As a full-service marketing and communications firm, the GRIT team has the opportunity to work with clients in a wide variety 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 relationships with firms of all sizes across the greater mid-Atlantic region.
From helping clients build foundational brands and define differentiators, to crafting culture initiatives and cultivating 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:
- Define Your Differentiators
- Focus on Your Niche
- Content Matters
- Creative Connections
- Dig into Digital
If your AEC company is looking to break through industry clutter, get noticed and win more projects, check out the tips below and get into touch. We would love to get to know more about your business 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 and can 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 the 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 the competition is lacking. For example, if you are great at designing and building higher education facilities (i.e. science labs and libraries), but other companies in your area are not, then 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’re 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 to reach them.
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: Content Matters
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 the work, GRIT recommends having a skilled photographer take photos of jobsite progress and finished projects. Having an experienced photographer ensures the small, yet important project details are captured and can be shared with clients as well as on the company’s website and social media profiles. Although it may be more cost-effective to have an employee take photos of the project on their phone, the quality will not be as good, and quality matters when choosing an AEC company.
Video content is powerful and can add tremendous value for construction 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 content to share on YouTube and other social platforms. 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 video content the GRIT team has created, check out Mowery Construction’s brand video.
In addition to high quality visual content, companies in the AEC industry can benefit from creating blogs, newsletters, social media posts and whitepapers for their target audience that deliver valuable information audience members can use. 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. an online project management software). Creating a content 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.
If you are looking to take your marketing content to the next level, connect with our AEC marketing experts today to learn how we can help!
Tip #4: Creative 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 the target audience, but so do other marketing efforts, including:
- Email Campaigns. It is also important to develop ways to stay at the top of current and priority prospect’s minds. Monthly email campaigns are a great way to reach your target audience with industry updates, company news and project updates. Email campaigns keep your company top-of-mind and raise awareness of your team’s service areas, niche markets and current work.
- Personalized Campaigns. More out-of-the-box ideas to connect with prospective clients include targeted direct outreach campaigns (designed to more 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 PA 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 are trying to increase brand awareness and be the go-to company, digital marketing can be the key to success. Digital optimization begins with ensuring your website is optimized and 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. Check out these websites GRIT developed with SEO in mind for Gettle Incorporated and St. Onge. Then, reach out to the GRIT team today to get a digital marketing team on your side who can get your company noticed by the right audience.
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, with over 70 percent of the U.S. online population on Facebook, Messenger and Instagram, using these social media platforms to showcase your company culture and recruit talent could be beneficial. Or, if the goal of your marketing is to increase sales, then LinkedIn ads may be the right tactic to implement. Social media 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 monthly performance to identify what content is most engaging for your target audience.
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.
As reviews come in on these platforms, remember to monitor them to maintain a positive 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 review can be addressed quickly and professionally.
If you are a company in the AEC industry looking for a marketing agency to partner with, GRIT is the team. Our experience and extensive knowledge of the industry will allow us to take your marketing efforts to the next level to increase brand awareness and secure new projects, connect with us today to learn how we can help you!