Is Your A/E/C Firm Merely Surviving? Why Content Marketing Can Make It Thriving.

by Debra Andrews | January 20, 2014

If any industry has been slow to embrace marketing, it’s the architecture, engineering and construction (A/E/C or AEC) industry. Some firms have no marketing resources and feel no need to adopt them. Sure, their business is getting by, but are they growing their revenue streams, obtaining new prospects/leads and actually securing new business? Probably not. Are they missing out on opportunities the competition hasn’t yet pursued? You betcha.

A/E/C firms, don’t you know it’s not all about selling, searching for RFPs in trade publications and online services or waiting to receive a bid invite? That’s only a portion of securing new business. Times have changed and clients and government entities who are looking to use your firm for a particular service or project are doing extensive online research, and making decisions based on what they read. The old system of referrals is still in place, and you may be recommended to be added to the bid list – but now the client will likely check you out online first. In fact, did you know that 70% of customers make their buying decisions before they even make initial contact with a company? This means you really need to step up your game and do some serious content marketing on the front end. If you have a terrible website with no resources, FAQs, or targeted content, then you’ve lost an opportunity without even knowing. This is where any potential leads you might have had die off; the dead-end that is your website.

So as a business owner in the A/E/C space, what can you do? The answer is simple, and it comes down to content: let your content lay the foundation for you.

I wanted some fast advice to provide the contractors and leaders in the A/E/C industry with a starting point, so I turned to content marketing expert Marcus Sheridan, who is also founder and co-owner of the swimming pool company, River Pools and Spas. It’s unique for a pool contractor to use this approach, so I asked what was it that got him to embrace content marketing?

When his business started to go downhill several years back, Marcus recognized the need to change his approach based a few factors: 

  1. How consumers were seeking information;
  2. The type of information they were seeking, and;
  3. How they were making their decisions based on this information.

Evaluating customer behavior, he ramped up his website to focus on their needs. He developed incredible content (e.g., videos, eBooks, FAQs, a swimming pool blog and a variety of resources) to address their specific concerns when exploring the pool buying process. Through a combination of these efforts, he has grown River Pools and Spas to be the largest company of its kind.

According to Marcus, “It all starts with your attitude. Your business itself might not be all that different, but your process might be. How well you educate your prospects upfront is critical.”

He recommends the following approach:

  • Get inside your customers’ heads. What’s important to them? What questions do they have? What do they need to know before they turn to your company for a particular project or service?  Because at the end of the day, it’s about them, not you!
  • Educate to earn trust.Whoever does the best job at addressing customers’ questions, concerns, fears and reassuring them that their company is the right one, will be the company that earns their trust. Do this in your website content. Make it a priority and you’re that much closer to turning a lead into a client.
  • Stop being a control freak.You started your construction or engineering firm because you like to be in charge of your own destiny, but understand that you cannot do it all. If all this content marketing talk makes you uneasy, then you need to bring in a knowledgeable marketing expert who is 100% committed to your web-based marketing efforts.
  • Use Assignment Selling.When you do land that prospect meeting – hooray! But how do you seal the deal? Assignment selling is a technique to ensure that the prospect is highly informed and educated beforehand. Make sure they have all the information they need going in; this way there’s no room for silly questions and you can focus on closing the business! It’s these types of prospects you want anyway — those who have done your homework assignment. It shows they are serious about the purchase.

In addition to co-owning River Pools and Spas, Marcus also leads The Sales Lion, a sales and marketing blog that focuses on inbound marketing. He’s a frequent speaker and presenter who loves to share his experience and success story to help business leaders learn how to adopt marketing strategies and techniques to generate more leads and grow.

While there’s so much more to say about content marketing, if you’re new to this, it’s best to start small and use these tips to get your feet wet. Take advantage of the opportunity to stand out in your industry now and see what you’ve been missing. But if you want to hear more advice from Marcus, then check out Marketri’s webinar, “Harness the Power of Inbound Marketing & Kick-Start Your Content Marketing Strategy” for more of his wisdom.

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