Eric Gagnon in The Business Insider recently asserted: “Marketing’s important job is to generate sales leads” but I wonder if people working in the marketing departments of architectural, engineering and construction businesses and practices (in the ICI rather than single family residential areas) would agree.
In the real world, the most important responsibility of B2B marketing professionals is to execute marketing programs that produce qualified sales leads—that is, potential prospects who respond to ads, mailings, online promotions, events, and other elements of your marketing program…and who become interested and motivated enough to engage with your company in some way. Measurable, productive sales lead generation—not burnishing a company’s “brand image,” or other attributes of the consumer marketplace mistakenly practiced by many in business marketing today—is the way professional business marketers earn their keep.
Rebuilding your marketing program to pay for itself in solid lead generation is possible, using inexpensive market-testing techniques and focused marketing deliverables (print ads, mailing pieces, online text ads and Web pages, etc.) that clearly present your product’s major problem-solving benefits and provide a compelling reason for the reader or viewer to contact you.
But what do AEC practitioners do? Much of their time, it seems, they are preparing the paperwork and presentation materials for RFP and contract opportunity responses. In other words, they are reactively responding to “obvious” opportunities rather than gathering useful leads. If anything, lead building and development seems to be a far-fetched and distant thing, especially within specialized areas and fields, where the universe of potential clients can be determined reasonably quickly and directly.
Within the AEC world, marketing combines reactive proposal presentation with (in the better-run organizations) proactive system development to assess and build effective go/no go rules to establish discipline and avoid chasing every job for which the business may be remotely qualified.
I’m sure AEC marketers would love to develop a lead management and nurturing system that develops effective sales opportunities. However, the interweaving of product knowledge, reputation, and personal relationships leading to successful opportunities makes this clear-cut business/marketing model less likely to be implemented.
Have you been able to build an effective sales lead generating program for your business/practice? You can share your thoughts by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or as a comment here.