Perseverance is Key in AEC Market Prominence

by Karen Davis Burton

In his book, The New Competitiveness in Design and Construction, Joe M. Powell asserts that market prominence belongs to companies that consistently and repetitively do the right things to promote name and expertise recognition and preferential competitive treatment (translation: skip the RFQs and go directly to the
sales presentation).

A successful marketing and public relations strategy can position your company as the go-to firm for your market segment. Even smaller AEC firms with modest marketing budgets can make the right impact on their target audience by promoting project achievements, project delivery methods, use of new technology, and successful collaborations.

Develop your plan. Determine which marketing and PR strategies will fit in your budget and which you have time to implement effectively. Research your prospects, determine how your services align with their business goals, and decide the most effective way to reach them.

Point people in the right direction. All of your communications should encourage your prospects, the media, and collaborators to interact with you: a call-to-action on your website, an e-mail, a social media comment, a phone conversation, or a meeting. But remember, one touch may not trigger a response. Perseverance and repetitiveness keep you top of mind.

Write, post, and speak. New projects, awards, employee promotions, and corporate-sponsored events are all newsworthy, but expert articles, case studies, white papers and speaking engagements position you as an authority in your niche market. Spend some time determining the proper distribution outlets for each.

Use social media to give your news traction. Use new media outlets to give extra legs to your traditional marketing efforts. Links to your articles, news releases, and announcements can be shared easily on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and AEC specific sites. Design and construction media professional frequent social media sites for story ideas:

"The vast majority of our new leads for stories come from Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Once Architect has the lead, we still do traditional reporting on the topic, but social media has quickly become our go to source for new ideas."                      - Katie Gerfen, Senior Editor, Architect magazine at SMPS SF Meet the Press 2011

Check your work. Be sure to periodically perform a review of your marketing and PR activities over the previous year. Note which ones give you the best return on time invested and revise your plan as necessary.


5 Articles for Marketing and Productivity

Curated by Karen Davis Burton

Five of the top articles and posts I read in June.

1.  Gensler’s Secret Sauce: After the worst recession in decades put so many firms out of business, the architecture, design and planning firm reports record-breaking revenue. What’s their secret? Opportunity, relationships, and passion. 

2.  Why Are Professional Service Firms Still Afraidof Online Marketing? Stop thinking of it as optional. There’s the potential “to add synergy and profit to rainmaking efforts." 

3.  Not just for Builders: How Builders Market Backward. All professionals should determine who their customers are and make sure that customer is the focus at every step of the marketing process. 

4.  iPads replacing blueprints, boost builder productivity. “The goal is to eliminate problems before they happen.”  

5.  And speaking of video and Vine (see the 07.25 post), see what’s possible: 16 Perfect-Loop Vine Posts  (I’m going to go practice some more.)


Photos and Videos for AEC & Design Marketing

by Karen Davis Burton

With photo and video cameras so readily available, I've been wondering why I haven't seen more AEC and design firms sharing pictures and videos of their work more frequently by uploading them to their websites and social media sites. Photos and videos are great marketing tools for AEC and design businesses. We are such visual professionals: our audience can not only see the results of our work, but we can show them works in progress.

It concerns me that I see so many AEC websites that use many, many words and very little visuals. Vocus, a leading cloud marketing software company, says "A minute of video is worth 1.8 million words of text."

What could you show?
  • Sketches
  • Presentations
  • Construction documents (No, you don't want to give away your work content, but you do want to show you capabilities.)
  • Buildings under construction
  • Building products
  • The final built product
There are so many options now and it's pretty easy to upload photos and create video. Most of you are carrying a camera and video recorder with you (in your cell phone), so why not play around with it?

Take photos with your camera and upload them to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google Plus, or foward them through email or your company's e-newsletter. You could also upload them to photo sharing sites like Flickr and Picasa. 

Use the video camera on your phone or tablet or a small handheld video camera and upload the videos to your website, YouTube (on the iPhone, this feature is already set), Vimeo or your social media sites. Or you could you use apps like Vine (6-second limit) or Instagram video (15-second limit).

Creating video on your computer has become relatively simple, too. Even if you don't have a webcam, you could use your photos to create a video montage using Windows Movie Maker (for PC), iMovie (for Mac), or (Here's a video I created a few years ago to promote an eBook. I used Animoto and then uploaded it through their site to YouTube.

