In a recent issue of the Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Marketer Magazine, Craig Park suggests that architectural, engineering and construction businesses should consider a high-tech industry business development model: The executive briefing.
The concept: You bring either one or a small group of non-competitive but similar clients together for a serious day of idea-generation and knowledge sharing, either at your own business offices or in a specially set up conference/meeting area (with meals and perhaps golf thrown into the equation.)
The concept: The immersive, focused environment helps you build relationships and trust, and provides the connections necessary to develop and sell the true forward-looking and longer-lasting relationships.
There are obvious limits on this idea. First, you and your potential clients (at least as a group) need to be large enough to manage this sort of thing properly. And I don’t think it is a truly good way to build business if your primarily client source occurs from fixed-price contracts. (If you have enough connections with owners and developers, an architectural variant, the charrette, could work for specific projects, however.)
But the descriptions here lead me to another place; one where I am perhaps at right at this moment — the second you realize something has changed, for good, and that there will be a major revision in the way you conduct your life and business in the months and years ahead.
If you do the executive briefing right, the goal is to create that shift in your potential client’s (or clients’) mind(s) — bridging transactional relationships to ongoing partnerships.
But you get into an interesting place when you take things to the next stage, in preparing for the executive briefing. To be successful, you really need to get into the mind-space of the clients you wish to brief/attract. And, frankly, the likely moment you will win their business (if you can’t achieve the insights through your initiatives), is if they are going through that process themselves, and you happen to be in the right place at the right time.
I remember many of these moments; the first experience with email, my grand epiphanies in Africa and Ottawa (when I could take on the world, and when I accepted total responsibility for my life), and smaller incidents when I went to bed knowing something, and woke up KNOWING it to be important. (Today, I woke up with that knowing mood — the test of whether this is a transient thought will be tomorrow.)
These shift-points in your clients’ minds are the times they are most open to new ideas, changes (sometimes cons) and their research/learning mechanisms are tuned into habit-changing and routine-breaking options as they, prepare to revise their goals and objectives.
I’ll leave this mixed-message blog post with two thoughts: If you really want to succeed at AEC marketing, you’ll need to find your way to make those big changes and connecting moments, and indeed for the right circumstances the Executive Briefing may be the way to go. And, if wonder what it is like to experience this type of change, take a few minutes to travel down memory lane and think about those life-shifting moments. They can provide clues about what you should do in the present and future.