As a full-service marketing agency, the GRIT team has the opportunity to work with clients in a wide range of industries. One segment in particular that is near and dear to our hearts is architecture, engineering and construction (AEC). The industry has been critical to GRIT since our founding, and we have been honored to develop long-term partnerships with firms of all sizes in Central Pennsylvania and beyond.

From helping clients build brands and define differentiators, to crafting culture initiatives and cultivating new business relationships, to executing campaigns that drive quality leads, the GRIT team helps AEC companies dig deeper to build a foundation upon which their company can grow.

Today, we are offering up insights on five key areas AEC firms can consider to help make their marketing efforts work harder:

  1. Define Your Differentiators
  2. Focus on Your Niche
  3. Make Content a Priority
  4. Get Creative When Making Connections
  5. Dig into Digital

If you are looking to take your AEC marketing efforts to the next level and break through industry clutter, get noticed and win more projects, check out the tips below and then get in touch. We would love to get to know more about your marketing goals!

Tip #1: Define Your Differentiators

To be successful in the AEC industry and stand out from the competition, it is important to uncover what makes your company different. Maybe it is how you use technology to enhance the customer experience. Or it might be that your company completes emergency projects in record time. Whatever your differentiators, it is crucial to communicate what sets your company apart to your target audience.

If you are unsure how to define your differentiators, internal and external research can provide insights upon which to build. Look at your company from the big picture and evaluate what services you offer, what markets you serve, how your team completes projects and what benefits clients experience when working with your organization. Then, conduct external research to learn what the competition offers their clients, what processes they have in place and how they position their expertise.

Once you identify how your company is different from the competition, it is important to understand why it matters. For example, if your company uses best-in-class technology on every jobsite, that will matter to your clients because technology makes projects more efficient, saving time and money. It can also provide peace of mind and foster open lines of communication, both critical to major construction projects. Incorporate your differentiators and why they matter into marketing collateral such as blogs, newsletters and website content as well as personal interactions your team may have with prospective clients. Remember, it is important for everyone in your company to understand the differentiators so they can consistently and effectively articulate what makes your company different any time they interact with clients, subcontractors, vendors and the community.

Tip #2: Focus on Your Niche

In the AEC industry, it is critical for companies to identify their niche markets. To help identify your niches, consider where your team excels and where the competition is lacking. For example, you may be great at design-build projects for higher education facilities (i.e., science labs and libraries) and have depth of experience in this area. Or perhaps your firm excels at projects in a certain budget range, and you are consistently outperforming clients’ expectations in that area, so this could be a niche market with opportunity.

Once your company has identified a niche, it is imperative to communicate it to your target audience. It is critical your company understands who your audience is so you can send your message to the right people. Understanding your current audience and considering how they compare against your “ideal” client profile is key. You need to know who you are working for successfully and where the gaps are to understand the potential. Once you have this information, it can be beneficial to create a customer persona to help you visualize the key traits (i.e., age, occupation, lifestyle) of your larger audience segment. By creating a persona that matches your target audience, you can more effectively target your messages and outreach tactics.

Once you have identified your key target audience, it will be important to add relevant project portfolios to your website, develop whitepapers that focus on key trends in the market and consider attending trade shows, networking events and conferences focused on your niche, to connect with your audience where they are.

Tip #3: Make Content a Priority

Having the right, optimized content to share with your clients and prospects is key. This includes developing a strategic content strategy that includes diverse assets (written, visual and video) and thinking of content as an integrated story that builds to showcase your brand over time.

When it comes to showing off your work, there are a lot of ways to create engaging content that will not break the budget. Often, AEC companies have employees who are drone pilots and can use their skills to capture a bird’s-eye view of jobsite progress and finished projects. Team members can also take photographs on their phones to share on the company’s social media profiles. It is important to remember that quality matters when choosing an AEC company. Whether you decide to have an internal team gather photos and videos or choose to outsource the work to a professional photographer, ensuring the small, yet important details are captured and clear will be critical.

In addition to photographs, video content is powerful and can add tremendous value for AEC firms. GRIT recommends using drones to capture aerial footage of jobsites. Not only can this footage be presented to the client to show project progress from a different point of view, but it also makes for engaging website and social media marketing content. Other video content recommendations include testimonials from clients, interviews with key leaders to discuss different aspects of the company (i.e., safety procedures, new markets, etc.) or project time-lapse videos.

