Deep six

Jan 01, 2018

Keeping up with the latest and greatest in marketing is tough, but it’s easy to see what techniques need to be left behind.

If you’re still doing the same kind of marketing you were doing 10 or even five years ago, you’re probably seeing a decline in leads. If you haven’t yet, I promise you will.

Here are six different marketing trends and techniques that are as outdated as bell-bottoms:

  1. Overly lengthy white papers. I know this one is going to be controversial. White papers were the “it” thing not too long ago, and definitely at the start and heart of the content marketing movement. Content is key, content is good, but I can assure you of this: Everyone has content now and attention spans have been cut in half. Many A/E firms still spend a lot of time crafting very expansive 40-plus page technical documents with scores of exhibits and examples. If you do a white paper, stick to the following guidelines:
    • Twenty pages or less. Anything more is just too long!
    • Put your white paper behind a “landing page” that is graphically pleasing and clearly explains why your audience should hand over their precious details and give up their valuable time to read it. Make sure your contact form isn’t unnecessarily long – you probably only need an email address.
    • Promote it via social media. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are places people go to read up on interesting new techniques, approaches, and project examples. If you’re not taking advantage of this audience, you’re missing out on valuable opportunities.
    • Consider infographics or a video as an alternative or complimentary piece. Images and graphics are absolutely necessary. No one wants to read 20 pages of 12-point font.
    • Webinars are a great way to promote and complement your white paper!
  2. Overt advertisements. “Use us because we’re the best” with a firm name and phone number will not get you leads anymore. You have to prove you’re worth a phone call! Show, don’t just tell why you’re the best.
  3. Obvious stock photos. Have you seen the camera on the new iPhone 8? A 10-year-old can now take a phone picture that is 10 times better than the professional photos of 10 years ago. Your average website visitor can pick out stock photos from a mile away. They will make your website look cheap and impersonal. There are amazing programs designed to help you customize un-obvious stock photos or your own photos for use in advertisements and even your website. Send me an email and I’d be glad to share some resources with you.
  4. Spam marketing and list buying. CAN-SPAM specifically states that it is illegal to sell – and conversely, buy – email addresses. It is, however, legal to “rent” a list, but it doesn’t work well! Spam your clients or potential clients with constant un-targeted email blasts and advertisements, and watch your contact list shrink at an alarming rate (see No. 6 for more on this subject).
  5. Marketing without tracking. Do you know your website views, sessions, bounce rate? Social media followers? Average likes and impressions? Do you know how many leads are coming in, how many proposals are being sent out, and average short-list and win rates? These are just a few of the metrics you need to know and need to be monitoring on a regular basis. Changes in these numbers are the proverbial canary in a coal-mine when it comes to the future health of your firm.
  6. No CRM system. An Excel sheet is not the ideal place for client/potential client information, or even your newsletter mailing list. If you don’t have a good system that tracks your current and potential clients, what they are being sent, and who is communicating with them, then you are at a major disadvantage. There are so many options for affordable and efficient systems today. Use the technology to your advantage!

Christina Zweig Niehues is Zweig Group’s director of marketing. Contact her at

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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.