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."


Searching for AEC Services

by Karen Davis Burton

When a client searches online for the services you offer, what do they find? And, I’m not asking what do they find when they search for your name or your business name – hopefully, you pop up then.

But what happens when they google “retail architects in Detroit” or “interior designer for hotels near Santa Monica?” Will your prospect find you on page one of Google?

More and more, people are going online to find the building products and AEC services they want and need to purchase. When my water heater was on the fritz late one night – while all my friends that I would call for a referral were asleep – I googled “plumber, water heater” and the search engine gave me a list of service providers in my area.

Traditionally, consumers and businesses have found AEC professional services firms through word-of-mouth referrals, live networking, RFPs, and even through the phone book advertising.

Well, we know most of those phone books get tossed out and recycled as soon as they are dropped off on the porch. Referrals and networking are still the best ways to build business because people want to do business with firms and professionals they know and trust.

Why not let those prospects – and your existing clients – get to know you when they search for your AEC market niche and professional services online. Even if a potential client gets a referral from a reliable source, they probably want to do their own research on the names they’ve received. And when you’re out in the community developing business – at conferences, happy hours, trade organization meetings – shouldn’t your prospects have a way to find out more about you and your business?

By developing relevant content – writing blog posts, articles, and press releases, sharing valuable information on social media sites, posting photos of your work, providing your prospects with testimonials from satisfied clients, and making sure your website is updating regularly – you can work toward getting at the top of the search engine listings so your AEC company will be the first one a prospects sees when they search for your types of services.


3 Must-See Homes in Detroit

It's National Architecture Week (April 7-13). Here are three Detroit residences you must visit. Now, don't walk up to these houses and think you can just get in. People live here. Drive or walk by, and enjoy the view.

The Margerum 45-degree House

Photo from Detroit Home magazine
Detroit architect, Roger Margerum, designed his home when he closed his full-time practice. This 3,000 square foot residence has views of the Grayhaven Marina, and Margerum says that instead of moving from room to room, you go "from space-to-space." (More at Detroit Home magazine)

Lafayette Park Townhouses

Photo from Dwell

Lafayette Park was the first urban renewal project in the U.S., and includes two high-rises and one-and two-story townhomes designed by Mies van der Rohe. The townhomes - a sight to behold in the middle of the city - average 1400 square feet and are enveloped by a minimal shell with floor-to-ceiling windows. The interiors showcase floating staircases and clean lines.

See and hear how the residents live in their Mies-designed spaces in this New York Times article. Occasionally, you can catch a tour of the entire Lafayette Park area.*

The Turkel House

Photo from Hour Detroit magazine

Located on Seven Mile Road in Detroit, this is the only Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home within the Detroit city limits. The 4,300 square foot house is in FLW's Usonian Automoatic style, using inexpensive modular concrete blocks. Current residents purchased the home in 2006 and restored it for nearly $1 million. (More at Hour Detroit magazine)

* After note: The next Lafayette Park Walking Tour will be June 1, 2013. Contact Kiana German through her Style-Detroit blog or tweet her at @KianaGerman


buildingsource Top 5: Articles for Building Business

Here are the top 5 articles from March for building and marketing your AEC business:

1. Negotiating with Confidence: Don't rush contract negotiations, and don't be afraid to request additional funds for out-of-scope work. (By Steven Isaacs on DesignIntelligence)

2. How to Set Your Business Up to Bid on Federal Government Contracts: Entrepreneur magazine lists the first four things to do to begin doing business with the government. The information is taken from Braddock's Procurement Opportunities Guide sponsored by Microsoft. (By Catherine Clifford)

3. 10 Architecture Firm Blogs to Watch in 2013: Review various blogging styles and get some inspiration for your AEC firm's blog. (Listed by Architectural Record magazine)

4. Staying Loose: 25 lessons learned from the recession: Builder magazine talks with builders about how they have adapted to market conditions over the past five years.

5. 7 Lessons from the World's Most Captivating Presenters: Steve Jobs, Scott Harrison, Gary Vaynerchuk... what can you lean from them to improve presentation skills? (from HubSpot)


5 Reasons to Blog for Business

Watch the slide presentation below for 5 reasons to begin blogging and positioning yourself as a market leader.