Late last night, after a sometimes emotional conversation with one of my siblings, I realized how many variables interface in our lives and how personal and family decisions and circumstances influence and affect our business relationships. The issue at hand: A once-in-a-lifetime, major but non-recurring event with varying impact on a significantly large cast of characters, where there are legal rules and processes to set out the guidelines and parameters, but individual decisions and expectations shape the course of action.
In the end, I’m confident the dust will settle with overall satisfactory results but this isn’t a simple process that can be completed in a few days, though it will conclude, in the end, with some significant financial disbursements and rewards for virtually everyone involved in the process.
I think you can guess by now that the matter relates to an estate settlement and inheritance.
This rather personal story reflects much of what happens in the architectural, engineering and construction community, though the end-result reflects something much more valuable and beautiful: Building or infrastructure projects that can stand the test of time.
There are intriguing similarities between dysfunctional projects and dysfunctional families. Thankfully, in most cases, the healthy opposite also applies and most construction projects (and families) get along pretty well despite occasional conflicts.
There are differences, though. We generally have no say who our relatives will be. We can conversely choose who we work with — and that touches on this blog’s foundation.
In the ideal world, I think effective construction marketing should be seamless, natural, not forced or artificial. Solid marketing has one objective: To allow you to connect and work with clients who you want to be with; on projects that are satisfying and rewarding in sufficient volume to support your business objectives. Not surprisingly, the best results often occur when you work with others you know well and who refer and recommend you and want you to work well in the future.
Sometimes the most fun and rewarding results occur when you receive seemingly surprising inbound business (like the inheritance from a long-lost relative, or if you are a charity, a surprise bequest). In many cases, you can’t market for this business. It just happens, though it may indirectly result from your marketing success.
The final category of marketing diverges from inheritance, however, in that it involves conscious planning, initiatives, and measures to attract or enhance business beyond the passive approaches of repeat/referral and “out of the blue” opportunities.
Here, I’m impressed how effective marketing requires plenty of trial and error, perseverance, a healthy dose of scientific experimentation, creativity, and a willingness (in the AEC space) to realize that, considering the scale and scope of projects, that you need to think on a much longer-cycle than may be the case for consumer or small-ticket products or services.
Take some time to plan, budget, and initiate your marketing, recognizing that your best results will combine systematization and experimentation with a natural extension of your existing relationships. If you do it right, you will build a legacy worthy of a rewarding inheritance.
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