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Marketing: Your Best Strategic Weapon

An Interview with Debra Andrews, Founder and President of Marketri, LLC

Marketri, LLC is a full-service provider of customized, results-driven marketing solutions for small to mid-sized B2B companies in the A/E/C sector. Debra Andrews, Founder and President of Marketri, works with small- to mid-sized B2B companies in the architecture, engineering and construction sector develop successful, proactive, targeted marketing strategies to reach and exceed their marketing goals. Below, Andrews shares marketing tips for firms in today’s changing, increasingly mobile environment.

PSMJ: You state that the A/E/C industry has been relatively slow to embrace marketing as a strategic weapon. Why do you think this is so?

DEBRA ANDREWS: From my experience in working with A/E/C firms, they tend to be very sales and business development driven and not focused on marketing. I believe they feel that personal relationships and having the lowest bid drives new business, and that marketing doesn't play a role in either. This may have been the case before the era of modern marketing, but now potential purchasers can read authentically helpful content from your competition. They can view their experience online, check out their recommendations and endorsements on LinkedIn, view impressive photography on Pinterest and more. What some firms don't realize is that their marketing savvy competitors have entered the "sales cycle" through effective marketing without having that personal relationship in place.

PSMJ: Why is technical knowledge so necessary for effective communications in the A/E/C industry?

DEBRA ANDREWS: Within the B2B marketplace, in which A/E/C firms participate, sales of products and services are complex, meaning the price point and the consequences of bad purchases are higher. The ability and willingness of A/E/C firms to share their technical knowledge through marketing communications is extremely important to gain the trust and confidence of a potential buyer.

PSMJ: What are some of the most successful marketing campaigns you have run for A/E/C companies?

DEBRA ANDREWS: Marketri worked with a civil engineering firm to help it become the area's leading resource on sustainability ("GREEN"). Through inbound tactics (including blogging) and outbound programs, consisting of article placements, speaking opportunities and hosting a "Sustainability Summit," we were able to successfully brand the firm in this area.

PSMJ: What advice do you have for companies who are trying to stand out from the pack?

DEBRA ANDREWS: Small-to-mid-sized A/E/C firms have a huge challenge when it comes to differentiation. I can offer a few pieces of advice to those companies looking to stand out from the pack.

    1. You need to have a strong firm message / positioning statement. How do you want to be perceived when clients and potential clients think of your firm? Ensure that your message is truly something your firm does well, is valued by clients and isn't a "price to play." For example, doing "quality work" is not a differentiator - it's a ticket for admission.

    2. Your firm should develop and market areas of specialization. And this doesn't mean simply having a sector or service web page. In order to be a specialist, you need to be a thought leader, which requires attending conferences, reading online and print content and writing original content. Developing a niche takes time and a dedicated budget, but it's often a necessity for A/E/C firms looking to compete and win!

PSMJ: How much of an impact do you think social media/inbound marketing is having on A/E/C marketing?

DEBRA ANDREWS: Inbound marketing / social media is only beginning to be embraced in the A/E/C space, and it creates an enormous opportunity for those firms doing it. The A/E/C industry still uses fairly traditional, outbound marketing tactics such as advertising and direct mail. For the most part, these firms use their website as an online brochure and push their credentials and services. Inbound marketing flips traditional marketing on its head and addresses what's of interest to clients or potential clients. It helps solve their daily challenges and pain points through sharing authentically, helpful and relevant content. The content is focused on "them" and not "you” as a firm. This is a great way to build trust and credibility before even having a face-to-face meeting.

This article was first published in the Professional Resources Management Journal, a publication of PSMJ Resources, Inc.

AIA Members: Save $100 on a one-year subscription to the Professional Services Management Journal. Use promo code AIAINTRO at checkout.


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