For an example of a video that GRIT helped create, watch Penntex Construction’s Women in Construction video. To create efficiencies and maximize available resources, GRIT provided Penntex with questions and direction to help guide filming. The Penntex team filmed multiple interviews and provided footage to GRIT, who executed final edits to bring the story together and overlay the brand. Check it out!

In addition to high-quality visual content, companies in the AEC industry can benefit from creating blogs, newsletters, social media posts and whitepapers that deliver valuable information to their target audience.  GRIT recommends highlighting industry trends and noteworthy company news in blogs, newsletters and social media posts. Gated whitepapers, featuring more in-depth topics such as case studies, service areas (i.e., design-build) or special technology (i.e., online project management software) could also be considered. See how GRIT collaborates with JGM each quarter to create a digital and print newsletter that boosts engagement and reaches individuals nationwide.

Creating a content marketing plan that maps out topics across channels can help ensure effective and efficient use of content development resources and ensure a seamless story that best presents a company brand.

Tip #4: Get Creative When Making Connections

In the AEC industry, relationships and trust are key. In fact, these are such important elements of the business, GRIT recommends incorporating them into your company’s core values. When the contractor and project owner share similar values and create a connection, projects can be set up for success. Not only do relationships and trust play a major role in creating connections with your target audience, but so do other architecture, engineering and construction marketing efforts, including:

  • Email Marketing It is important to identify ways to stay at the top of current and priority prospects’ minds. Monthly email marketing campaigns are a great way to reach your target audience with industry updates, company news and project spotlights. Email campaigns keep your company top-of-mind and raise awareness of your team’s service areas, niche markets and current work.
  • Personalized Campaigns. Out-of-the-box ideas to connect with prospective clients include targeted direct outreach campaigns (designed to personally connect with prospects and break through the clutter) and individualized content. Check out this auto dealership campaign the GRIT team developed for Mowery Construction to help them reach 40 key prospective auto dealerships in Central Pennsylvania and stand out from the competition.
  • Industry Associations. Another great way to increase awareness of your company and create connections with others is through joining industry associations, such as Associated Builders & Contractors, Inc. (ABC). To make the most of these memberships, it is important to be an active member, which includes regularly attending events, engaging online and seeking opportunities such as speaking engagements.

Tip #5: Dig into Digital

With many businesses in the AEC industry trying to increase brand awareness and be the go-to company, digital marketing for construction can be the key to success. Digital optimization begins with ensuring your website is optimized and clearly presents your brand’s story. It will be critical to incorporate keywords relevant to your industry as well as your niche market to boost performance in search and increase rankings. Not only will having quality content online increase search engine optimization (SEO), but it will also increase consumer interest and leads. Search engine optimization and lead generation are complex areas of marketing, and the algorithms are constantly changing. Reach out to our team to learn more about the best search engine marketing practices. Then, be sure to check out these websites GRIT developed with SEO in mind for Brubacher and Yoe Construction.

Once your website is dialed in and your content features keywords, focus on uncovering a strategy that works for your business and target audience. For example, is the goal of your marketing efforts to recruit top talent? If so, the average person spends 145 minutes on social media every day, so identifying who your ideal candidates are and what social media channels they are most active on could be beneficial. Your company can then share company culture information and team-specific posts on these channels to attract new talent. Or if the goal of your marketing is to increase sales, then LinkedIn ads may be the right tactic to implement. Social media marketing and advertising is a great way to get in front of a diverse audience for a low cost, but it is critical to ensure you are using the right platforms to reach your goals and are tracking analytics to identify what is working well.

When developing ways to improve your company’s digital footprint, consider online reviews. Many people read reviews online or ask their acquaintances for references. To build credibility with prospective clients, it is important to get as many positive reviews and testimonials as possible. Build strong relationships with your clients, vendors and subcontractors (past and present) and ask them to leave a review on your website, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google My Business profiles. As reviews come in on these platforms, remember to monitor them to maintain a positive online reputation. Although the goal is to generate positive testimonials, sometimes individuals may have something negative to say. It will be important to monitor reviews and have pre-approved responses ready for any negative feedback so the comments can be addressed quickly and professionally.

Get Architecture, Engineering and Construction Marketing Support

The GRIT team has years of experience and a depth of knowledge in architecture marketing, engineering marketing and construction marketing. If you are in the AEC industry and are looking to take your marketing efforts to the next level, we are the partner to have in your corner. Whether you need a marketing strategy, want to rebrand, are looking to enhance your content marketing efforts, or need support with another marketing-related project, we will serve as an extension of your team to drive results. Connect with us to learn more about how we can help you!