned with both the operational and strategic initiatives of the firm. In recent years, we developed a firm-wide marketing plan that aligns with the strategic goals of the firm. With the support of our senior leaders, this plan serves as the playbook for our marketing efforts, including website, social media, proposals, conferences, and tradeshows.

Today, we offer cutting edge services such as design visualization and energy management. However, we wouldn’t be where we are now without the success of our core service offerings as the backbone of our firm. The same goes with marketing. Just like our core, tried and true service offerings, we are faced with new and innovative ways of marketing our firms. For my team, we are constantly striving for a healthy balance of what is now seen as traditional marketing versus digital marketing.

The advancement of social media is one of the biggest drivers behind all of this. Whether we like it or not, social media has immersed itself into our daily lives, at home and at work. Firms simply cannot ignore social media if they want to succeed, and platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram have the power to reach clients and prospective clients with information that can instantly impact their decision or perception of a firm. How do we balance this influx of information?

  • Create a content calendar to organize the different platforms and what you want to post on each
  • If you haven’t already, start a blog on your company website and publish posts regularly
  • Break up your own content by sharing industry articles that are relevant to your firm

Because of the increased focus of digital marketing, our traditional relationship-based method of closing deals and winning projects is challenged, and marketing and business development efforts become even more critical. This is especially true in geographic territories or service offerings that are new to Pennoni. Through social platforms and our blog, we use brand awareness and thought leadership to bolster our reputation of being a leader in the AEC industry.

Account-based marketing is another strategic approach we use to open doors and expand engagements with specific clients. A focus on fewer, specific targets – not marketing to the masses – helps to further align our marketing and sales/business development team and allows a more precise measurement of return on investment. This forward-thinking approach requires the buy-in from the leaders of the firm to encourage technical staff to provide the content and intel.

Regardless of your resources, there are avenues to explore to see change and be disruptive in an ever-evolving AEC landscape. You must constantly rethink your marketing strategy in your effort to cut through all the noise.

Robert McGee is Pennoni’s director of marketing and corporate communications. He can be reached 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.