It is easy to see the world through 20-20 hindsight. Clearly the Internet has revolutionized marketing and traditional channels, especially print and broadcast media, have suffered under the onslaught of search, mobile and social media publicity options.
Sometimes we get ahead of ourselves. The Internet IPO boom — then bust — of the late 1990s and early 2000s comes to mind. In the media business, pundits were discussing the concept of “convergence” — where electronic, old print and new era media would meld into some common and integrated structures. I suppose this has happened, but not in the way industry insiders expected; and the winners (for now) are the new players at the expense of established and traditional businesses.
(The decline of conventional newspapers and broadcast media has been especially rapid. You can visit newspaper offices in major cities and sense the canyon of silence with empty desks; and publications and broadcast outlets are consolidating and closing as they struggle to make a profit from advertising revenue that has switched to the online alternatives.) And who these days even thinks about the Yellow Pages — once the mainstay of many residential service contractors (and quite a few in the non-residential area.)
Clearly, within the AEC community, businesses which have adapted to the new technologies have done better than the ones that held on and either failed to adapt or simply did nothing. There are of course first-mover advantages, especially if you can keep pace.
Fortunately, however, the catch-up game isn’t so hard if you are ready to move forward, and you don’t need to spend a fortune (in fact you probably can spend very little on paid marketing if you wish).
In case you are wondering what the latest and greatest trend is, I’ll suggest it is. Provide worthy information that truly helps your current and potential clients; that isn’t a sales pitch, or glossy brochure, but is factual, informative, and educational. Then share this content across the relevant platforms, including your website, social media, speaking engagements at conferences and trade shows, through relevant associations, and in some cases, through email marketing.
What content should you share? Undoubtedly, if you have managed to build a viable business, you have some expertise Match this to your current and potential clients, and you’ll have the answer. The content can be in the form of white papers, web posts, videos, and (if you want to get really advanced) webinars and full-scale educational programs.
In this context, your biggest marketing assets may be the writers and videographers who can turn your story into a message that combines authenticity and relevance. If you are spending resources, these are where I would assign priority.
In our business, we earn our revenue by selling advertising, but (perhaps paradoxically) the greatest value we provide is in helping clients generate and distribute their content. You pay something that isn’t extremely effective and receive the add-on service which provides the real ongoing value.