Marketing for AEC firms has come a long way in the last few decades, but we still have a number of problems that could be easily solved.
While marketing may not be at the top of your priority list right now, AEC firms – even though they have come a long, long way marketing-wise over the 42 years I’ve worked in this industry – still have a number of marketing problems that could be easily solved.
What are some of those, you may ask? Here is what I see and hear:
- Marketing people are still treated like second class citizens in some companies. This has been a long-term problem. Marketing people are viewed by some design professionals just as support people, instead of equally important team members when it comes to securing new work. That demotivates them, reduces the quality of their output, and leads to high turnover of the people in these jobs. This is not good and is easily resolved. Educate your people and set a good example yourself.
- Companies are not doing nearly enough research on the clients they have potential to work with. You still see this regularly. The team presenting for the work knows nothing about the organization they are presenting to. Who are the key people and what are their roles? What big events have affected the potential client recently? What are their plans for their organization? What do you know that can be employed to communicate to the client that you have done your homework? This is important stuff and is the difference between doing what you need to do to win or just going through the motions.
- Basic information on firm websites is too difficult to find. It still amazes me when I cannot find a physical address or phone number on a company. Or a concise description of what they do. Or info on their key people. Or a real representation of some of their better projects. All of these things have happened to me in the last few months and I am not even very active in the business any longer. It is all simple stuff to fix and requires that the company take a critical look at their website.
- Companies still have all kinds of issues related to incorrect addresses on their website and Google maps. This, too, is a common problem. Companies move and they never get this resolved. Or Google driving instructions send people to an old address. This stuff has to be fixed.
- Companies don’t have a single, well-maintained client and potential client list. This is so common! All it takes is to make a decision on what platform you are going to use, train people on how to use it, insist that they use it, track and report on its usage, and have top management model the behaviors they want the other people to follow, and you can do it!
- Firms are not comprehensively identifying the entire list of potential organizations they want to work for, nor the people in those organizations who can hire them or influence the decision to hire them. I have been saying this repeatedly over the years. How can you sell anything to anyone if you don’t first come up with a list of who you are trying to reach? Most companies have 10 or 20 percent of the organizations and people in them in for any of their target markets. There is a mistaken belief no one should be on the list unless we know their company has project needs, or no one should go on the list unless they have been met or talked to in some way. This is bad thinking.
This list of marketing-related problems is far from complete. But these things are really “easy pickins,” as we might say here in Arkansas. Fix them.
Mark Zweig is Zweig Group’s chairman and founder. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.