Social Media Week iReport

VaNessa Thompson of submitted a creative, informative video for a CNN iReport. It highlighted the Lafayette Park meet-up in Detroit in September during Social Media Week sponsored by VaNessa, Kiana German of, and Karen A. Davis of Building Industry Resources (me!). The topic was Virtual Communities: pursuing mutual interests, finding consumers for a product or service, encouraging interaction, and issuing calls to action.

Stay tuned for more information on our next meet-up.


Don't Miss an Opportunity - AEC version

So what does an empty restaurant have to do with marketing and selling design and construction services and products?

Plan Ahead: October is Fire Prevention month. Did you tie that in to marketing your services? There was an opportunity to educate on life safety, building materials, and other aspects of design and construction. There are many other monthly observances, too. And, trade magazines have editorial calendars that describe what their stories will focus on each month – a chance to pitch your expertise.

Think outside your typical marketing activities: Where can you position your business so clients can find you? You attend networking events put on by chambers of commerce and AEC trade organizations, but are you also capitalizing on social media, where many of your potential clients and collaborators congregate? Some of the top AEC companies are using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Places. Prospects can find your competition there – where are you?

Extend Your Reach: Hey, the economy has been slow. What non-profits could benefit from your services at a reduced rate? Or could you provide consulting or education on a particular building topic to an organization who may need your services later?

Know your market: Read what your clients read. If you provide construction or design services or building products to hospitals, are you reading the periodicals, website and blogs that are highly regarded by medical professionals? If not, you're missing out on important information and industry trends.


Don't Miss an Opportunity to Fill a Need

This past weekend, friends and I drove to East Lansing for the Michigan vs. Michigan State football game. This is a classic match-up - the teams have competed for the Paul Bunyan trophy and state bragging rights for nearly 60 years. We didn't have tickets to the game, so we decided to just find a bar or restaurant with a big-screen TV, and watch the game with other fans, mingling with Wolverines and Spartans, and cheering on our favorite team.

As we anticipated, the establishments near campus were crowded, many having lines out the door and spilling out to the sidewalks. That was okay. We drove a little further, and headed toward the state capital, Lansing, which was fewer than five miles from Michigan State's campus.

We parked a few blocks from the Michigan Capitol Building. At the first sports bar we stopped in, we were told there were no seats available ("Aren't those empty tables there?"), but could find standing-room only at the bar. We decided to walk to find a place with available seating. Other football fans had the same idea - we met many looking for a place to watch the game. There was sign for a bar in the next block. Closed!. Then we passed two more shuttered bars.

We finally arrived at a "name-intentionally-left-blank-to-protect-the-innocent" hotel only a couple of blocks away from the Capitol. The hotel is an international brand, so imagine my surprise upon our arrival to their lobby restaurant, after the game had started:

Now this photo  is a little deceiving - there were about three occupied tables in the restaurant - about eight people total. There was one server, and the bartender had not yet arrived for work.

Don't miss an opportunity to fill a need!

  • Plan ahead: Keep a calendar of events and activities where you can market and sell your products and services. Remember this was an annual event.
  • Think outside your typical marketing activities: There were lots of people looking for somewhere to watch the game. If a coffee shop would've had a TV, we'd have watched there. Would the expense of renting a large-screen TV been worth it to bring in extra income?
  • Extend your reach: Even if the event doesn't appeal to your typical market, there may be some overlap (business travelers who enjoy sports), and you could fulfill a need that another business can't (serving an overflow crowd), possibly gaining new, loyal customers. 
  • Know your market: I mentioned we were in Lansing, the neighboring city to the home of Michigan State University. What did we see displayed in window of the gift shop of the hotel? Maize and blue University of Michigan shirts - no MSU paraphernalia. Maybe the hotel was marketing to out-of-town guests.