I recently visited Florida Southern College in Lakeland, FL where they have the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture on their campus. Take a look at some of the videos I shot using Vine (the app is available for iPhone and Android). This was my first attempt at using the app, so I didn't realize that the video had to be taken in the portrait orientation. With landscape they appear rotated 270 degrees, which is okay if your looking at them with your phone. (Find and follow me on the Vine app at Karen Davis Burton). The videos may not be perfect, but the point is that I tried it. I'm showing three of them below. Click on the photos/previews to see the video.

The rest are here: 
My first look at the campus
The Water Dome, Administration Building and a recent addition to the Roux Library (My husband gets in at the end.)
Another shot of the Water Dome and Roux Library

Look for upcoming posts on photo and video apps and how-to's for the AEC and Design industry. I look forward to seeing your photo and video creativity online. Share them with me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn or by email at


Generate Leads with LinkedIn

by Karen Davis Burton of Building Industry Resources

You may have joined LinkedIn, connected with friends and colleagues, and joined a few groups related to your field.

Groups are a great place to ask questions, answer question to show your expertise - and generate leads. Use groups strategically: search for the ones where your target market posts discussions and questions. Here's an example:

Let's say I am a contractor who wants to complete retail tenant build-outs. I joined the Corporate Real Estate Group on LinkedIn and came across the question posted below:

Dean asked if a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) designation added to value to a project.

As a construction professional - possibly with a LEED credential - I would feel comfortable answering Dean's question. As I follow through with an answer, I may want to know more about Dean, so I could give more details. When I click through to his profile, here is what I find:

Dean is the Executive Vice President at Great Clips, the "world's largest" salon with 3,000 outlets. He's in charge of real estate, architecture and construction. Jackpot!

Next step: connect with Dean through LinkedIn. I can send him an invitation directly since we belong to the same LinkedIn Group.

LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for lead generation and business development. Take advantage of its groups and the other networking components. 


buildingsource Top 5 links from May 2013

by Karen Davis Burton of Building Industry Resources

These four articles and one video outline steps for developing business, sealing the deal, and incorporating cloud-based technology in your business.

Strategies for Success: Business development is not a department, but part of the fabric of your business, and everyone should be involved.

Social Studies: Representatives of HOK, Perkins + Will and HDR share how A&D firms can better leverage their presence online. 

13 FAQs about Cloud-based Applications: What's "the cloud," and how will it affect my business data?

5 Reasons Why Every Professional Should Have a Personal Website: With fewer jobs and more competition, self-promotion is becoming increasingly more important.

[Video] 3 Steps to Close the Deal: You've made the pitch, now move your prospect toward "yes."  


buildingsource Top 5 Articles from April 2013

Here are the top 5 articles for building and marketing your AEC and Design business posted in April by media and professionals I follow:

1. A New Era for A/E/C Professionals: The Making of Visible Experts: "A Visible Expert is an individual with high visibility and acknowledged expertise who can command influence within a specific target audience."

2. Will Google Glass Revolutionize the Construction Process? Imagine super-imposing computer-generated images (BIM files) over a real-world view of a construction site.

3. 4 Ways to Handle a Client that's Too Busy to Collaborate: Setting clear expectations is first on the list for dealing with clients who aren't helping to move the project along systematically or on time.

4. SEC Embraces Social Media: In a recent ruling, the Securities and Exchange Commission said  that postings on sites like Facebook and Twitter are just as good as news releases and company websites.

5. Works for Us: "The iPad is a Mobile Showroom": Tips for using a tablet in the sales process.


5 Reasons Mayor Corey Booker Embraces Social Media

“Not being in social media is almost like Nixon not wanting to put makeup on for a TV appearance. It’s going to become so ridiculous five, ten years from now.” – Cory Booker, Mayor of Newark, NJ

Cory Booker discusses why he is known as the "social media mayor."

  1. He can take control of his own media.
  2. He can crowdsource and touch thousands and thousands
  3. He can create collaborative relationships with residents – they are partners in governing.
  4. It's an added tool he uses to “supercharge” his ability to connect with residents.
  5. Social media helps makes him more accessible.

In his own words...

Designers, AEC and real estate professionals can take control of their media, too. Get your free eBook download, "Building an Internet Presence: An Introduction for the AEC Industry."