Marketing for an architecture, engineering or construction (A/E/C) firm doesn’t fit the traditional mold. The industry is unique, the sales cycle is long, the “buyers” are diverse and price tags are large. But establishing a solid strategic marketing program can make a significant difference.
For decades, professional services firms have relied on reputation, relationships and repeat business to drive business growth. And marketing has been viewed as a way to support these business development efforts, but rarely was it a major driver. Now, times are changing and many firms are relying on their marketing departments to play a key role in business development.
So here are just a few tips on how to infuse some new life into your marketing program.
1. Start with a strategy
For many A/E/C firms, strategy may exist at the top, but it doesn’t always trickle down to the marketing department. Which means that marketing plans are often glorified “top ten” lists with tasks and objectives that are to be accomplished in the coming year. However, there is no real game plan for who you’re trying to reach, what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’re going to do it. Or maybe you have a strategy, but it’s been in place for years. Whatever camp you may fall into, it’s probably time to update your marketing strategy.
2. Embrace content marketing
Content marketing isn’t just a fad or the latest buzzword, it’s actually a fundamental shift in how companies approach marketing today. Instead of selling, it shares insight, answers questions, solves challenges, educates and entertains. It provides information that prospects will not only find valuable, but also what they are searching for online.
The bottom line is that content marketing represents a huge opportunity for A/E/C marketers to move the needle for their firms. In an industry where thought leadership is so important and where differentiation is difficult, content marketing provides an avenue for companies to stand out from the competition, educate and inform prospects and clients. Content marketing should be embraced in every facet of your marketing efforts—your website, social media, email marketing, conferences and even your proposals.
3. Revamp your website
Business development and relationship building are paramount in the A/E/C industry, but many companies fail to realize the role that their website plays in that process. The fact is, your website is the hub of your marketing and the place where your prospects are going to learn about you and arm themselves with information to inform their decisions.
So the days of the brochure-style website are over. Instead, your website should serve a greater purpose: driving traffic, generating leads and converting leads into customers. Unfortunately, most websites for the A/E/C industry and beyond were not designed with lead generation and content marketing in mind and need to be revamped from the ground up.
4. Start a (real) blog
Blogging is a powerful tool and the centerpiece in any successful inbound content marketing strategy. Many A/E/C firms have a blog, but may not blog regularly or they don’t put the right kind of content on their blog. Remember, a blog is a place to post educational information on trends, regulatory changes and technological innovations. It’s a place to display your company’s thought leadership and have a voice on the issues of the day, as well as educate prospects along the stages of the buying cycle.
Your blog is NOT a place to regurgitate press releases and company information. It isn’t the place to show your culture and soft side. It’s the place to show your knowledge and expertise. Instead of saying you’re an expert, demonstrate it. If you don’t have a blog, start one and populate it regularly with quality, customer-focused content. If you’ve got one, here are 7 ways to improve your blog.
5. Go mobile
Optimizing your digital marketing efforts for mobile users is no longer optional. The reality is, the majority of the people trying to reach you are on their smartphones and tablets. Ensuring that your emails and website are accessible and readable by mobile users is critical and a must have feature.
Responsive website design is the preferred way to optimize your website for mobile users. A responsive website recognizes what type of device it’s on and adjusts automatically to fit the screen. And having a responsive website replaces the need to build a separate, stand-alone mobile site.
6. Graduate your email marketing
Many A/E/C firms are using email marketing, but are plagued with low open and click-through rates and a high rate of unsubscribes. Why? Because it is not unusual for firms to send their entire list of contacts the same email “blast.” But it’s very unlikely that your enewsletter is relevant to your whole list.
So stop blasting and start segmenting! Create specific email messages and campaigns that target certain segments of your list so the emails you send them will contain relevant information they’re actually interested in reading. List segmentation will make your messages much more personal and relevant, which will boost your opens and click-throughs—ultimately leading to higher conversion rates (and happy readers).
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Many A/E/C firms have become so focused on RFPs, proposals and interviews that their marketing efforts take a back seat. Hopefully these examples we’ve shared will give you some inspiration to revitalize your marketing program.
Need Help? If you’re an A/E/C firm interested in content marketing, need a website redesign or want to give your marketing efforts a strategic boost, contact us today.