When it comes to producing content, A/E/C firms typically have no shortage. Project profiles, proposal boilerplate, SOQs, brochures, e-newsletters and press releases are usually in great abundance. But how engaging is your content? Does it cause your audience to stop and read?

Content marketing represents a huge opportunity for A/E/C marketers to differentiate their firms and stand out from the crowded marketplace.  But an effective content marketing program requires producing the right kind of content. Content that is engaging, helpful and ultimately worthy of your audience’s time.

So what are some ways A/E/C firms can produce the right kind of content that engages their prospects, clients and partners? Here are 3 guiding principles to consider.

1. Focus on your audience

This might seem completely obvious, but it’s a principle that is often ignored. Just consider the marketing materials of a typical A/E/C firm and they’re likely to be very company focused. But in today’s digital world, where your audience is crunched for time and gets bombarded by marketing messages practically all day long, you’ve got to make your content valuable to them. Which means that you have to view content creation through their lens—not your firm’s.

Stop selling
Focusing on your audience means your A/E/C firm’s marketing needs to stop selling. This might seem counterintuitive, especially to principals and business development staff focused on bringing in the next big win. There is a time and a place for selling, but clients are not going to stop what their doing and read an email that’s just a sales pitch! They’re not going to subscribe to your blog and come back time and time again because they enjoy reading about your latest project win.

Start sharing
So before you publish any piece of content­—whether a proposal, email, blog post or newsletter—you should ask yourself, “What’s in it for the audience?” Remember, content marketing is all about adding value to the lives of your audience by sharing helpful information that informs, educates and guides—instead of simply pitching your services. So you should consider how your content could serve the needs and interests of your audience, answer their questions, solve problems and just be really helpful.

2. Be relevant and timely

The A/E/C industry constantly faces changes of various kinds. Whether legislative, regulatory, technological or everything in-between, there are always issues that your clients, prospects and teaming partners need to be made aware of and educated about. This could be the impact that recent legislation will have on land development, changes in stormwater regulations, the latest requirements for LEED certification or changes in best practices due to advancements in software and technology. Whatever the case may be for your firm, you should aim to create content that is timely and relevant to your audience.

Right person, right message, right time
If a client is unsure how the latest regulations are going to affect their project, wouldn’t they love to find the answer in your email or blog post? And what about prospects and leads? Every prospective client seeks out as much information as they can to inform their decision-making process and also vet potential firms. Part of being relevant and timely means you meet your audience where they are in the customer lifecycle and provide content that is relevant to them in that particular stage.

3. Quality over quantity

The third and final principal is that when it comes to content, quality will always trump quantity. Your goal isn’t to simply create lots of content and most A/E/C firms already have no shortage of content. The goal of every A/E/C firm should be to create remarkable, magnetic content that engages your audience and accomplishes a defined purpose. And quality content­—content that stands out from the competition, resonates with prospects and clients and is deserving of your audience’s valuable time—requires a significant effort of time, planning and resources to create.

Avoid temptation
The kind of content that’s going to move the needle for your A/E/C firm can’t be thrown together or copied and pasted, so don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity.  Even if your firm has adopted a customer-centric approach to your content, it’s easy for company-focused content to creep back in, especially when quantity is needed. But in the end, pushing out content that lacks quality, whether in substance or style, will not produce the desired results and will only hurt your efforts in the long run.

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Content is everything in marketing! It’s the “guts” of your proposals, website, emails, blog, newsletter and basically every form of marketing communications. So getting your content right is absolutely paramount.  The right kind of content can be a game changer for your A/E/C firm and by following these three guiding principles, your firm will be headed in the right direction.

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