There’s no denying that A/E/C firms took a beating during the recession.
Although there were some developments across the industry, A/E/C firms should be prepared for major changes in the coming years. New technologies, global competition, new partnerships, the evolution of online marketing and the struggles of small and midsize firms are reshaping the competitive landscape.
Any time an industry undergoes a transition, the organizations that display agility and adapt quickly gain a tremendous advantage. Now is the time to reevaluate lead generation and position your brand for future success. Here are a few of my predictions for A/E/C firms in 2014 and beyond:
The 3-D printing revolution is going to be very disruptive for the architecture, engineering and construction industry. 3-D printing, or additive manufacturing, is the process of making a three-dimensional solid object of any shape from a digital model. There will be serious discussions about the myriad of opportunities associated with this technology, especially in the construction industry.
Strong Brand Visibility
Online and offline, the visibility of your brand will become increasingly valuable when being considered by potential clients. Buyers looking for professional services firms often ask a friend or colleague, do some networking, or find companies through formal lists; however, as technology grows, researching service brands online will thrive. Currently, the A/E/C industry as a whole is ranked one of the lowest industries online as far as brand visibility. There are opportunities to become the leader online and now is the time to dive in.
McKinsey recently put out a report that as digital marketing increases so will the power of the consumer, forcing companies to transition from always on to on demand. The report states that consumer demands will rise in four key areas:
1. Now — Consumers will want to interact anywhere at any time
2. Can I — Consumers will want to do new things as disparate kinds of information
3. For me — Consumers will expect all data sorted and targeted directly to their needs
4. Simplicity — Consumers will expect all interactions to be easy
Unlike product brands that you can test-drive equipped with a warranty, most professional services organizations sell an intangible. The brand cannot be fully “experienced” until it is purchased. Professional services are sold on reputation and championed by trust, and a strong brand establishes these qualities in the minds of prospects.
Here are my remaining predictions for 2014.
If your online presence is stuck in circa 2000, it’s time for an update. If you don’t have a mobile website that’s responsive, you’re losing engagement. Here’s a nice article by Forbes that explains why. Your website is your storefront, not a brochure. It immediately signals whether your brand is a leader in the marketplace, or you’re just another firm. Your website is the engine that can generate leads, attract the best talent, demonstrate your expertise and work 24/7 even when you’re not plugged in at the office.
It isn’t uncommon for A/E/C firms to put proactive marketing approaches and awareness campaigns on the back burner. Why? Mainly because noticeable returns from marketing take so long that most companies do not have the patience to stick with it long term. The reality is, small organizational improvements over time can have disproportionately huge effects, and key insights and imagination create the traction to do so.
Many buyers are interested in additional services from sellers. The problem is, they’re often unaware of the services you offer. Staying top-of-mind among current customers and prospects can build new relationships into lasting relationships. When you complete the job, use that momentum to educate your clients on the additional services you offer and convert your customers into loyal brand advocates.
2014 is the year that strong professional service brands will separate from the pack. Brand marketers must remember, for your brand to become one in a million in the minds of your prospects and clients, three things need to occur at every touchpoint:
Your brand must resonate.
Your brand must differentiate.
Your brand must substantiate.
Your brand is every-thing.