Marketing for the AE industry has its own unique challenges and rewards. The most convenient parts of marketing for AE include:
- There is never a shortage of content for the website, social, email, etc. The constant stream of newly completed projects mean you will never run out of great content.
- The digital presence can be low maintenance. Updating projects and team changes are the most common activities. However, most AE companies’ online presences are in need of a polish.
- Processes are pretty easily implemented because AE firms are typically process-driven. Having an established way of doing things helps create uniform and high-quality content.
- With data collection and analysis processes in place, AE companies are able to level up the way they showcase company success by going beyond the usual project sheets and resumes, towards infographics, case studies, and campaigns.
In this article, we’ll walk you through some of the lessons we have learned while coordinating marketing for numerous AE clients and how you can apply this knowledge with your own internal marketing teams.
Connecting Marketing and Business Development for the AE Industry
There are many ways in which internal marketing departments are involved with business development. Marketing works to support outreach through collateral, messaging, and design support. Here are some specific examples of when marketing should coordinate with the technical experts in your organization to provide effective support for business development efforts.
When a new project is getting started, the marketing team will need access to the initial proposal or agreement. Many times, the proposal will include a basic project description, client information, scope of work and timeline. Knowing these things along with additional, specific information like project budget and size will help your marketing team plan ahead and organize their efforts based on the types of projects that are in the works.
The A/E industry is based heavily on relationships and referrals, which is why it is important to stay connected with previous clients. As projects are nearing completion, it is critical to let the client know that you enjoyed the project and would like to work with them again in the near future. If you enable marketing to track projected project timelines, they can help remind your technical team to perform this small, but impactful gesture. You can include the following questions in a project close-out conversation.
- What will we work on together next?
- Do you know anyone else who needs our services?
- Are you willing to write a testimonial about our work together?
These questions help you build a stronger referral network, and give your clients a chance to become your champions. Don’t forget to pass any kind words along to marketing!
Project Library Maintenance
Upon project completion, your marketing team should prepare collateral about the project and will most likely want to speak to the technical members of the team to collect specifics that were not included in the proposal:
- What was special about the project?
- What was difficult about the project?
- Were there any unusual issues that were addressed?
You should have a project follow-up questionnaire script or form to collect this information. Some team members are likely to fill out the form themselves, while for others, it may be more effective to schedule a time for marketing to interview them. Your marketing team should get to know the communication style of your technical team members to facilitate collection of this valuable insight.
Engage Your Technical Team
You will find unexpected advocates and perspectives within your company if you are able to encourage the technical members of your organization to participate in your business development and marketing processes.
Your company can maximize business development and marketing content strategy with a number of initiatives:
- Add a human element to your marketing. Have team members create a blog or video post to share a story about a project or their career.
- Involve the team in creation of templates and business development processes to increase buy-in.
- Provide everyone in the organization with business development templates or “scripts” to utilize so that they don’t have to craft new messaging on the fly.
- Reward your engineers with gift cards and other incentives to share information about projects and support marketing efforts.
- Tap into your team’s competitive spirit by offering prizes to those who give info on their projects first.
Elevate your company culture by motivating everyone on your team to be an advocate for both themselves and for your company.
Positioning Completed Projects to Generate Revenue
AE firms compete and are hired based on their qualifications and previous work on similar projects. Whether it is a folder with resumes and projects for a lunch meeting or an RFQ response, having the right collateral available at the right time has a direct impact on revenue.
Organization = Speed
Speed is key because opportunities come and go quickly. Principals and other key business development stakeholders often need relevant information about projects and professionals within tight timeframes. Choosing a system for categorizing or labeling projects, such as market sectors and/or high-level services will go a long way to help marketing and other stakeholders quickly find and send the most relevant information upon request. Adding a visual treatment labeling system, such as icons or colors, can create a compelling presentation of your qualifications that will help you close the deal.
Project Analysis & Social Proof > Project Specs
The strongest content strategy for any AE company is to share project analysis–not just details–and talk about problems they’ve solved for clients. Getting your clients to publicly say nice things about you can also provide social proof that may give you an edge on your next proposal or RFQ response.
Here are some ways to upgrade your print and digital content:
- Providing analysis in addition to specs, i.e. cost savings, budget efficiencies, success with schedule management, etc.
- Displaying testimonials from clients
- Finding ways to incorporate project analysis on your website and other marketing channels
- Gather recommendations on how to solve specific design problems from your team and turn it into a blog
Utilize Your Network
The value of the brand that you are building relies heavily on relationships within your network. Maintaining these relationships is crucial to your organization’s success. Turn your team into external advocates for your firm. Start by providing them with the tools we’ve discussed previously in this article like templates. Train and mentor them to have conversations that advance the business and drive retention and revenue.
Here are some ways you and your individual team members can perform outreach and be expert relationship builders:
- Like and share company posts on social media. Marketing can help encourage this by sending social media roundup emails that link directly to posts you want them to engage with.
- Write or share blog posts
- Add clients on LinkedIn
- Attend industry events and network
- Reach out regularly to clients and industry professionals
Marketing and business development in the AE industry builds on what your company is already doing well. They can also generate momentum into new market sectors or project types if you work together to craft and disseminate relevant collateral. When your marketing department is disconnected from your organization’s growth goals, it is more difficult for them to enhance your messaging in the most useful ways.
If growth is a priority for your company, it must become an ingrained value that everyone is responsible for contributing to. Marketing relies on your technical experts to generate credibility; and your technical experts can rely on marketing to give them tools and processes to facilitate their role in business development.
Company social media accounts didn’t always exist and weren’t always necessary. However, in today’s day and age, especially during this global pandemic, most companies are required to have a strong digital presence. All social media accounts need to be regularly updated. This is another way a client gains access to a company.
Are you in the AE industry? Do you need fractional marketing support?
We give you the tools and training opportunities to mobilize your team to advocate on your company’s behalf.
If you’re interested in learning more about how Gladiator Consulting can help you.