It’s safe to say that most architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) firms are good at what they do. They sort of have to be when designing and constructing the structures we use every day. But that begs the question: how can quality AEC firms stand out amongst a sea of other quality AEC firms?

Marketing strategies drive brand awareness, helping AEC firms win projects. While the usual suspects still play an important role in AEC marketing, if every AEC firm is employing those marketing strategies, there is not much room for differentiation.

Common marketing strategies include:

To differentiate your AEC firm, it’s worth considering other, deeper, strategies to improve brand awareness, marketing effectiveness, and your close ratio – winning your firm more projects, time and time again. Below, we will look at three strategies to get your wheels turning.

AEC firms that specialize are winning

Owners, owners’ reps, developers, and brokers want to work with the best fit firms for their projects – specialization promotes that. An AEC firm with no specialization can get the job done, but there is probably a firm (or firms) already out there with the desired specialization that can do it even better.

When a firm specializes in a certain area, they become well-known within particular markets.  Specialization increases brand awareness (and the likelihood of a broker knowing who you are) which helps your firm win the right projects in your bailiwick.

AEC firms that specialize are winning

Once you have a position in a particular market(s) your branding, marketing, and messaging can all be pointed in one direction – as opposed to several different directions – ultimately maximizing your marketing strategy’s effectiveness. As an added bonus, well-known firms are able to charge a price premium for their services.

AEC firms that educate are winning

AEC processes can be confusing to those not in the industry. Building trust with an owner, a broker, or an industry partner and getting them to understand what takes place throughout your firm’s process – takes time.

In the past, relationship-building was usually done in a face-to-face setting. Lunch and learns and other networking events are starting to go digital (or at least hybrid), with many AEC firms finding that their reach is greater online.

aec firms that educate are winning

Try educating clients and prospective clients over the course of the relationship:

  • Within the RFP process using an educational drip campaign
  • Connecting on LinkedIn where you’re posting industry insights
  • Inviting people in the industry to like your company LinkedIn page that houses insights

By providing education and positioning your firm as a top resource in the AEC industry, you are staying top of mind. While networking certainly aids in this process, it takes up a lot of time and energy. Embracing online connections and empowering audiences regularly through education helps maintain your firm as a top competitor in the industry.

AEC firms that provide unique experiences are winning

Every client is different and every proposal or touchpoint should be different, too. Understanding each client’s different needs can help your AEC firm tailor its touchpoints – website, brand collateral, proposals – to each specific client or market.

During the RFP process, clients are receiving the same information time and time again. This limits a responding firm’s ability to stand out. But, when a firm has specifically crafted a proposal that addresses the client’s exact needs, they are more likely to make a positive impact and win the project.

aec firms that provide unique experiences are winning

For example, a proposal for a hospital buildout may have more of a philanthropic focus. This speaks to a firm’s community engagement, something those in the healthcare field are especially focused on.

On the other hand, it wouldn’t make as much sense to highlight philanthropic efforts if the proposal is for a small industrial project.

That proposal might take a more business-forward approach to cater towards the direct pain points and needs.

Creating tailored proposals for different fields can help your firm get a leg up on the competition when sending out proposals.

Another aspect concerning the proposal process is the time between sending out a proposal and the client making their decision.

When you break it down, an AEC firm is really only in communication with a potential client when sending the proposal and maybe during the interview process, if they get that far.

There is a lot of time in between to provide a potential client with experiences that bolster your AEC services.

Unique experiences like a value-based web series or an email drip campaign can be useful in bridging the communication gap during a client’s decision making process.

Providing information, education, and other resources in addition to a tailor-made proposal could be the extra thing that sets your firm apart from everyone else (and wins your firm the project).

Summary – AEC Marketing Trends & The Future of AEC Marketing

AEC firms should be prioritizing their marketing strategies to differentiate themselves from a sea of similarity. It’s not enough to be able to get the job done right (that’s the bare minimum) and it will take more than a few social media posts or advertisements to really make an impression.

The future of AEC marketing lies in 3 things:

  • Specialization
  • Education
  • Creating unique experiences

When your AEC firm focuses on those key elements, in addition to networking and relationship building, there’s no telling how far you’ll go.

So, how will your firm win?

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