Most AEC marketers are looking for big jobs, at least compared to other industries. Sure, some residential service contractors work on relatively high volume/small purchase orders, but even a simple roofing job will cost $8,000 or more. Compare that to picking a grocery item off the shelf in the supermarket. Marketers in the ICI sector think in terms of millions of dollars for a single successful project.
These are, in the scheme of things, big projects, with long lead and delivery times. Accordingly, we really should not expect a quick fix or fast-acting model — though there can be exciting crucial moments, such as a short-list RFP interview.
When we think longer term, of course, our resource risk and evaluation process becomes far more complicated and challenging. We may be able to measure and respond quickly to some signals, but others take so much time and the unit quantities are so small that individual marketing success can be challenging to measure.
Then, how do we succeed in this environment?
Here’s an observation from Chase, one our company’s successful associate publishers.
I wanted to share with you a client that took me seven years to develop a relationship with. (Name removed for confidentiality) is a large GC who declined for seven years to do feature profiles that were based on being supplier supported. I did do some profiles with the architects of some of their projects and always offered them the chance to interviews/editorial without buying an ad, they declined.
Earlier this year they were getting a lot of bad press in our community for a project and had declined to do interviews with the local papers and I reached out and offered to do an unbiased article for them to get their side out and also review it prior to print. We did the community news story and they were happy for the help.
I followed up with an electronic version after the story was published and said any time they would like to work on other articles or doing coverage on their projects to let me know. Since that exchange I have been given two feature lists to develop for feature articles.
Now if all clients took seven years to develop none of us would still be here. The power of developing relationships is key to your long-term success. To develop these relationships the goal is to find a way to talk with them without a sales message. This can be done by association involvement on committees, volunteering in community associations or in this case offering free editorial coverage.
Our pricing threshold of course is far less than most AEC businesses, especially in the ICI sector. Yet, you can see by this story that we need to think long-term and with a selfless attitude to succeed in building relationships, trust (brand!) and respect.
This suggests if you want to be truly successful at AEC marketing, you will need to take a long view, hire staff and select contractors carefully, and give them time to do their work. And your most measurable tracking indicator for success may be not how much you can sell, but how much you can contribute, especially within relevant community and association groups.