Quite often, architectural, engineering and construction marketers are caught up in the day-to-day rat race, and fail to take the time to look at the big picture. On the other hand, strategic planning retreats and similar events/activities intended to focus on the grand vision sometimes — and unfortunately at great expense — evolve into wasteful navel-gazing excises that fail to lead to any practical progress.
“Don’t get caught with your head so far in the clouds that you can no longer recognize the needs of your audience at ground level,” Arik Brooks and Lindsey Mathieu write in a Society for Marketing Professional Services (SMPS) Marketer Magazine article. “Don’t lose sight of your original goal for introspection — crafting effective messages in response to the following questions to strengthen your marketing communications.”
- Who are you?
- What does your firm do?
- What makes you unique?
- And most important, make sure the answers to these? questions directly resonate the needs of your customers.
The writers make the important point that most AEC practices have specific and focused markets, a reasonably cohesive (and by consumer market standpoints) a relatively small and easy-to-discern group of potential clients.
“It is important to let one overarching objective guide the process: develop statements that ring true for your company that can be universally accepted and adopted by your employees and prospective clients,” they write.
“With good intentions, an AEC firm seeking to define its identity can sometimes go wildly off track. We have witnessed strategic planning sessions resulting in the concoction of statements so lofty that they are not practical or applicable to the industries or the actual needs of prospective clients.”
“If your business development people do not eagerly adopt these statements, you might have a problem. If you’re at an event and respond to the question, “What does your firm do?’ and the person seems more confused than before they asked, you might have a problem. If your employees can’t connect their day-to-day contributions to these statements, you might have a problem.”
In other words, the advice here is simple: When you go for the big picture stuff, keep your feet on the ground. And check to see if the big words you are expressing really capture the heart of your business as it is and it really can be. Mission statements and strategic plans are wonderful, if they are based on real-life circumstances and values.