The Changing Face of Marketing

Oct 03, 2005

We went to see my Mom and Dad in Kirkwood, Missouri, last weekend, for my Mom’s 85th birthday. While I was there, we had a lively discussion with my 85-year-old father, my 55- and 52-year-old brothers, and my 20- and 22-year-old nephews. It was then that I had one of those rare epiphanies: The old ways of marketing professional services are going out the window. Let me rephrase. The old ways of marketing professional services HAVE already GONE out the window! In the past, everything started with relationships. You had to see and be seen. You had to meet people, press the flesh, do presentations, and ask for the order. Sure, we had brochures and newsletters, but one-on-one ruled when it came to selling what we as architects, engineers, planners, and consultants did. What’s different about today? Two words describe it all— the Internet. How so? It’s the first place people look for information, particularly those who are younger and more computer-oriented. The significance of this should not be ignored. What it means is if a university client wants to design a new classroom building, he or she will most likely go to Google and plug in “classroom building architect” or some other similar combination of words to see who pops up. This is not the same thing as calling a friend at another university, or looking in the Yellow Pages, or searching through their business card files for the card of an architect they once met at an education conference. They just go to Google, plug in key words, and search. Whoever pops up is probably going to get a call or e-mail. Other client types are behaving similarly. And the younger the potential buyer of these services is, the more likely they are to use this approach. What this means for you, readers, is that it’s critical you update your web sites. Your sites have to be organized along the lines that clients hire you. It’s imperative you have the proper key words registered such that your firm turns up in a buyer search. You need to know what words buyers are searching by and make sure those will work to find you. You need to be certain that these inquirers know who to e-mail or where to call, and that their inquiries will always be quickly answered. And you need to be sure that your response to them addresses their specific needs and reinforces the ideas that you have your stuff together, you are focused on clients like them, that you want to work for them, and more. Older readers may not understand how important this knowledge of where buyers look first is. These people may not want to fund the changes required to cash in on this knowledge. They may need a lot of help (and cajoling) to get them to understand. The world is changing rapidly. Marketing is changing every bit as fast. Are you keeping up with these changes? Originally published 10/03/2005

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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.